The United States Department of Justice has filed an indictment alleging that an Indian agent hired an assassin to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Sikh separatist. It seems that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his National Security Advisor Ajit Doval now believe in their own hype about India being a superpower that can get away with murdering American citizens on the US soil.
|Sikh Leaders: Gurpatwant Singh Pannun (L), Hardeep Singh Nijjar (Mid), Paramjeet Singh Panwar (R)|
Earlier, a Canadian Sikh leader named Hardeep Singh Nijjar was murdered in June this year in British Columbia. The US DOJ believes that Nikhil Gupta was involved in both the killing in Canada of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, and the attempted murder in New York, He is reported to have told an associate two days before the Nijjar’s slaying: “we are doing their job, brother. We are doing their New York [and] Canada [job],” according to the indictment. He lives in India and was arrested on the charges in the Czech Republic on June 30, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Gupta's plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun was foiled in a US sting operation involving an informant who was being recruited by him to be the hitman.
“Modi and Doval have a much more macho approach to statecraft, including taking a more risky approach in intel operations in order to say, ‘Look at how tough I am in protecting India’s interests’,” said Paul McGarr, a specialist in South Asian security and intelligence at King's College London, according to France24 news agency. “RAW could do it before, but wouldn’t have conducted assassinations without Modi’s approval,” added McGarr. “RAW has got the political license to kill under Modi.”
The US DOJ decision to go public with charges came after President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and CIA Director William Burns warned India of potential consequences for the U.S.-India relationship over the actions, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Indian government is engaged in a worldwide assassination campaign targeting Sikhs and Kashmiris seen as "terrorists" by New Delhi, according to leaked documents of Pakistani intelligence agencies. Inside Pakistan, a spate of assassinations and other attacks in recent years targeted people alleged to be involved in Sikh and Kashmiri activism as well as Islamist militancy inside India, according to The Intercept. Last month, the Pakistani government arrested people it believes were involved in targeted killings of Sikhs and Kashmiris inside Pakistan.
Narendra Modi has a long history of murdering minorities in his country. After the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002, Narendra Modi made the cover of India Today magazine with the caption "Hero of Hatred". Modi was denied a visa to visit the United States. The US visa ban on Modi was lifted in 2014 after he became prime minister. Since then, Narendra Modi's image has been rehabilitated by the West as the US and Western Europe seek allies in Asia to counter the rise of China. However, Modi's actions on the ground in India confirm that he remains "Hero of Hatred" and "Divider In Chief" at his core. A recent two-part BBC documentary explains this reality in significant detail. The first part focuses on the 2002 events in Gujarat when Modi as the state chief minister ordered the police to not stop the Hindu mobs murdering Muslims and burning their homes and businesses. The second part looks at Modi government's anti-Muslim policies, including the revocation of Kashmir's autonomy (article 370) and a new citizenship law (CAA 2019) that discriminates against Muslims. It shows the violent response by security forces to peaceful protests against the new laws, and interviews the family members of people who were killed in the 2020 Delhi riots orchestrated by Modi's allies.
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