The day of the release of the much controversial movie, 'MSG: The Messenger', starring Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Insan was marred with protests at Sirsa and Rohtak, with the sattellite town of Dabwali being forced to halt its screening during the day.
Son of senior Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Ajay Singh Chautala, Digvijay Chautala also held a protest in Sirsa against screening of movie and marched towards the OHM cineplex on Sirsa-Hisar road. INLD's student wing Indian National Students Organisation wore black bands and carried out a protest march in Rohtak against the release of the movie.
Taking a dig on the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) Chautala said that BJP is a Baba Janta Party which has been ruling in the state because of the support of the dera chief Ram Rahim Singh.
Digvijay was arrested along with 50 supporters at city while he was opposing the screening of the MSG.
Notably, radical sikh preacher Baljeet Singh Daduwal, who had demanded a ban on the screening of the movie, also held a protest at Sirsa -- headquarters of the Dera Sacha Sauda. Daduwal's attempts to reach cinema hall was foiled by police after he was rounded up early morning. Daduwal was also arrested along with his aides.
At Dabwali, the owner of Darpan Theatre decided not to screen movie due to the tense situation and threats from radical sikh organisations. The movie has been banned in Dabwali.
Meanwhile, heavy police force was deployed along the National Highway-10 on way to the Sirsa cinema hall and the traffic had to be diverted from the adjoining villages.
On the other hand, scores of dera followers had started thronging the cinema halls at select theatres by 8.30am in presence of law enforcing agencies.
Sirsa superintendent of police Ashwin Shenvi said that they successfully handled the situation and were fully prepared to tackle any unexpected develpments. Shanvi requested cooperation from the public in maintaining law and order.
Heavy security in Karnal, Kurukshetra
Special anti-riot police teams were positioned near various multiplexes and theaters to tackle any law and order situation in Karnal, Kurukshetra, Panipat and other adjoining districts.
In Kurukshetra, paramilitary forces were stationed at the multiplexes where the film was being screened.
In Karnal, the police undertook a flag march on Thursday evening. SP of Karnal, Abhishek Garg said that the local administration had issued prohibitory orders against holding any protest around the theaters in the district.
Appealing for peace, the SP said that any aggrieved party could approach the court for a legal remedy against the film, but as the movie had been okayed for release on Friday, the police would not allow the law and order situation to be disturbed.
Garg said that strict legal action would be initiated against any violators.
Panipat deputy commissioner (DC) Sameer Pal Srow held a meeting with the managements of various cinema halls on Thursday and directed them to stop screening films after 7 pm.
Kurukshetra DC CG Rajnikanthan has warned that action would be initiated against anyone disturbing law and order over the film's release.
The film was screened at a multiplex each in Kurukshetra, Jagadhari in Yamunanagar and five theaters in Panipat district.
Meanwhile in neighbouring Kaithal, where the film was not screened, the district authorities have imposed section 144, prohibiting the assembly of five or more people and carrying of firearms near the theatre.
No protests by sikh bodies
None of the Sikh organisations protested against the film in Karnal while INLD and its youth wing, INSO held brief peaceful protest dharna or sit-ins away from the theaters at various district headquarters.
INLD, the political ally of the Shiromani Akali Dal, the ruling party in Punjab, also handed over a memorandum to the district administration demanding a ban on the film screening.
Since the electoral support of Dera Sacha Sauda to the Bhartaiya Janata Party (BJP) is understood to have enabled it to form its first ever government in Haryana the INLD is seen acting against the sect.
Meanwhile, no untoward incident related to the screening of the film was reported from Karnal, Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar, Kaithal and Panipat districts.
'Crazy about film'
All shows at the OHM Theatre near Moriwala village on the Sirsa-Hisar were going housefull and the excitement among the fans was palpable.
The Dera followers celebrated the screening by distributing sweets and bursting firecrackers.
Mohini, 25, a Delhi resident said that she had come all the way from Delhi to watch this movieas she had not succeeded in getting ticket in Delhi. "In Delhi, all the theaters were packed due to which I failed to get a ticket so I have come here to watch this movie," she said.
Ram Parkash 42, a farmer of village Shahpur Begu said that it was the first time in his life that he was coming to a cinema hall. "I have a craze for this movie that is why I have come here to watch it. And this is must watch movie and very good for the young generation," he said.