Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the Indian ambassador to the United States, was reportedly heckled during a visit to the Guru Nanak Darbar gurudwara in Long Island, New York, on Sunday about alleged plots to assassinate Sikh separatists abroad.
In a video of the incident, protestors can be heard confronting Sandhu about India’s alleged role in the murder in Canada of Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 and a foiled plan to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a citizen of Canada and the US.
In the video, shared on X by Bharatiya Janata Party Spokesperson RP Singh, a protestor can be heard confronting Sandhu in Punjabi. “You are responsible for the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” the protestor says. “You plotted to kill Pannun.”
Others can be heard harassing Sandhu. “Why don’t you answer?” one asks. As Sandhu is seen leaving the gurudwara in his vehicle, a protestor raised the flag of Khalistan – a proposed independent nation for Sikhs that its supporters hope to establish in India.
On Monday, the Indian envoy posted photos of his visit to the gurudwara on X without mentioning the protestors outside.
The Financial Times reported last Wednesday that the US had foiled a plot to assassinate Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil and issued a warning to India about concerns that the Modi government was involved in the matter. Hours later, India said it is examining related security inputs shared with it by the US.
Pannun is the founder of Sikhs for Justice, a separatist organisation that advocates for the creation of a Sikh nation. India banned the group in 2019 and declared Pannun an “individual terrorist” the following year under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.
On November 20, India’s National Investigation Agency registered a case against Pannun after he posted a video message on social media on November 4 threatening Air India passengers. He asked Sikhs to avoid travelling on the airline after November 19.
“Air India won’t be allowed to operate,” he had said, according to ANI. “Sikh people, don’t travel by Air India after November 19.Your life can be in danger.”
The US is not the only country to suggest India’s role in plotting to kill Sikh separatists living overseas. In September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that his country’s intelligence agencies were pursuing “credible allegations” linking the Indian government to the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Vancouver on June 18.
India has rejected these allegations.
Nijjar was the head of the Khalistan Tiger Force, designated as a “terrorist outfit” in India.
On September 29, three people prevented the Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami and Consul General Bijay Selvaraj from entering the Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib Sikh Sabha in Glasgow, Scotland.
Gurcharan Singh Grewal, chairman of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in India, explained that the protestors were upset about the “illegal arrest” of UK national and Scotland resident Jaggi Johal, Mint reported.
Johal has been imprisoned in India since 2017. He has been accused of killing activists and members of Hindutva outfits, followers of the Dera Sirsa sect and a Christian activist pastor in seven targeted attacks. Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2022 said that Johal has been “arbitrarily detained” by India.