NEW DELHI: Actor-activist Deep Sidhu, who was allegedly a key player in the acts of vandalism at the Red Fort on Republic Day, has been arrested by the Delhi Police from Karnal in Haryana.
The arrest came a day after PM Modi lamented the mushrooming of a tribe of professional protestors (Andolan-jeevi) who are undermining the national agenda.
Sidhu had melted into the crowd after the chaos at Red Fort and could not be traced. But now it is learnt that he spent the night at a five-star hotel where he met many people. He fled to Punjab the next day where, according to sources, he kept moving from one location to another to evade arrest. Since he did not use a mobile phone, the Delhi Police was unable to track him down, it is claimed. He wore the same clothes for five days and did not communicate with his friends, lest his location is revealed.
From these hush-hush locations, Deep was posting videos explaining his position, much to the embarrassment of the authorities. Now, it is learnt Sidhu "was in contact with a woman friend who lives in California. He would make the videos and send them her, and she would upload them on his Facebook account," a police source said.
The audacity with which he was uploading the videos and the ineptitude of the authorities, which were not able to apprehend him, had reinforced the suspicion in a certain quarter that he was being provided ‘protection’ and was in cahoots with the powers that be.
His arrest, to that extent, will serve to dispel these misgivings.
Sidhu has been sent to seven-day police custody by Metropolitan Magistrate Prigya Gupta. However, the actor’s counsel claimed that he had nothing to do with the violence and was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sidhu, it is understood, was arrested from the Karnal bypass at 10.40 pm on Monday; among other charges, he is wanted in connection with a case of instigating the crowd at the Red Fort.
Asked where he was hiding after the January 26 violence, the police maintained a studious silence, saying that the investigation was at an initial stage.
Taking on Twitter, the Special Cell claimed that Sidhu was "a prominent player" in the R-Day violence who was using his stardom to reach out to youngsters and provoking them with his inflammatory speeches, even when he was hiding from the law.
The police had announced a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh for information leading to Sidhu's arrest.
During the R-Day chaos, a mob had hoisted flags of different denominations at the ramparts of the Red Fort. The mob had even sneaked into the main fort. When the police tried to evict them, the mob became violent and attacked the police personnel.
Officials said that Deep Sidhu's wife is a resident of Jharkhand but lives in Purnea in Bihar. He wanted to go to her place but media reports alerted him about the presence of police personnel at his wife's residence in Bihar, prompting him to change his plans.