The NIA has summoned around 40 persons including Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu, farmers’ leader Baldev Singh Sirsa and UK-based journalist Jasveer Singh Muktsar, to be examined as ‘witnesses’ in a case related to the banned outfit Sikhs for Justice, The Hindu reported.
Sikhs for Justice is a UK-based pro-Khalistani group that was banned in 2019 by the Ministry of External Affairs. Officials of non-profit Khalsa Aid have also received summon notices on 15 January to appear before the NIA headquarters in Delhi between 18-21 January.
Quoting a senior government official, the report said that the summons were served to “ascertain details relating to the investigation.”
The notices were issued under Section 160 Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)-Police officer’s power to require attendance of witnesses in FIR no 40/2020 under various Sections of the IPC and the UAPA, the report said.
In a press statement, Khalsa Aid said, “A large-scale indiscriminate NIA investigation of this nature against voluntary agencies, groups and individuals who provide humanitarian support is unprecedented in Indian history. We urge all international bodies and monitoring agencies to hold India to account on what appears on the face of it a politically motivated step.”
While Pardeep Singh, a dairy farm owner from Ludhiana, told the newspaper that he paid from his “own pocket to participate in the protest”. “In Punjab, all villages have families living in foreign countries and they might be sending money. Is it a crime?” he asked.
Alleging that this was a politically motivated step, in a press statement, Khalsa Aid said: “A large-scale indiscriminate NIA investigation of this nature against voluntary agencies, groups and individuals who provide humanitarian support is unprecedented in Indian history.”
Condemning the move, SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal said that this was an attempt by the Centre to intimidate farmer leader and supporters of the Kisan Andolan. “They aren't anti-nationals. And after failure of talks for the ninth time, it's absolutely clear that GOI is only trying to tire out farmers,” he wrote on Twitter.
While speaking to ANI, Darshan Pal, chief of Krantikari Kisan Union condemned the move.
“NIA has started to register cases against those who are a part of the farmers' movement or those who have lent their support to it. All farmers' unions condemn this. We will fight this in every possible way,” he said.
Recently, as the farmers protests have been gaining momentum, the NIA registered a fresh case against the organisation on 15 December, alleging Khalistani terrorists have spearheaded campaigns against the government.
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