The controversy over the hoisting of a religious flag on the ramparts of Red Fort on Republic day has stirred up debates, with actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu occupying the centre-stage.
On social media, video of him reportedly escaping the site after being caught by farmers is going viral, meanwhile, many farmers' bodies blamed him for inciting protesters to head towards the Red Fort during the farmers' tractor parade on Tuesday.
They also accused 36-year-old Sidhu of allegedly trying to defame the farmers' peaceful agitation against the agri reforms introduced by the central government.
Sidhu, since he joined the farmers' agitation against the new farm legislation last year, has been considered by several farm bodies as an “agent” of the government.
However, Sidhu has sought to defend the action of the protesters at the Red Fort, saying they did not remove the national flag and had put up the 'Nishan Sahib' flag as a symbolic protest.
“Deep Sidhu is an agent of the government and he did it at the behest of the Centre to defame the farmers' agitation,” alleged Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan on Wednesday.
“He took youth towards the Red Fort by misleading them. We never allowed people like Deep Sidhu at our stage. We knew that he could bring disrepute to the agitation. We never trusted him,” he further said.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Chaduni) leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni also condemned the action of Deep Sidhu, saying there was no plan of the farmers to go to the Red Fort.
“Whatever Deep Sidhu has done, we condemn it in the strongest possible words and we feel that he was an agent of the government. He always speaks against the farmer leaders and incites people against them,” said Chaduni in a video message, stressing that farmers did not have any plan to go to the Red Fort.
Before associating himself with the farmers' agitation, Sidhu, hailing from Punjab's Muktsar district, had acted in a few Punjabi films. He has also studied law.
The model-turned-actor made his debut in Punjabi romantic film 'Ramta Jogi', which was directed by Guddu Dhanoa in 2015. He has also acted in Punjabi movies 'Jora Dus Numbaria', 'Saade Aale' and 'Jora the second chapter'.
He got into the limelight when he joined a dharna at Shambhu near Haryana border in support of the protesting farmers last year. The dharna received massive support from farmers especially the youth who favoured the demand for roll-back of the three new agri laws introduced by the central government.
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 remained with Deol during the poll campaigning.
(With PTI inputs.)
Deol had distanced himself from Sidhu in December last year after he joined the farmers' agitation.
Amid a massive outrage over protesters hoisting a religious flag at the Red Fort during the tractor rally on Republic Day, Sidhu had defended their action, saying they did not remove the national flag and had put up the 'Nishan Sahib' as a symbolic protest.
The 'Nishan Sahib' flag, a symbol of Sikh religion, is seen at all gurdwara complexes.
In a video posted on Facebook on Tuesday evening, Sidhu had claimed that it was not a planned move and that they should not be given any communal colour or dubbed as fundamentalists or hardliners.
"To symbolically register our protest against the new farm legislation, we put up 'Nishan Sahib' and a farmer flag and also raised the slogan of Kisan Mazdoor Ekta,” Sidhu had said.
He had also stated that the national flag was not removed from the flagpole at the Red Fort and that nobody raised a question over the country's unity and integrity.
Sidhu, who had been associated with the farmers' agitation for the last many months, said "anger flares up" in a mass movement like this when the genuine rights of people are ignored.
The Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 41 farmer unions that is leading the protest against the three central farm laws, had also disassociated itself from those who indulged in violence during the tractor parade and alleged that some "antisocial elements" infiltrated their otherwise peaceful movement.
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