Gurugram/Pataudi: On 4 July, Suraj Pal Amu spoke about “cutting down throats” in a mahapanchayat speech, and also allegedly threatened actor Saif Ali Khan and his family for starting “love jihad” from Haryana’s Pataudi.
If Amu’s name is ringing a bell, it’s because he has made headlines for violent threats in the past too. Most people remember him as the Karni Sena chief who called for the beheading of actor Deepika Padukone during the protests over the release of Padmaavat in 2018.
The 53-year-old, who became the face of the protests against director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film, now describes himself as a dedicated Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker and a “Hindu chintak” (thinker).
He revealed his thinking side at the Pataudi mahapanchayat last week that was called to discuss ‘love jihad’ and religious conversion among other issues. At the gathering of 700 people, Amu allegedly threatened actor Kareena Kapoor Khan, who is married to Saif, over ‘love jihad’.
“Those who gave birth to Taimur, also belong to Pataudi. We know how to give respect… We want to say to Taimur’s mother (Kareena) that this is enough,” he was heard saying in one of the videos from the mahapanchayat that made its way to social media.
In another video, he can be purportedly heard railing against renting properties to Muslims. “I am not satisfied with the resolution of not allowing houses to ‘these people’ on rent,” he said, allegedly instigating the crowd to pass a resolution to throw “them” out.
This led to a row with several Twitter handles tagging the Prime Minister’s Office and the home minister seeking strict action against him.
But Amu is unperturbed. He dismisses these posts as mere “trolling”. He also claims to be close to BJP national general secretary and now-Union minister Bhupender Yadav, with whom he has worked before.
“I am good friends with Bhupender Yadav. He is really a sweet person. When he was the president of the Gurugram unit of Yuva Morcha, I worked closely with him as maha mantri. Our friendship still continues,” says Amu.
ThePrint reached Yadav via texts seeking a comment on his relationship with Amu but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
What happened at the mahapanchayat
Amu’s latest bid to make headlines came as some Hindu ‘thinkers’ and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders in Pataudi held a mahapanchayat under the banner of ‘Hindu Dharm Raksha Manch’.
“The seed of ‘love jihad’ was sown in Pataudi itself from the time of Sharmila Tagore. People of Pataudi, only you will cut it… stop welcoming them,” Amu said to a roaring crowd. “They cut moustache, but we are capable of cutting down throats,” he added.
Narender Pahadia, one of the organisers of the event, says Hindus came forward with ideas such as “forming village-level and district-level committees to keep an eye on Muslims”. But these were not catching anyone’s attention.
“So Amu triggered Taimur and Saif Ali Khan. This worked,” he says
“We started preparing on 25 June. VHP and other Hindu chintaks like me, made several WhatsApp groups. The agenda was to counter ‘baazar jihad’, ‘love jihad’, ‘zameen jihad’ and religious conversion in Pataudi,” he said.
Manesar’s deputy commissioner of police later clarified to news agency ANI: “We had intimation about this mahapanchayat and had undertaken confidence-building measures with both Hindu and Muslim groups. Police were deployed on the day of the meeting to avoid any untoward incident. We also kept a watch on social media.”
But Amu is gleeful about the headlines, adding that there plans for more. “This is not the first panchayat I have attended and neither this will be last. We have more mahapanchyats in the upcoming days.”
Who is Suraj Pal Amu?
Born in Haryana’s Sohana district, Amu says he started visiting Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh shakhas when he was 10. He graduated from the Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak in 1987 and joined the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
Amu claims he worked with O.P. Dhankhad, who later became a cabinet minister in the Khattar government, and in the late 1990s with BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh’s ex-chief minister Uma Bharti.
Asked about his unsuccessful stint in politics, he says, “I did not indulge in chaaplosi (sycophancy). Those who do, succeed in politics.”
However, Amu was made Haryana BJP spokesperson in 2013. He also worked as the state unit’s chief media coordinator between 2014 and 2019.
According to Amu, he became the national president of Karni Sena in 2019.
The caste-based group has splintered into many groups since its inception in 2006 — most prominent among them being Shree Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena headed by Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi.
However, Amu says he didn’t believe in the idea of a caste-based body so he got Karni Sena registered as a social organisation in 2019 and dropped Rajput from its name. Now, his organisation has people from all the castes.
Rise to infamy
Before all this, though, came the defining moment of Amu’s public career.
In late 2017 and early 2018, ahead of the release of Bhansali’s Padmaavat, there were massive protests in Rajasthan other states led by the Karni Sena for the alleged derogatory depiction of Rajputs in the film.
In the melee that lasted weeks, Amu made the biggest headline when he named Rs 10 crore as prize for beheading actor Deepika Padukone, who played the character of Rani Padmavati in the film.
“To be frank, I did not know much about Rani Padmavati. But I saw a few protests so I decided to read more about her. I came across a video by Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji. That is when the real Thakur in me got angry and I decided to quit my job as BJP pravakta (spokesperson),” he says.
Amu spent a few nights in Bhondsi jail for participating in violence during the protests in 2018. He was also detained by the Delhi Police in protests last year over the suicide case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
The Karni Sena chief speaks about the 2018 events with pride. “I was called by BBC News, Al Jazeera and New York Times. I appeared on every national channel. I was the busiest person then. But I had not been on (news anchor) Rubika Liyaquat’s show. Hopefully, this time I will make it.”
(Edited Amit Upadhyaya)