A gangster-turned-activist from Punjab who is on the run after he was named in a case linked to the violence in Delhi during a tractor rally by farmers last month has now called a rally in Bathinda.
Lakhbir Singh, also known as Lakha Sidhana, is wanted by the Delhi Police for allegedly instigating protesters to turn violent during the tractor rally on January 26, Republic Day. Hundreds of protesters had clashed with the police in and around Delhi then, including the Red Fort.
In a video posted on Facebook on Friday, Lakhbir Singh asked people to turn up in large numbers to support farmers on February 23 in Bathinda’s Mehraj, the ancestral village of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
The Delhi Police has announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for any information on the whereabouts of Lakhbir Singh.
“We have been agitating for the last seven months. Now, this protest is at its peak and in this connection, we are holding a big programme in village Mehraj in district Bathinda on February 23,” Lakhbir Singh said in the video.
Lakhbir Singh faces at least 10 criminal cases, including land-grab and murder, in Punjab. He had been in and out of jail several times.
Village Mehraj is a part of Rampura Phul assembly segment, from where Lakhbir Singh unsuccessfully contested the state election as a candidate of the People’s Party of Punjab in 2012. This party was formed by state finance minister and Bathinda MLA Manpreet Singh Badal and later merged with the Congress.
The tractor rally by farmers on January 26 was allowed by the Delhi Police after negotiating with the farmers to follow certain routes. However, on the day of the rally, a large group of protesters deviated from the planned route and eventually clashed with the police. Over 300 police personnel were among those injured, including protesting farmers.
The farmers have dug in along the Delhi-Haryana border for over two months, demanding the government to withdraw three new farm laws which they claim will threaten minimum price guarantee and allow companies to control the farm sector.
The government has said it is willing to discuss the laws clause by clause and the reforms in fact remove middlemen from the farm-to-market process. It has said the laws in no way diminish minimum support price or MSP. The farmers have, however, said they want nothing less than complete withdrawal of the laws.