Amid allegations that the centre is using its probe agencies to discredit farmer protests, security was tightened at the headquarters of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Delhi's Lodhi Road.
The NIA has summoned some 40 people related directly or indirectly to the farmer protests. They claim summons were issued as witnesses in a terror-related case filed in December 2020.
Security has been tightened at NIA headquarters as a precautionary measure, a senior official said. "Security is being tightened around the national city ahead of Republic Day and it has nothing to do with NIA's ongoing investigations against the Sikhs For Justice case," the official told NDTV.
According to him, of the 40 summoned as witnesses, the NIA has only examined 10 so far. "Some functionaries of international NGO Khalsa Aid have been examined, some more have been summoned," the official said.
Khalsa Aid has presence in the UK, the US and Canada. This same NGO had provided foot-massagers and geysers to protesting farmers. Some of those who have refused to comply with summons include Punjabi actor Deep Singh Sidhu, his lawyer brother Mandeep Singh Sidhu and farmer leader and head of Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society Balbir Singh Sirsa, officials said.
Deep Singh Sidhu on Facebook said the NIA is using pressure tactics. "I was summoned on 16 and asked to appear on 17 January. I told them it's not possible. The officer on the other end was very rude to me then and stated that they know other ways also," he said.
"Formally, they are showing that they have summoned us but are also threatening us that they will get us picked up. Some of us who have already been questioned are saying they are blackmailing and saying don't participate in these protests," Deep Singh Sidhu said.
The NIA has also summoned some local journalists and social media influencers. "They all have been summoned as witnesses in an ongoing case. The ones who have refused to join, legal action would be taken against them as per law," another officer said.
The case that NIA probing is a fresh case registered against SFJ on December 15, 2020 where it alleged that a large amount of funds being collected by Khalistani terrorist outfits are being sent through NGOs to pro-Khalistani elements in India.
The FIR said designated terrorists such as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Paramjeet Singh Pamma, Hardeep Singh Nijjar and others spearheaded campaigns to collect huge funds for on-ground campaign and propaganda against India, that includes staging demonstrations against Indian missions in the US, the UK, Canada and Germany.
The SFJ was first banned in 2019 by the Home Ministry. In the past five years, 14 cases have been registered against the SFJ, and more than 40 have been arrested.