JAIPUR: A non-political, social organisation is how the Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) identifies itself; a claim which fails to match its unlawful behaviour over a film. The 2006 organisation boasting of 9.63 lakh registered members, mostly under 40, in Rajasthan, has witnessed growing numbers and influence. Its presence has spread to 12 states with state presidents in Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. In Rajasthan its office bearers cover all 33 districts.
Named after Karni Mata of Deshnoke town, the organisation’s members consider themselves foot soldiers of SRKS and Lokendra Singh Kalvi their chief. Its members are mostly unemployed youth and under graduates grappling with identity crisis.
Discrimination against Rajputs and the need for reservation led to the birth of SRKS, said Kalvi. The said discrimination dates back to 2006 when a gangster Anandpal murdered two of his Jat rivals in Nagaur district. Anandpal belonged to the Ravana Rajput community, which was then shunned by Rajputs, and hence they (Rajputs) had maintained a distance from him. “Despite this, Rajputs were deliberately targeted by police and the government because of the pressure from Jats. We needed to come together to fight back,” said Kalvi.
But after Anandpal was shot dead in an encounter in June this year, SRKS took up the cause of the gangster’s family demanding a CBI inquiry into the encounter. This won them the support of the Ravana Rajput community.
SRKS has an 11-point agenda, the primary one being discrimination against a Rajput leader. A close second is distortion of “historical facts” and at the bottom of the list is reservation in education and government jobs. Recorded history does not concern them as much as folklore through the ages.
The agenda includes social responsibilities like widow rehabilitation and girl education. Yet, there is neither a women’s wing nor a woman decision-maker, reflecting the patriarchal mindset of the community.
The Padmavati controversy may well be the first time that direct or indirect support has been forthcoming for SRKS from RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, ex-royals and political parties, bolstering Kalvi’s profile.
Back in 2008, during SRKS protest against the movie ‘Jodha Akbar’, the royalty here largely chose to distance themselves from the controversy. This time, however, a majority of former royals have thrown their weight behind the cause. Jaipur’s royals even held a joint presser with the Karni Sena on November 8, condemning Padmavati’s release.
Kalvi insists that there is more to SRKS than film protests. “Did we come into existence just for ‘Padmavati’? Have we existed for 11 years just to protest the film? Nevertheless this (distortion of history) cannot be allowed,” said Kalvi. “Except for reservations, we have been successful in almost all our endeavours,” said Kalvi.