Embroiled in controversy after he was seen in the crowd while a “religious flag” was hoisted at the Red Fort in Delhi on Republic Day, Deep Sidhu, a Punjabi actor-cum-activist, was chased away by farmers soon after the incident.
In a video clip, Mr. Sidhu can be seen sitting on a tractor when a group of farmers approaches and confronts him over his presence at the Red Fort. Amid heated arguments with the group, in which the farmers hurl abuses and accuse him of damaging the entire movement against the farm Bills, Mr. Sidhu can then be seen jumping from the tractor and, with help of a few other people, rushing away from the spot on a motorcycle.
Mr. Sidhu has been a close associate of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha MP from Gurdaspur Sunny Deol and had campaigned for him during the 2019 Lok Sabha election. However, Mr. Deol on January 26 distanced himself from Mr. Sidhu and made it clear that neither he nor his family members had any links with Mr. Sidhu. In a tweet, Mr. Deol said: “I am very sad to see what happened on the Red Fort today, I have already made it clear on Twitter on 6 December that I or my family has no connection with Deep Sidhu.”
Mr. Sidhu had justified his actions, stating the ‘Nishan Sahib’ had been hoisted at Red Fort as a symbolic protest against the farm laws, and that at no point was the tricolour removed from the post or the national flag insulted.
Meanwhile, farmers’ outfits condemned Mr. Sidhu’s actions and accused him of working at the behest of the Central government.
“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 January 27.
“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.
Gurnam Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Chaduni) said Mr. Sidhu’s actions were condemnable and that he had misguided the protesters. “We didn’t have any plan to go to the Red Fort. What Deep Sidhu did is condemnable, and we believe that he is an agent of the government. He had been speaking against farmer leaders for the past few days and trying to create problems,” said Mr. Singh in a video message.
Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), said the attempts of communal elements like Mr. Sidhu and government agents to highjack the peasant struggle had failed as they had been exposed. “These elements were there from the very beginning for their own narrow ends and were never part of the peasant struggle. It is unfortunate that they continued to have the opportunity to infiltrate into the struggle,” he said.