Inside the Rajput Karni Sena: A Tale of Struggles and Influence

Priyanshi Pareek reported on the full story of Karni Sena, continue reading to know about it in detail..

The Karni Sena, also known as Shri Rajput Karni Sena, is an organization rooted in Rajasthan, India. Established by Lokendra Singh Kalvi and led by figures like Mahipal Singh Makrana, Vishwabandhu Singh Rathore, and others, it draws its inspiration from Karni Mata, revered as an incarnation of Hinglaj by her followers.

History

The Karni Sena was established by Lokendra Singh Kalvi’s efforts in 2005, officially forming on September 23, 2006, in Jaipur’s Jhotwara area. Initially centered on caste-based reservations, the group expanded its scope to address Rajput representation in textbooks and politics. Internal disagreements led to factionalism, resulting in various splinter groups led by figures like Ajeet Singh Mamdoli and Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi. These factions clashed over reservations and political alliances.

Their pursuits extended beyond reservation demands, encompassing protests against alleged historical distortions in films like “Jodhaa Akbar” and involvement in political controversies, notably a 2012 issue involving a BJP legislator. The 2017 protests over the movie “Padmaavat” gained national attention, positioning Kalvi’s faction prominently within the Karni Sena.

Overall, the Karni Sena’s journey has been marked by internal divisions, leadership changes, and an expanding involvement in political and cultural matters, transcending their initial focus on reservations.

Founder

Lokendra Singh Kalvi, the founder of the Rajput Karni Sena, emerged as a key figure in mobilizing the Rajput community’s interests. He led the organization from its inception in 2006, championing causes such as caste-based reservations, representation in educational materials, and political participation for Rajputs. Kalvi’s leadership has often been associated with the Sena’s protests and movements, particularly gaining national attention during controversies surrounding historical depictions in movies like “Padmaavat.” His role has been instrumental in shaping the Sena’s agenda and actions over the years.

Activism 

Jodha Akbar 

The Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) protested against the 2008 film “Jodhaa Akbar,” primarily objecting to its portrayal of the union between Mughal emperor Akbar and a Hindu Rajput princess. Initially, concerns centered on minor historical inaccuracies, but analysis suggested the core issue was depicting a marriage between a Muslim emperor and a Hindu Rajput princess. 

Despite demanding an apology, their opposition led to resistance from Rajasthani cinemas, protests in various states, and objections to subsequent films allegedly portraying their community negatively.

They vandalised some cinemas that showed the film, the acts being described by commentator Chitra Padmanabhan as:

Thereupon the Sena wrote a new chapter in bravery by indulging in acts of vandalism in theatres screening the movie. Clearly, the ‘art’ lies in feeling aggrieved all the time.

In 2013, the Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) opposed the TV series “Jodhaa Akbar” due to a Hindu-Muslim marriage portrayal they deemed fictional and historically inaccurate. They threatened legal action and protests against Zee TV, citing distorted history. In 2014, SRKS protested against the series’ producer and allegedly staged an attack on Zee Media’s Jaipur offices, prompting calls for the SRKS leader’s arrest from journalists’ trade unions.

Padmavati

The Karni Sena opposed the film “Padmaavat,” alleging it distorted Rajput history, resulting in vandalism on film sets and accusations of extortion. They damaged mirrors at Chittor Fort while historians defended the film’s creative liberties based on a Sufi poet’s tale. Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali faced assault, triggering widespread condemnation from public figures and celebrities.

Initially, the Karni Sena threatened violence, demanding a pre-release screening and received backing from some politicians. However, historians criticized their claims as baseless and politically driven. Security measures increased due to threats against the film’s crew. Despite insisting on a screening for the royal family of Mewar, the Karni Sena engaged in violent protests, leading to arrests and allegations, including an incident involving a school bus. Eventually, they withdrew their protests, vowing support for the film’s release in Indian cinemas.

Other Type of Activism

In various incidents, the Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) involvement extended beyond their core agendas. They engaged in protests and clashes, notably at the University of Rajasthan in 2009, reflecting caste tensions between Rajput and Jat students. 

Additionally, the SRKS faced scrutiny in 2010 when Indian Police detained some activists allegedly planning to disrupt an event attended by Sonia Gandhi. Beyond their political activities, the SRKS also partook in social services. Moreover, in a disturbing event in 2021, their president, Suraj Pal Amu, seemingly justified the murder of a Muslim resident, Asif Khan, at a village gathering, sparking controversy and raising questions about the group’s stance on such matters.

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