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Why Rajasthan govt is unwilling to order a CBI probe into Anandpal encounter

For state home minister Gulab Chand Kataria and police officer Dinesh MN, who headed the operation to eliminate Anandpal, it is a case of déjà vu: both were named in the encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, a Gujarat criminal, and the police officer was behind bars for six years

jaipur Updated: Jul 14, 2017 11:02 IST
Rakesh Goswami
Rakesh Goswami
Hindustan Times
Anandpal Singh,Anandpal encounter,CBI probe
The native Sanvard village of slain gangster Anandpal Singh.(HT Photo)

It’s been 19 days since Rajasthan gangster Anandpal Singh was killed in a police encounter in Churu’s Malasar village. There have been two post-mortems – one at Ratangarh hospital and the other, after the family’s moved a local court for autopsy at a district hospital in Churu by a medical board. The gangster’s family – and the Rajput leaders – wants a CBI probe into the encounter alleging that it was staged and Anandpal was killed in cold blood.

After much persuasion, the 43-year-old criminal’s family was convinced to cremate the body on Thursday but the government is unwilling to refer the case to the CBI. Here’s why.

For state home minister Gulab Chand Kataria and police officer Dinesh MN, it is a case of déjà vu: both were named in the encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, a Gujarat criminal, and the police officer was behind bars for six years. Dinesh MN headed the Anandpal operation.

Kataria says he cannot order CBI probe against his force which “valiantly” took on Anandpal Singh, who was firing from his AK-47 and would have killed several police officers and escaped again if not hit.

But there’s a bigger political story behind why the government is unwilling to order CBI inquiry even at the cost of enraging the Rajputs, who form about 10% of state’s population and have been traditionally BJP supporters.

The Rajputs are angry with chief minister Vasundhara Raje since 2014 general election when the BJP chose turncoat Col Sonaram Choudhary over veteran Jaswant Singh as party candidate from Barmer-Jaisalmer seat. Raje became the butt of community’s outrage on January 25 this year at event organized by Rajput organisation Shri Kshatriya Yuvak Sangh. Sangh’s head Bhagwan Singh Rolsabsar told the CM unequivocally that the Rajputs were angry with her. There have been other incidents – such as the Rajmahal Palace case in which the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) sealed gates to the palace-turned-heritage hotel in Jaipur but were forced to open the locks after Padmini Devi, erstwhile royal and BJP MLA from Sawai Madhopur Diya Kumari’s mother, took to the streets – widening the chasm between the Rajputs and Raje.

Police officials catch up on news at Anandpal’s native Sanvard village. (HTPhoto)

Rajendra Singh Bhiyand, political activist and in-charge of Pratap Foundation in Marwar, said that Wednesday’s violence resulted from communication failure. “The government is unwilling to engage the community. It is jeopardising social fabric of the state,” he said.

Sociologist Rajiv Gupta said, “In Rajasthan caste identities are extremely important, especially in case of Jats and Rajputs as they are close to the power structure.”

“This muscle flexing by Rajputs is to demonstrate their numerical strength and power to change the political landscape in the state. Anandpal came to symbolize power, negative or positive is a different debate, because he was a fugitive and he made the government – unable to nab him – look weak and helpless,” he added.

Political observers say the state is unwilling for a CBI probe because it is caught in a tangle now. “The state fears that because of its not-so-good equation with the Centre, the CBI probe can be used against it politically,” said one of them. “They messed it up – the case could have been handled in a better way and there was no way that things could have come to such a pass,” he added.

Top government officials talk informally about the legal options open to the family for demanding a CBI probe but the government has filed a caveat in Rajasthan high court requesting hearing if the family approaches it with the demand. This clearly means that the government will oppose the demand even in court.

Former police officers don’t recall a law and order problem in the state in recent past in which an IPS officer was attacked. In Sanvrad, Nagaur SP Paris Deshmukh was almost lynched before his security guard opened fire to rescue him. The mob tore a woman IPS officer’s clothes, molested her and was trying to drag her away. Such brutality against police officers is unheard of in Rajasthan.

A former IAS officer, who has been district collector in many districts and handled several law and order situations, said the violence is clearly government’s mismanagement of the situation. “Why do you allow a community to hold condolence meeting for a man who was killed 19 days ago? The assembly shouldn’t have been allowed. It was powder keg,” she said.

None of the Rajput ministers in Raje cabinet were involved in convincing the family for cremation.

Wednesday was a sad day in Rajasthan’s history and unfortunately government gets the blame for the mess-up.

First Published: Jul 13, 2017 21:35 IST