Earlier this month, the government of Punjab banned the screening of a controversial film titled “The Messenger of God,” citing intelligence reports and central advisory that the film could lead to communal tension. A spokesperson for the state government clarified the screening of the film, which has not been released as yet, was stopped immediately after they received the notice.
“The Punjab government today decided to stop with immediate effect the screening of the film 'MSG ...' in Punjab in view of reports of tensions surrounding its release in some other parts of the country,” he said.
The movie has been in news for a long time, ever since it failed to get a green signal from the Central Board of Film Certification as well as its revising committee, after which it was taken to Film Certification Appellate Tribunal that finally approved of the film, after asking its producers to make minor changes.
The spokesperson said, “The state government’s decision comes in wake of reports of strong reactions and protests, which even a promotional trailer of the movie has evoked in several parts of the country leading to a serious spillover of the threat of violence in Punjab.”
Sukhbir Singh Badal, deputy chief minister of Punjab, said central agencies had sent advisories to several states in north India to incorporate necessary steps in preventing violation of peace, adverse fallouts, untoward incidents and other law and order problems.
“The screening of the film is likely to evoke strong emotional reactions leading to public display of conflicting emotions. The government cannot allow the chain of actions and reactions to pose a threat to peace and social harmony of the state,” the spokesperson said, quoting the order.
After protests against the film grew more and more volatile, security agencies and police officials in both Punjab and Haryana were put on high alert. Producers of the film, which has been directed by spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, claim to have gotten necessary permission from the censor board for its release. Ram Rahim clarified that there is nothing controversial in his film.
“There is a move to stop the release of the film. I have no knowledge on why the censor board objected to the film,” he said, adding the film carried a message against social evils like alcoholism, prostitution and drugs and promoted good causes like blood donation and doing voluntary work.
Photo Credits: Telewatch