The Special Investigation Team looking into cases related to sacrilege in Punjab has summoned former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, and actor Akshay Kumar for questioning.

In September, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced a special investigation team to conduct a time-bound probe into incidents of sacrilege in Bargari in Faridkot district and in other places across the state, as well as incidents of police firing in Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura. These incidents took place in 2015, when Parkash Singh Badal was the chief minister. The team has already examined several police officials.

Parkash Singh Badal has been asked to appear before the investigators on November 16, his son on November 19, and actor Akshay Kumar on November 21 in Amritsar, said the state government.

In October 2015, two people were killed and 60 injured in police firing when they were protesting against a series of incidents of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy text of the Sikhs. The first such incident was reported from Bargari in Faridkot district.

A supplementary report, prepared by the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission in 2018, named Badal for his “apparent involvement” in police action against anti-sacrilege protestors at Kotkapura.

The commission found that the protests were linked to the pardon of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda, by the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs. Ram Rahim had earned the ire of the Sikh community when he dressed up as the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, which many Sikhs consider to be sacrilege. He was censured by the Akal Takht, but pardoned later. The commission said that Akshay Kumar had mediated between the Badals and The Dera Sacha Sauda to secure the pardon for Ram Rahim.

Parkash Singh Badal had not appeared before the commission and had rejected its findings, reported The Tribune.

Never met Ram Rahim Singh, says Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar denied meeting Ram Rahim Singh. “I have never met Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in my life, anywhere,” Kumar said in an official statement. He said he had come to know from social media that the spiritual leader once resided in Mumbai’s Juhu locality but added that they “never crossed paths”.

Kumar said he “would never do anything to even remotely hurt the feelings of my Punjabi brothers and sisters”. “Over the years, I have dedicatedly made films promoting Punjabi culture, and the rich history and tradition of Sikhism through films like Singh is King, Kesari etc,” he said. “I am proud of being a Punjabi and have the highest regard for the Sikh faith.”