Russia slams US claims on Gurpatwant Pannun murder ‘plot’: ‘No evidence…not acceptable’

Russia on Wednesday rejected the United States’s claims of the involvement of Indian officials in the plot to assassinate Khalistani separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, saying that Washington has not given any “credible information” or “evidence” so far.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.(REUTERS)

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova alleged that the US was trying to “unbalance the internal political situation” in India and “complicate” the ongoing general elections.

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“Washington lacks a simple understanding of India’s national mentality and history, as America continues to make unfounded accusations about religious freedoms. Washington’s actions clearly constitute interference in India’s internal affairs…As for speculations, since there is no evidence, it is not acceptable…They are not respecting India as a state,” Zakharova said during an address.

The Russian official further slammed the US for “wrongful accusations” against several other countries.

“Hard to imagine a more repressive regime than Washington in international and national affairs,” she added.

In November last year, US federal prosecutors charged Indian national Nikhil Gupta of working with an Indian government employee in the foiled plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Pannun, wanted in India on terror charges, holds dual citizenship of the US and Canada. He has been designated as a terrorist by the Union home ministry under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Last month, The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, named a Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) officer in connection with the alleged plot to kill Pannun. According to the report, the R&AW official – Vikram Yadav – had enlisted a “hit team” to carry out the operation, marking Pannun as a “priority” target.

Following the report, India set up a high-level committee to investigate the allegations.

Earlier this week, the US said that it is waiting to see the results of the Indian investigations on the issue. “They (Indian government) opened a committee of inquiry to look into the matter, and that work is ongoing; we’ll wait to see the results. But we made it very clear that it’s something that we are taking seriously and we think they, too, should take this seriously,” US state department spokesperson Matthew Miller told the media.

India’s response to Washington Post’s report

Meanwhile, India, last month, sharply reacted to The Washington Post’s report on the alleged assassination plot of Pannun, saying that it is “unwarranted” and “unsubstantiated”. Addressing the media, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said that speculative and irresponsible comments on the issue are “not helpful”.

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