Supporters of the SRRKS chief held protests in several districts across Rajasthan a day after his murder.
Security was stepped up across Rajasthan on Wednesday amid calls for a state-wide bandh, a day after right-wing Rajput leader Sukhdev Singh Shekhawat alias Gogamedi was shot dead by two youths at his Jaipur residence.
A special investigation team has been formed to probe the killing. Police have said the two accused have been identified but are yet to make any arrest. Gangster Rohit Godara alias Rawatdas Swami, who is said to be living abroad and a close aide of jailed gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, has meanwhile claimed responsibility for the murder.
Politicians across the spectrum have condemned the killing of Gogamedi, who had remained the president of the Sri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena since he formed the outfit in 2015. His supporters have staged protests in several areas, with markets and schools remaining shut in a few districts.
But who was Gogamedi?
The 50-year-old leader from Bhadra in Hanumangarh, in his speeches, repeatedly asked Rajputs to unite. “Only then the most powerful people would salute you,” he would often say at the end of a live video or in an interview. He invoked Maharana Pratap in his various interviews and live video streams on Facebook or YouTube on issues related to the community.
Before forming the SRRKS, Gogamedi had worked with late Lokendra Singh Kalvi’s Shri Rajput Kalvi Sena (SRKS). SRKS was involved in protests against Jodhaa Akbar in 2008. Gogamedi was later made the president of the SRKS. But he floated the SRRKS after differences with Kalvi led to his expulsion from the SRKS.
In 2017, Gogamedi gained prominence for slapping filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali during the shooting of the Deepika Padukone-starrer Padmaavat.
There are several Rajput groups that use Karni Sena, Maharana Pratap, and Kshatriya in their names. In one interview, Gogamedi was asked why he wanted all Rajputs to unite when there was little unity among community groups. “We are just like three wings of the army. Each unit like the navy, army and air force has separate responsibilities.”
In another YouTube live, he expressed concern about the “shrinking” representation of Rajputs at the top layers political leadership. He rued that Union minister Rajnath Singh had been “weakened” and people were conspiring to topple Yogi Adityanath. Both are from the Rajput community.
Gogamedi also claimed credit for a 10 percent quota for the economically weaker sections.
His statements often reflected caste tensions in Rajasthan.
For instance, he did not see eye to eye with Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal. When he was asked why he talked about only 35 kaum and not 36, Gogamedi said, “Whenever they hear the word Rajput, they feel like salt is being rubbed into their wound. What’s the point of glorifying such a caste,” asked the firebrand leader. In local parlance, 36 kaum (communities) encapsulate all sections of society. By talking about only 35, he seemingly left out Jats.
In other interviews, he said that SRRKS was actively working against social evils such as dowry and untouchability. “I have met (BSP chief) Mayawati-ji several times… We drink from the same pot. I have never practiced discrimination,” he said.
While talking about BR Ambedkar, he listed out Rajputs who helped him in his education and accommodation in Delhi. On Buddhism, he said Gautam Buddha too was a Rajput.
He also talked about supporting controversial politicians.
He backed Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, president of Wrestling Federation of India, at a time when he was facing sexual harassment by some players. In February this year, Gogamedi wrote on X: “If the country does not support Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, wrestling will be controlled by a rich man from a particular state and a particular caste. He (Singh) helped financially weaker players from all regions.”
Gogamedi also threw his weight behind retired armyman Kesari Singh Rathore, who was appointed as a member of the Rajasthan Public Service Commission. Jats were against Rathore’s appointment owing to his speeches on “35” communities.
According to a Congress leader, Gogamedi was seeking a Congress ticket from Bhadra. But his request was not honoured.
His last tweet on December 3 was about the assembly election results. Gogamedi blamed the Congress defeat on ticket distribution. “The Congress was trounced because of wrong ticket distribution and neglect of the Karni Sena. In our Bhadra constituency, the Congress got 3,669 votes and was at the fifth position. The high command should note this.”
In 2013, he contested the assembly polls from the same constituency on a BSP ticket. But he clocked only the third-highest number of votes with BJP’s Sanjeev Kumar managing to win the election.
He had supported an increased political representation of Rajputs based on their population. “Jiski jitni hissedari uski utni bhagidari,” he would say.
Gogamedi’s supporters, meanwhile, have said that his last rites will be performed only after the accused are arrested.