US, India Play Down Sikh Murder Plot With Wider Asia Strategy at Risk

(Bloomberg) -- Allegations that an Indian government agent ordered the killing of a US citizen in New York risk spoiling the Biden administration’s effort to deepen ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, although both sides are playing down the significance for now.

In an indictment unsealed Wednesday, prosecutors in Manhattan federal court accused an Indian national of attempting to orchestrate the murder of a Sikh activist in June, under the direction of an unidentified Indian official who had once allegedly served in one of the country’s internal security forces.

The US sees India as key to its strategy of countering China’s growing assertiveness in Asia, one of its top global priorities. But the accusation will add to criticism over the White House’s drive to strengthen the US-India alignment despite concerns over Modi’s human rights record. It also comes about two months after Canada accused the Indian government of involvement in the murder of a Sikh separatist in British Columbia.