U.S. indicts Indian national Nikhil Gupta in alleged assassination plot

The charges against Gupta, filed in June, accuse him of participating in a failed murder-for-hire plot, ostensibly under the guidance of an employee from the Indian government. This revelation has drawn attention to the broader context of international security and diplomatic relations, especially in light of Trudeau's prior allegations.

U.S. indicts Indian national Nikhil Gupta in alleged assassination plot
THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
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The United States Department of Justice announced on Wednesday the indictment of Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national, for his alleged involvement in an assassination attempt against a Sikh separatist leader who holds dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship. This indictment seemingly supports the claims made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding the possible involvement of the Indian government in activities endangering Canadian citizens, CTV News reports.

The charges against Gupta, filed in June, accuse him of participating in a failed murder-for-hire plot, ostensibly under the guidance of an employee from the Indian government. This revelation has drawn attention to the broader context of international security and diplomatic relations, especially in light of Trudeau's prior allegations.

According to statements from two former Canadian national security advisers, this incident not only raises concerns about international espionage and violence but also potentially validates the Canadian Prime Minister's suspicions about the Indian government's activities.

The unsealed indictment sheds light on the murder of Sikh separatist leader and Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in B.C. last June, hinting at a possible link to India. Trudeau suggested in September that the Indian government might be implicated, sparking over two months of strained Canada-India relations. However, India has consistently denied these allegations.

Security experts Richard Fadden and Vincent Rigby, in a CTV "Question Period" interview, suggested the American charges lend some support to Trudeau's claims. India’s High Commissioner to Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma, admitted to discussing the case with Canada but criticized the lack of specific, useful information shared.

India maintains cooperation with the U.S. but not Canada, citing differences in the shared information from both nations' investigations. Despite discussions during Canada's national security adviser Jody Thomas's visit to India, Verma stated that no substantial information was exchanged.

Rigby mentioned that the recent disclosure of the American indictment significantly alters the stance of the Indian government, which has been claiming non-cooperation with Canada's probe into Nijjar's death due to Canada's alleged lack of sharing substantial and pertinent details.

“So I think to a considerable degree, it does validate what the prime minister said, that at the very least, there are credible allegations of Indian complicity in the killing of Mr. Nijjar in Canada,” Rigby said, adding he finds Verma’s response “interesting.”

“At the end of the day, I'm not so sure it’s ‘Canada hasn't put the intelligence in front of the Indians,’ but I think it's more likely a case of ‘Canada's not the United States,’” he also said. “We're not a great power. And so we're treated a little bit differently.”

Rigby also said that Trudeau's accusations were like “the icing on the cake” after several years of strained relations between Canada and India.

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