New Delhi: Popular Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu, in the eye of a storm over his participation in the farmer protests, has told ThePrint that he is part of the agitation as the issue has personal resonance.
“I am born in a farmer’s family. I have land in Punjab,” the 36-year-old actor told ThePrint in an interview over Skype. “We have a deep sense of association with the land and people. Yes, I have lived in Mumbai for 10 years. But my association with the farmers is with the sense of belonging with the land and people.”
The actor also disagreed with the allegations that Punjabi actors and artistes were deflecting attention away from the protest.
“It’s a weak argument that I am using these protests for my stardom,” he said. “I didn’t know that my middle of the night conversation with a police officer would go viral. But now the culture is such because social media is a very strong platform.”
Sidhu also said that he has never used his stardom for any cause. “When I decided I wanted to create art and become an actor I didn’t go to any audition in Mumbai,” he said. “Instead, I came to Punjab and made my own production house. I never used my Mumbai film industry links for my stardom here and nor have I used it in these protests.”
Sidhu is a popular actor in Punjab and began his career in the Punjabi film industry in 2015 with the movie Ramta Jogi and went on to act in several others, including the popular 2018 Jora Dus Numbria. He began campaigning against the three bills with the farmers in late September.
He, however, first caught national attention during these protests when a video of his conversation with a police personnel in Haryana went viral. It, however, invited a lot of trolling on social media after he was misidentified as an English-speaking farmer.
According to the actor, the trolling is indicative of the stereotypes that exist in this country about farmers.
“See how ignorant modern society is. Diversity exists in our country and modern society should understand they don’t have the sole right over higher education and that only elites can go to college and university,” Sidhu told ThePrint. “A person from a farmers’ background can also go to those universities. Let’s not make ourselves prisoners of stereotypes.”
Also read: How protesting farmers have kept politicians out of their agitation for over 2 months
‘Campaigned for BJP MP Sunny Deol as he is like a brother’
Sidhu has also been accused of hypocrisy for participating in these protests against the Narendra Modi government since he campaigned for BJP MP Sunny Deol during the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
“I campaigned for Sunny Deol because he is like a brother to me. This doesn’t mean I was campaigning for the BJP,” he told ThePrint. “Neither does it mean I agree with their ideology or that I am supporting the political party. These criticisms are from binaries we create in our own minds without knowing the reality, which is multidimensional.”
Sidhu added that instead of focusing on his personal views, he wants the spotlight to stay on the protesting farmers.
“The government should engage with the farmers and talk to them and repeal the laws,” the actor said. “You have made a law for your citizens and they don’t want it, so take it back. Ultimately, you are serving the farmers and not the corporates.”
Farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been protesting against the three new farm bills passed by the central government in September.
Thousands of farmers reached the Delhi-Haryana border early Friday as a part of their ‘Dilli Chalo’ march, where they clashed with the Delhi Police who used water cannons and tear gas shells on them.
They were later allowed to enter Delhi and move to the Nirankari Ground in Burari on the outskirts of North Delhi. The farmers, however, have refused to accept the central government’s offer and have been camping at the border since Friday.
Also read: Amarinder Singh says won’t talk to Khattar till he apologises for ‘brutality’ on farmers
‘Protest no place for Khalistan sentiment’
Sidhu, who has also been labelled as a Khalistani supporter by Right-wing organisations, said he has been forced to talk on the issue to clear misconceptions. He also asserted that the protests were no place for Khalistani sentiment.
“Nobody is talking about Khalistan in this protest. Yes this issue cropped up and it keeps cropping up in Punjab,” he said. “Especially after some Khalistan supporters raised slogans at the Shambhu border. Since I was at the centre of the protest I had to handle that situation.
“The ground reality is that in Punjab, whenever there’s a protest a parallel emotion gets built up as well. This is also due to the association with land,” he added. “If you are not part of that culture it is difficult to understand. But, yes, it should not have been brought up in this farmers protest. At this protest we are only talking about a strong federal structure that also affects West Bengal, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and other states as well.”
Also read: Kisan march pictures may not show you women farmers, but don’t forget to count their protest
Please go through his interview with Barkha Dutt before publishing such nonsense article. He has himself said Brindranwale is not terrorist and was fighting for federalism.
How can Theprint give space and platform to a guy who on camera refused to call Vindrenwala a terrorist?
Modi government should not take the farmers’ protest lightly. Firstly because their demand for ensuring MSP is fully just. Secondly they must not forget that a large number of India’s soldiers come from agricultural families. Will they give their 100% for the country if their parents and children back-home are being exploited due to the government’s bad laws?
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