The National Investigation Agency on Sunday summoned 40 people for their alleged connection with Sikh For Justice, an international organisation said to be espousing the cause of Khalistan.
However, Shiromani Akali Dal, till recently an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, charged the Centre with harassing all those involved in the farmers’ movement.
Those who were summoned include Baldev Singh Sirsa, a farmer leader engaged in talks with the Union government.
The names of Deep Sidhu, a Punjabi actor and a journalist were also in the list. Deep Sidhu and the journalist are actively backing the agitation.
Several other persons associated with Khalsa Aid, an NGO engaged in several philanthropic works, and which is too providing help to the farmers were summoned by the NIA.
Former Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal strongly condemned the NIA action and held the Narendra Modi government directly responsible for it. In a tweet he alleged that the farmers’ involved in agitation for the sake of their genuine demands are not Khalistani and anti-national. He said that the notices were served to 40 people after the ninth round of talks failed to yield results.
Sukhbir’s wife Harsimrat Kaur was a minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet till she resigned on Sep 17 last in protest against the enactment of the three farm laws by the Centre. A few days later Shiromani Akali Dal snapped over four decades long ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
On the other hand, Khalsa Aid, in a statement, expressed surprise over the issuing of notice to all those involved in the farmers’ movement, though it said that it would cooperate with the NIA. It said that it has nothing to do with the Khalistan movement.
Almost all the farmers’ leaders denounced the NIA summon.
A case against the Sikh For Justice was lodged on Dec 15 last year. It was alleged that the farmers’ agitation is getting funds from Canada, the United States of America and Germany.
The farmers alleged that the Income Tax department carried out raids on several Arhtiyas (commission agents) last month with the same purpose of harassing them.