Who Is Deep Sidhu – the Actor Who Hoisted Nishan Sahib at Red Fort
People on Twitter claimed that Sidhu was ‘planted’ by the BJP to lead a group to Red Fort on 26 January.
In late November, a video of a protester marching towards Delhi and lecturing a Haryana police officer in English, on why farmers are protesting went viral.
The person captured on video was Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu, who has emerged as an important voice of the agitation against the Narendra Modi government's farm laws.
The actor, activist, and man with alleged links to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders was in news on the Republic Day again — for claiming responsibility for hoisting the Nishan Sahib at the iconic Red Fort, during the Tractor Rally on 26 January.
Subsequently, Sidhu, on Tuesday, 9 February was remanded to a seven-day police custody in connection with the Republic Day violence during the farmers’ tractor rally in Delhi. Sidhu was produced in a Delhi Court, on Tuesday, following his arrest by the Delhi Police.
'Did Not Remove Tricolour': Claims Sidhu
Amid controversy and misinformation, Sidhu, in a Facebook live video, claimed that he and a group of protesting farmers hoisted the Kisan Mazdoor Ekta’s flag and the Nishan Sahib at the Red Fort. He also said that the Indian national flag was not removed from the flagpole.
“We have only hoisted the Nishan Sahib flag on the Red Fort while exercising our democratic right to protest,” he said in the video.
“The protesters didn’t go to Delhi to hurt anyone or damage government property, we didn’t even carry weapons. We only carried our flags and went to Delhi on our tractors. People should not term the protesters as communal elements or hardliners.”Deep Sidhu
From Actor to Activist: Sidhu's Involvement In Protests
Soon after the sit-in protests against the farm laws began in Punjab, Sidhu became involved in one of the most important protest sites at Shambhu Barrier in the state’s Patiala district, which adjoins Ambala district in Haryana.
“It has been a peaceful protest. It has been two months and there is not even one incident of violence. See how aware people are and what are they asking for? They are just fighting for their rights and fundamental rights.”Deep Sidhu, in an interview to Barkha Dutt on 28 November 2020
He has remained at the Shambhu Barrier protest site – or Shambhu Morcha as it is now called – for the past two months and has been one of the faces of the protest.
Sidhu was born in a Jatt Sikh family in Punjab's Sri Muktsar Sahib district in 1984. His early schooling was said to have been in Punjab. He later studied law and briefly took to modelling. He participated in the Kingfisher Model Hunt and Grasim Mr India contest, and even won under a few categories.
But modelling didn’t appeal to him and he came back to law, working with British firm Hammonds, and then a number of production houses like Disney, Sony Pictures and Balaji. His longest legal stint is said to have been with Balaji.
However, he started his acting career at 31 and became most famous for Jora 10 Numbaria (2017), where he plays a protagonist who is destroyed because of criminals and a corrupt political and bureaucratic system. In the second chapter of this film Sidhu plays a politician who goes against 'established norms'.
Alleged Ties to BJP Leaders
Sidhu is known to be close to the entire Deol family, especially Dharmendra and Sunny Deol, who is now BJP MP from Gurdaspur. Sidhu even campaigned for Sunny Deol in the 2019 elections. Incidentally, Dharmendra also played a cameo in his hit film Jora 10 Numbaria.
Several people took to Twitter to claim that Sidhu was ‘planted’ by the BJP to lead a group to Red Fort and hoist religious flag.
While many artistes have expressed solidarity with farmers, the difference between Sidhu and the rest of the artistes is that he often took positions independent of the stand taken by the farmers' unions.
For instance, Sidhu has consistently been saying that, ‘the aim of the protests shouldn’t be to gain concessions, it should be to change the entire power equation’.
His disagreements often led to a few people accusing him of being an ‘RSS agent’.
Soon after Sidhu posted the video, Sunny Deol took to Twitter to claim that he condemned the flag hoisting in Red Fort and that his family had no ties with the activist.
(This piece was first published on 27 January, and has been republished on 9 February in light of Deep Sidhu's arrest and custody.)
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