All five cinemas in the district have refused to screen the movie, 'MSG-2: The Messenger' on the coming Friday, in which the lead role is played by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda.
Two cinemas each are located in Sangrur and Malerkotla and one is at Amargarh. One of the cinema owners told HT on the condition of anonymity, "Fear of reprisals and damage to property prevents us from screening the movie."
Talking to HT, senior superintendent of police PPS Thind said, "The situation is under control and the police are on high alert. We are fully prepared to avert any untoward incident in the district."
Parshottam Singh Phaguwal, general secretary, United Akali Dal said, "Firstly, those who claim to be religious should not indulge in such activities." We had already sent a representation to the government to ban this movie in Punjab, as its prequel was banned in January, he added.
Gurpreet, a dera follower said Pita ji's (Gurmeet's) followers went to Chandigarh and other places last time to watch the prequel. This time around, the followers will be able to watch the movie in the districts adjoining Sangrur, he added.
The movie is set to release in Punjab on Friday but this time it is a low-key affair as compared to the release of 'MSG: The Messenger' in January. The region had witnessed tension between the dera followers and the Sikhs and there were incidents of violence as well.
As compared to the last time when movie posters were put up in large numbers in urban and rural areas and T-shirts were distributed among the dera followers to promote the movie, none of these publicity and advertising measures could be seen anywhere this time around.
The dera is keeping the release a low profile affair so as to avoid criticism from the Sikh leaders and to avoid incidents of tension in the region, especially in the Malwa belt.
The Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh had opposed the first film and demanded a ban on it. The state government had banned the screening of 'MSG: The Messenger' in Punjab under pressure of several groups. This time, no Sikh leader has come out in the open to demand a ban on the movie but there are muted voices of opposition.