Red Fort violence: Car AC mechanic held from Delhi
New Delhi: A 30-year-old car air-conditioning mechanic from north-west Delhi’s Swaroop Nagar was arrested for swinging swords and dancing with the weapons at the Red Fort on Republic Day, acts that “motivated” protesters to cause “more mayhem” at the monument, the Delhi Police said on Wednesday.
Pramod Kushwaha, deputy commissioner of police (special cell), said the accused, Maninder Singh, was arrested after being identified in a video that showed him wielding the two swords. “We have recovered the two 4.3-feet-long swords from his home,” said Kushwaha in a press note.
The Red Fort was one of the epicentres of violence and vandalism on Republic Day after a tractor march planned by the farmers protesting against the three farm laws descended into chaos with the protesters clashing with the police at several locations in central, east Delhi and north-west Delhi, and a large group storming the Mughal-era fort. As many as 89 police personnel were injured in violence at Red Fort.
Three others have already been arrested in connection with the vandalism and violence at the Unesco World Heritage site. These include Deep Sidhu, an actor-turned-activist who was arrested on February 8, for allegedly instigating protesters at the monument and destroying property. Sidhu remains in police custody for interrogation.
Sidhu was arrested after the Delhi Police announced a total reward of R6 lakh for information leading to the arrest of eight men, including Sidhu, gangster-turned-activist Lakha Sidhana and Jugraj Singh. The latter is accused of hoisting a religious and a farmers’ body flag at the Red Fort.
Police teams are continuing to carry out raids in Punjab and Haryana to arrest Sidhana and Singh.
Kushwaha said Singh was “radicalised” by watching various “provocative” videos on Facebook and was “motivated” by speeches made by leaders at the Singhu border, a protest site frequented by him.
“Singh motivated six other residents of Swaroop Nagar to accompany him to the tractor rally. On Republic Day, Singh and the six other men rode motorcycles along with the tractor rally from Singhu border to Red Fort. He carried his two swords with him,” said Kushwaha.
The seven men and others entered the Red Fort with several other unidentified persons, said the officer. “Inside, Singh danced with his swords. The sword dance motivated the violent protesters to cause more mayhem at Red Fort,” said Kushwaha.
Kushwaha also that Singh ran a sword training centre from a vacant plot near his home.
Referring to the evidence against Singh, Kushwaha said there was a long video of him swinging swords at the venue in his mobile phone. The police are questioning Singh to identify others present at the monument that day.