US Raises Concerns Over Alleged Plot to Kill Sikh Separatist on American Soil

The United States has expressed its concerns to India regarding an alleged plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, on American soil. Pannun, a US-Canada dual national, is a prominent advocate for an independent Sikh homeland and has been designated as a terrorist by India. The report of the thwarted plot comes in the wake of Canada’s assertion that India may have been involved in the murder of another Sikh separatist. The Financial Times, citing anonymous sources, revealed that US authorities foiled the conspiracy and issued a warning to India about its potential involvement.
The White House stated that it had raised the issue with Indian officials at the highest levels, and while India expressed surprise and concern, they denied any involvement and assured further investigation. The US emphasized that they expect those responsible for the plot to be held accountable. It remains unclear whether the US protest led to the operation being called off or if it was disrupted by US authorities themselves.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is the general counsel for Sikhs for Justice, an organization based in the US that supports the broader Khalistan movement, advocating for an independent Sikh homeland within India. Although the Khalistan movement has waned in popularity in recent years, Sikhs in the diaspora continue to advocate for a separate state, and demands for independence have intensified recently. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs acknowledged the US inputs but did not mention Pannun specifically.
The Sikhs for Justice group was declared an “unlawful association” by Indian authorities in 2019, and Pannun was listed as an “individual terrorist” the following year. Pannun has frequently irked Indian officials with controversial statements, including a recent video discouraging Sikhs from flying on Air India. The National Investigation Agency in India has filed a case against him for these remarks.
US officials reportedly shared details of the alleged assassination plot with some of their allies following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement that his country was investigating “credible allegations” of Indian involvement in the murder of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar was fatally shot outside a Sikh temple in Canada, and Indian authorities have consistently denied any role in his death. The bilateral relations between Canada and India have been strained since Trudeau’s accusation, leading to the expulsion of envoys from both sides.
The revelation of this alleged plot to kill a Sikh separatist on American soil has significant implications for the political dynamics between the US, India, and Canada. It adds pressure to the already tense relations between Canada and India, exacerbating the diplomatic row that ensued after Trudeau’s allegations. The US government’s involvement and its push for accountability also bring attention to the issue of Sikh separatism, which has been a contentious topic within India for decades.
It is crucial for all parties involved to handle this situation sensitively and responsibly. The US, India, and Canada should continue to engage in diplomatic dialogue to address their concerns and prevent any further escalation. Efforts must be made to protect the safety and security of individuals like Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, while also respecting the sovereignty and national security interests of the respective countries involved.