On Sunday, members of Rajasthan's Rajput outfit Karni Sena entered the 13th century Chittorgarh fort and shattered mirrors in the Padmini Mahal, the palace of the legendary Rajput queen.
The mirrors were being shown to tourists as part of a story that Allauddin Khilji saw the queen's face in a mirror as part of a compromise with her husband Rana Ratan Singh. This, as per the Sena, is gross misrepresentation of history.
'Mirror story is pure fiction, were put up for Nehru's visit'
Govind Singh Khagarot, head of Karni Sena's Chittorgarh arm, told ScoopWhoop News that the mirrors had no historical value.
"The mirrors came up only 60 years ago when then PM Jawaharlal Nehru visited the city. The ASI installed the mirrors so they could narrate the story of Padmavati including the fictitious Khilji episode to Nehru," he said.
"But even after the PM left, the mirrors weren't removed. Slowly, tourists started believing that these were the same mirrors that were used for revealing the face of Padmavati. Mirrors didn't even exist at that time," he said.
Notably, the fort is said to have been built in the 13th century but the Padmini Mahal, where the mirrors were installed, is a new construction. "It came up only in the 18th century as a tribute to the queen," said Khagarot.
Rajput outfits had been campaigning against the mirrors for a long time
City-based Rajput groups had been writing to the Archaeological Survey of India, which protects the heritage monument, for more than five years to remove the mirrors. Khagarot said the 10-year-old Karni Sena has been more aggressive on the issue and recently threatened a protest if ASI didn't give in to their demand.
ASI files FIR against vandalism
The police have filed an FIR on ASI's complaint. The Sena, however, is not worried. "The FIR is against unknown persons so they don't really have a case," said Khagarot.
He added that if the police actually makes some arrests, they will hold a state-wide agitation. "This is because what members did it in a fit of rage only after the ASI refused to even acknowledge their dissent," he said.
Sena state president Mahipal Singh Makrana has in fact blamed the "the failure of the administration to remove the mirrors after an ultimatum was given by the Rajput outfit 15 days ago" for the vandalism.
The row about Padmavati and Khilji
Historians believe that Queen Padmavati is a fictional character and there is no record of the legend before Malik Mohammed Jayasi, a sufi poet from Jayas near Rae Bareilly in Awadh, wrote his epic work 'Padmavat'.
However, contrary views say that while Jayasi weaved a beautiful but fictitious tale around queen Padmavati involving Khilji, older folklore suggests the existence of the queen and her act of Jauhar. Locals, including the Sena, too believe that Rani Padmavati existed and hold her in high esteem but trash the story that Khilji attacked Chittorgarh for the queen and was ever shown her face.
Second case of violence by Karni Sena over the issue
Earlier, Karni Sena members assaulted film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the set of his upcoming film on the legendary queen. While Sena members had been protesting "distortion of history" in the film, the members say they slapped Bhansali after his crew refused to entertain them and fired shots in the air.