Lakha Sidhana, the gangster-activist wanted by Delhi Police in connection with the violence at the Red Fort in Delhi last month, was spotted Tuesday at a rally in Punjab’s Mehraj village – which is the hometown of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. The rally, called for by Sidhana himself, was to support farmers protesting the agriculture laws and demand the release of those arrested by police.
“If Delhi Police comes to arrest anyone in Punjab, villagers will gherao (surround) them,” Sidhana said, referring to speculation Delhi Police could cross state borders to try and capture him.
During the tractor rally held by farmers in the national capital on Republic Day, Sidhana, aka Lakhbir Singh, allegedly instigated protesters to turn violent. The clashes saw hundreds fight with police at multiple locations in the city, including the iconic 400-year-old Red Fort complex.
In a video posted on Facebook on Friday, Sidhana had asked people to turn up in large numbers at Mehraj village, which is in Bathinda district, today to show their support for the protesting farmers.
“We have been agitating for seven months. Now, this protest is at its peak… we are holding a big programme in village Mehraj in district Bathinda on February 23,” Sidhana, who faces at least 10 criminal cases – including land-grab and murder – in Punjab, said in the video.
There had been some doubt whether he would be present at today’s rally, given he is wanted by Delhi Police. A reward of Rs 1 lakh for information on his whereabouts had been announced.
Farmer union leaders have distanced themselves from both Sidhana and Deep Sidhu, the Punjabi actor also accused of inciting clashes during the tractor rally. The farmers are holding their mahapanchayats today in Sirsa and Fatehabad districts of Haryana.
Farmers across the country have been protesting against the centre’s laws since late-November, when tens of thousands drove their tractors to Delhi and have since been camped around its borders.
After eleven rounds of failed talks, and several nationwide demonstrations, they took out the tractor rally – for which permission was given on condition that only certain routes were followed.
However, on the day of the rally, a large group deviated from that route and clashed with police.