Indian National Charged Over Plot To Assassinate Sikh Activist In The U.S.

By Bill Galluccio

November 29, 2023

Money is exchanged hands between a suspect and an undercover agent
Photo: United States District Court Southern District of New York

The Department of Justice has charged an Indian national with plotting to assassinate a Sikh activist in the United States. Nikhil Gupta, 52, was charged with murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire.

He was taken into custody in the Czech Republic on June 30, the United States District Court Southern District of New York said in a press release.

Prosecutors said that Gupta was recruited by an employee of the Indian government to hire somebody to kill a Sikh activist in New York City. While the court documents did not identify the man, the Associated Press identified him as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. He is considered a terrorist by the Indian government.

Court documents said that the government employee promised Gupta he would help him with a criminal case if Pannun was killed. Gupta allegedly reached out to a hitman, who was actually an undercover agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Gupta arranged for an associate to provide $15,000 upfront to the undercover agent, which was delivered in cash.

On June 19, 2023, one day after Hardeep Singh Nijjar, an associate of Pannun, was killed by a masked gunman outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia, Canada, Gupta contacted the undercover agent and told him to proceed with killing Pannun.

Gupta was taken into custody less than two weeks later.

"When a foreign government employee allegedly committed the brazen act of recruiting an international narcotics trafficker to murder a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, DEA was there to stop the plot. I want to recognize the outstanding work of the DEA New York Field Division for their leadership in this investigation, the prosecution team at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan for pursuing today's indictment, and our federal and global law enforcement partners for their assistance," DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement.

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