New York, Nov 30
US federal prosecutors have charged an Indian national in an alleged 'murder-for-hire' plot to try to assassinate a Sikh political activist in New York, a media report said.
Authorities said Nikhil Gupta (52) worked with an unnamed Indian official to set up a meeting with an undercover officer he believed to be a hitman to target the victim, a US citizen who is unnamed in the indictment but described as an attorney and vocal critic of the Indian government, CNN reported.
The Indian official agreed to pay $100,000 to the undercover officer for the arranged murder, the report said.
Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun -- a dual citizen of the United States and Canada -- was allegedly the target of the plot, sources said.
According to the indictment, an Indian government official recruited Gupta to â€œorchestrateâ€ the assassination. At the officialâ€™s direction, prosecutors say, Gupta contacted someone in June he believed to be a hitman â€“ but who was actually working with law enforcement â€“ to murder Pannun, CNN reported.
The Indian official gave Pannunâ€™s home address, phone numbers and details of his daily activities, prosecutors alleged. The official also sent Gupta a video of Hardeep Singh Nijjar's â€œbloody body slumped in his vehicleâ€ just hours after the murder occurred, according to the indictment.
Nijjar, who was the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force and one of India's most-wanted terrorists, was killed by unidentified gunmen in Canada in June this year.
Gupta also asked the supposed hitman to carry out the murder â€œas soon as possible", but instructed him â€œnot to commit the murder around the time of anticipated engagements scheduled to occur in the ensuing weeks between high-level US and Indian government officials", court documents said, CNN reported.
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