Punjabi actor-singer-activist Deep Sidhu, who farmer unions allege was responsible for taking youths towards Red Fort on Tuesday, has been making news from the beginning of the agitation since September last year. Famous for his role as a gangster in the Punjabi film Jora Das Numberia in 2018, the 36-year-old was one of the first celebrities to support farmers when they took to the roads against the three laws.
Before moving to the protest site at Singhu border, Deep Sidhu, who belongs to Muktsar in Punjab, had held a prolonged protest at Shambhu border between Punjab and Haryana, where accusations of Khalistani elements running the protests had been made.
During the Lok Sabha elections in May 2019, Deep Sidhu was in the news for being close to Bollywood actor-politician Sunny Deol who fought from the Gurdaspur seat as a BJP candidate. Deep Sidhu was seen participating in his campaign. However, Sunny distanced himself from Sidhu in a tweet, saying he or his family had no relationship with him.
Sidhu has reportedly admitted that he was present during the incident.
Reacting to allegations that he instigated the farmers to march towards the Red Fort, the actor sought to defend his action, saying he and his supports did not remove the national flag. Sidhu said that he had put up the ‘Nishan Sahib’ as a symbolic protest at the Red Fort. 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 claimed 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,” said Sidhu.
The flag represents the country’s ‘unity in diversity’, he said while pointing towards ‘Nishan Sahib’, the triangular saffron flag with the emblem of ‘Khanda’, a two-edged sword, Chakra, a disc, and two Kirpans that cross each other at the handles.
He 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. Chief of the Haryana unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Gurnam Singh Chaduni has accused the Punjabi singer and actor of inciting and misguiding protesters. “He (Deep Sidhu) led them to the Red Fort. Farmers never wanted to go to Red Fort,” BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni said.
Leaders across the political spectrum also condemned the violence and the Red Fort incident, with the Congress’ Shashi Tharoor saying he supported the farmers’ protests from the start but cannot condone “lawlessness”.