Chandigarh, January 17: The Punjab government on Saturday banned the screening in the state of controversial film "MSG – The Messenger Of God", which features Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh as the main lead, following a central advisory and intelligence reports that it could lead to tension.
The screening of the film, which is yet to be officially released, has been stopped with immediate effect, a Punjab government spokesman said here.
"The Punjab government today decided to stop with immediate effect the screening of the film ’MSG...’ in Punjab in view of reports of tensions surrounding its release in some other parts of the country," he said.
The movie has been in news as it was initially not given a green sigl by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) as well as its revising committee. It was then referred to the Film Certification Appellate Tribul (FCAT), which cleared it for release after asking the producers to make minor changes.
This led to CBFC chairperson Leela Samson resigning from the post on Thursday night, though she said that her resigtion was not linked to the film’s clearance.
The spokesman said that the "government’s decision comes in wake of reports of strong reactions and protests, which even a promotiol trailer of the movie has evoked in several parts of the country leading to a serious spill over of the threat of violence in Punjab".
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who holds the home portfolio, said central agencies had issued advisories to states "to take necessary steps to prevent any breach of peace/untoward incident/adverse fall out and other law and order problems".
"The screening of the film is likely to evoke strong emotiol reactions leading to public display of conflicting emotions. The government cannot allow the chain of actions and reactions to pose a threat to peace and social harmony of the state," the spokesman said, quoting the order.
Police and security agencies in Punjab and Harya were put on alert Friday after protests against the film.
A high–profile premiere was planned for the movie in Gurgaon on Friday, and thousands of the sect chief’s fans had gathered at Leisure Valley Ground there to watch a screening, amid protests by the Indian tiol Lok Dal (INLD) workers and the party’s student wing Indian tiol Student Organisation (INSO) activists. It was later postponed to Sunday. Protests against the film were witnessed at some places in Harya and Punjab on Friday. Police officials in both states said security agencies were put on alert. In Punjab, additiol security forces were stationed in Amritsar, Bathinda, Ludhia and other places. (IANS)