Farmers assembled outside the national capital for two months entered Delhi for a tractor rally on Tuesday. The protest however soon turned violent, as they clashed with police and indulged in vandalism. Hours after the Republic Day parade, hundreds of farmers riding on tractors, motorcycles and cars entered into the premises of Red Fort. Some even affixed flags on the lower ramparts of the historic structure.
Among the group at the Red Fort was Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu. His location is not mere conjecture - Sidhu shared a Facebook Live video while hoisting the pennant from the ramparts of the Red Fort. It is also something he candidly admitted to in yet another Facebook video. "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," he said.
But while Sidhu insists that hoisting the flag was "exercising our democratic right to protest", several farm leaders have already distanced themselves from him. Many have also suggested that he is linked to the BJP government.
"Deep Sidhu is not a Sikh, he is a worker of the BJP. There is a picture of him with the PM. This is a movement of farmers and will remain so," insisted Bharat Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait.
Coming down heavily on those who "created violence and unfurled flags at Red Fort" would have to "pay" for their actions. "Some people will have to leave this place immediately. Those who broke barricading will never be a part of the movement," news agency ANI quoted him as saying. According to reports, Deep Sidhu had also been a part of the efforts to break barricades at the Shambu border.
"Some miscreants joined the protest to defame farmers' movement. We did not plan to unfurl the flags at Red Fort, this was not our program. Deep Sidhu's photo with the PM has floated, we had already expressed doubt over him," said SS Pandher of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee
Swaraj Abhyan leader Yogendra Yadav, who is among the leaders spearheading the agitation against the farm laws, said Sidhu had been disassociated "from our protest right from the beginning".
Born in Punjab in 1984, Deep Sidhu is an actor and activist who made his film debut with the 2015 Punjabi film called Ramta Jogi. He has walked the ramp for several well known designers, and also worked as a lawyer for several years. He had been a part of a British law firm called Hammonds before joining Balaji Telefilms as their legal head.
During the 2019 General Elections, Sidhu had worked with actor Sunny Deol on his election campaign. And while reports had indicated that he was close to the Gurdaspur BJP MP, Deol has repeatedly disassociated himself from Sidhu.
"I have already made it clear on Twitter, on 6 December, that me or my family has no connection with Deep Sidhu," he tweeted in the wake of the Republic Day clash. Nonetheless, Sidhu's photo with the now BJP MP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gone viral yet again.
Reports suggest that Sidhu had been associated with the protests from September last year. And while he had reportedly faced opposition from many of the farmers involved in the protests, he is believed to have used his social media presence to amplify the farmers concern.
More recently, he was summoned by the National Investigation Agency in connection with its probe into the Sikhs for Justice case it had registered on December 15 last year.
As allegations continue to fly, claims of a possible BJP link to the protests also appear to have resonated with party MP Subramanian Swamy.
(With inputs from agencies)