Not involved in Jan 26 violence: Lakha Sidhana

Rahul Devesh
·3-min read

Chandigarh, Jan 27 (PTI) Gangster-turned-social activist Lakhbir Singh aka Lakha Sidhana on Wednesday distanced himself from the violence during the tractor parade in New Delhi on Republic Day and said he and some farmer leaders only marched up to the Outer Ring Road in the national capital.

Denying his involvement in the incidents at the Red Fort, he said it is a matter of investigation how people reached there despite so much security.

Police have suspected Sidhana's hand in Tuesday's violence when tens of thousands of farmers broke barriers to storm the national capital. 'I am pained at the incidents that took place on Tuesday but I am not involved in these. There is no video, photo or other evidence that shows that I instigated people. We had marched towards the Outer Ring Road under our farmer leaders in a peaceful manner. We never had any agenda of going towards the Red Fort,' Sidhana, who is in his 40s, told PTI over phone. He said nearly 20 farmer leaders went till Ring Road with their cadres in a peaceful manner and returned soon after.

On being asked that they were not allowed to go up to the Ring Road, Sidhana claimed popular sentiment was in support of it as farmer unions had announced first on January 2 and then on January 17 that they will carry out the tractor rally there.

He accused the government and police of conspiring against the farmers' agitation and distanced himself from the allegations of instigating protesters, saying he always called for peace.

He also denied the allegations that he shared the stage with Punjab actor Deep Sidhu at the Singhu border on Monday night, claiming that he had just spoken there to calm down people who wanted to take out the march on the Outer Ring Road.

Sidhana, a native of Punjab's Bathinda, has been camping at the Singhu border since November 26.

He has dozens of criminal cases registered against him in Punjab and went to jail several times but has claimed in the past that he had quit the crime world. Since then he is said to be involved in social work. He had earlier dabbled into politics during the 2012 Punjab assembly elections, contesting on the symbol of the now-defunct People's Party of Punjab, which was formed by the state's current Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal after quitting the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Later, Badal joined the Congress and contested the 2017 assembly polls on the party ticket.

Clashes broke out in multiple places, leading to violence in well-known landmarks of Delhi and its suburbs. While there were no exact estimates of how many farmers were hurt, Delhi Police officials said 86 of their men were injured through the day. Of these, 41 were injured at the Red Fort.

A protester died after his tractor overturned near ITO, one of the major flashpoints of trouble.

In a statement, the police said protesting farmers violated the conditions agreed on for their tractor parade.

'The farmers began tractor rally before scheduled time, they also resorted to violence and vandalism,' Delhi Police PRO Eish Singhal had said. PTI RDK ZMN