Updated: April 8, 2021 12:33:09 pm
Punjabi actor Deep Sindhu, who was arrested for his alleged role in the Red Fort violence on January 26, has through his lawyers told a Delhi court that “hoisting the flag” is not a crime and that he had made a “mistake” by hosting a Facebook live at the Red Fort.
Special Judge Neelofer Abida Perveen, who was hearing Sidhu’s bail plea on Thursday, adjourned the matter for further hearing on April 12.
The actor was arrested by the police in connection with the Red Fort violence on Republic Day during a farmer’s tractor rally against the Centre’s three new farm laws.
The police had earlier told the court that Sidhu was “the main rioter and instigator” and was seen in a video with “swords, sticks, and flags” during the violence on January 26. It has been alleged that Sidhu “provoked the people and gave speeches with a loud hailer thus inciting violence.”
Sidhu’s lawyer Abhishek Gupta told the court: “I neither hoisted the flag nor did I urge anyone to hoist the flag. Hoisting the flag does not amount to a crime and this issue is a debate I do not want to get into. I made a mistake. But every mistake is not a crime. In hindsight, I made a mistake by hoisting that Facebook Live…I was called a traitor for hosting the Facebook Live.”
Gupta told the court that it was “shocking that Sidhu I (Sidhu) has been made the main instigator in the case”.
The court was told that he did not give a call for the tractor rally which was, in fact, given by the Kisan unions. “I have indulged in no acts of violence. I left before the violence broke out. There are two videos shared with the investigating agency where I am seeing pacifying the crowd. I have been a lawyer since 2003-2015. I am a famous Punjabi actor and featured in six movies and a lot of projects are pending,” Gupta told the court.
Stating that the “right to protest was a fundamental right”, Gupta told the court, “The only allegation against me is that I went on Facebook and raised slogans. The slogans raised are usually raised in the gurdwaras in the country…they are raised by the Sikh community. These are spiritual slogans. How do they incite people ?”
The prosecutor, who appeared on behalf of the police, alleged that Sidhu was the mastermind behind the Red Fort violence. He told the court that Sidhu attended a meeting with the Kisan union leaders on January 25, where he gave a speech.
“He reached the Red Fort, he instigated co-accused Jugraj, who is absconding to raise the Nishan Sahib flag,” the prosecutor told the court.
Special Judge Perveen said, “Have only these slogans instigated them? Or is there anything else ?”
The prosecutor told the court that the accused came to Red Fort to “defame the nation”.
Special Judge Perveen said, “Towards what end? The objective is to go to Red Fort and raise the flag ?”
The prosecutor told the court, “Do 120 crore Indians and the police officers who were injured during the protest have no fundamental rights? Only those who indulge in violence, burn things and attack have rights.”
Gupta rebutted saying these were emotional arguments and there was no mention of violence in the speeches cited by the prosecutor. “There is no link with Jugraj. I am a famous person so they link me with the violence in this case,” he said.
Sidhu has been arrested for several offences under the Indian Penal Code including rioting (147 and 148), unlawful assembly (149), attempt to murder (120-B), criminal conspiracy (120-B), assaulting or obstructing public servant (152), dacoity (395), culpable homicide (308) and disobedience to order promulgated by public servant (188).
He has also been arrested under sections of the Arms Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.
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