Rajput Karni Sena, Forget Your Queens, Focus on Your Women

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Rajput Karni Sena, Forget Your Queens, Focus on Your Women

Illustration: Shruti Yatam / Arré

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efore it set its eyes on slapping Sanjay Leela Bhansali and doing everything that they can to ensure that Padmavati does not see the light of day, the fringe outfit, Shri Rajput Karni Sena that was founded in 2006, mobilised itself to object to Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar. Back in 2008, it called for a ban on the film in Rajasthan. Nine years later, their ambition for bans has become bigger – they now want Bharat Bandh on December 1, the day of Padmavati’s scheduled release.

But their ambition is not the problem. Their idea of women is. The outfit has now threatened to maim Deepika Padukone, the leading actress of the film by chopping off her nose. In a self-made video, Mahipal Singh Makrana, a Rajput Karni Sena member, proudly announced,“Rajputs never raise a hand on women, but if need be, we will do to Deepika what Laxman did to Surpanakha.” Not wanting to be left out of the violence toward women brigade, Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi has addressed Padukone as “naachnewali”, and slammed her for “dancing with fewer clothes and insulting Indian women”.

Karni Sena’s insistence on Padmavati’s ban is proof of how much the state values, and respects women. The same state that is threatening to create hell for the sake of a queen, whose existence has been disputed many times over, is also one where 2,500 cases of female foeticide take place every day. In as many as 18 districts of the state, the child-sex ratio is less than 850. In Rajasthan, the discrimination against women starts even before birth, and continues until they’re denied an education and forced into child marriage.

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Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi has addressed Padukone as “naachnewali”, and slammed her for “dancing with fewer clothes and insulting Indian women”.

At 52 per cent, Rajasthan, India’s seventh largest state boasts of the the country’s lowest female literacy rate as per Census 2011. According to World Bank data, that number is worse than the average for “conflict-afflicted” countries and the Arab world. Shashi Tharoor may have the common sense to admit that it’s more important for Rajasthan to focus on its female literacy rate; bettering conditions for the Rajasthani women of today, instead of being obsessed with queens from six centuries ago. But, for the Rajput Karni Sena, the upholder of everything sacred, issuing Deepika Padukone a public threat of violence is much more pertinent.

Get your heads out of history, Karni Sena, take a long hard look within, and focus on the real women of Rajasthan. That would be a better way to remember your “valiant queen”.

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