A citizen of India has been charged by the federal government in an alleged murder-for-hire plot that the U.S. Justice Department says was planned by an Indian government official.
According to a Wednesday news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, 52-year-old Nikhil Gupta was charged in Manhattan with two criminal counts related to an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate an American citizen of Indian origin.
The would-be victim was ultimately spared and was not named in the news release.
According to the government, the hitman that was contracted for the kill was said to have been — unbeknownst to Gupta — an intelligence asset for the government.
Prosecutors claim a member of the Indian government hired Gupta to kill a person described as a political activist and opponent of India’s government.
Conspirator Nikhil Gupta is now in custody of Czech police and US is trying to extradite him. pic.twitter.com/IswwooKUO1
— Satluj (@SatlujTV) November 29, 2023
The activist is reportedly banned from India and has advocated for the secession of the state of Punjab in the northern part of the country in order to form a state for Sikhs.
According to the news release, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration ultimately foiled the plot.
The federal government claimed that Gupta contacted a man he believed to have been part of a criminal underground circle at the direction of a member of India’s government in May of this year.
That person, a drug trafficker, ended up being a confidential source for the DEA.
A DEA agent then posed as a hitman and accepted $15,000 in order to carry out the murder.
Per Wednesday’s news release, Gupta was tasked with killing other individuals whom his Indian government contact described as “targets” but he was arrested quickly.
The FBI then got involved and asked authorities in the Czech Republic to arrest Gupta in June while he was traveling in Europe.
“Czech authorities arrested and detained GUPTA on June 30, 2023, pursuant to the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and the Czech Republic,” the federal government said Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that the hit was intended to take place in New York City.
“As alleged, the defendant conspired from India to assassinate, right here in New York City, a U.S. citizen of Indian origin who has publicly advocated for the establishment of a sovereign state for Sikhs, an ethnoreligious minority group in India,” Williams said.
“I am grateful that my Office and our law enforcement partners neutralized this deadly and outrageous threat. We will not tolerate efforts to assassinate U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, and stand ready to investigate, thwart, and prosecute anyone who seeks to harm and silence Americans here or abroad.”
Gupta is charged with murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire.
If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison for each charge.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.