Gurpatwant Pannun Murder Plot: India Slams 'Unwarranted' Washington Post Report

The Washington Post claims that a RAW official named Vikram Yadav had planned the murder of Gurpatwant Pannun.

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The Indian government on Tuesday, 30 April, dismissed a report by The Washington Post which claimed that an alleged Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) official named Vikram Yadav hired a 'hit team' to assassinate Khalistani extremist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the US in June last year.

Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal took to X to call the report "unsubstantiated" and "unwarranted".

"There is an ongoing investigation of the High Level Committee set up by the Government of India to look into the security concerns shared by the US government on networks of organised criminals, terrorists and others. Speculative and irresponsible comments on it are not helpful," Jaiswal said.


What Did the Washington Post Report Claim? 

The investigative report, which is part of a series – 'Repression's Long Arm', is based on purported interviews conducted with anonymous, current and former senior officials in India, the US, Britain and other countries.

It states that Vikram Yadav is the previously unnamed Indian official involved in the alleged assassination plot against Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) chief Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

The report states that, according to US government officials, the plot targeting Pannun was approved by Samant Goel, who was the RAW chief at the time. It also states that US intelligence agencies suspect that National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval was aware of RAW's plan to kill pro-Khalistan extremists like Pannun and Hardeep Singh Nijjar (who was gunned down in Canada's Surrey in June last year). However, no conclusive proof has been found to support this.

Senior officials at the US Justice Department and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had pushed to prosecute Yadav, officials told The Washington Post, a step that would have implicated RAW in the murder-for-hire conspiracy. US Justice Department officials, who took part in the White House deliberations, were against those urging criminal charges against Yadav.

In November last year, Southern New York’s United States Attorney’s Office had confirmed that US law enforcement had foiled a conspiracy to assassinate Pannun on American soil. The attorney's office filed charges against an Indian national named Nikhil Gupta who, along with a purported Indian government staffer, is said to have planned the murder.

At the time, the staffer was referred to as CC-1, who had allegedly masterminded the plot to murder Pannun from India.

The Washington Post report claims that CC-1 is Vikram Yadav.

It also claims that Yadav was transferred to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) after the Pannun plot unravelled.

The US alleged that in May 2023, CC-1 recruited Gupta to arrange the assassination of Pannun on US soil and, in exchange, assured the dismissal of a criminal case against him. You can read The Quint's detailed story on the US indictment here.

The Washington Post report further states that senior officials told them of a private meeting in New Delhi in September last year between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden, in which the latter said that the US would refrain from punitive responses over the murder plot but pushed India to hold those responsible accountable. 

The Quint's calls and mails to the Ministry of External Affairs have gone unanswered so far. This article will be updated as and when they respond.


India Summons Canadian Envoy Over Pro-Khalistan Slogans During Trudeau's Address

Meanwhile, India on Monday, 29 April, summoned the Canadian Deputy High Commissioner after pro-Khalistan slogans were allegedly raised at an event attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In a statement, the MEA said that the incident not only hampers ties between the two countries but also promotes a "climate of violence."

"The Government of India's deep concern and strong protest was conveyed at such disturbing actions being allowed to continue unchecked at the event. This illustrates once again the political space that has been given in Canada to separatism, extremism and violence," the MEA said.

"Their continued expressions not only impact India-Canada relations but also encourage a climate of violence and criminality in Canada to the detriment of its own citizens," the statement added.

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