Addressing the crowd of thousands gathered at the native village of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, absconding gangster-turned-activist Lakha Sidhana said, “I dare the Delhi Police to enter Punjab and arrest youngsters. You must gherao the Delhi Police if they come to arrest anyone.
Wanted by the Delhi Police for the January 26 violence, absconding gangster-turned-activist Lakha Sidhana appeared Tuesday on the stage of a ‘Youth Mahapanchayat’ organised in Mehraj village in Punjab’s Bathinda district, in support of the farmers protesting at Delhi borders.
Addressing the crowd of thousands gathered at the native village of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Lakha said, “I dare the Delhi Police to enter Punjab and arrest youngsters. You must gherao the Delhi Police if they come to arrest anyone. And if they arrest anyone, it will not be done without the help of the Punjab Police, for which CM Captain Amarinder will be responsible.”
Lakha surfaced at around 2 pm, along with another gangster-turned-activist Kulbir Singh Naruana, and stayed for about 30 minutes. While Lakha had himself given the call for the mahapanchayat on February 20 via a Facebook video, and it was organised by his supporters, the authorities, that had deployed tight security, claimed that they came to know he attended the gathering only on Tuesday evening, after his supporters uploaded his speech on social media. Lakha’s native village Sidhana is 6 km from Mehraj.
Sources said the Delhi Police was even in Bathinda anticipating Lakha’s presence, though Bathinda SSP Bhupinderjit Singh Virk on Monday refused any information regarding this. On Tuesday, Virk was not available for comment.
Lakha urged youngsters to go to Singhu, Tikri and other Delhi borders on February 26, when the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) is planning to observe ‘Yuva Kisan Diwas’. “The Delhi Police is announcing prize money on many, is releasing their pictures too, but when people gather in large numbers, they are unstoppable. Because, this is a fight for the existence of Punjab, and the communities which struggle for their rights, that take governments head on, they are the ones mentioned in history.” Lakha has a prize money of Rs 1 lakh on his head.
He announced that he would soon be going to other parts of Punjab for similar ‘Youth Mahapanchayats’.
In his speech, Lakha also sent out a message to SKM member and BKU president Balbir Singh Rajewal. Questioning the “silence” of Rajewal on the police naming him and Deep Sidhu over the January 26 violence, Lakha said, “I want to give this message to Rajewal saab that if any farmer union leader is arrested, I and all the youngsters will oppose it. We will not allow the arrest of a single leader and stand behind you like a rock… Whether SKM leaders support me or not, I appeal to youngsters to support each and every programme of the SKM and continue going to Delhi borders in large numbers.”
The SKM has been distancing itself from Lakha and Sidhu, and also suggested its supporters to stay away from the Mehraj rally.
Lakha said, “Youngsters often tell me that people call Deep Sidhu and me traitors, middlemen, even bikau (that we have sold out). But I don’t mind such words. The struggle is more important, the Morcha is more important. No individual is bigger than this lok lehar (public wave). Our focus is to maintain peace and unity.”
Following the meeting, SKM coordinator and Krantikari Kisan Union president Dr Darshan Pal, “We don’t support Deep Sidhu, and have not passed any resolution against Lakha Sidhana… I heard his speech at Mehraj and we appreciate that he spoke about strengthening the SKM, and unity and patience. As for police cases, farmer leaders have also been booked and are fighting our own cases,” Pal said.
Challenging the Delhi Police repeatedly in his address, Lakha said, “The Centre is in represssion mode. They are spreading terror so that we stop going to Delhi borders, they have projected us as terrorists, and they will try to involve Deep Sidhu in more and more cases. But we will not come back from Delhi without getting the laws repealed. We are not going to agree on any amendments or a pause on these laws. This lok lehar cannot be raised every day.”
On Tuesday, a Delhi court sent Sidhu to judicial custody for 14 days, after expiry of his seven-day police custody.
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