Sandeep Singh: United Sikhs Falsely Claims Credit For Mandeep Punia’s Bail Among Others
United Sikhs claims within hours of discovering the error they removed all posts but missed one Facebook post and one Twitter post
March 7, 2021 | 2.5 min. read
United Sikhs falsely took credit for the successful bail hearings of Mandeep Punia and six others associated with the farmers’ protest in a February 9 Facebook fundraising post.
The post’s caption states in English that “7 BAILS GRANTED with your support and the efforts of our legal team”. They use stronger language in Punjabi. “With your support, United Sikhs’ team of lawyers has secured bail for 7 farmers”.
United Sikhs explains that the Facebook post in question was the result of an inadvertent error arising from miscommunication and misunderstanding between different departments within the organization on February 9, 2021.
They also claim that on February 10, 2021, United Sikhs realized a mistake was made and removed the Facebook banner containing the graphic and sought to remove all other posts of this graphic on its social media, but mistakenly missed the Facebook post containing the graphic in the newsfeed at that time.
However, United Sikhs had also posted the graphic on Twitter which was only deleted after the publication of this article. Both the Facebook and Twitter posts received engagement from followers between their posting and the publication of this article.
United Sikhs also make the misleading claim in the caption that they are working in “conjunction” with farm unions on legal aid matters. A claim that has now been adamantly denied by farmer unions multiple times.
United Sikhs deny that it has made any false or misleading claims, and maintains that it has, and continues to, offer free legal assistance to farmers since the Republican Day mass arrests.
The graphic accompanying the caption highlights the name of the seven “farmers” under the header “bails granted with your support”.
One name stands out in particular - Mandeep Punia.
Punia is a well-known journalist with The Caravan, an independent Indian media outlet. His arrest by Delhi police became a high-profile and international story.
In an interview with Baaz, Punia was surprised to learn that United Sikhs took credit for his bail hearing and were using it for fundraising purposes.
“My wife, Leela Shree, paid all my legal aid expenses. She did everything. No organization did. My lawyer, Sarim Naved, was not sent by an NGO either. He was sent by Caravan magazine. We neither applied for funds nor did we get anything from anyone. No one else helped us with my bail. My family took care of any costs, and my journalist fraternity provided me moral support.”
In the same fundraising post, United Sikhs claim that they secured bail for Lovepreet Singh, Ramandeep Singh, and Jaswinder Singh.
Baaz reviewed a copy of the bail orders for Lovepreet and Ramandeep which show that lawyers Amarveer Bhullar and Vikas Yadav had appeared in court for the two accused.
Bhullar is not impressed with United Sikhs taking credit for legal work they were not part of for fundraising purposes.
“United Sikhs’ claim of getting Lovepreet, Ramandeep, and Jaswinder out of jail on bail is completely false. Vikas Yadav and I appeared for these boys from Mansa. Neither I or Vikas are associated with United Sikhs. I request them to remove that post.”
The remaining three names on United Sikhs’ post are Sandeep Kumar, Sonu Sharma, and Sahab Jan Ansari.
Advocate Kapil Chaudhary, who practices in Dwarka Court, claims to have appeared in court for the three and challenges United Sikhs’ claim.
“Sandeep’s relative had approached me for the bail. There were five accused in the case. All of them got bail. I succeeded in securing bail for three. Four are out of jail,” he continues, “We are trying to get in touch with Sahab’s family. He is in jail because his bail bond of 25,000 rupees remains to be paid. DSGMC has approached us to pay for the bail bond.”
When asked about United Sikhs’ alleged role in securing these bails, Chaudhary said, “I don’t have any contact with United Sikhs”, in fact, Chaudhary shared he never even heard of United Sikhs before.
United Sikhs have not yet provided answers to Baaz on questions sent last week regarding how many farmers they have actually provided legal support to, what legal costs the money raised to date has been spent on, and why they claim to be working with the farmers’ unions in fundraising campaigns. We will update the story once these details have been provided.
Story Update: United Sikhs has deleted these posts, both on Facebook and Twitter. They have claimed that there was a miscommunication between the legal team and the media team that caused this error.
Sandeep Singh hails from Machhiwara, Punjab. As an independent journalist, he has worked with many prominent Indian news organizations. Sandeep has been following the farmer’s protest in Punjab since its onset and traveled with them to Delhi. He spends most of his time at the Singhu border protest site. You can follow Sandeep on Twitter @Punyaab
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