The Samyukta Kisan Morcha Thursday said it will allow a gangster-turned-social activist from Punjab, wanted by Delhi Police for allegedly instigating protesters leading to violence on Republic Day, to address the protesting farmers from its main stage at Singhu border in national capital.
At least three farm union leaders confirmed that the SKM has formed a three-member panel to hold talks with Lakhbir Singh Sidhana aka Lakha Sidhana, but added that he will be allowed on stage only if he fulfills certain conditions, including tendering an apology for the incidents that took place on Republic Day following a speech that he had delivered on January 25.
SKM says will give stage to Lakha Sidhana wanted by Delhi Police for Jan 26 violence
Ruldu Singh Mansa, president of Punjab Kisan Union, said, “We have decided that Lakha Sidhana will speak from the stage (at Singhu border), but will not be a part of 32 unions (that together make the SKM)… he will speak from the main stage and any number of stages which will be there.”
Asked when Sidhana will be called to make an address, Ruldu Singh said, “Whenever….He will address..there is no problem”.
According to the SKM, the nationwide shutdown will start at 6 am and it will be in force up to 6 pm across the country on Friday, which marks four months of the farmers’ agitation at Delhi’s three borders — Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri. Ruldu Singh said road and rail transport will be blocked and markets will remain closed but essential services will be exempted.
Sidhana, who heads Malwa Youth Federation which claims to do social welfare works in villages, has more than 25 criminal cases, including that of murder and attempt to murder, registered against him in Punjab. He is absconding ever since the Delhi Police named him in cases pertaining to violence that broke out at Red Fort and in other parts on national capital on Republic Day during a tractor parade taken out by farmers. Sidhana had denied any role in the incidents claiming that he always called for peace.
When asked that government has announced Rs 1 lakh reward for information leading to Sidhana’s arrest, Ruldu said, “Pher sarkaar phar lae usnu…saadi stage ton kehra mai da laal phar lau usnu (Then the government should arrest him. Who has the guts to arrest him from our stage?) Police cannot dare arrest him from the farm agitation stage. If he is outside (our stage), that is a different matter”.
Kulwant Singh Sandhu, general secretary of Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, said that a person, on behalf of Sidhana, met the farm union leaders. “The agenda was taken up in a meeting on Wednesday and it was decided that Sidhana can be allowed to speak from SKM stage but with some conditions. Sidhana should apologize for his speech on January 25 evening when he said that people can move ahead towards Ring Road on January 26. He should also apologise for January 26 episode, which was an outcome of speeches Sidhana and several others. In addition, he should maintain discipline and abide by all decisions of the SKM,” Sandhu told The Indian Express.
Sandhu said a three-member committee with Dr Darshan Pal (president of Krantikari Kisan Union), Jagjit Singh Dallewal (president of BKU Sidhupur) and Baldev Singh Sirsa (president of Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society) as members has been formed to discuss the issue with Sidhana.
BKU Kadian president Harmeet Singh Kadian too said SKM will allow Sidhana on its stage but “he should speak only for a stipulated time, the speech content should not be provocative at all and his efforts should be to make the morcha strong”.
Asked why he was being allowed to speak even after he was blamed for taking control of the stage of farm leaders ahead of the January 26 violence, Ruldu Singh said, “Saade rivaaj hai, veeh veeh bande maarke tin tin peeriyan behas chal ke raajinawa ho jaanda eh taan stage aa. Kini ku vaddi gall as (We have a tradition where even if a person has killed 20 persons and (even if ) we have legal tussle running into three generations, we strike a compromise. What’s the big deal? This is only a stage)”.
Incidentally, after Delhi Police intensified its hunt for Sidhana, the SKM’s legal cell had said that no legal help will be extended to him by the morcha. SKM legal cell incharge Prem Singh Bhangu had said that Sidhana “is on his own” and “the legal cell will not defend him in court”.
Meanwhile, asked if Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu, arrested in connection with Republic Day violence, could also be allowed in the agitation at some stage like Sidhana, Ruldu Singh responded in negative.
“Lakha Sidhana is a different person. His (Sidhana’s) ideology views do not match (with Deep Sidhu’s),” said Ruldu Singh.
He said that Sidhana and Sidhu may have got together for some time, “but Sidhana was not that political, and it backfired on him”. Asked if he was in favour of release of Deep Sidhu as farm organisations had been batting for the release of other accused, Ruldu Singh said, “That is the will of the government. I do not want to comment on this.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.