Actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, accused of instigating violence during the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day, was on Tuesday arrested by a team of Delhi Police’s Special Cell and sent to seven-day police custody, PTI reported.
The police told a Delhi court that Sidhu was the main rioter and instigator in the Republic Day violence, according to the Hindustan Times. They said that the 36-year-old actor was seen in a video entering the Red Fort with swords, sticks and flags on January 26. “He provoked the people and gave speeches with a loud hailer thus inciting violence,” said a lawyer for the police.
He also said that Sidhu destroyed public property and congratulated the person who hoisted the flag at Red Fort.
Sidhu’s counsel, however, rejected the charges against the actor, saying he happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The lawyer also said that his client was not evading arrest.
The police had sought 10-day custody of Sidhu, reported PTI. Meanwhile, the police said they have initiated the process of identifying the co-conspirators in the Republic Day incident.
In the first information report filed in connection with the Red Fort violence, the police said protestors snatched two magazines with 20 live cartridges from two constables, damaged vehicles and robbed anti-riot gears.
Last week, the Delhi Police had announced a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh for anyone who provides them information about Sindhu and others accused in the Republic Day violence case.
At least one protestor was killed and over 300 police officers were injured after thousands of farmers on tractors, horses and on foot took to the streets of Delhi on Republic Day to call for the repeal of contentious new agriculture laws. Protestors broke through barricades and poured into the city, clashing with a police force that tried to push them back with tear gas and a baton charge.
The Delhi Police have filed 44 cases and arrested over 120 people so far. Several farmer union leaders have been named in the police cases.
Sidhu was the election agent of Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Sunny Deol in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He reportedly had been attempting to take a leadership role in the protest movement and many farmer leaders are opposed to him.
Farmer leaders have denied any involvement and blamed Sidhu for the escalation. Sidhu conducted a Facebook Live at the Red Fort, when a section of farmers had stormed inside the monument’s complex and hoisted flags there. Another video showed other protesting farmers chasing him away, accusing him of derailing their movement.