Twenty days after he was killed in a police encounter, gangster Anandpal Singh was cremated in his village of Sanvrad in Nagaur district on Thursday — a day after one person was killed and over 40 injured in clashes between the police and members of the Rajput community, who are demanding a CBI probe into his death.
The police claimed that Singh’s family had agreed to the cremation, which began at around 7 pm. But his daughter, Yagyajeet, alleged that the police had taken his body without their consent.
The State Human Rights Commission had on Wednesday asked the government to cremate the body within 24 hours.
“First they agreed to the cremation — the mother, some relatives and the villagers. Then the daughter started saying all this. The cremation was done with the family’s consent,” said ADG (law and order) N R K Reddy.
Singh was killed in an encounter on June 24, at his hideout in Churu district. Demanding a CBI probe into his death, his family had refused to carry out the cremation. The body was kept in a deep freezer.
On Wednesday, Rajput organisations held a “hunkar rally” in Sanvrad to press their demand for a CBI probe. It was one of the biggest gatherings of Rajputs since the Deorala pro-Sati agitation in 1987.
The rally took a violent turn as the protesters torched government vehicles, damaged rail tracks and clashed with police. Among the injured were 32 police personnel. Curfew was imposed late last night, but lifted for some time on Thursday to allow the cremation.
Nagaur SP Anil Paris Deshmukh said that “220 people have been detained under Section 151 of the CrPC.”
Singh belonged to the Ravna Rajput community — although identified with Rajputs, they have historically faced caste discrimination. 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 in 2006, and his bitter relations with Khinvsar MLA Hanuman Beniwal.
Singh was arrested for Godara’s murder by the Rajasthan ATS in 2012. He was lodged in various central jails, including Bharatpur, Bikaner and Ajmer. Always conscious of the TV cameras, he would carefully time his short walk for them while being escorted to the police vehicle from the prison and the courtroom.
In September 2015, he made a dramatic escape from police custody, on the way back to Ajmer prison from a court in Nagaur.
Police said 37 cases were registered against Singh between 1992 and 2017, six of these for murder. Following his death, Singh’s family has found support from Rajput leaders outside the state as well, with former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh urging Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to intervene.
“Why does the BJP in Rajasthan object to a CBI probe in the fake encounter of Anandpal Singh? How can the BJP government snatch his right to a fair trial. Even terrorist Kasab had that right,” tweeted the Congress leader.
“I have urged Union Home Minister Rajnath Singhji to abide by his Kshatriya dharma and place a veto on the Rajasthan CM… If the CM doesn’t agree (to a CBI probe), all Rajput ministers in Rajasthan should immediately resign,” he said.
The Congress, as well as BJP MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari, who is known to be a critic of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, have criticised the state government for not ordering a CBI probe.