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Made mistake by supporting 'Sadda Haq': SGPC backs ban

HT Correspondent  Amritsar, April 08, 2013
First Published: 20:35 IST(8/4/2013) | Last Updated: 20:45 IST(8/4/2013)

A day after the makers of 'Sadda Haq' approached the Akal Takht to press for lifting of the ban on the controversial Punjabi movie, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar finally chose to come out in support of the ban.

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Backtracking from the SGPC's earlier stance, Makkar said the religious body - which is helmed by Punjab's ruling party, the Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) -- had "committed a mistake" by endorsing the movie after the initial rejection by the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

Talking to the media here on Monday, Makkar said the Punjab government as well as the other states "were well within their rights in imposing the ban as they felt that the movie could threaten communal harmony and peace". "In Punjab, everyone knows at what cost peace has come back."

When asked about the 'clearance' given to the Kuljinder Sidhu-helmed movie by a five-member SGPC screening panel, Makkar replied, "In future we will take precautions while giving our opinion on any film dealing with controversial subjects related to the Sikh community. I acknowledge that we made a mistake by giving a letter of support for its release to the makers."

Seeking to consolidate his argument, Makkar pointed out that 'Sadda Haq' was not an isolated example of a movie being banned by state governments even after being cleared by the censor board, and cited 'Vishwaroopam' that had been banned by the Tamil Nadu government due to alleged negative portrayal of Mulsims. That movie had been released only after massive cuts.
"State governments view matters from a different angle, in the larger interest of all," Makkar added.

Now, the appeal by the makers seeking the intervention of the Sikh clergy is not likely to be heard -- the Akal Takht jathedar as well as the jathedars of Takht Kesgarh Sahib and Takht Damdama Sahib are appointees of the SGPC. 

The makers had claimed on Sunday that they had presented a memorandum to Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, who he had assured to take up their appeal in the next meeting of the five Sikh High Priests.

The makers of the film now have only a handful of radicals to support them. None of the political parties of Punjab, including the Congress, has come out in their favour.

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