NIA changes tack after Khalsa Aid gets nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
The National Investigation Agency postponed its summons to the trustees of the NGO, who had been asked to depose before it
On 16 January, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had summoned Amanpreet Singh, director of the humanitarian NGO Khalsa Aid India, and some of its other trustees, asking them to depose before it. Two days later, it was announced that the United Kingdom-based NGO was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. Now, the NIA has reportedly postponed the examination of the NGO's members.
Khalsa Aid was founded by the British Sikh activist Ravi Singh in in 1999. It has chapters in various countries, including India. The NGO works on the principle, “Recognize the whole human race as one, to serve humanity".
In India, it is known for helping rebuild Kerala after the devastating 2018 floods, providing aid to the frontline workers and casualties of the covid-19 lockdown, and supporting the ongoing farmers’ protest in Haryana. At the latter, it has provided food, water, toilet and a convenience store, even installed electric foot-massagers for the tired protestors.
On 16 January, the NIA summoned Singh and other trustees. In response, Khalsa Aid expressed "genuine and legitimate concerns for the health and mental wellbeing of our Khalsa Aid team, along with interrogations which may not comply with international standards."
"A large-scale indiscriminate NIA investigation of this nature against voluntary agencies, groups and individuals who provide humanitarian support is unprecedented in Indian history," the NGO said in a statement released on its website on 16 January. "We urge all international bodies and monitoring agencies to hold India to account on what appears on the face of it a politically motivated step," the NGO said.
On 18 January, the day the Nobel nomination was announced, the agency postponed the interrogation, The Hindu reported. “There was meant to be a hearing of two key Indian team members today and tomorrow [Monday and Tuesday], they [the NIA] postponed it. They were informed on phone that the hearing is postponed till further notice,” Ravinder Singh, founder of Khalsa Aid, was quoted saying by The Hindu.
Over the last 21 years, Khalsa Aid made a name for itself through relief work in war-affected Syria, in the 2016 London floods and by setting up refugee camps for Rohingyas on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. The Nobel nomination was made by Canadian politicians in public office, Tim Uppal, Patrick Brown and Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria.
In an interview with Mint in 2019, Amarpreet Singh said their aid work often earns them flak from political dispensations. Far-right websites like OpIndia have also accused Khalsa Aid of being a "pro-Khalistani outfit".
“When we were serving the Rohingya refugees, we were called anti-nationals and Muslim appeasers on social media, but when we told them there were Hindu Rohingya refugees and Muslims alike, then everyone kept quiet," Singh told Mint at the time. "Our aim is to do selfless service that goes beyond the realms of faith or community, a service for the weak and marginalized.
Also Read: What Khalsa Aid can teach you about giving
FIRST PUBLISHED19.01.2021 | 03:04 PM IST