Wanted Punjab gangster mocks police, calls for intensifying farmers’ stir
Cocking a snook at the police, wanted gangster Lakha Sidhana, who is accused of instigating the violence during the farmers’ tractor rally at Red Fort on Republic Day, surfaced with bodyguards in tow to address a rally organised by Sikh hardliners at Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s ancestral Mehraj village in Bathinda district on Tuesday afternoon.
“The farmers’ agitation will be intensified to ensure the three farm laws are withdrawn. There is no question of agreeing to any amendments or suspension of the laws for 18 months,” Sidhana said at the well-attended rally, where Sikh flags outnumbered those of the farm unions.
Besides Sidhana, radical Sikhs have proactively rallied behind actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, who was arrested for the January 26 violence conspiracy.
Sidhana warned leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha against making any concession and regretted that Dalits have negligible participation in the agitation.
Turning to the cases of rioting against protesters, he said: “Capt Amarinder Singh will have to explain to the public if Punjab Police help Delhi Police in arresting anyone booked for the (January 26) violence.”
In a brazen attack on the police, he even exhorted his supporters to “hold Delhi Police hostage if they come”. He was escorted out of the venue by a large number of supporters to thwart any attempt of his arrest.
Took to Facebook to announce rally
Last Friday, Sidhana shared a 13-minute video on Facebook announcing today’s rally in support of the agitating farmers at the grain market in Mehraj, 35 km from the Bathinda district headquarters.
A native of Sidhana village in Bathinda district, Lakha is on the run since January 26 and had hinted that he would join the rally on his home turf. Delhi Police had on February 14 announced a reward of ₹1 lakh for information on his whereabouts. Teams of Delhi Police, along with the special cell, had conducted searches for the gangster across Punjab, Haryana and Delhi-NCR.
Sidhana was earlier seen in Punjab when he had visited Moga on January 20 to garner support for the tractor rally on Republic Day.
Charged with murder, dabbled in politics
Mehraj is a part of the Rampura Phul assembly segment from where Sidhana had unsuccessfully contested as a candidate of the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) in 2012. The PPP was floated by state finance minister and Bathinda MLA Manpreet Singh Badal and later merged in the Congress.
Sidhana is booked for murder, attempt to murder, loot and violation of the Arms Act. He was jailed several times between 2004 and 2017. During this duration, he also came in contact with politicians.