Though the film “MSG-2: The Messenger”, starring Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, has not been banned in Punjab like his debut movie, Dera followers did not get to see the film at any place in the state on Friday as with multiplexes and single-screen theatres preferring to withdraw its scheduled shows.
Tension gripped Bathinda on Friday evening when hundreds of dera followers protested in the children’s park blaming the district administration for pressuring the theatre owners not to show the movie. The dera followers from different parts of the district, which is the hub of dera activities in Punjab with its state headquarters at Salabatpura, gathered in the park and raised slogans against the Punjab government and district administration alleging that the theatres did not screen the movie after being threatened by the district administration. Heavy police force was deployed around the park to maintain law and order.
‘Govt playing dual game’
The protesters alleged that the Punjab government was playing a dual policy on the movie. Though it has not banned the film, the district authorities across the state have been asked to ensure that theatres do not screen the movie, they said.
Member of the state-level committee of the dera followers in Punjab Gurdev Singh alleged that it had been done at the behest of state government that theatre owners declined to screen the movie. A delegation of dera followers also met Bathinda deputy commissioner Basant Garg to register their protest.
Dera follower Kewal Singh Brar, who was part of a delegation that met the DC, alleged that Pukhraj Cinema had agreed to screen the movie but the administration with the help of the police tore the movie posters and threatened the owner with dire consequences if he screened the film.
Owner of Pukhraj Cinema Sevak Ram Bhola said nobody asked him not to screen the movie. He said it was his own decision.
The DC said there was no ban on the screening o the movie. Theatre owners are free to show the movie, he added. He also dismissed the allegations that the administration was not allowing the movie to be screened. Gurdev Singh said they would intensify their agitation against the state government.
Traffic blocked in Ferozepur
Dera followers blocked the Ferozepur-Fazilka state highway near Golu Ka Moar village in Ferozepur to protest against non-screening of the movie.
In Ludhiana, PVR Cinemas, which had on Thursday scheduled two shows of the movie, cancelled the shows on Friday. This was the only cinema chain that had scheduled the show of the movie and had been showing its trailers. The only show listed in Jalandhar was also cancelled on Thursday evening.