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It’s pressure tactics, say protesting farmers & Punjab journalist on NIA summons in terror case

Around 40 people have been summoned as witnesses in a case registered last month to investigate alleged funding of Khalistani groups abroad.

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New Delhi: Several farm leaders protesting against the three farm laws, a Punjab-based journalist and an actor are among 40 people who have been summoned as “witnesses” for questioning by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) in connection with a case registered against Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a foreign-based secessionist group.

They were called between 18 and 20 January after being served notices under Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which empowers a police officer to call a witness to join an ongoing investigation.

NIA officials said the people were called as mere “witnesses to ascertain details on the investigation”, but those summoned alleged it was a “pressure tactic” and that they were being targeted since they are a part of the “ongoing farmer’s agitation”.

The NIA registered a fresh case in December against the SFJ to investigate the alleged funding of Khalistani groups abroad that have been organising on-ground campaigns, protests and demonstrations outside Indian missions in the US, Canada, Germany, the UK among other countries. The FIR was registered on orders of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) under the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

This is the second case the NIA has registered under the amended NIA Act that gives it international jurisdiction to investigate terror attacks abroad that either target Indians, Indian interests or have any links to India. The first case was that of an Indian-origin gunman who attacked a gurdwara in Kabul last March, leaving 27 people, including an Indian, dead.


Also read: Why the farmers’ protest is led by Sikhs of Punjab


‘Govt trying to scare us’

Speaking to ThePrint, Jasbir Singh Rode, who runs a newspaper named Aaj Di Awaz in Jalandhar, said the summons are nothing but a “pressure tactic to scare away the protesting farmers”.

Jasbir had been a part of the farmer’s protest since the beginning and also set up a medical camp and langar at the Delhi-Haryana Singhu border.

“The government is using the NIA to put pressure. Since nothing else worked, they are now trying to scare us by sending these summons to join an ongoing investigation in a case of terror,” he said.

“They are naming Pannun and others. I have never even seen his face, let alone be in contact with him or his party. Moreover, none of us support this idea of Khalistan. We are here fighting for our rights in India, how do we care about Khalistan?” he said.

“The government is yet again trying to defame these protests and they will fall flat on their nose. It will further tarnish their image and reputation. We are not scared of anyone, so we will definitely join the investigation,” he said.

Nobeljit Singh, who runs a cloth shop in Hoshiarpur said they will raise this issue with the government in their next talks on 19 January.

“This has to be raised with the government. Earlier, we were all to go to NIA to join the probe, but now our committee has decided that no one will go and will take this up with the government on 19 January. We will ask them to stop terrorising protestors with this summon. It shows their intention,” he said.

He further added that the farmers were ready to talk and were not running away anywhere.

“For the last four months, we have been fighting this struggle. Protesting for our rights does not make us anti-national. If the government will start using its agencies to crush dissent, this is a matter of grave concern for common citizens like us,” he said.

Pradeep Singh, who runs a dairy in Ludhiana and was at the protest site in Delhi from 26 November to 26 December, said he will join the investigation as he has “done nothing wrong”.

“I want to go and see what they have to ask. I will cooperate fully. I do not understand how my name got dragged into this. I do not even have any relatives in these countries, and they have called me to investigate the flow of funds related to Khalistani activities. It is a shame. But I will go and face this,” he said.


Also read: Pakistan ‘fanning farmer protests via noisy minority’ of Sikhs in Canada with Khalistan links


The case

According to the NIA’s first information report, the US-based Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, UK-based Paramjit Singh Pamma and Canada resident Hardeep Singh Nijjar are accused of collecting funds, under the banner of the SFJ, for a “rebellion against the Indian government”.

“The purpose of this FIR is to probe the activities of Sikh For Justice. This FIR will empower NIA to carry out a probe overseas as most of them are operating from the US, USA, Canada and Germany. They are conspiring and running a clear campaign against the Government of India sitting from there, in the garb of running NGOs. While they are not banned there, in India they have been declared as terrorists,” a source in the NIA told ThePrint.

“The idea is to probe the links from where these people are pumping money into India to fund their activities like the on-ground campaigns and demonstrations they run against the Government of India outside Indian missions in the UK, Germany, Canada. We are aware that these campaigns are run by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Paramjit Singh Pamma, Hardeep Singh Nijjar but it needs further probe,” the source said.

“We will also investigate their source of funding, for which teams will be traveling to these countries,” the source added.

The source also said the SFJ was running a campaign to influence “the youth” of India by pushing propaganda through social media, which will also be investigated.


Also read: Arrested Babbar Khalsa men were planning targeted murders, sponsored by ISI, say police


 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. YY and his gang of jihadist who are collaborating with ultra left wing radicals from instructions of pakistan and china who are known rioters and proselytizers should be arrested first. INDIA must stop these radicals from destroying peace.

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