Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu and farmers' leader Baldev Singh Sirsa are among 40 people summoned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for questioning in a case related to the banned outfit Sikhs For Justice. The actor, who has backed the farmers protesting against the centre's contentious agriculture laws, has been asked to appear before the anti-terrorism agency at its Delhi headquarters today. The others who have been summoned include officials of non-profit Khalsa Aid.
Reacting to the summons, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal alleged the centre was attempting to intimidate farmer leaders and those supporting them through central agencies.
"Strongly condemn the centre's attempts to intimidate farmer leaders and supporters of Kisan Andolan (farmers' protest) by calling them for questioning by NIA and ED (Enforcement Directorate). They aren't anti-nationals. And after failure of talks for the 9th time, it's absolutely clear that GOI (the Government of India) is only trying to tire out farmers," he tweeted on Saturday.
Strongly condemn Centre's attempts to intimidate farmer leaders & supporters of #KisanAndolan by calling them for questioning by #NIA & ED. They aren't anti-nationals. And after failure of talks for the 9th time, it's absolutely clear that GOI is only trying to tire out farmers. pic.twitter.com/3x5T8VNdph— Sukhbir Singh Badal (@officeofssbadal) January 16, 2021
Khalsa Aid, which has been supporting the protesting farmers by providing essentials, issued a statement on Saturday, saying it will cooperate with the agency.
"We are deeply concerned to learn of the summons being issued by the NIA to individuals involved in the farmers protest, ranging from bus drivers to union leaders all have been summoned to appear before the NIA, being investigated as being 'anti-national' and supporting terrorism. Our Khalsa Aid India team on the ground have also been summoned and are being questioned/investigated...Our team will cooperate and answer any queries raised by the NIA team," it said.
Sikhs For Justice is a US-based pro-Khalistan group.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been holding protests against the laws in and around the national capital for weeks.
In the last few weeks, several BJP leaders have claimed the presence of what they called anti-national elements among the protesting farmers.
Several rounds of centre-farmer talks have failed to end the deadlock. Farmers have repeatedly rejected the centre's offers of amendment to the laws, insisting on their demands for repealing the legislation and legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price.
The Supreme Court last week put on hold the laws and ordered that a panel be formed to facilitate resolution. The farmers, however, vowed to continue their agitation until the laws are repealed.