Release of Sect Leader's Film May Lead to Violence, Home Ministry Tells Punjab, Haryana governments

Release of Sect Leader's Film May Lead to Violence, Home Ministry Tells Punjab, Haryana governments

Dera Sachcha Sauda leader Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim in a still from the film "MSG"

The Union Home Ministry has issued an alert to the governments of Punjab and Haryana regarding the release of the movie "MSG Messenger of God" - in which Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim, the head of Dera Sachcha Sauda, has starred.

The ministry said the groups that are against the Dera can spread violence and law and order can become a problem in both states.

The movie has the controversial Dera chief - who is facing cases of sexual abuse and murder - in the lead role and portrays him as a swashbuckling hero fighting "social evils" in flashy costumes.

The movie is slated to be released on January 16, but the censor board is yet to give it clearance.  Today the revising panel which watched the movie has referred it to a tribunal. 

"It is highly controversial and can hurt sentiments of people, though in terms of graphics it is an amazing movie," said board member Nandini Sardesai. "If a Batman or a Superman had done these stunts, we would have appreciated it, but he is a public figure and we cannot clear this move, so referring it to a tribunal."

Sikh bodies have expressed concern that the dialogues of the movie are provocative and appear to challenge Sikhs.

The Sikhs and Dera followers have been on a collision course since 2007, when Gurmeet Singh was accused of dressing up like the 10th Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

Under pressure from radical Sikh groups, the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal body of Sikhs, has already asked the Punjab government to ban the film.

The members of the Haryana Sikh Gurudwara management committee have also objected to the release of the film in the state, saying it would hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs.

Spokespersons from the Dera admitted they have been told that the film was about "self-promotion". But they said they do not wish to make a statement till they get a formal communication from the censor board.

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