Akshay Kumar has been asked to appear before a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Nov 21st after his name came up in a report for organising a meeting between Sukhbir Badal and Dera chief Ram Rahim.
The SIT team of the Punjab Police probing the police firing on Sikh protesters following incidents of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in the state in 2015 has summoned actor Akshay Kumar for questioning.
The 51-year-old actor has been asked to appear before the SIT on 21 November in Amritsar. The SIT, set up in September, is tight-lipped about Kumar’s alleged role in the sacrilege probe but he earlier found a mention in the 182-page report of the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission.
The commission was set up in April 2017 by the Amarinder Singh government to probe the desecration and police firing incidents during the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) regime.
The report, submitted in June, found that followers of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda were responsible for the sacrilege but the Akali leadership at the time chose to look the other away and instead joined hands with the Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for political gains.
Kumar is believed to have organised a meeting at his Mumbai residence between then deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Ram Rahim, in connection with the release of the Dera chief’s film MSG- 2 The Messenger, the report said. It hinted that the meeting might have paved the way for the two closing a deal.
The actor had denied any meeting with Ram Rahim, who was convicted of rape last year and sentenced to a 20-year jail term.
The SIT, created after the report was tabled in the assembly in August, has also summoned former chief minister and Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir to appear before them on 16 November and 19 November, respectively.
Addressing a press conference Monday, Akali Dal MLA and former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa said the Badals will appear before the SIT and cooperate with the investigation.
Akshay Kumar’s alleged role
The report noted Kumar’s role as related to the commission by former MLA Harbans Singh Jalal. The report said Jalal wrote a letter to the commission providing some details of how the Dera chief was pardoned.
The report added that Jalal later deposed on oath before the commission stating: “Before grant of pardon to Dera head, a meeting was held between Sukhbir Badal and Ram Rahim at the residence of Akshay Kumar at Bombay…This meeting was with an aim to arrange release of MSG film in Punjab. Expectations were that the film will earn Rs three hundred laundered crore if released in Punjab. It is stated that dera had agreed to pay Rs One hundred crore to Sukhbir Badal as party fund. After withdrawing Hukamnama (the order issued declaring the dera head a sinner), the film was released but promised amount was not paid.” (Reproduced from page 164-165 of the report.)
The report added that Jalal narrated various other details when he appeared before the commission, for which he was asked to submit an affidavit. Jalal didn’t turn up after that.
The commission concluded that whatever Jalal said in his letter was in the realm of hearsay and no cognisance needed to be taken of it. But given that Dera followers were found to be involved in the sacrilege incidents, his statement needed to be looked into.
The one-member commission of inquiry was set up under retired Justice Ranjit Singh. His report, parts of which were leaked within days of it landing in the CMO, put the Badals in the dock on several counts.
The commission said the Badals failed to act against those responsible for desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib — the holiest of texts of the Sikhs, considered to be a living Guru. The commission also charged the father-son duo for allowing police to fire on Sikhs protesting against the desecration in several incidents. Two Sikh youths were killed in one such firing in Behbal Kalan village in October 2015.
The commission concluded that close aides of the Dera chief orchestrated the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib and there was a possibility that the Akalis didn’t act against them under political pressure in view of the 2017 assembly elections.
The Akali Dal denied all charges and “rejected” the report alleging that the commission was “biased” and a result of Congress’s vindictive agenda.
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A pardon and a film ban
The commission’s report indicated that the pardon granted by Akal Takth — the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs — to Ram Rahim in 2015 could also be linked to the sacrilege incidents.
Ram Rahim was declared a sinner by the Akal Takth in 2007 when he posed in the garb of the tenth Sikh guru Guru Gobind Singh. He was also excommunicated.
In 2015, Singh’s two films in the ‘Messenger of God’ series — MSG and MSG- 2 The Messenger — faced a ban in Punjab.
In September 2015, the Akal Takht pardoned Ram Rahim in a sudden move on the grounds that he had tendered an effusive apology. The film was then allowed to be released.
The Badals allegedly played a role in facilitating the pardon.
However, following severe backlash from Sikh organisations, the pardon had to be withdrawn a few months later.
Akshay Kumar response via social media