As the National Investigation Agency (NIA) began summoning many who are supporting the farmers’ agitation, the farm union leadership has said they too had raised this issue with the Union Ministers during their talks. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the farm unions have said they will not appear before NIA, as summoned. They have alleged that the union government was using NIA to harass them.
Hindustan Times reported that the unions have decided that no farmer who has received such notices will appear before the agency as a mark of protest, and quotes Balbir Singh Rajewal, leader of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha. As reported earlier the NIA, has summoned over two dozen people in a case related to an organisation called Sikhs for Justice, which allegedly advocates Sikh secessionism and is allegedly aiding the protesters. The most prominent name on that list is that of farm union leader Baldev Singh Sirsa. Summons have also been sent to Khalsa Aid, a social organisation which has been supporting the farmer sit-in demonstration on Delhi’s borders, supplying them with food, medicine, clothes and other essential services.
Rajewal was quoted by HT saying, “There are many organisations which are helping us in so many ways… by organising langars (canteens), logistics, tents etc. The government is trying to threaten them and weaken the agitation through harassment.” He added, “We have decided that no farmer who has got these notices will appear before the NIA as a mark of protest.”
The farm unions had raised the issue of NIA summoning those who have supported agitation with three Union ministers — Narendra Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Parkash — during the ninth round of talks on January 15, reported HT. And according to a press statement by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had “promised to look into the matter”.
However, “despite this, the notices given to the agitators even today is shameless, it shows insensitivity of the government. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha condemns the act of serving these notices. In the coming days, legal action will also be taken against these notices,” the unions stated.
Meanwhile, Khalsa Aid is being nominated in Canada, for the Nobel Peace prize for its humanitarian support to those in need.
For over 20 years @Khalsa_Aid has been helping people in desperate situations around the world. In my capacity as a federal Member of Parliament and with the support of @PrabSarkaria and @patrickbrownont, I am nominating Khalsa Aid for a Nobel Peace Prize. pic.twitter.com/J2yApsWfhd
— Tim S. Uppal (@TimUppal) January 17, 2021
Khalsa Aid issued a statement after it got the NIA summons, expressing its “concerns for the health and mental wellbeing of our Khalsa Aid team, along with interrogations which may not comply with international standards.” It stated that such “large-scale indiscriminate NIA investigation of this nature against voluntary agencies, groups and individuals who provide humanitarian support is unprecedented in Indian history.” The organisation has urged “all international bodies and monitoring agencies to hold India to account on what appears on the face of it a politically motivated step.” They added that they will “cooperate and answer any queries raised by the NIA team.”
According to news reports, on Sunday Tomar again said, “A majority of farmers in the country support the laws. We will find a solution through talks.” Meanwhile, the NIA summons have been issued to over two dozen people associated with farmers’ protests on January 15. They have all been asked to appear before it at its New Delhi head quarter. The NIA probe is related to the alleged funding of Khalistanis abroad for organising on-ground campaigns and demonstrations outside Indian missions in the UK, the US, Canada, Germany and other countries, reported HT, adding that the probe also focuses on “use of several NGOs for funding the Khalistani campaigns, particularly spearheaded by banned outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).”
The news report stated that according to NIA those called for examination have been issued notices as “witnesses” to “clarify certain aspects regarding the probe.
Meanwhile Rakesh Tikait Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) once again stated that the farmers are prepared to protest against the Centre’s new farm laws “till May 2024” if needed. He had told this to SabrangIndia in December itself, and has not changed his stance since. It is in 2024 that the next general elections are due. Now, Tikait told the media during his visit to Nagpur that the “revolution of farmers started from Delhi and will not fail. Farmers from villages do not want us to come back until the three farm bills are taken back.” Tikait also said the Opposition parties in the country were weak and that is why farmers had to start this agitation against the Centre’s new laws stated news reports. Reacting to the NIA notices he said: “Those who want to be part of the agitation must be ready for court cases, imprisonment and sealing of property.”
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