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Now, NIA summons farm leader Sirsa, Sikh activists

January 17, 2021 05:10 AM

COURTESY HT JAN 17

Now, NIA summons farm leader Sirsa, Sikh activists
Surjit Singh

letterschd@hindustantimes.com

Amritsar : The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has summoned Baldev Singh Sirsa, who heads the Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society that is one of the unions taking part in the agitation against the Centre’s three farm laws, besides Sikh activists in connection with a sedition case against US-based banned pro-Khalistan outfit Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) legal adviser Gurpatwant Singh Pannu.

Sirsa has been summoned to the NIA headquarters in Delhi on January 17 for questioning in the case against Pannu for conspiring 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”.

Reacting to the summons, Sirsa, who was one of the farmers’ representatives negotiating with the government over the farm laws, said, “The government is fearing the tractor parade in Delhi on January 26 and is trying to terrorise people of Punjab by sending these notices through the NIA. The sole motive is to derail the farmer agitation. However, we will continue our struggle for the repeal of the laws.”

Bid to stifle voice of  dissent: Sikh activist

Talking over phone, Canada-based freelance community journalist and analyst Baltej Pannu, who also received the summons, said, “I only cover developments related to Punjab and don’t have any direct link with farmer organisations or their funding. As far as the SFJ is concerned, to which I have being linked in the notice, its functionaries hurl abuses at me. They issue threats to my family. I’m surprised to be linked with this outfit by the government.”

“The government wants to tighten the noose around activists supporting the farmers’ cause. It is misuse of power to stifle the voice of dissent,” said Ranjit Singh, the senior vice-president of the Sikh Youth Federation (Bhindranwale), who was asked to appear at the NIA headquarters on January 21.

Actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu and his brother Mandeep have also received the NIA notice. “I’ve been participating in the agitation. To demoralise me, the government has chosen to harass my family members, too,” Deep said.

Those summoned by the NIA include a tourist bus operator Inderpal Singh Judge, 47, a nut bolt manufacturer, Naresh Kumar, 56, a cable TV operator, Jaspal Singh, 56, besides Sikh activists Surinder Thikriwala, Nobeljit Singh from Hoshiarpur, Palwinder, Pardeep, Parmjit Akali and Sikh writer Balwinderpal Jalandhar.

BJP govt misusing  UAPA: SGPC chief

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur condemned the notices, saying “The BJP-led Union government is stifling the voice of farmers. The notice is a manifestation of the dictatorial policy of the government by misusing the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to suppress people associated with the agitation. Farmers are fighting for existence but the government machinery is being misused to suppress their voice which is not tolerable.

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