I liked your article Dadri to Hathras. Although I am not a trained sociologist unlike yourself, I count myself as among the very few who understand Rajputs holistically – with their minute tribal regional histories, migrations, & demography. I had written this article sometime back on Youth Ki Awaaz here : https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2020/10/issues-with-rajput-hindutv-why-the-liberals-must-instead-embrace-rajputs/?success=1
As a result, there are few things I found could have been written better. I don’t know if you are a Rajput yourself, however I believe insiders must have a less stereotypical understanding of the Rajput people, be their good, bad or the ugly.
- The entire region from Haryana, Western UP and Easter Rajasthan has had a millennium of oppression and rebellion against Turkic and Timurid powers of Delhi. Yet, one couldn’t find this “Rajput vs Muslim” mindset even in 1857, when both Hindu & Muslim Bhati Rajputs of Bulandshahr, or Hindu & Muslim Sisodias of Dhaulana (GB nagar) participated as kins in agrarian revolts against the British. In many ways, Western UP is an extention of Haryana and disconnected to Central UP culturally. And until 1947 Haryana predominantly had Muslim Rajputs, with Hindu kins being their protectorates. Khurja has Solankis, Hapur has Tomars , Rohtak has Parmars – each having both Hindu & Muslim villages.
So what changed? And was it the RSS? The communalization of the region goes back to clashes between Arya Samaji “reformists” led by Swami Shraddhanand and Deobandi Tablighi “reformists” in late 19th & early 20th century, each pushing a “higher version of faith” onto the inhabitants. Thus the roots predate RSS, a Marathi brahmin organization.
- The disease of Hindutv has infected every community, from Jats to Ahirs and even Pasis and Bhars. The Pehlu Khan lynching by Ahirs, the JNU hostel storming by Jats this year, the gun trotting Gujjar boy at Jamia etc. And the same communities often commit anti-Dalit atrocities – the Badaun rape-murder by Ahir cops or Delta Meghwal’s rape-murder by her Jat teacher. Yet what makes the Rajputs different from the above groups.
- Each of the above communities, have successful and well-funded caste-reformers, who in fact openly denounce Brahminical notions and encourage caste as just a vehicle for collective progress and welfare politics. Except an insignificant and restricted outdated like Kshatriya Yuva Sangh, there is no reformist organization. The KYS even calls rajputs to abandon Hinduism and win over Dalits and Muslims as allies against the “Brahminical state” – but they do that, without investing in philanthropy or institutional endowment to rural youth, hence they miserbly failed to make inroads.
- Similarly, each of the above communities, has had remarkable community-leaders like Ch. Charan Singh , BP Mandal, Rajesh Pilot who gave their community a secular alternative with a socialist thinking. However, none of illustrious leaders of Rajput backgrounds – Vishwanath Pratap Singh Gaharwar, Chandrashekhar Solanki, Arjun Singh Baghel, or Commander Arjun Singh Bhadauria ever strived to create a similar alternative for the rajput plebeians. NoIn fact, VPS was responsible for clubbing agrarian-dominant rajputs with Brahmins and Banias, thereby ensuring their quicker destruction. The rajput-commoners were predominantly farmers or sepoys, they lacked the education of Brahmins and wealth of Banias.
- Third, apart from failure of Rajput leaderships or enlightened educated men and women from reforming and leading the backward masses, there had been systematic alienation and targeting of Rajputs from the Ruling castes’ Elites of this New nation, who now controlled Congress, media houses and academic institutions. It is here, where I strongly differ from the banal “Rajput vs Dalit” narrative. This narrative is only true to an extent, beyond it it has always been shaped by other powerful Third parties. For instance, Rajputs were stereotyped as the inhuman rich Zamindars played by Khatri men like Amrish Puri, Gopal “Ranjeet” Bedi and even K K Menon. In fact, Zamindar and Rajput were used interchangeably, though majority of Rajputs were no Zamindars and Zamindari in Hindi belt incuded a wider ethnic spectrum. Compare this to Brahmin surnames that represent the everyday middle-class or Jats, who symbolize sportspersons and good-hearted soldiers. Very recently, Anubhav Sinha made Article 15 based upon Badaun case, but made it a point to replace Ahir accuseds (as in the real case) with Rajput villain.
Hence, it is not “Rajputs vs Dalit” which is only there on the surface, rather it was always “Rajput public vs Brahmin-Khatri-Jat Opinion-makers & Rulers”. The way Rightwing Yogi was promoted as Thakurvadi by Rajat Sharma of INDIATV and this narrative gained fresh air immediately after encounter of gangster Vikas Dubey, the same way secular socialist VP Singh was accused of the same in 1980s when he was UP CM. The Behmai massacre of 1981 was during his term. A Dalit lady giving justice to “Thakur men” was used to both laud her and attack VPS. However, the rapists and victims of Phoolan Devi were “Dadi Thakurs” – not Rajputs , it would be of interest to you to check if Rajputs even inhabited that village. . Reference here . The only rajput in this story, were her assassin – Sher Singh Rana, a person from Uttarakhand and not Budelkhand. Yet even to this day, “mainstream English media” misleads on the above.
The marginalization of Rajputs as whole, especially the rural and to a certain extent even the middle-class and their systematic and institutional targeting has also played a significant role in pushing the community towards the Rightwing and ensured it remains bogged in rightwing tendencies. Interviews give a peek into people’s perception (however irrational), but they don’t explain real phenomenon. For an average joe rural Rajput, he compares himself to Dalits, notwithstanding that his/her actual destruction was at the hands of Brahmin Elite Opinon-makers and Decision-makers who control various parties (including BJP), Media Houses and Academic institutions. Take the Hathras crime itself. Unlike the concomitant Alwar Dalit gangrape or dalit Advocate Devji Maheshwar’s murder, where there is complete silence, the Congress supremo was quick to target a “specific community” in the Hathras issue and a mass campaign of media Influencers (mostly Brahmins) began targeting Rajputs irrespective of their states or regional identities – Bihari, Rajasthani or Himachali.
The popular culture stereotype that Khatris and Pathans embedded in the society, ensures that even the actual socioeconomic nature of the average Rajputs remains forever distorted.
Although the Rajputs are marginalized as compared to Brahmin-Banias (who actually control Congress & BJP), Khatris, Jats, Kayasths, Ahirs etc, they are caricatured as the most privileged humans walking the earth. Caveat: As compared to rural Dalits, the rural Rajputs are privileged, but the Rajput community lays below not just the Brahmin-Savarns but also below many OBC castes in terms of it. Had it been the other way, at least he would have had a strong voice at least in his own story and discourses centring around him.
It is not just the Agrarian economy or the State negligence; it is rather about many other socioeconomic, political and psychological factors that have led to it. And unless Rajputs are not brought back into the mainstream, to which they have been made pariahs by Brahmin-Khatri Elite ecosystem and until they are denied a secular alternative under an educated leadership, things wouldn’t change.
I believe that these are the things that one must know, to have a better insight into why the community was completely pushed towards rightwing.