In the eye of the Red Fort violence storm, Punjabi actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu has gone missing since the tractors’ rally turned aggressive after a section of farmers strayed from the planned route on Republic Day. He was last seen in the January 26 chaos, among the crowd that deviated to Delhi’s iconic Red Fort and planted a Nishan Sahib flag on an empty rampart.
In a video footage from the incident, Sidhu was caught fleeing from the spot as the situation aggravated. He jumps onto a motorbike and escapes.
While farmer unions alleged it was “fringe elements” like Sidhu who instigated protesters and turned the agitation violent, he defended his actions, saying they did not remove the national flag at the Red Fort, but only put up the 'Nishan Sahib' as a symbolic protest.
Meanwhile, the NDTV reported that Sidhu has been named in a case filed by the Delhi Police in connection with the violence that broke out on Republic Day.
Sidhu had conducted a Facebook live while hoisting the pennant from the ramparts of the Red Fort. "We have only hoisted the Nishan Sahib flag on the Red Fort while exercising our democratic right to protest," Sindhu could be heard in the video.
The violent turn of events after two months of farmers' agitation has exposed the movement, even as unions and leaders continue to disassociate themselves from the faction that stormed the Red Fort.
While there have been calls for an investigation into the role of Sidhu and Lakhana Sidhana in Tuesday’s violence, there have been reports linking the former to the BJP and the party’s MP Sunny Deol. However, Deol has categorically denied having any connection with Siddhu, who himself has said that he does not have any association with the BJP.
Meanwhile, social media has broken into raging post, slamming Sidhu for perverting the tractors’ rally “intentionally, as part of a conspiracy against the farmers”. However, on the other hand, a section of people have dismissed such allegations against Sidhu.
The Indian Express on Wednesday reported that the call to break away from the designated tractor rally route began on Monday, when for about six hours - from 6pm to midnight - some fringe elements took over the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) stage at the Singhu border. They opposed the route agreed upon between SKM leaders and Delhi Police, and their call was also webcast live on some Punjabi web channels and individual social media accounts.
While it was first unknown faces who took up the state, Lakhbir Singh Sidhana alias Lakha Sidhana, 40, and Sidhu later addressed the crowd.
Sidhana is a gangster-turned-politician and president of the Malwa Youth Federation, Indian Express reported.
Sidhu had also held a prolonged protest at Shambu border between Punjab and Haryana before moving to Singhu border. Accusations of Khalistani elements running the protests at Shambu have also been previously made.
Reports say he was also involved in breaking barriers at Shambu border in November last year, after which Haryana Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the group of protesting farmers trying to enter Delhi.
Sidhu and his brother, Mandeep Singh, were also among those summoned by the NIA earlier in January in connection with a case filed against the banned outfit 'Sikhs For Justice'.
Sidhana was acquitted in several cases before contesting the 2012 assembly polls as a candidate of the People’s Party of Punjab, floated by Manpreet Singh Badal.