Home Global News Former RAW chief ‘approved’ Pannun’s killing plot in US: report

Former RAW chief ‘approved’ Pannun’s killing plot in US: report

Former RAW chief ‘approved’ Pannun’s killing plot in US: report

Pro-Khalistan Sikh leader and Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) General Counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun (centre), India’s most wanted man speaks during a protest rally. — Geo News/File
  • RAW officer spearheaded Pannun’s assassination bid in US.
  • Senior RAW officials also “implicated” after stretched out probe.
  • White House takes Washington Post story “very seriously”.

Senior-level officials of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) approved the alleged plot to murder a Sikh separatist leader and an American national, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, on United States soil, the Washington Post reported in an exclusive story.

According to the American publication’s report an “officer in India’s intelligence service was relaying final instructions to a hired hit team to kill” one of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “most vocal critics”, as he enjoyed a dinner at the White House in June last year.

The RAW officer, identified as Vikram Yadav, was spearheading the assassination bid following approval of the agency’s then-chief Samant Goel.

Pannun, the general counsel of Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) and a pro-Khalistan Sikh leader, is one of the high-profile leaders in the community and has remained at risk of being eliminated, particularly in the wake of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing June 18, 2023.

Pannun, like slain Canadian citizen Nijjar, has been promoting the idea of a separate Sikh state for his community residing in India and has been declared a “terrorist” by the Indian government.

Pannun, in an interview last year, said he was not scared and will not be deterred by India’s plots against him.

“Just like Canadian Citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s assassination by the Indian agents on Canadian soil was a challenge to Canada’s sovereignty, the threat to an American citizen on American soil is a challenge to America’s sovereignty, and I trust that the Biden Administration is more than capable to handle any such challenge,” he said, responding to a question in the interview.

However, the foiled plot of his lethal assassination — meticulously planned by India — has “stunned Western security officials”, the Washington Post stated.

“Yadav’s identity and affiliation, which have not previously been reported, provide the most explicit evidence to date that the assassination plan — ultimately thwarted by US authorities — was directed from within the Indian spy service,” the publication wrote.

As per current and former Western security officials, senior RAW officials have also been “implicated”, following a stretched out probe into the matter by the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies, which has charted links of the plot to the Indian premier’s “inner circle”.

The US publication, owned by American tech tycoon Jeff Bezos, revealed it is probing a “global surge in such campaigns of cross-border repression, as well as the global forces leading India and other nations to employ tactics normally associated with the world’s most repressive governments.”

White House takes report ‘very seriously’

Meanwhile, the White House maintained that it was taking the Washington Post story “very seriously”.

During Monday’s briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Department of Justice is investigating the matter.

“There’s an investigation, as you know, going going on. So as you just stated in your question to me, and a criminal investigation, the Department of Justice obviously is running that. So anything specific to that, I would have to refer you to the DOJ. Look, India is an important strategic partner here in the United States.

For the, sorry, of the United States. So we are pursuing an ambitious agenda to expand our cooperation and some in several areas. As you know, we’ve been really consistent about that and have laid that out multiple times. Whether it’s a meeting here with with the prime minister or a meeting abroad.

This is a serious matter, and we’re taking that very, very seriously. The government of India has been very clear with us that they are taking this seriously and will investigate. And we expect that that accountability from the government based on that.”

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