Amid outrage over flag incident, actor Deep Sidhu says did not remove tricolour, it was only a 'symbolic protest'

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Chandigarh, Jan 26 (PTI) Amid a massive outrage over protesters hoisting a religious flag at the Red Fort during the tractor rally on Republic Day, actor Deep Sidhu, who was among those present during the incident, on Tuesday sought to defend their action, saying it was a symbolic protest and they did not remove the national flag.

In a video posted on Facebook, he said that they should not be given any communal colour or dubbed as fundamentalists or hardliners.

“To symbolically register our protest against the new farm legislations, we put up 'Nishan Sahib' and a farmer flag and also raised a slogan of Kisan Mazdoor Ekta,” said Sidhu.

The flag represents the country's “unity in diversity”, he said while pointing towards the 'Nishan Sahib', a symbol of Sikh religion seen at all Gurdwara complexes.

He stated that the national flag was not removed from the flagpole at the Red Fort and that nobody raised a question over the country's unity and integrity.

Leaders across the political spectrum on Tuesday condemned the violence and the Red Fort incident, with the Congress' Shashi Tharoor saying he supported the farmers' protests from the start but cannot condone 'lawlessness'.

'Most unfortunate. I have supported the farmers’ protests from the start but I cannot condone lawlessness. And on #RepublicDay no flag but the sacred tiranga should fly aloft the Red Fort,' the former Union minister said on Twitter, tagging a tweet that carried a video of the incident. Sidhu, who has been associated with the farmers' agitation for the last many months, said 'anger flares up' in a mass movement like this when the genuine rights of people are ignored.

“In today's situation, that anger flared up,” he said.

Swaraj Abhyan leader Yogendra Yadav, who is among the leaders spearheading the agitation against the farm laws, said they had distanced Sidhu 'from our protest right from the beginning'.

'When he participated in a protest at Shambu border and seeing their activities, the farmer unions had decided to keep them away from our movement,' he said.

The Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 41 farmer unions that is leading the protest against the three central farm laws, also disassociated itself from those who indulged in violence during the tractor parade, and alleged that some 'antisocial elements' infiltrated their otherwise peaceful movement. PTI CHS VSD RT RT