A day after violent clashes broke out in the farmers’ tractor rally in Delhi, gangster-turned-activist Lakha Sidhana and actor Deep Sidhu have come under the spotlight, with the Delhi police suspecting that both had a role in fanning the mayhem.
Deep Sidhu, who’s known to be close to Bollywood actor-turned-BJP MP Sunny Deol, is a fairly well-known face. He has been accused of planting the 'Nishan Sahib' flag on an empty pole at the Red Fort on 26 January, which came to be the epicentre of the clashes between police and protesters.
But who is Lakha Sidhana?
Youth Icon With a Social Media Presence
Lakhbir Singh, alias Lakha Sidhana, who hails from Punjab, is said to be a youth icon with several criminal cases against him.
As the president of the Malwa Youth Federation, Sidhana, through his social media presence, has apparently engaged on various kinds of social welfare activities.
A report by Asian Age claims that from organising mass marriage of poor women to providing meals for the underprivileged during the COVID-mandated lockdown, Sidhana’s social work has helped him gain a lot of prominence amongst the youth.
However, his criminal record is quite colourful, with a dozen cases lodged against him including one under the Gangster Act.
Sidhana’s Criminal Record
Sidhana made headlines in 2015 after being accused of murdering Shiromani Akali Dal supporter Gurvir Singh alias Goldy in Rampura Phul, in Bathinda district, Punjab.
After a cat-and-mouse chase, that went on for a month, the police finally caught him and had even recovered arms and ammunition from his car.
Then, in 2017, he along with other activists defaced Hindi and English off signboards, demanding Punjabi be put on top. A case for Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act was registered against him. Subsequently, Sidhana was arrested from Bathinda which reportedly led to protests in his support.
Days after his arrest, a case under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 42 of the Prisons Act was also lodged against him as he was not only found to have possession of two mobile phones in prison, but also recorded a Facebook live that went on for nine minutes where he gave driving advice to people.
In 2019, Sidhana along with 60-70 unidentified persons were booked for violating law and order at Badal village and attempting to kill some cops on duty.
Involvement in Farmers’ Protest
Lately, through his Instagram account, he was seen voicing his support towards the ongoing farmers’ protest at the Delhi borders against the Centre’s three farm laws.
While some reports claim that he has been protesting at the Singhu border since November, others say that he along with Deep Sidhu had come to Delhi two days ago and delivered provocative speeches.
Sidhana, along with Sidhu, is accused to have provoked the vandalism and chaos that ensued during the tractor rally on 26 January, as some farmers decided to intensify their protests.
Late in the evening, of 26 January, Sidhana addressed the violence that took place over the day on his Instagram. He said that there were a lot of rumours and fear that triggered the clashes.
Urging farmers to be on guard, he said, “The internet has been snapped in Delhi. Those who are in Delhi to protest are believing rumours as people are not getting news, some are saying there’s army put in place... I plead to the people of Punjab and Haryana to keep an account of how many people have gone.”
He further added, “It’s very important to save this movement and only people can save it. Call from your respective places to those at the borders to tell them that stay here, don't budge, don't fall for rumours that army will come. This protest is very important to us. I am not important, this movement is. It’s for Punjab, it’s for the entire Punjabi community.”
. Read more on India by The Quint.Red Fort Violence: Who is Gangster-Turned-Activist Lakha Sidhana? Farmer Leaders Condemn Tractor Rally Violence; 200 Detained . Read more on India by The Quint.