At least 30 office-bearers including the president of the Mumbai unit have quit the Shri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena (SRRKS), Maharashtra, claiming they were falsely accused of watching Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, a film mired in controversy for a year after the SRRKS first attacked Bhansali while he was filming the Deepika Padukone starrer. Madan Singh Rajkiyawas, president of the Mumbai unit of Karni Sena, said that two to three days back, a forged letter was circulated on social media. The letter allegedly stated that Rajkiyawas and other members of the Mumbai unit had watched Padmaavat, a film that the Karni Sena had fiercely protested against, and that they recommended that others should watch it too.
“I did not sign on the letter and don’t know who forged my signature. The letter went viral as it had leveled accusations against us. I received at least 500 calls in two days from across the country questioning me over the forged letter,” said Rajkiyawas.
He further said that an emergency meeting of the Mumbai unit was called on Sunday evening. “Then, we decided to quit the Karni Sena due to these false allegations. It pained me and others. We want the people behind it to be exposed,” he added.
Narayan Singh, vice-president of the Mumbai unit, said that around 60 people were present for the meeting and all them decided to quit. The letter, allegedly signed by 30 members of the Mumbai unit, bearing the letterhead of the organisation was later termed ‘fake’ by the Karni Sena. The Mumbai unit members who quit the organisation also drew up the sequence of events over the last five days. It included allegations made in the ‘fake’ letter and counter allegations made by the Mumbai unit office bearers.
Singh said, “Around 50-60 people attended the emergency meeting. All of them decided to quit.”
“At least 35 youths in Thane, Kalyan and Pune are behind bars and they have been given third degree treatment. But the organisation did not take any steps to release them from jail,” said Rajkiyawas adding that they plan to take up the matter with the state government.
Ahead of its release on January 25, despite a Supreme Court order, violent protests spread to cities and towns in several states including Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. In wake of the protests ahead of the film’s release last month, at least 15 people were arrested in Pune, seven in Navi Mumbai and 10 in Palghar.