Congress, Akali Dal hit out at BJP over NIA notices to farmers

‘Notices part of a ploy to weaken the farmers’ movement’

The Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Sunday hit out at the BJP-led government at the Centre over the notices sent by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to the farmers and those lending support to the ongoing protest against the new farm laws.

In a statement, Punjab Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said, “The farmer who feed the entire nation with his blood, sweat and toil cannot be cowed down by such empty threats, which would prove to be very costly for the ruling dispensation in New Delhi.”

Mr. Randhawa said the notices sent by the NIA were part of a ploy by the BJP government to weaken the farmers’ movement being waged on the borders of Delhi. “This is not the first time in the six-and-a-half year tenure of the National Democratic Alliance [NDA] that government agencies have been misused for political purposes,” he said, terming the current period as the “darkest in the annals of India’s democracy”.

The Congress leader said the BJP employed strong-arm tactics to browbeat its opponents into submission and now this new move would prove to be a disaster. “The Congress party and the State government will always stand by the farmers and stoutly oppose such autocratic tactics,” he added.

Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD president, said, “It is condemnable that the Central government did not find anything wrong with Khalsa Aid [international NGO that provides humanitarian aid in disaster areas] when it provided aid in Gujarat but had unleashed the NIA on the NGO for stepping in to help farmers agitating peacefully on the borders of Delhi.”

Talking to presspersons in Ferozepur, Mr. Badal asked how it was possible that an organisation that was acclaimed by the country earlier had suddenly turned bad simply because it had chosen to help the farmers?

“Summoning people associated with Khalsa Aid by the NIA is a clear sign of frustration. The Centre thinks it can weaken the farmers’ protest by such intimidating measures. Little does it know that the agitation is only getting stronger due to these repressive steps,” he added.

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