As train services in the region resumed on Sunday night after the dera followers removed the rail blockade claiming that they had received an assurance from the state government that the film would be screened in the state in two days, the suspense remains on its screening as the Bathinda administration adhered to its earlier stand of having no role in the issue.
The rail blockade at different places, including Bathinda, Moga and Ferozepur, by dera followers demanding screening of the film ‘MSG-2: The Messenger’ starring Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was lifted late on Sunday night and the train services which were lying paralysed for over 35 hours were resumed.
At Bathinda, the protesters removed the blockade after SSP Inder Mohan Singh Bhatti addressed them saying their issue had been resolved and whatever schedule would be chalked out would be conveyed to them in a day or two. However, Bhatti said he was not aware of what and where the negotiations took place, adding that that he had just conveyed to the followers what he was directed by Bathinda zone IGP Balbir Kumar Bawa.
Bawa, when contacted, said he was in a remote area and was not in a position to speak on the issue.
Meanwhile, Bathinda deputy commissioner Basant Garg said he was not aware of any negotiation between the protesters and government representatives at any level as he was not conveyed about it. He, however, said the administration would stick to its earlier position that it could neither ensure screening of the film nor could stop it as it had not been banned by the state government. He said only the SSP could say what he had told the protesters.
Gurdev Singh, member, state-level committee of the dera in Punjab, said they lifted the blockade following the SSP’s assurance. He said in case the administration didn’t keep its promise by Tuesday evening, they might resume the protest.
Meanwhile, the railway protection force has booked six dera followers by name and 2,000 unidentified followers for obstructing the train traffic under the Railways Act. Those booked by name are Gurdev Singh, Gurmail Singh, Kewal Brar, Chhinderpal Singh, Gurpreet Singh and Bhola Singh.
All eyes on state govt
With the protesters relenting following assurance from police, all eyes are on the state government that will take the final call on its future.
Though the government has already cleared the film, owing to law and order problem, cinema halls in the state are reluctant to screen it.
When asked whether the SGPC would take up the issue with the government, president Avtar Singh Makkar said the SGPC would not be involved in the issue as it is the government’s prerogative to ban a film or not.
Bathinda SSP Inder Mohan Singh Bhatti said the talks regarding its screening are on at a higher level.
(With inputs from Navrajdeep Singh)