Bollywood Actor Akshay Kumar appeared before a Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating police firing on mobs protesting the 2015 incidents of desecration of the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib in Punjab. The 51-year-old filmstar was earlier summoned to Amritsar, but then given the option of appearing before the investigators in Chandigarh.
Akshay Kumar has been named in the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report on the desecration incidents. He is accused of arranging a meeting between former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Dera Sacha Sauda sect leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The star has denied any such meeting.
He has also denied having ever met the Dera chief, who is serving a 20-year jail term in two rape cases.
The actor landed at Chandigarh airport on a chartered flight from Mumbai. While coming out of the airport, he told reporters in Punjabi: “Tussi vi aao, naal challo (you too, come along).” Then he drove straight to the state police headquarters. The two-hour questioning that began at 9:45 am was recorded on video, news agency IANS reported.
Akshay Kumar asked the investigators to show evidence of the allegations against him and not go by hearsay, said an officer who asked not to be identified.
He had tweeted his strong denial of the allegations on November 12, after the probe team summoned him along with former Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal.
“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,” the actor tweeted.
“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.”
Prakash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal have already been questioned in Chandigarh.
Sukhbir Badal told the Special Investigation Team on Monday that he had never met Akshay Kumar outside Punjab.
The Justice Ranjit Singh commission report, tabled in the Punjab assembly in August, had referred to a letter written on October 9, 2017 by former lawmaker Harbans Jalal, alleging that the Dera chief and the Sukhbir Badal had met at the actor’s flat in Mumbai in 2015 to facilitate the release of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s movie ‘MSG’ in Punjab.
The meeting was allegedly held before the Dera chief was pardoned in a blasphemy case. The movie could not be released in Punjab in September 2015 because of an edict by the Akal Takht, supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs, against it.
The five-member SIT was set up by the Punjab government in September after it withdrew the investigation of the sacrilege incidents from the CBI.