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Karni Sena: A band of jobless battling 'discrimination'

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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.

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.

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