‘Intel officials keeping eye on Khalsa Aid’

A ‘Kisan Mall’ at the Singhu border protest site in Delhi.  

Khalsa Aid’s director in India Amarpreet Singh, who has been summoned by the National Investigation Agency to appear for questioning, said that he knows that intelligence officials keep a check on them and also speaks to him regularly.

Speaking to The Hindu at the Singhu border, he said that whenever Khalsa Aid undertakes projects in different parts of the country and other counties also, people perceive Khalsa in a negative way, especially after 1984 riots. “They associate the term with anti-national activities. It takes us time to convince them that we are not in any way associated with any anti-national organisation. I think the NIA is probably thinking on the same lines,” he laughed.

Mr. Singh said that he knows intelligence officials are always standing around the Khalsa Aid Kisan Mall here. “They talk to me also and if those officers are reporting back to their bosses, then I don’t understand why we are being questioned,” he wondered.

Talking about the questioning of one of the trustees last week, he said that the NIA focused on Khalsa Aid’s funding for farmers’ protest.

“They questioned him for seven-eight hours and were fairly polite. They asked him about the funding, how did we buy geysers and massage machines and if we are getting foreign funding,” he said, adding that he was scheduled to be questioned on Monday but received a call on Sunday night to reschedule. Mr. Singh’s first reaction to NIA notice was “shock- cum-disappointment” and he wondered, “what kind of problems does the government have?”

However, reaction of certain media was expected, he said, because they have purportedly faced this before when they helped the Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh and provided aid in Syria. “We are questioned as to why are we helping members of another community if we are Sikhs and when we have a problem of poverty in our own country. Also, we were being covered a lot because of the new ideas we were implementing, so the hate campaign was expected. But we keep telling everyone that we don’t help based on religion or community but where help is required,” he said.

Volunteers’ reaction

Talking about volunteers’ reaction to the notices sent to Khalsa Aid functionaries, he said they are slightly scared but they tell him to take it easy. “Volunteers are also disappointed because they leave their work to help people here and when they go back to their workplace and are asked questions, it’s not the best feeling to feel,” he said.

Implementation of new ideas is not going to end because of the summons, he added. Khalsa Aid is all set to install Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants worth ₹2 lakh for one machine — two each at the Singhu and Tikri borders — to tackle the problem of plastic water bottles being used and thrown at the protest sites.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 11:14:45 AM |

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