The National Investigative Agency (NIA) Saturday issued summons to Punjabi actor Deep Singh Sidhu, who campaigned for BJP’s Sunny Deol in 2019 Lok Sabha elections and is associated with the ongoing farmers’ agitation, in connection with a case filed against the outlawed group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ). The agency had earlier issued notice to Sidhu’s brother Mandeep Singh.
They have been asked to appear at the NIA headquarters in New Delhi on January 17 for questioning in a case linked to SFJ’s Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, a designated terrorist, for conspiring to create an “atmosphere of fear and lawlessness and to cause disaffection in people and to incite them towards rising in rebellion against Government of India”.
Sidhu denied any connection with SFJ and termed the NIA summons as a move by the Centre to threaten those protesting against the three farm laws.
“This (NIA summons) is nothing to be surprised about. The government is doing all it can to threaten protesters. I am not affected by these notices. I never had any contact with the SFJ. There is no reason I should be in touch with them. I don’t know who they are. Such notices are part of our fight for farmers,” Sidhu told The Indian Express.
The actor received the summons a day after a similar notice was issued to Baldev Singh Sirsa, the president of Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society (LBIWS) which is one of the unions participating in talks with the Centre.
Sirsa, who was in Amritsar, said he will decide on appearing before the NIA only after consulting the leaders of the other farmer unions protesting in Delhi. “These notices are part of the ongoing attempts of Central government to defame the farmers’ agitation,” Sirsa said while talking to The Indian Express.
Sources said the NIA has summoned around 40 people — under Section 160 CrPC — in connection with the case against the US-based pro-Khalistan outfit. Those issued notices in Punjab include a group of three businessmen who had been running a daily bus service for farmers from Ludhiana to Delhi borders and a journalist who has been vocal on social media against the farm laws. The recipients also include Sikh youth, who were summoned last year by the Punjab Police’s de-radicalisation cells established at sub-divisional level.
Amid questions being raised on the timing of the summons, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur condemned the Union government’s “tactics for stiflling the voice of farmers protesting against the black agriculture laws meant to destroy the peasantry”.
“The issuance of notices to the farmers and those involved in the agitation is a manifestation of the dictatorial policy of the government by misusing the UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) to suppress the people associated with the agitation. The farmers are fighting for their existence but the government is misusing its machinery to suppress the voice of truth and justice, which is not tolerable,” said Jagir Kaur.