NIA summons supporters of farmers in terror funding case

By Express News Service
CHANDIGARH/NEW DELHI:  After the raids by the I-T department on commission agents in Punjab for supporting the farmers’ protest, the National Investigation Agency has served notices to at least 12 activists who have supported the stir, including Baldev Singh Sirsa, the president of the Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society.

Sirsa was summoned for questioning on January 17, two days before the tenth round of talks. The anti-terror agency claimed Sirsa had been called as a witness in connection with a terror funding case registered against the Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), a banned Khalistani outfit. “A notice has been sent under Sect ion 160 CrPC, which is done for witness summons,” an NIA official said.

The others who were summoned include Baltej Pannu, a radio and TV journalist working with the US and Canada-based media organisations, activist Jasveer Singh, Jasbir Singh Rode, Balwinder Pal Singh, Sukhpreet Singh Udhoke, Karnail Singh, Mandeep Singh, Paramjit Singh, Ranjit Singh, Surinder Singh, Pardeep Singh, Inderpal Singh Judge, Naresh Kumar and cable TV operator Jaspal Singh.

“I got a phone call last night from an NIA official, who then sent me a copy of the notice through WhatsApp. I will appear before the NIA officials on November 18. I will also join the tractor march on January 26,” Jasveer said.

‘This is harassment of people agitating peacefully’

But Sirsa said he will not appear before the NIA now because he would be busy in his granddaughter’s wedding and can appear before the agency only after February 7. He claimed the government was trying to pressure the farmers by sending these notices.

“Centre wants to derail the agitation. But we will continue our struggle for the repealing of the laws. Many people who are associated with the farmers’ agitation have been sent these notices,” Sirsa said. The Punjab Human Rights Organisation said the notice was a violation of human rights and a desecration of the democratic ethos. “This is nothing but harassment of agitating people peacefully for their rights,” it said.