An acclaimed Dalit writer in Rajasthan has said she is being threatened for suggesting in a 2015 book that Rajput warrior king Maharana Pratap belonged to the Bhil community and was only elevated as the Rana of Mewar later.
Kusum Meghwal told Hindustan Times she has been getting phone calls for the past 1 week from unknown people who abuse her and use profanities.
“I have been getting calls from unknown numbers who are threatening to kill me for writing the book. Some of the callers claim they are from the Karni Sena while others say they are Thakurs. I haven’t ventured from my house in the last 7 days,” 69-year-old writer said.
The author of over 65 books also alleged that she has received calls from individuals who claimed they were from the ‘Indian Army’ and also abused and threatened her.
Meghwal, who has made the claim in her book Maharana Pratap Bhil Rajputra The - Kshatriya Ya Rajput Nahi, said the word Bhil comes from the Sanskrit word Bhilla, which means brave and martial.
“The Bhil community has traditionally been spread all over Mewar and was known for their martial prowess. Maharana Pratap was also a Bhil who was later elevated as the ruler of Mewar in a ceremony to make him a suryavanshi,” Meghwal told HT.
“If any person objects to what I have written, he is welcome to write something in retaliation or to even register a court case. But where does the freedom of expression go if instead of any debate, people start threatening the author?” Meghwal, the younger sister of Rajasthan assembly speaker Kailash Meghwal, asked.
Meghwal, who has a long history of activism, added that this is an effort to subdue the voices of the Dalits so that they cannot present their side of the historical narrative.
“I sent a written complaint to the police superintendent and range inspector general and got advice in return that I should switch off my phone. I am scared for my safety but the police haven’t provided me with any security cover,” alleged Meghwal.
Kavita Srivastava of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) strongly condemned the police inaction in the matter.
“There is a complete abdication of the agencies which are supposed to protect the rights of people which has resulted in utter lawlessness in Rajasthan. The way Meghwal is being harassed shows that any analysis is not acceptable with dominant caste and Hindutva forces,” said Srivastava.
Srivastava added it was an effort to stifle Dalit voices that expose the injustices of the caste system.
Chandra Purohit, the station house officer of the Ambamata police station, told HT they have provided security to Meghwal ‘secretly’.
“We have deputed policemen in civil dress near her house and are examining the numbers from which Meghwal received the calls. A case couldn’t be lodged in the matter at present because Meghwal doesn’t have any recordings of the calls,” Purohit said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party government in the desert recently said school students will be taught that Maharana Pratap defeated the decorated army of Mughal emperor Akbar in the Battle of Haldighati some 450 years ago.
Rajasthan education minister Vasudev Devnani told HT students will not read “distorted history” from the next academic year. “If Akbar’s armies won the battle then why did they return to the battlefield 6 times? There has been an attempt to downplay the role of our heroes,” Devnani said.
Academics, however, say historical evidence shows that Pratap, the ruler of the erstwhile Mewar region, fled the battlefield in 1576, although he continued his guerilla war against the Mughals later.
The saffron party has been accused of imposing the right-wing ideology in Rajasthan through various symbols.