Some people go the extra mile to lend their support in protests but they can land up in jail. In this era, even a tweet can land you in trouble and can become more problematic for a person. This article talks about the recent case of a Punjabi actor who went the extra mile where other artists tweeted and showed their support to farmers this actor went on the streets to join farmers protest, argued with the police, crashed the barricades and led the farmers protest to Delhi.
But what led to his arrest, bail and then re-arrest?
WHO IS DEEP SIDHU?
Deep Sidhu a lawyer turned actor and recently even an activist is a 37-year-old Punjabi Industry actor who like other artists raised his voice in support of the farmer’s revolt against the laws drafted by the central government for farmers.
He belongs from the Mukhtar district in Punjab. He studied and practised law before entering the world of showbiz. Though he started his career after winning Kingfisher Model Hunt Award and made his debut as an actor in the Punjabi movie Ramta Jogi he gained recognition from the film Jora 10 Numaria.
In 2019, Deep Sidhu was seen campaigning for actor Sunny Deol a BJP candidate who was contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from the Gurdaspur seat of Punjab state.
HIS ROLE IN FARMERS PROTEST
The call for farmers protest which initially started in Punjab began gaining momentum and Deep Sidhu started attending those gatherings. On 25th September 2020, a bandh was declared by various farmer groups but this turned out as a decisive moment when numerous activists and artists lending their support called for a dharna (protest) at the Singhu border along with farmers of Haryana.
Seeing huge turn out of crowds in protest Deep Sidhu called for a permanent protest at the border and this gathered more attention from the media. As it was decided by many farmer unions that it would be a peaceful protest but it later took the route of a violent protest.
It was reported that at the Singhu border Deep Sidhu who joined the Bhartiya Kisan Union along with other protestors clashed with the police, broke the barricades to match towards Delhi which also opened the road for other farmer unions to move to Delhi for protests.
The once peaceful movement turned out into violent protest which on 26th January 2021 on Republic day turned so aggressive that not just barricades but the farmers along with their tractors entered the Red Fort and hoisted a triangular flag called ‘Nishan Sahib’ by removing the national flag of India. While justifying this act Deep Sidhu said that the Nishan Sahib flag represents the ‘unity in diversity.’
ARRESTED FOR RED FORT VIOLENCE CASE
• A Sessions Court in Delhi was recently hearing a bail application filed by actor Deep Sidhu in connection to his arrest in the case of Red Fort violence. The actor was arrested on 9th February and was remanded in police custody.
• The prosecution put forth the following contentions & relied on his many past interviews and posts before this incident took place:-
- He had the intention to commit violence, disregard the national flag and instigate the crowds and in one such video he was seen uttering sentences like ‘As 26th of January is approaching more people should gather by bringing tractors from their home' and made people remember ‘how they came on 26th November by breaking the barricades.’
- Also, the State argued that a screenshot of the video which was making the rounds of the internet is available which shows that Deep Sidhu was present to watch the Nishan Sahib flag being raised at the Red Fort.
- It was alleged by the prosecution that after he addressed the crowds by giving a speech the crowd even manhandled and started attacking the police officers.
- The State even said that a person cannot commit violence or violent protests in the name of fundamental rights.
• The actor was arrested under Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984. Not only this he was charged under various sections of the Arms Act, 1959 those are section 25(Punishment for certain offences), section 27(Punishment for using arms, etc.)
• He was also arrested under numerous sections of IPC such as:
- Section 147 (Punishment for rioting), Section 148 ( Rioting, Armed with Deadly weapon), Section 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of the offence committed in prosecution of common object), Section 152 (Assaulting or Obstructing Public Servant when suppressing a riot, etc.), Section 186 (Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).
• While Deep Sidhu put forward the subsequent statements to prove his innocence in the matter:-
- While Deep Sidhu said the opposite, he asserted that he did not instigate the crowds and mainly he did not reach Red Fort when the violence started.
- To support his statements he said that the investigating authority has CCTV footage that shows around 12 p.m. when violent protests started and the farmers reached the Red Fort with their tractors breaking barricades and entering the fort he was still in a hotel in Murthal and reached the Red Fort around 2 p.m.
- The actor stated that when he reached the place he tried to pacify the crowds of which videos were circulating on the internet and he left the place early.
- Deep Sidhu argued that he shouldn’t be called as the main conspirator as he did call people to go to Red Fort instead there are videos wherein people were calling him to Red Fort.
- He lastly said that chanting religious slogans like ‘Jo Bole So Nihaal' is not a crime it is the same as shouting slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram.’ Also he made the court remember that mere presence cannot be termed as unlawful assembly as stated in the law.
COURT ORDER & VERDICT
• The court granted him bail upon furnishing a bond of ₹ 30,000 with 2 local sureties and on the following conditions:-
- He has to deposit his passport with the investigating officer not only this he has to submit a phone number which he uses that should not be switched off in order to contact him.
- He needs to always keep his location on at all times and on every 1st and 15th date of each month he has to inform about his location to the officer in charge.
- He must cooperate with the investigating officer whenever called or required to do so and shall also be present at the hearings in the trial court.
- He should not threaten witnesses or temper with the evidence.
• Hours after bail was granted to actor Deep Sidhu, a FIR was registered by the (ASI) Archaeological Survey Of India against the actor for causing damage to public property that is the Red Fort.
• With regards to the second FIR against him the police wanted a 4 days police custody for which again a bail application is filed in the Gajender Singh Nagar Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court. This bail application will be heard on 23rd April 2021.