Goel had previously played a significant role in India's military actions, including the Balakot and Uri strikes against Pakistan

Samant Goel, India's former Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) chief, has been linked to a reported assassination attempt on Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, according to a Washington Post report. Goel had previously played a significant role in India's military actions, including the Balakot and Uri strikes against Pakistan.

According to the report, an unnamed RAW officer, Vikram Yadav, was implicated in hiring a hit team to assassinate Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. The report referenced an indictment filed in a Manhattan court last November, which mentioned an Indian government official identified as 'CC-1', who allegedly engaged Nikhil Gupta to carry out the assassination attempt on Pannun.

As per the report, Goel allegedly approved the assassination attempt on Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the Khalistani terrorist, while serving as the RAW head.

“That finding is consistent with accounts provided to The Washington Post by former senior Indian security officials who had knowledge of the operation and said Goel was under extreme pressure to eliminate the alleged threat of Sikh extremists overseas,” the report claimed.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is a notable figure in the Khalistan movement and represents Sikhs for Justice as its legal advisor and spokesperson, advocating for a separate Sikh state. However, the Indian government considers him a terrorist. The Ministry of External Affairs has strongly denied the allegations made in The Washington Post report, stating that they are baseless and lack evidence.

Samant Goel, a seasoned IPS officer from the Punjab cadre since 1984, is recognized for his expertise in Punjab and Pakistan affairs. He played a pivotal role in combating terrorism in Punjab during the 1990s. Goel's contributions extend to strategic planning, notably in significant military operations. He was instrumental in orchestrating the Balakot air strike in 2019, responding to the Pulwama terror attack, and also played a crucial part in the Uri surgical strike in September 2016, countering terrorist activities along the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

According to The Washington Post, the purported plot to assassinate Pannun in the US coincided with the fatal shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, linked to the Khalistani movement, on June 18 in Surrey, Canada. The report suggests that Goel was allegedly "under pressure" to address the perceived threat posed by Sikh extremists abroad by neutralizing them.

The report further alleged that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval might have been informed about RAW's alleged plans to target Sikh activists. However, US officials admitted to lacking definitive evidence to support this claim. The report mentioned that Goel reported to Doval and had long-standing connections with the hawkish national security adviser.

“Police forces under Goel’s command in the early 1990s were tied to more than 120 cases of alleged extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances or torture, according to a database maintained by Ensaaf, an Indian human rights group based in the United States," the report claimed. "Goel was so closely associated with the brutal crackdown that he became an assassination target, according to associates who said he took to travelling in a bulletproof vehicle.”

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar informed Parliament on December 7 that India had set up an inquiry committee to examine the information provided by the US regarding the Pannun case, considering its implications for national security.

(With Agency Inputs)