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For the last three days, a family feud is playing out in the open at the Bhupati Bhawan Palace, Ram Nagar, in Amethi, also known as the residence of the “Raja of Amethi” and Congress Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Sinh. After 18 years, his first wife, Garima Sinh, 58, has returned to claim her “rightful place” in the palace, with her three children, Mahima, 39, Anant, 37, and Shaivya, 32.
Claiming to be Sinh’s “lawfully wedded wife”, Garima and her children entered the palace on July 25. She declared on Monday that they would not allow Sinh’s second wife, Ameeta Sinh, a former Congress MLA from Amethi, to enter the palace.
While Sinh has claimed that he divorced his first wife 20 years back, Garima has alleged that the divorce was a “fraud” as she had not signed any documents. According to her, the divorce was declared “null and void” by the Supreme Court.
Garima, her children and grandchildren have occupied two rooms and a “makeshift” kitchen in the palace, declaring their “equal right on the ancestral property”. Sinh and Ameeta, meanwhile, divide their time between their homes in Sultanpur and Lucknow.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Garima said, “I did not utter a word for the past 18 years to maintain the dignity of my family and husband. All these years, I thought my children would get justice and accepted it as my fate. But when they threw away my children’s belongings from the palace — which occupied only two of the 75 rooms — I decided it was time to raise my voice.”
She said, “I am the lawfully wedded wife of Raja Saheb and we have not been divorced. So, my children and I have the right to be in the palace. This is Raja Saheb’s home, and he can come anytime, but Ameeta Modi (Ameeta Sinh) has no right to enter.”
There have been FIRs and cross FIRs filed by Sinh’s son and the palace caretakers. Anant lodged an FIR against the caretakers on July 25 for allegedly thrashing his driver and holding his mother and sisters hostage in the palace. The next day, the caretakers filed a cross FIR against Anant and others on charges of looting and trespassing.
Anant said he and his sisters had just gone on a vacation to Amethi last month. “However, we decided to stay back when our belongings were removed from the palace on the directions of Ameeta Modi. When my mother got to know, she decided to come to the palace herself,” he said. Anant has been camping in Amethi for the last few months.
When contacted, Sinh said, “I divorced her (Garima) 20 years back and did everything to take care of my children. Anant is my only son and after me, he would have inherited the property. So what was the need to trespass at around 4 am, with armed men. Their intentions are clear.”
Denying all the allegations, Ameeta said, “I am married to Sanjay Sinh and have been taking care of Amethi and these children for the last 20 years. There was never a hint of any dispute for all these years.” She married Sinh in 1995.
While Sinh said he would wait for the issue to settle down, Anant said they were ready to go to court if needed.
Meanwhile, the district administration has deployed police personnel outside the palace, though they have decided not to intervene in the matter until it becomes a law and order issue.
Sources said Sinh, as the president of the Heritage Hospitality Association of UP, is thinking of converting the property into a heritage hotel “to conserve it better”.