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Roving Periscope: As Trump vows deportation, the US hurries up with Gupta’s extradition

Roving Periscope: As Trump vows deportation, the US hurries up with Gupta’s extradition

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Reflecting America’s internal political dynamics, a day after Donald Trump vowed the “largest deportation operation” in US history against suspect immigrants, the Biden Administration, in a bid to keep the pro-Khalistanis in good humor, secured the extradition of an Indian accused in the alleged plot to kill a separatist Sikh, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, from the Czech Republic.

Former Republican President Donald Trump, who seems ahead of the incumbent Democrat President Joe Biden in the electoral sweepstakes this year, has promised that the largest deportation operation in American history will be conducted if he is re-elected to power in the November polls.

Addressing a convention in Michigan, he called upon his Republican supporters to vote for a President who would throw “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the country. He is expected to adopt the same policy against Sikh terrorists.

“The choice for every voter in November is clear: You can have a President who lets thousands of radical Islamic terrorists into our country, or you can decide to have a President who throws radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country,” he said.

He asserted, “On Day One of my new administration, we will begin the largest deportation operation in American history. We have no choice. This is not sustainable,” the media reported on Monday.

Trump’s comments came as the Republican camp is trying to highlight the ‘migrant invasion.’ His supporters have been building a narrative ahead of the election that President Biden has eased the ‘invasion of immigrants’ to enter the US. Trump often referred to the crimes committed by migrants as “Biden migrant crime.”

On multiple occasions in the run-up to the election, Trump has put forth his anti-immigrant policies, calling for a total rejection of immigrants.

In the latest instance on Saturday last week, indirectly referring to the recent arrest of eight people with suspected links to ISIS, Trump said, “Our country has never been in danger like it is in danger right now.” He claimed that thousands of terrorists were pouring into the US and said, “Our country is going to pay a steep price for many, many years.”

In April, he described immigrants in the US as “animals” and repeated his earlier charge that they are “poisoning the blood of our country.”

Trump’s promise is viewed as the reason why the Biden Administration rushed with the extradition of Nikhil Gupta from the Czech Republic. Gupta, an Indian the Biden Administration suspected of alleged involvement in an unsuccessful plot to kill a pro-Khalistani Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun who has been repeatedly threatening New Delhi and his supporters have launched multiple attacks against Indians in the US, Canada, Australia, and other countries.

Only last week, they damaged a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Italy before its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was a special invitee of his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni to the ongoing G7 Summit.

Pannun is said to be a citizen of both the US and Canada. He is a founder and the legal adviser of Sikhs for Justice, a United States-based Khalistani secessionist group that was declared an unlawful organisation in India, under the UAPA, in July 2019.

Gupta, who traveled from India to Prague in June 2023, was arrested by Czech authorities. Last month, a Czech court rejected his petition to avoid being sent to the US, clearing the way for the Czech justice minister to extradite him.

“On the basis of my decision on (June 3), the Indian citizen Nikhil Gupta, who is suspected of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire with intent to cause death, was extradited to the US on Friday (June 14) for a criminal prosecution,” Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blazek said on social media platform X (formerly Twitter).

Gupta, 52, was being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn, in the US, a federal administrative detention facility.
A US Justice Department spokesperson, and Gupta’s US-based lawyer, Attorney Jeffrey Chabrowe, declined to comment.

The discovery of alleged assassination plots against Sikh separatists in the US and Canada has tested the two North American countries’ relations with India, seen by Western nations as a counter to China’s rising global influence. India has strongly denied any involvement in such alleged plots.

Canada said in September 2023 that its intelligence agencies were pursuing allegations linking New Delhi to the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June 2023 in British Columbia, Canada.

In November, US authorities claimed that an Indian government official had directed the plot in the attempted murder of Pannun.


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