The Dera chief has been accused of rape and murder and of ordering the castration of 400 Dera followers
The Indian Censor Board recently refused to clear the film MSG: The Messenger of God which apparently features the Dera chief as a prophet, fearing the film can lead to communal disharmony. The film features Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the head of a spiritual organisation, Dera Sacha Sauda. The Censor Board referred the decision to clear the film to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) because the Board, it seems, had objections to the manner in which Singh depicted himself performing miracles and curing terminal diseases.
Singh’s followers claim that the movie’s aim is to spread the self-proclaimed saint’s message and to fight against social evils like drug addiction and female foeticide. The film’s promoters had apparently announced that they would release the film on 16 January, before seeking a clearance from the Censor Board. According to some reports, the Home Ministry sent an advisory to various states against releasing the film. Various Sikh groups are reportedly opposed to the Dera.
Based in Sirsa, Singh has been the chief of the Dera since 1990. He is known to wield a lot of clout in Punjab and Haryana, with a reported following of millions. The Dera also has a political wing, the Saadh Sangat Rajnitik, which declared its support for the BJP in last year’s General Election.
Singh is also a musician who categorises his music as ‘religious rock’. In the last two years, he has, along with Universal Music, released six music albums, for which he wrote, composed and performed all the songs. The film MSG also includes songs that he has sung and composed. The Dera chief has been accused of rape and murder. Two cases of the alleged castration of 400 Dera followers on his orders are currently being investigated by the CBI.