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NIA clears farm crews, says 40 called only as ‘witnesses’ | India News

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NEW DELHI: While farm groups opposing the new farm laws criticized NIA notifications to around 40 people, including those associated with ongoing protests, sources at the central investigating agency said the people involved had been cited simply as witnesses and not as accused. This was due, official sources said, because investigators believe these people are in possession of information about a “conspiracy” by banned terrorist groups such as Sikhs for Justice and Babbar Khalsa International to cause discontent in India and incite a rebellion against the government.
“The witnesses have been subpoenaed under Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code, as the NIA believes that they are aware of certain facts and circumstances of the case registered against SFJ and other pro-Khalistan groups on December 15, 2020. The FIR establishes very clearly the charges against SFJ, Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Tiger Force and Khalistan Zindabad Force, as well as their indicted leaders in the case, ”said an NIA official.
The defendants include SFJ’s Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, BKI’s Paramjit Singh Pamma, and Khalistan Tiger Force’s Hardeep Singh Nijjar, all of whom are now banned under UAPA. The charges include inciting rebellion and organizing foreign funds channeled through NGOs to pro-Khalistan elements here to carry out terrorist acts and disruptive activities, the official said.
Among those summoned by the NIA on different dates are peasant leader Baldev Singh Sirsa, Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu, British journalist Jasveer Singh Muktsar, and those associated with Khalsa Aid and various other Sikh and Punjab groups.
The NIA notices were criticized by protesting agricultural unions, most of which are from Punjab, as attempts by the government to use law enforcement agencies to break the turmoil. Punjab Prime Minister Amarinder Singh asked on Monday: “Do these farmers look like secessionists and terrorists?” He accused the New Delhi government of resorting to “reprehensible and oppressive tactics” in its desperation to undermine the fighting spirit of peacefully protesting farmers.
NIA had a different opinion. “The NIA has summoned these witnesses over a period of a few days to question them on facts of the SFJ case that it believes they are aware of and that may help the agency establish charges against the defendants in the case. The witnesses called are not just farmers or farmers, but from a variety of professions, so the notices should not be read in the context of ongoing protests, ”the official said.

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