R-Day violence: Was in hiding because my life was at risk, says Deep Sidhu to cops
Punjabi actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, arrested on Monday for his role in the Republic Day’s violence at Red Fort, has told the police that he was hiding because “his life was at risk” and he feared that he will be killed since the farm leaders have put the entire blame for the violence on him, police officers associated with the case said on Wednesday.
The officers said Sidhu has also said that the tractor march to the Red Fort and ITO “was not spontaneous”. He said for 15 days before the Republic Day rally was held, farmer leaders in Punjab and at the Singhu border were telling farmers that they will be “carrying out their tractor rally to New Delhi, Parliament, India Gate and Red Fort.”
While the police said the “allegations and disclosures” made by Sidhu will be verified, farm leaders said they will not comment until they hear or read Sidhu’s revelations that he has made before the police.
“We cannot comment on such allegations until we officially know what all Sidhu has said to the police,” said Manjeet Rai, president of Bharatiya Kisan Union’s (BKU) Doaba group.
The farm leaders have maintained that they did not allow Sidhu to use the stage at the Singhu border because of his alleged association with the “ruling party and his extremist views”.
Harinder Happy a member of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha on Tuesday said that Sidhu hijacked the stage on January 25 evening and gave a provocative speech to incite farmers after which he was asked to leave the protest site. He also said that it was the last time that anyone saw Sidhu at the border until photographs of the actor at the Red Fort were widely circulated on television and social media.
Sidhu was arrested from near Karnal Bypass in Haryana around 10.30 pm on Monday while he was waiting for a car arranged by his friend for his journey to meet his wife in Bihar’s Purnea, the police had said on Tuesday and claimed that Sidhu played a key role in instigating protesters.
“On the run after show-biz at Red Fort rampart, actor Deep Sidhu arrested. Was a prominent player behind Republic Day violence. Had been instigating youngsters with his provocative speeches and stardom even when he was hiding from the law,” the special cell had tweeted on Tuesday after his arrest.
While seeking Sidhu’s custody on Tuesday, the police had informed the city court that he congratulated the men who hoisted flags at the Red Fort and also did a Facebook live from the complex. Police said he was seen entering the Red Fort with people carrying swords, sticks and flags and delivered speeches to incite people. Police said many videos on his verified Facebook page through which he claimed to be innocent and was not among the rioters were uploaded from the US. In those videos, Sidhu said he was not a “traitor” or a “rioter”.
On Wednesday, an intelligence bureau (IB) team also interrogated Sidhu at the crime branch’s Chanakyapuri office to ascertain his political and international links, police officers privy to the development said.
One of the officers said that Sidhu has disclosed that he had reached the Red Fort in a car with his three supporters and returned to the Singhu border in the evening after the violence. From there he went to Punjab in the same car and with the same three men.
“He kept changing his hideouts in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. We will be taking him to all the places he visited and identify people who helped him,” the officer said, requesting anonymity.