As in life, gangster Anand Pal Singh continues to make news in death. Five days after he was killed in an exchange of fire with the police — three cops too were injured — his family still refuses to accept his body. His mother, wife and two daughters — Charanjeet is studying engineering in Dubai, Yagyajeet is in school in Pune — have demanded a CBI probe into his killing.
Anand Pal belonged to the Ravna Rajput community, culturally similar to Rajputs. Events that marked his life were widely associated with Rajput-Jat rivalry: his own rivalry with gangster Raju Theht, his arrest over the alleged murder of his once best friend Jivan Godara, and his bitter relations with Khinvsar MLA Hanuman Beniwal. On Thursday, Rajput groups protested in several parts of Rajasthan, blocking highways and indulging in arson in Shekhawati, Marwar, Alwar and Nagaur. “On Saturday, over 35,000 Rajputs will march to the CM’s residence to submit a memorandum demanding a CBI probe,” said Mahipal Singh Makrana of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena.
Police brush aside suggestions that caste had anything to do with Anand Pal’s crimes. “This is all political. He was a criminal and so is Raju Theht,” a high-ranking police official told The Indian Express. “What has caste got to do with it? Several members in his gang were Jats; his brothers were being sheltered by Jats in Haryana. And Anand Pal has killed Rajputs too: a teacher in Churu for no reason at all, one Himmat Singh in Jaipur; he also fired on one Ladu Singh. Besides, the two constables and an inspector he shot at last week, seriously injuring them, were Rajputs too.”
Since September 2015, when he escaped dramatically from police custody on the way back to Ajmer prison from a court in Nagaur, Anand Pal has been a talking point with the police, politicians and the press. He was always conscious when the TV cameras were on him: he would curate his short walk for them while being escorted to the police vehicle from the prison and the courtroom. Born in Sanvarad village of Nagaur, Anand Pal was the first son in his family, after two elder sisters. Police said 37 cases were registered against him between 1992 and 2017, six of these for murder including that of his once best friend Godara.
Although Ravna Rajputs are identified with Rajputs, they have historically faced caste discrimination. It was one such instance of discrimination that built the friendship between Anand Pal and Godara. At Anand Pal’s wedding, Rajputs in his village allegedly would not allow him to ride a horse, and Godara is said to have helped him resist them and lead the procession on horseback. They fell out in 2005, when Anand Pal and a mutual friend, Shyam Pratap Singh Rathore, assaulted Godara at the Didwana bus stand after friendly banter turned bitter. The following year, Anand Pal allegedly opened fire at a group of people in Didwana; Godara and another person died later.
Anand Pal was arrested for he murder by the Rajasthan Anti Terrorism Squad from a farmhouse in Jaipur in 2012. Since then, he was lodged in various central jails including Bharatpur, Bikaner and Ajmer, until his escape in 2015. “The encounter was a team effort. We got help from district police in Nagaur, Churu and from the Haryana police in Sirsa. We asked him to surrender but he opened fire. He was killed in retaliatory fire. Two constables and an inspector were seriously injured in the encounter,” IG, Special Operations Group, Dinesh M N told The Indian Express. Singh’s supporters on WhatsApp and Facebook continue to hail him, leading to a Rajasthan police statement in response.
“There is no clear earning member in his family, yet one of his daughters is studying engineering in Dubai paying Rs. 20 lakh. Another daughter is studying at an expensive school in Pune. He has two flats in Jaipur, 370 bigha land, mines in Makrana and several other benami properties. Have you ever thought how he amassed all this wealth? Is this what we will teach our children? Will we make them famous or notorious?” Anand Pal, incidentally, had only Rs 20 in his wallet when he was killed.