Akshay Kumar appeared before a special investigation team (SIT) in Chandigarh today (21 November) in connection with a case of alleged sacrilege in Punjab.
In a questioning session that ran for two hours, Akshay Kumar denied meeting the Dera Sachcha Sauda chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, and former Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal at the actor’s residence in Mumbai in 2015.
Akshay Kumar’s name had appeared in the Justice Ranjit Singh commission report that said he played mediator between Sukhbir Badal and the head of the religious sect, who is currently serving a 20-year jail term for rape.
Akshay Kumar had denied the allegation earlier this month on Twitter. “It has come to my knowledge that some rumours and false statements are being loosely made on social media about my involvement with a person named Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the context of a fictitious meeting involving Sukhbir Singh Badal,” he wrote. “With all humility, I would like to state the following facts. I have never ever met Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in my life, anywhere. I learnt from social media at some point that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh resided for a while at some place in my locality Juhu in Mumbai but we never crossed each other’s paths.”
Sukhbir Badal’s father, former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, was also named in the commission’s report. The father-son duo appeared before the SIT earlier this month.
In October 2015, there was unrest in Punjab when 110 pages of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, were allegedly desecrated. On 14 October, two Sikh protesters were allegedly shot dead by police while protesting peacefully. The incident led to a face-off between the protestors and the police, resulting in more casualties.
After initially suspecting controversial godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, leader of the Dera Sachcha Sauda sect, the police ruled out the group’s involvement in the desecration and subsequent violence.
However, the Justice Ranjit Singh commission, constituted by the newly elected Congress government in Punjab to investigate the incident, had recorded the statement of a person who said Akshay Kumar mediated to get the Akal Takht, the highest spiritual and temporal authority of the Sikhs, to ‘pardon’ Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who was accused of blasphemy for appearing before his congregation dressed as Guru Gobind Singh in 2007.