The controversial film Sadda Haq, based on Punjab terrorism, has been banned by the Punjab government on the grounds that it will disturb communal harmony. Its decision comes even as the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), apex body for Sikh preaching, has facilitated censor clearance for the Punjabi movie.

The Delhi Lieutenant-Governor has also prohibited the release of the film in the capital fearing a hostile law and order situation.

The film, made from the point of view of Sikh militants, depicts some landmark happenings of the Khalistan movement during the 1980s and 1990s, and key characters are based on real people. Besides the murder of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, who detected mass cremations of unclaimed bodies of youth, there are episodes based on Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassination and several cases of police excesses.

Producers Kuljinder Sidhu and Dinesh Sood have appealed to the government to form a committee of writers, community leaders and Sikh scholars from Punjab to review the film and decide if it should be banned. Their Jalandhar-based production house, OXL Pvt. Ltd, is planning to move court if the government does not reconsider its decision.

The government decision came hours before the film was to be released on Friday morning, after a panel of senior civil and police officers saw it. In October, the Central Board of Film Certification objected to the film but eventually cleared it with a U certificate, thanks to the intervention of the SGPC and some Hindu organisations of Ludhiana.

‘Bid to suppress truth’

Human rights lawyer associated with the Khalistan movement Navkiran Singh, who has acted in the film, told The Hindu: “It is the first such attempt to show events from the militants’ perspective and the ban is clearly an attempt by the government to prevent the truth about police high-handedness and how their atrocities forced young men to take to the gun from reaching the people.”

Another human rights lawyer Amar Singh Chahal is playing himself in the movie.

Sikh writer and journalist Baljit Balli says the film has touched a raw nerve with the Punjab police because many of its top officers have been shown in a poor light. “It tells a bitter truth about the phase of terrorism in Punjab, but is not the complete truth as it glosses over the losses suffered by the police and victims of terrorists. Since there is no closure of that violent phase of Punjab’s history and no universal acceptability of events, there are bound to be different reactions.”

Many have also taken exception to a promotional song for the film called Baghi (rebel) sung by controversial Punjabi singer Jazzy B. For, it draws comparisons between prominent terrorists like Jagtar Hawara, Dilawar Singh — the human bomb who killed Beant Singh — and Balwant Singh Rajoana, on death row for the same offence, and the 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh, describing them all as rebels, who fought for Sikh causes.

The Punjab unit of the Shiv Sena has also demanded a ban on the film and threatened to protest if it is shown in theatres.

Our New Delhi Staff Reporter reports:“Lieutenant-Governor Tejinder Khanna has issued the ban order invoking Section 13 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 to maintain communal harmony,” said a police officer.