Tight security in Haryana and Chandigarh as MSG releases amid tension

Rajendra Khatry

Feb 13, 2015 13:31:57 IST

Chandigarh: On the eve of MSG: The Messenger's release, starring Dera Sacha Sauda chief Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim, security across Haryana and Chandigarh was tightened with police and paramilitary forces manning sensitive areas to deal with any situation resulting due to the build-up of tension over the controversial filmEarlier the Censor Board cleared the film that courted controversy before its release by making a few cuts, including dropping the word 'God’ from the earlier title MSG:The Messenger of God .

The film, which was earlier supposed to release on January 16,  was finally  released on February 13 after the Appellate Tribunal cleared it. Various religious groups and organizations in both Punjab and Haryana have been protesting against the film and demanding a ban on it on the ground that it was bound to cause communal tension. Incidentally the Dera Sacha Sauda chief has not just played the lead role in the film, but has also directed it along with Jeetu Arora.

The long wait has added to the curiosity and excitement of film lovers towards MSG. In Chandigarh there has been a record booking for the film. All the shows in Chandigarh have been booked in advance at  PVR for a week. Fun Cinema, Wave, and Picadilly too  have given a terrific response to the film after the  distributors of the movie approached them. This could be a record of sorts for any film in the city.

 Tight security in Haryana and Chandigarh as MSG releases amid tension

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Elante Mall and Centra Mall of the city will hold 45 shows together everyday. There are 6,000 seats available in Elante Mall and 5,700 seats in Centra Mall. Around 11,700 movie lovers (mostly Dera followers) will watch the film daily. Most of the tickets have reportedly been purchased by followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda.

A special show of 'MSG: The Messenger’ was organized at Elante Mall at 9.30 am on February 13. Hoards of Dera followers  were seen in the city. All this has made the job of the Chandigarh police more difficult. The police is in a quandary. Since there is no ban on the film they cannot stop its release. The police also cannot stop Dera followers from coming to the city in large numbers. The police is more apprehensive because the Dera followers also plan to hold langars outside cinema halls.

Several people had arrived in the city a few months ago when Sant Rampal was to appear in the Punjab and Haryana High Court for hearing. This proved to be rather inconvenient as the Chandigarh railway station, bus stand and several roads had been choked. In the next hearing the police had banned the gathering of Rampal followers.

The Chandigarh police had reportedly asked the district administration to stop the film’s release, but since the High Court has also allowed the release of the film, the administration expressed its helplessness in taking any action against it, according to sources.

Dera Sacha Sauda has time and again claimed that their film had been made with a good intention and it was not against any religion, group or people. It only highlights the social evils. "The film is not against any community or religion. It has been made with the specific purpose of giving message to the people to keep away from drugs and other intoxications that destroy life. The proceeds of the film from ticket sales is going to be used for a noble cause for medical research for thalassemia patients,’’ the spokesman of Dera Sacha Sauda told Firstpost.

Still various religious groups and organizations in both Punjab and Haryana have in the past protested against the film and demanded a ban on it on the ground that it was bound to cause communal tension. Jagdish Jhinda, president of Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC) even submitted a memorandum to the Haryana Governor last month demanding a ban on the screening of the controversial film.  "Why should a film that threatens to bring disharmony among communities be allowed to be released,’’ said Jagdish Jhinda while talking to Firstpost. Everybody knows that the Dera chief is facing serious cases in the courts. How can he be still called a saint? Jhinda asked.

However, unlike Haryana, the Punjab government had taken a clear stand from the time the clearance of the film was announced and imposed a ban on its screening in Punjab. Alert had been sounded in both Punjab and Haryana after protests were staged in both the states.

Sources said Haryana government had instructed the DCs of various districts to deal with any law and order situation arising with the release of the film, MSG. C G Rajnikanthan, DC of Kurusksehtra district in Haryana, said anybody found indulging in vandalism or hooliganism after the release of the film will be severely dealt with by the district administration. As a precautionary measure Section 144 of the CRpC had been imposed 200 metres around the main cinema hall in Kurukshetra.

Producers of the film MSG: The Messenger have sought exemption from the entertainment tax in Haryana on the ground that it was a film made to give a strong message to the youth in character building.

Sikh preacher Baljit Singh Daduwal from Haryana has also strongly opposed the release of the film. A day ago he reiterated his demand. Earlier the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) had carried out a protest march against the film in Amritsar and Bathinda in Punjab. As the tension grew the government had to call the Rapid Action Force to maintain law and order situation in Bathinda. Protests by the Sikh organisations were also held in Batala, against the release of the film. In Haryana, members of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Committee (HSGPC) staged similar protests.

The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) activists have been protesting against the release of the film in Gurgaon adjoining Delhi, Hisar, and Rohtak, Kurukshetra and Fatehabad in Haryana.

INLD MP from Hisar, Digvijay Chautala said they will continue to oppose the film as it may become a cause for communal tension.  "We plan to hold peaceful protests in Haryana. We appeal to the BJP government to maintain peace and law and order. Since the BJP government in the stete has been acting as the agent of the Dera, there is no doubt that the film may also be given tax exemption,’’ Dushyant Chautala told Firstpost.

Meanwhile the CBI Special court has allowed Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to go abroad for the promotion of the film 'MSG’ from February 20 to March 3 on a Rs 30 lakh security. According to the Dera spokesman, the film is likely to be promoted in US, UK, Dubai, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.


Updated Date: Feb 13, 2015 13:33:13 IST