NIA summons farmers union leader Baldev Singh Sirsa for questioning

Sirsa the president of Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society, says National Investigation Agency action is bid to derail protest

farmers union leader Baldev Singh Sirsa Image courtesy: The Indian Express

One of the most prominent farm union leaders, Baldev Singh Sirsa has now been asked to appear before the National Investigation Agency (NIA). According to Indian Express, Sirsa has been asked to present himself at the NIA headquarters for questioning in a case against the outlawed outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannu. Pannu is reportedly under the investigation scanner for an alleged conspiracy to create an “atmosphere of fear and lawlessness and to cause disaffection in people and to incite them towards rising in rebellion against the Government of India”. 

Baldev Singh Sirsa, is the president of Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society (LBIWS). The union is a part of the delegation that had been participating in talks with the Union Government over the contentious farm laws. According to IE, Sirsa has been asked to appear at the NIA headquarters in New Delhi on January 17 for questioning in the case against Pannu.

According to the news report at the ninth round of talks with the Government on Friday, LBIWS was represented by Puran Singh. Sirsa told the IE that the summons were yet another attempt of the Centre to derail the farmers’ protest. He is quoted as saying, “First, the Government tried to derail the farmer agitation through the Supreme Court, now it is using the NIA.”

On Tuesday, during the Supreme Court’s hearing, senior advocate PS Narasimha, representing Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA), one of the intervenors supporting the farm laws, alleged that the farmer protests can be “dangerous” since groups like “Sikhs for Justice” are involved in the protests. When the Bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde turned towards the Attorney General for his response, he said, “We have said that Khalistanis have infiltrated into the protests.” The Supreme Court sought an affidavit from the Central Government on the alleged presence of banned organisations among the farmers protesting against the laws. The AG assured the court that he will file an affidavit by January 13 along with the necessary inputs from the Intelligence Bureau.

According to the Indian Express apart from Sirsa several others, including activists, have been issued summons “for the purpose of answering certain questions” relating to the case against Pannu under various sections of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Sirsa confirmed this and told IE, “Many people who are associated with the farmers’ agitation have been sent these summons. It is to terrorise those working for farmers. But we are not going to be affected by this. We will not bend. The NIA is working day and night to scuttle the kisan parade on January 26. The Government is bent on defaming the protest.” 

The IE reported that NIA’s FIR in the case accuses “Sikhs For Justice, an ‘Unlawful Association’ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and other Khalistani terrorist outfits” of entering into a conspiracy. It also claims that “huge funds are being collected abroad for on-ground campaigns and propaganda against the Government of India including staging demonstrations outside Indian missions in countries like the USA, UK, Canada, Germany and so forth”. According to the FIR the “funds so collected are being sent through Non-Governmental Organisations to pro-Khalistani elements based in India, to undertake terrorist acts and to strike terror in the people of India.” It alleged that “SFJ leadership has planned large scale disruptive activities intended to damage government and private property and also disrupt supplies and services essential to the life of the community of India”. The news report added that the FIR alleged that “SFJ and other pro-Khalistani elements involved in this conspiracy, through their incessant social media campaign and otherwise, are radicalizing and recruiting impressionable youth to agitate and undertake terrorist acts for the creation of a separate nation of Khalistan…”



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