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Rajasthan saw ‘Padmavati’ protests, lynchings in 2017

PTI | Jaipur |

Protests over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama Padmavati, lynching of a man over suspicion of cow smuggling and encounter of most wanted gangster Anandpal Singh were among the several issues that kept Rajasthan in news in 2017.

The Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government, which completed four years in office on December 13, was cornered over ‘black law’ which proposed to bar media from naming a public servant until the government sanctions the investigation.

Riding roughshod over protest, the government tabled the Code of Criminal Procedure (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill in assembly, for which the government had already brought an ordinance, but it was later referred to a select committee of the house.

Not only this, Raje and her government were criticised and targeted by senior legislator of the ruling party Ghanshyam Tiwari who along with his supporters also attempted to stage a protest in front of her house in civil lines against her twin residence dispute.

2017 began on an unpleasant note for filmmaker Bhansali who was slapped by Sri Rajput Karni Sena activists during a violent protest at the sets of the film Padmavati at Jaigarh fort.

This was the beginning of an unending controversy which caught the attention of the country with members of Rajput community accusing Bhansali of trying to present distorted facts with regards to legendary queen of Mewar Rani Padmavati, who along with 16,000 other women had committed Jauhar or self immolation in Chittorgarh fort to protect their honour when Muslim ruler Alaudddin Kilji had attacked the fort.

Bhansali’s team assured the leaders that no love scene or dream sequence were filmed between Rani Padmavati (played by Deepika Padukone) and Alauddin Khilji (played by Ranveer Singh).

On December 30, the censor board decided to give Padmavati a UA certificate and suggested director Bhansali to change the film’s title to Padmavat.

The board also suggested modifications in disclaimers, pertinently adding one regarding not glorifying the practice of “Sati” and also relevant changes in the song “Ghoomar” to befit the character portrayed.

The state police heaved a sigh of relief after eliminating most wanted notorious criminal Anandpal Singh in Churu in June.

Anandpal was carrying a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh after he escaped from police custody in Ajmer in September 2015 while being taken back to prison from a court.

He was killed in a police encounter, which evoked sharp anger among Rajput community members who in large numbers gathered at his village Sanvrad in Nagaur. Family members demanded a CBI inquiry and refused to perform his funeral.

There was violence and authorities imposed curfew in affected areas in Nagaur district. The body was cremated on July 13 after police served notice to the family members to conduct the funeral as per the direction by the state human rights commission.

The state government later assured the community members to hand over the case to CBI.

The BJP government introduced a controversial ordinance which sought to protect both serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants in the state from being investigated for on-duty action without the government’s prior sanction.

The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance 2017, promulgated on September 7, also sought to bar the media from reporting on accusations till the sanction to proceed with the probe was obtained. Amid protests by Opposition, rights activists and the media, the government later referred the bill to a select committee.

On the political front, Raje faced lot of criticism from rebel BJP MLA Tiwari, who was served show-cause notice by the party’s national discipline committee in May. He later announced that political platform would be formed.

Tiwari also targeted the party leadership for making K Alphons the party candidate for Rajya Sabha election saying the party ignored and sidelined leaders and workers of the state and chose to field an “outsider”. Union Minister of State for Tourism Alphons was elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan in November.

The Congress in Rajasthan led by Sachin Pilot left no opportunity to corner the state government on various occasions. One of the prominent issues which the Congress party as opposition raised was that of farmers. It held the state government responsible for suicide of farmers and demanded loan waiver for the farmers.

The Gujjar reservation issue also saw important developments in the state with the government initiating to raise OBC quota from 21 to 26 per cent for granting 5 per cent reservation to Gujjar and four other castes.

The government introduced a bill for this but it was challenged in the high court as it raised the reservation limit in the state from 49 per cent to 54 per cent, against the legal limit of 50 per cent.

Later, the government decided to give one per cent quota to the five castes so that the reservation limit does not cross the 50 per cent ceiling.

Apart from these developments, the Pahlu Khan lynching on suspicion of cow smuggling in Alwar and the brutal killing of a man for alleged ‘love jihad’ in Rajsamand were a blot.

Some other incidents of cows smuggling were also reported from Alwar, which shares border with Haryana and forms a part of Mewat region.

In one of such case, an alleged cow smuggler was killed in exchange of fire with police while in another case in the same month of December, another alleged cow smugger was injured when his speeding vehicle overturned when police were chasing the vehicle in Alwar. He was also beaten by locals.

Following those incidents, BJP MLA from Ramgarh (Alwar) Gyan Deo Ahuja warned “you will be killed if you smuggle and slaughter cows”.

Medical and health services were badly hit in the state when in-service government doctors went on strikes in November and December to press for their demands.