A gangster-turned-social activist, being blamed for instigating the protesters leading to violence on Republic Day, Wednesday claimed that he only marched up to the Outer Ring Road in the national capital and never had any agenda of going towards the Red Fort.
Lakhbir Singh Sidhana aka Lakha Sidhana, a native of Sidhana village in Punjabâ€™s Bathinda, accused the government and police of conspiring against the farmersâ€™ agitation while claiming that he always called for peace.
â€œI 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 following our farmer leaders in a peaceful manner. We never had any agenda of going towards the Red Fort,â€ the 40-year-old said.
Sidhana, who has been camping at the Singhu border since November 26, also denied allegations that he shared the stage with actor Deep Sidhu, who is also being blamed for instigating violence, at the Singhu border on Monday night, claiming that he tried to calm down people who wanted to take out the march on the Outer Ring Road.
Sidhana claimed that nearly 20 farmer leaders went till Ring Road with their cadres in a peaceful manner and returned soon after. He claimed that popular sentiment was in support of going to the Ring Road as farmer unions had announced first on January 2 and then on January 17 that they will carry out the tractor rally there.
Sidhana, who heads Malwa Youth Federation which claims to do social welfare works in villages, has more than 25 criminal cases registered against him in Punjab. They include murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, and under Arms Act. A humanities graduate from Punjabi University, Patiala, Sidhana claims to have quit the crime world for social work.
He joined the Peopleâ€™s Party of Punjab in 2011, and quit in 2013.
Since then, Sidhana gained popularity in the Malwa region, having helped marry off several girls from weaker sections and helping families in cash and kind.
He hit the headlines in October 2017 for allegedly defacing English signages demanding that they be written in Punjabi. He was arrested and sent to Faridkot Modern Jail from where he did a live session on Facebook appeal farmers not to burn paddy stubble. A cellphone was recovered from his barrack and he was booked in a case of cheating. In May 2019, he and 60 others were booked in an attempt to murder case while taking out a protest rally in Badal village.