Authorities have filed murder-for-hire charges against Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national, for allegedly conspiring to assassinate a Sikh separatist leader in New York City. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced on Tuesday that Gupta was arrested and detained by Czech authorities in June of this year. The Sikh leader, identified as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, is an American citizen. The Hill has reached out to Pannun for comment.
According to the indictment, Gupta collaborated with an Indian government employee referred to as CC-1, who allegedly directed the assassination plot from India. CC-1 claimed to be a “Senior Field Officer” responsible for “Security Management” and “Intelligence.” The indictment further revealed details of the murder-for-hire scheme against the separatist leader.
Gupta reportedly sought assistance from an individual believed to be a criminal associate in hiring a hitman. However, this person was actually a confidential source working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The source introduced Gupta to an undercover DEA officer posing as a hitman and facilitated a $15,000 advance payment for the murder. Gupta allegedly instructed the undercover agent to carry out the assassination as soon as possible, but specified that it should not coincide with anticipated engagements between high-level U.S. and Indian government officials, according to the affidavit.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen stated, “The dedicated law enforcement agents and prosecutors in this case foiled and exposed a dangerous plot to assassinate a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. The Department of Justice will be relentless in using the full reach of our authorities to pursue accountability for lethal plotting emanating from overseas.”