Amid Row Over Amritpal Singh, A Look Back At Deep Sidhu, Who Was He?

Punjabi actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, was accused of being the key conspirator of the Red Fort violence on Republic Day in Februrary last year,  after his car hit a truck on Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway in Haryana's Sonipat district.

Actor-Activist Deep Sidhu

Radical preacher Amritpal Singh's supporters, some of them brandishing swords and guns, broke through barricades and stormed into a police station complex here on Thursday, camping there till they were "assured" that an arrested man would be released.

Three policemen were hurt during the clash, officials said. A large police force kept watch but refrained from taking any action as the preacher, often described as a Khalistan sympathiser, and other protesters stayed put at the Ajnala police station for hours.

The 30-year-old separatist leader hails from Jallupur village in Punjab's Amritsar. Up until February 2022, Amritpal was just another Punjabi man influenced by the Western lifestyle and did not even wear a turban. Everything changed when Deep Sidhu died in February 2022. 

Who was Deep Sidhu?

Punjabi actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, accused of being the key conspirator of the Red Fort violence on Republic Day in Februrary last year,  after his car hit a truck on Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway in Haryana's Sonipat district.

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. 

Accusation against Sidhu

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 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. 

What was the allegation against Amritpal Singh?

A case was registered against Amritpal Singh and his 30 supporters for allegedly kidnapping and thrashing Barinder Singh, a resident of Chamkaur Sahib in Rupnagar district.

Barinder Singh, in his complaint, had told police that Amritpal Singh's associates had abducted him from Ajnala and took him to an unknown place where he was brutally thrashed.

All about yesterday's protest

Before reaching Ajnala, Amritpal Singh and his supporters staged a protest at Dhilwan toll plaza after being stopped by police to march towards Amritsar.

But the police later allowed them to continue with their march towards the Ajnala police station.

Their protest led to a traffic jam on the Amritsar-Delhi national highway for some time.

Amritpal Singh and his supporters were prevented by police at the Ajnala bus stand by erecting barricades. However, his supporters forced their way through the barricades and also managed to gain entry inside the police station after clashing with police.

Stones were also hurled in the incident.

The protesters asked the police to cancel the FIR and also threatened that they would not leave the police station till Toofan Singh was released.

Amritpal Singh and his supporters had also brought a vehicle carrying a copy of the "Guru Granth Sahib" for holding 'Amrit Sanchar' (a Sikh ceremony) at the police station.

Senior police officials also reached the police station and held a meeting with Amritpal Singh and his supporters.

Amritsar (Rural) Senior Superintendent of Police Satinder Singh said a special investigation team has been formed and added that the arrested person will be released on Friday.

Carrying swords and guns, scores of supporters led by Amritpal Singh had assembled at the police station.

Amritpal Singh told the media that police assured him that Toofan Singh would be released on Friday, following which they agreed to lift the 'dharna' at the police station.

However, he said they would remain in Ajnala till Friday morning unless the arrested Sikh was released by the police.

Amritpal Singh is the head of 'Waris Punjab De' -- an organisation founded by actor and activist Deep Sidhu who died in a road accident in February last year.

(With PTI Inputs)