Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on Saturday approached the CBI special court, Haryana, to go abroad to promote his debut movie, 'MSG: The Messenger of God'. He is facing three cases - two of murder and one of rape - by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at the court in Panchkula.
The Punjab government has already banned the screening of the film, while the Punjab and Haryana High Court is also hearing a case against the release of the movie on a petition by a Sikh organisation. Sikh groups and the dera have a long history of violence over the dera chief's manner of propagation and alleged misuse of religion.
To expand the reach of his movie, Ram Rahim has thus sought permission to go to the UK, the US, New Zealand, Australia and Dubai from February 16 to 25 to promote 'MSG' and, as he has told the court, "to give a message to the society to stop prostitution, drugs and crime against children [and] many other social welfare messages". The UK, New Zealand and Australia have already granted the certification for release of the film.
His counsel reasoned before the court that millions have been spent in producing 'MSG', and "nowadays there is a trend in the entire film industry in India as well as abroad that the cast of the film goes abroad for the promotion/advertisement of the film before and after its release". He also claimed that since Ram Rahim has a "permanent place of residence" at Sirsa and is the head of Dera Sacha Sauda, "there is no chance of fleeing away" from the country.
The court issued a notice to the CBI for reply on Ram Rahim's application.
Meanwhile, during the hearing otherwise in the rape and murder cases on Saturday, Ram Rahim took exemption from appearance claiming that he was suffering from backache.