Chandigarh: Controversial film ‘Messenger of God’, featuring Dera Sacha Sauda sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was released Friday in 4,000 screens across the country. Protests were witnessed at several places in Haryana and authorities were forced to halt shows at two places following tension.
Local authorities had to halt screening of the film in Dabwali and Karnal towns following protests from Sikh organizations.
At other places like Sirsa (where the sect headquarters are located), Kurukshetra, Hisar and Gurgaon, various Sikh organizations and opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) supporters held protests against the release and screening of the film.
Security personnel patrolled near all the theatres and multiplexes across Haryana and Chandigarh Friday as the film was released.
Police and paramilitary forces manned sensitive areas.
Sect followers could be seen reaching theatres and multiplexes where the film was being screened.
Prohibitory orders against assembly of people and carrying weapons were issued across Haryana Thursday to deal with any untoward situation, resulting due to the build-up of tension over the release of the film.
Haryana Director General of Police Yashpal Singal had urged people to maintain law and order.
"Section 144 has been imposed in various districts and additional police personnel have been deployed in all the cinema halls," he said.
The Punjab government has banned the release of the film last month.
After being denied a release certificate by the Censor Board last month, the film got the certificate last week.
While the Dera Sacha Sauda sect headquarters are located near Sirsa town, 250 km from Chandigarh, Kurukshetra and some other places house a substantial Sikh population.
The relations between sect followers and Sikhs have not been good in recent years.
In Chandigarh, security has been tightened around malls, where the film was released.
Sikh leaders Thursday submitted a memorandum to the Chandigarh administration Thursday, seeking a ban on the release of the film.
The controversial movie was earlier called "MSG" (Messenger of God).
It was to be released Jan 16, but it did not get clearance. Various groups protested against its release at that point.
The sect leader, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who plays the protagonist in the film, is its director, singer and lyricist, and has been aggressively promoting the film countrywide.
The sect claims the movie is not against any religion or group and is only highlighting social evils.