Govt using NIA to harass us with notices, nobody will appear before NIA, farm unions say
Farm unions protesting a set of agricultural laws have said notices being served by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on supporters of their ongoing agitation could be a hurdle in ongoing talks, labelling it as “harassment” by the government.
The unions have decided no farmer who has received such notices will appear before the agency as a mark of protest, Balbir Singh Rajewal, a senior leader of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a platform of unions, told HT.
The NIA, a top investigating agency of the country, has summoned over two dozen people in a case related to an organisation called Sikhs for Justice, which advocates Sikh secessionism and is allegedly aiding the protesters.
Farm union leader Baldev Singh Sirsa are among those who have received notices.
“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,” Rajewal said, adding: “We have decided that no farmer who have 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.
According to a press statement by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had “promised to look into the matter”.
“Despite this, the notices given to the agitators even today is shameless, it shows insensitivity of the government. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha condemns act of serving these notices. In the coming days, legal action will also be taken against these notices,” the unions said in a statement.
The farm unions representing tens of thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, who have launched a mass agitation around the national capital, are demanding that the government scrap three laws approved by Parliament in September.
The laws are aimed at freeing agricultural markets from government restrictions, which the farmers say will leave them at the mercy of big corporations.
Tomar on Sunday said most farmers are in favour of laws. “A majority of farmers in the country support the laws. We will find a solution through talks,” he told reporters.
As HT had reported first, the NIA had issued summonses to over two dozen people associated with farmers’ protests on January 15, asking them to appear before it in Delhi in connecting with its probe related to funding of Khalistanis abroad for organising on-ground campaigns and demonstrations outside Indian missions in the UK, the US, Canada, Germany and other countries.
The probe also focuses on use of several NGOs for funding the Khalistani campaigns, particularly spearheaded by banned outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).
The agency officials say the persons called for examination have been issued notices as “witnesses” to clarify certain aspects regarding the probe. HT had first reported about the new case regarding Khalistani conspiracy registered on December 15, 2020 in the midst of farmers’ protests.
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