Punjabi actor-cum-activist Deep Sidhu was arrested by Delhi Police Special Cell on Tuesday. Sidhu who had campaigned for BJP’s Sunny Deol in 2019, is accused in the Republic Day violence case as he was found instigating the crowd during the tractor rally and violence at Red Fort.
Sidhu was accused in the hoisting of a religious flag at the Red Fort during the tractor rally, which evoked nationwide outrage. He was, however, untraceable after the incidents on Republic Day.
Sidhu has been accused by the farmers' groups of seeking to defame their agitation. According to agitating unions, the Delhi Police gave a free pass to Sidhu and other ‘miscreants’. Sunny Deol has been denying any connection with Sidhu following the controversy. To prove his association with the BJP, farmers’ union leaders and supporters circulated photos of Sidhu with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Delhi Police had announced the cash reward of ₹1 lakh each for information on Deep Sidhu, Jugraj Singh, Gurjot Singh and Gurjant Singh; and ₹50,000 each on Jajbir Singh, Buta Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Iqbal Singh for their alleged involvement in the Republic Day violence that saw at least one person dead and several injured, including policemen. The Delhi Police did not disclose the location from where the actor was arrested. Police would now probe where he sought shelter since January 26 and those who provided it to him. Those who provided shelter to him could also face legal action.
Several raids were conducted in Punjab and Delhi to look for the accused, said the police. To date, more than 44 FIRs have been registered and 127 persons arrested in connection with the violence on Republic Day.
On the day of the tractor rally, at the Red Fort on January 26, a group of protesters hoisted the Sikh religious flag along with the farmers’ union flag on a pole just below the tricolour flying atop the main dome of the Red Fort building. A section of farmers at the site itself made their disapproval quite apparent and urged protesters to come down from the poles and ramparts. Videos of actor Deep Sidhu at the Red Fort urging protests to hoist the Nishan Sahib went viral.
After the tractor rally, there was a massive outrage over protesters hoisting a religious flag at the Red Fort. Sidhu, however, denied all allegations of inciting the farmers during their tractor march on January 26. He sought to defend their action, saying they did not remove the national flag and had put up the ‘Nishan Sahib’ as a symbolic protest.
The actor also released a fresh video on his Facebook account and wrote in the caption: "We can't fight the battle bases on lies, start accepting the truth. I just got to know they have arrested our youth, let's get them out on priority, let's stay united and fight this. UP's boy Navneet martyred, tomorrow's boy's Bhog is UP, in reality, Bhog should have been suffered in the farmer's protest by declaring this movement as a martyr from the stage in Delhi, it is a request that the families who lost their only child in this protest. Stand by." Within two hours of uploading, it was viewed 19,000 times.
Deep Sidhu had earlier uploaded a video on his Facebook account in which, in Punjabi, he claimed that he did nothing wrong.
Sidhu and his brother, Mandeep Singh, were among those summoned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) earlier this month in connection with a case filed against the Sikhs For Justice, which has been accused of links to Khalistani elements.
A day before Sidhu’s arrest, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had alleged in the Lok Sabha that “forces within the government” were responsible for the Red Fort violence. A joint parliamentary committee probe into this “big conspiracy” was needed, he said.
“With such a strong Home Minister like Amit Shah, how can some people reach the Red Fort, that too on January 26 when the highest level of security was in place in Delhi. Why isn’t there a proper investigation into it. It is actually a big, well-planned conspiracy to defame the farmers. The fact is that you have sent some vandals to the Red Fort to create vandalism. Forces within the government are behind it,” he alleged.
Farmers have been protesting at the different borders of the national capital since November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.