Punjabi actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, accused of being the key conspirator of the Red Fort violence on Republic Day last year, died Tuesday evening after his car hit a truck on Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway in Haryana's Sonipat district, police said.
The 37-year-old actor was said to be travelling from Delhi to Punjab when the incident occurred near Pipli toll plaza in Kharkhoda.
The accident spot was around 25 km from Singhu border, the epicentre of last year's farmers' protest against farm laws.
Kharkhoda police station Inspector Jaspal Singh said, "Deep Sidhu died in the accident. A female friend accompanying him was taken to a hospital where her condition was stable."
An investigation to determine the exact cause of the accident was underway, he said.
According to the police, Sidhu had sustained serious head injuries in the accident. TV visuals showed the white SUV badly damaged on the driver's side after it rammed into the stationary truck.
Senior police officials from Sonipat district have reached the accident site.
Sidhu had participated in the farmers' agitation against the Centre's three farm laws at the Delhi borders.
He was arrested on February 9, 2021, in connection with the Red Fort violence on Republic Day during the farmers' tractor parade against the Centre's three agriculture laws. He was in jail for over two months before being released on bail.
The chief minister and several political leaders of poll-bound Punjab, expressed their grief over the incident.
Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi tweeted, "Deeply saddened to learn about the unfortunate demise of renowned actor and social activist Deep Sidhu. My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family and his fans."
Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the untimely death of the actor and activist Sidhu has come as a shock to his admirers and the entire film fraternity.
"The lawyer-turned-artiste from Muktsar was an inspiration for many. Sincere condolences to his family and prayers for the departed soul," Badal tweeted.
AAP's Punjab unit chief and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann also expressed grief over the death of Sidhu.
The actor, who hailed from Punjab's Muktsar district, was reportedly present at the Red Fort when a religious flag and a farmer flag were put at the flagpole at the historic monument.
Following a massive outrage, Sidhu had then defended the protester's action, saying they did not remove the national flag and had put up the 'Nishan Sahib' as a symbolic protest.
The 'Nishan Sahib', a symbol of Sikh religion, is seen at all gurdwara complexes.
At that time, Sidhu was accused by farm bodies of trying to defame their agitation and termed a "traitor". He had hit out at farm leaders for allegedly spreading propaganda and hatred against him.
Sidhu was also a close aide of BJP MP Sunny Deol, who contested from the Gurdaspur seat in Punjab during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He had remained with Deol during the poll campaigning.
Deol however had distanced himself from Sidhu after he joined the farmers' agitation.