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Mihira Bhoja was a Rajput, word Gurjar didn’t exist at the time, Karni Sena founder says

Karni Sena founder Lokendra Singh Kalvi's comment comes after row over caste of 9th century king Mihira Bhoja as UP CM Yogi Adityanath unveiled his statue, which was seen as a move to court Gurjar votes.

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New Delhi: King Mihira Bhoja was from the Rajput community and not a Gurjar as is being claimed by Gurjar bodies, Rajput Karni Sena founder-patron Lokendra Singh Kalvi has said amid a row over the caste of the 9th century king. 

On Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath unveiled a statue of Mihira Bhoja in Dadri, which was seen as a political move to court the Gurjar community votes. However, ahead of his visit, a row broke out between the Rajputs and Gurjars over which caste the king belonged to.

Rajputs are a warrior clan while the Gurjars are primarily a pastoral community. The Gurjars claim that the king, who was from the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty of north India, is an icon of their community. The Rajputs dispute this.

Some Rajput organisations protested against the CM’s event. On Tuesday, Karni Sena’s Lokendra Singh Kalvi and Rajendra Singh Naruka were put under house arrest. They were released a day later.

According to Kalvi, who claims to be a historian, the king was a Pratihara, which is a Rajput community, and the word Gurjar “didn’t exist” during Mihira Bhoja’s times. The Karni Sena leader claimed that the CM himself is a Pratihara.

“The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has himself said that he is ‘Bisht’ by birth, which is a subclass of the Pratihara community from the Rajput Kshatriya clan. He himself has clarified. The confusion is being created by some people driven by their political interests,” he told ThePrint in an interview.

Kalvi, who is the son of former union minister Kalyan Singh Kalvi, called for a historian committee to resolve such cases of “historical distortion”. He said he has requested the UP CM for the same during a meeting. ThePrint reached the chief minister’s office via calls but couldn’t verify if such a meeting took place.

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On his arrest and ‘historical distortion’

Speaking about his house arrest, Kalvi said he has no complaints with the BJP government. 

“The arrest was not needed. It was an administrative process. We assured the district administration that we would not create any disturbance or to promote conflict between Rajput and Gurjar community but don’t know why we were still arrested,” he said.

Kalvi said he was invited by the chief minister earlier to discuss the matter. During the said meeting, the Rajput leader requested the CM to form a committee of senior historians to look into the case.

“In today’s day and age, anyone can write anything on social media claiming it to be history. It is laughable how some people are talking about Raja Mihira Bhoja being a Gurjar,” said Kalvi.

“During today’s (Wednesday’s) event, somebody who wants to project Raja as the leader of the Gurjar community, put a sticker saying ‘Gurjar’ on the nameplate of the statue to be unveiled. It is a strange thing that somebody wants to claim their ancestry by a mere sticker,” he said.

Earlier, Piyush Bhargava, a history professor at Lucknow University, told ThePrint that there was no clarity on the king’s caste. He said King Mihira Bhoja belonged to the Pratihara dynasty. While some scholars later called it the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty, there is little clarity on how the two names were clubbed together.

“I am asking the CM to form a committee of historians to solve not just this issue, but other issues of historical distortion as well. We had done so during the time of Padmaavat protests as well,” said the Karni Sena leader.

Karni Sena is the outfit that found fame after leading the protests against Padmaavat, a 2018 Hindi film made by Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Rajput queen Padmavati. Bhansali was even allegedly assaulted in 2017 by members of the Karni Sena on the film’s sets.

“During the media trial at the time of the Padmaavat controversy, Yogi ji was the first person who supported us. After that, 14 chief ministers gave me in writing that we are not going to screen the film. I would say that if there is any distortion, get ready for two slaps. We do not have any issue with the government, we have an issue with the historical distortion of facts,” Kalvi said.

“Today if a Valmiki (Dalit) says I want to follow the footsteps of Lord Rama, there is no problem with that. But if they say Lord Rama was their great-grandfather, then there is a problem,” he added.

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On ‘political fate’ of Rajputs

Asked whether the CM’s decision to unveil the statue of Mihira Bhoja at a college campus in Dadri was to court Gurjar votes in Uttar Pradesh, Kalvi said every community is equally important for political parties.

“We are not a political wing of any party… we are not going to decide the political fate of our caste,” he said, adding that Karni Sena was established to focus on issues often left untouched by politicians.

“Karni Sena was established some 16 years ago, and we raised many of the issues which were not raised by politicians because of their political compulsion, like reservation. When discrimination was happening in politics on the basis of caste, we raised our voices. We are working our level best to ensure the harmony in the society is not disturbed,” he said.

“If somebody claims Raja Mihira Bhoja was Gurjar, it is fine, let them say that. But they are not the masters of history. Put the masters of history to work to find who he was,” he added.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

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