Deep Sidhu, a 1984-born Punjabi actor from Muktsar district, studied law and practised for a brief period before he quit the Bar to work in films after winning the Kingfisher Model Hunt award. Though his first movie was Ramta Jogi in 2015, Sidhu became a star with the 2018 movie Jora Das Numbria, in which he played the lead role of a young gangster. The success of the sequel of this movie was impacted by the lockdown.
Sidhu is considered close to Bollywood star and Bharatiya Janta Party’s Gurdaspur MP Sunny Deol. In fact, Deep Sidhu sort of entered politics when Deol got the BJP ticket to content from Gurdaspur, earlier represented by actor Vinod Khanna. Deol’s campaign leaned heavily on a local team, which included Sidhu, to connect with residents of the area.
Deep Sidhu’s political ‘awakening’
Deep Sidhu’s movie Jora Das Numbria-Second Chapter had just been released in March 2020 when the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed. Sidhu said during lockdown he extensively read the works of Ajmer Singh, who wrote mostly about how Punjab and Sikh history had been tampered with.
Deep Sidhu’s videos on different subjects from politics to history, economics and education started getting more views on his Facebook page during the lockdown. When protests around the farm Bills started gaining ground in Punjab, Sidhu started attending these gatherings. The September 25 bandh called by farmers’ bodies became a turning point when he along with other artistes and activists gave a call for a dharna at Shambu Border with Haryana. The unexpected crowd turnout overshadowed the show by farmer unions in rest of the state. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram
Excited by the response, Sidhu soon started a permanent dharna on the road side at Shambu garnerning a lot of media focus despite his lack of experince in politics. He also launched a platform along with his team to invite the important leaders from different areas to come together and fight for Punjab.
Punjabi actor & farmer Deep Sidhu very aptly expresses the concerns of fellow farmers.
Farmers are well aware of their rights being oppressed to appease @narendramodi‘s Cronies!
Huge respect to this son of the soil & all farmers standing tall in the struggle for their rights! pic.twitter.com/vlsQSdiHxz
— Devender Yadav (@devendrayadvinc) November 28, 2020
Contradicting the farmers’ unions
With his rising popularity, most farmers’ unions, especially ultra Left body Bhartiya Kisan Union Ugrahan, viewed Deep Sidhu as a threat to their agenda and claimed he was using his stardom to divert attention from the actual issue.
As Sidhu repeatedly spoke about how the issue was not limited to MSP and had to be seen in the context of the federal structure and existence of Punjab, the farmers’ bodies showcased his pictures with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sunny Deol to claim a BJP-RSS hand in his agenda. Sidhu, however, denied these allegations and said he was fighting for the larger issue.
While most unions decided to not break the barricades put by the Haryana government to move towards Delhi as part of ‘Delhi Chalo’ call, Sidhu joined Bhartiya Kisan Union (Sidhupur) to break the barricades at Shambu Border. This forced other unions also to move towards Delhi. Sidhu was also marching with the protesters and his argument with security personnel on the way to Delhi went viral on social media.
Not shy to quote Bhindranwale
In his public meetings, Deep Sidhu is known to often quote Martin Luther King and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. His speeches are oriented around the demand for more rights for states to strengthen the federal structure under the Indian constitution. He has also claimed that while Punjab was fighting to strengthen the federal structure of India in 70s and 80s, the narrative by the state machinery misinterpreted this ‘struggle’ of Punjab.
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