THE BODY of a 40-year-old man was found hanging from the ramparts of Nahargarh Fort here early on Friday morning, with some messages referring to the protests over Padmavati scribbled on the stones inside the fort, said police.
The man was later identified as Chetan Saini, who sold jewellery and handicraft in Nahari ka Naka area, near the Nahargarh Fort on the outskirts of Jaipur.
“Padmavati ka virodh karne walon, hum kille par sirf putle nahi latkate… hum mein hai dum (Those opposing Padmavati, we don’t just hang effigies from forts… we have courage),” said one of the handwritten messages on a stone.
Earlier, those protesting against the film had hung effigies of filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali and actress Deepika Padukone outside Chittorgarh Fort.
“Har kaafir ka haal yahi (Same fate to all disbelievers)”, “Chetan tantric mara gaya (Tantric Chetan has been killed)”, “Padmavati ka jauhar hai, toh Jodhaa ka Akbar shouhar hai (If Padmavati committed self-immolation, then Akbar is Jodhaa’s husband)” were some of the other messages.
In 2008, the Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) had protested against Ashutosh Gowariker’s film Jodhaa Akbar, alleging “inaccurate portrayal of history.” The film was not released in Rajasthan.
“The body was found hanging early in the morning,” said Satyendra Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Jaipur North.
“Prima facie, as per the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) team which visited the spot and going by the nature of injuries, it looks like a suicide. Also, his fingers were blackened with the same material which was used to scribble on the stones. However, handwriting experts will ascertain (whether Saini wrote on the stones). As per preliminary investigation, it doesn’t seem to be a case of foul play,” said Additional Commissioner of Police Prafulla Kumar, adding that the motive would be “clearer as investigation proceeds.”
Police have not ruled out the possibility that the messages on the stones may be an attempt to mislead investigations. “It is not clear when those lines were scribbled,” said Ramkishan, SHO of Brahmpuri police station.
“The family is not in a position to record statements. But so far, we have come to know that he kept to himself. His relatives and neighbours say he was not involved in politics or any such thing,” Ramkishan said.
“He left home at around 3:30 pm on Thursday, saying that he was going out for some work. At around 5:30 pm, he called up home and said he would return at around 9:30 pm,” said Saini’s brother, Ramratan, 37. After that, they did not hear from him.
Ramratan added that Saini had neither watched Padmavati, nor discussed it, and had no association with the Karni Sena. “He was a simple man who used to mind his own business. He didn’t have any enmity, neither did he keep a lot of friends,” he said.
“He was not in depression, neither was he a tantric — we are an educated family — nor was he in debt. Someone has unnecessarily tried to link him to the Padmavati controversy,” said Ramratan, adding that Saini had two children aged 12 and 13 years.
“It may be an attempt to mislead investigations, but the person or persons who did this knew their history well, referring to ‘tantric Chetan’ and Akbar-Jodhaa. It seems organised, there are dozens of message written near the body and it would have taken some time to scribble them,” said SRKS president Mahipal Singh Makrana.
In Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s 1540 epic poem Padmavati, King Ratansen (who later married Padmavati) banished sorcerer Raghava Chaitanya, who travelled to the court of Alauddin Khilji in Delhi, and told him about Padmini’s beauty, which led Khilji to lay siege to Chittor.
“Chetan was in no way associated with us, but ‘tantric Chetan’ seems to be a reference to Raghav Chaitanya,” said Makrana, pointing out that the body was found hanging on the wall which faces the old city, “perhaps as a message”. “This is not the way to protest. Earlier too, we received threats from Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Norway, etc. and also wrote to Jaipur Commissioner about it,” he said.