By: Ankita Kulkarni
February 1 2021
Deep Sidhu handed over the Nishan Sahib flag to one of the protesters to hoist it atop the red fort. He later termed the act a "symbolic protest."
Deep Sidhu handed over the Nishan Sahib flag to one of the protesters to hoist it atop the red fort. He later termed the act a "symbolic protest."Since November, farmers have been holding protests in Delhi, demanding the repeal of the new farm laws. On January 26, on India's Republic Day, farmers arrived in Delhi and took out the "Kisan Gantantra Parade." Several protesting farmers entered the Red Fort during the protest and waved flags from the fort, as clashes between protesters and the police erupted in several parts of Delhi. Amid the protests, posts surfaced on social media suggesting that actor Deep Sidhu instigated the act that led them to hoist the religious flag "Nishan Sahib" atop the Red Fort. Many farmer leaders have distanced themselves from the actor and have labeled the violence as an outsider's act to obstruct their otherwise peaceful protest. According to India Today's report, Sidhu and an alleged gangster Lakha Sidhana played a significant role in instigating the protestors. Sidhu and Sidhana allegedly came to Delhi two days before Republic Day and had given a provocative speech at the Singhu border. Farmer leaders, including Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Haryana unit, dissociated themselves from the violence and alleged that Sidhu instigated the protestors and led them to the Red Fort. Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav in an interview with Aaj Tak has said that "Deep Sidhu was present at Red Fort during the violence. We were opposed to him since the start. A probe should be launched into how Deep Sidhu reached the Red Fort with a microphone." He also alleged that police were informed about the instigation before the incident, and no action was taken. Congress Lok Sabha MP Ravneet Singh Bittu also claimed that Sidhu unfurled the flag at Red Fort. The Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, a body of 41 farmer groups leading the protest against the three central agricultural laws, also disassociated themselves from individuals who turned violent and accused that some antisocial elements had destroyed their peaceful protest. According to the report of NDTV, Rajesh Tikait of the Bharat Kisan Union has also said that Sidhu does not belong to the Sikh community and labels him as a BJP worker. Another leader involved in the protest, Satnam Singh Pannu of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, has also said that "Whatever happened at Red Fort is because of Deep Sidhu. Why didn't the police stop him at Red Fort? He is close to the ruling party." In a Facebook Live video, Sidhu said that the flags were hoisted as a symbolic protest, and there was no harm in it as India's tricolor was untouched. Sidhu further said that a single person could not instigate hundreds of protesters, and it was an action the result of the farmer frustrations who had protested from September 2020. But according to an article by the Tribune, "after the hoisting of a saffron flag at Red Fort, actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu is learnt to have drawn flak from protesters for giving communal colour to the farmers' movement." In some videos, he can be seen running away from a group of protestors who are running after him and cursing and saying, "you have damaged the entire movement."