Actor Akshay Kumar on Wednesday appeared before a Special Investigation Team looking into cases of alleged desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy text of Sikhs, in Punjab. The actor went directly to the police headquarters at Sector-9 in Chandigarh soon after he reached the city, PTI reported. He was questioned for about two hours, according to IANS.
In September, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had said a special investigation team would conduct a time-bound inquiry into the incidents of sacrilege in Bargari in Faridkot district and in other places across the state, and of police firing in Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura. These incidents took place in 2015, when Parkash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal was the chief minister. The team has already examined several police officials. It had questioned Badal on November 16 and his son and former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal on November 19 in Amritsar.
Though Kumar was also initially summoned to Amritsar, the police later allowed him to appear before the SIT at Chandigarh.
In October 2015, two people were killed and 60 injured when the police opened fire at anti-sacrilege protestors in Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura. A supplementary report, prepared by the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission in 2018, pointed to the “apparent involvement” of Badal in the police action in 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.
Ram Rahim Singh is currently in jail following a rape conviction in 2017.
Akshay Kumar has denied meeting Ram Rahim Singh. “I have never met Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in my life, anywhere,” Kumar said in an official statement on November 12. 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”.