Names of Bollywood star, politician figured in sacrilege cases

Chandigarh, August 2: The name of a Bollywood actor in events preceding the incidents of sacrilege in Punjab surfaced before the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission during the course of its inquiry. The Commission, however, could not take cognisance of the allegations as it was not backed by an affidavit by the informant.

Image Source

At the same time, the commission took note of the letter while forming a larger picture about the conditions leading to the incidents. The Commission is believed to have referred to a letter, and subsequent testimony of one Harbans Singh Jalal, who talked about a meeting that took place between the Bollywood actor, a senior Punjab politician and Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Available information suggests Jalal wrote that the meeting was held at the actor’s residence in Mumbai for the release of “Messenger of God” in Punjab before the grant of pardon to the dera chief. He added that the movie was expected to do business of Rs 300 crore, if released in Punjab.

The Commission is said to have asserted that underhand moves were on between the then Punjab government and the dera head for the movie’s release in the state as well. The Commission summoned and examined Jalal on oath after it received the letter in October last year.

Referring to the letter, Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) asserted that Jalal said the film was released, but the promised party fund was not paid. The pardon by Akal Takht was, in the days to come, withdrawn.

Justice Ranjit Singh asked Jalal to submit an affidavit, but he did not turn up. As such, contents of the letter remained within the realm of hearsay; and the cognisance of it could not be taken. At the same time, Justice Ranjit Singh asserted that the letter might have to be seen in the light of revelations about the involvement of dera Premis in the incidents.

Justice Ranjit Singh said a view clearly emerging was that dera followers might be responsible for the acts of sacrilege in Faridkot, Bathinda and Moga districts. The Commission asserted the theft of a “bir” of Guru Granth Sahib took place on June 1, 2015, and “Messenger of God” was released all over India on September 18, 2015. It could not hit the silver screen in Punjab because of an edict against the dera head by Akal Takht.

The panel reportedly added that Akal Takht Jathedar, out of the blue, on September 24, 2015, granted pardon to the dera head against the edict of boycott, paving the way for his film’s release the same day. Another thing happened that day. A poster, carrying derogatory language and warning of sacrilege if the movie was not released, was pasted at Bargari.

The pardon generated massive resentment among Sikhs. Panthic bodies gave a call for holding meeting in Ludhiana on October 12, 2015, for preparation of Sarbat Khalsa in November. The same day, the “angs” of the holy book were found in Bargari village. The Commission noticed that the pardon was withdrawn on October 16, 2015; and another incident took place in about three days. It was followed by other incidents.

The Commission added that fixing of posters and other developments could have been done to mislead the investigation. But the police could have ruled out the possibility of dera Premis’ involvement only after a proper probe.

Source Tribune India