Farmers’ leader Sirsa won’t appear before National Investigating Agency on Sunday

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest tactic to sabotage farmers’ movement?

Amritsar (IANS): Farmers’ leader Baldev Singh Sirsa on Saturday said he will not be able to appear before the counter-terror task force, National Investigating Agency (NIA), on Sunday owing to his pre-occupations relating to the wedding of his granddaughter and he would remain busy in family affairs till February 7.

He said he got the notice on WhatsApp at a short notice and there was no formal notice from the agency.

The President of Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society, one of the unions participating in talks with the Government of India over the new farm laws, on Friday night came to know from a reporter that the NIA issued him a notice in connection with a case registered against banned outfit the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).

Talking to the media in this Punjab city, Sirsa accused the central government for trying to derail the farmers’ protest by adopting various means.

“First, they (the government) tried to put pressure on us (farmers) through people and politicians and then through the Supreme Court. Now it is using the NIA,” he said candidly.

Without mincing words, he said, “The government is trying to ‘torpedo’ our agitation.”

Accompanying three others who too got the NIA notice regarding the case against the SFJ activists, the farmer leader, who didn’t participate in the last and the ninth round of talks between the farmers and the government, asked the NIA to give him time to appear before it after February 7.

“Before it, it is difficult for me to appear (owing to the marriage of my granddaughter),” he said.

Sirsa said many people associated with the agitation have got the NIA summons. “The government tries to terrorise those working for farmers. We are not afraid and going to bend with such tactics. The government is bent on defaming the protest.”

In a surprise move, the NIA has sent notices to over a dozen of people, including a journalist, farmer leaders associated with the agitation and others, in connection with its probe into the SFJ case.

The NIA last month filed a charge sheet against 10 Khalistani terrorists, including US-based designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, in the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) case in the special NIA court in Mohali in Punjab.