Man Singh’s death caused an explosion of unprecedented rage among the Jats.

 

On 20 February 1985, Raja Man Singh, a seven-time Rajasthan MLA and younger brother of the former Maharaja of Bharatpur, was shot dead in the historic town of Deeg by members of the Rajasthan police in broad daylight. At the time elections were being held to elect MLAs to the Assembly. Raja Man Singh was an independent candidate from the Deeg constituency.

The Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Shiv Charan Mathur was also in Deeg to campaign for the Congress candidate. He had come by helicopter from Jaipur. Man Singh was a well meaning but temperamentally erratic individual. In a fit of anger he drove his jeep into the Chief Minister’s helicopter, damaging it badly. Soon after this folly he was killed by the over enthusiastic police.

His death caused an explosion of unprecedented rage among the Jats of Deeg, Bharatpur, neighbouring Mathura, Goverdhan, Vrindavan, Gokul and parts of Haryana and Western UP. Several other communities also joined the violent agitation, which lasted several days.

I had been elected to the Lok Sabha on 29 December 1984 from the Bharatpur constituency. I was getting hourly reports of the worsening law and order situation in the cities and towns mentioned above.

The Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi had heard the news. He called an immediate meeting of Cabinet Committee on Security at Number 1 Safdurjung Road. He had not yet shifted to 7 Race Course Road.

I conveyed to the Prime Minister my anger and anxiety. Violence was rampant and the situation was alarming. The police was helpless. The PM enquired: “What should we do?” I conveyed to him that the Chief Minister should be asked to step down. Some members said, a Chief Minister could not be asked to step down in the midst of Assembly elections. With characteristic candour I said, “If we wish to lose the elections the retention of the Chief Minster would ensure that. We would also alienate Jat voters in UP, Haryana and north Madhya Pradesh. Actually, no elections could be held in these areas in the current circumstances.”

After much discussion the decision was taken to ask Shiv Charan Mathur to resign. This was unprecedented. He was so shocked that he had a heart attack, but soon recovered.

Raja Man was not a rich man. Government of Rajasthan cleared his bills. Rajiv sent Rs 50,000 from the Government of India. I requested the PM to give Man Singh’s daughter, Deepa the Assembly ticket for Deeg to succeed her murdered father. Several senior Congressmen from Rajasthan were opposed to this. Rajiv Gandhi overruled them. I also proposed to Rajiv that we should request the other parties not to put up a candidate against Deepa. He asked me to contact the leaders who all agreed not to put up any candidate against Deepa.

Earlier this week, after 38 years, Mathura judge Sadhna Rani sentenced 11 policemen to life imprisonment. Four had already died. Here is a dismal example of the leisurely function of our judiciary.

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The External Affairs Minister made two significant statements on how our foreign policy should be shaped in the future to deal with new international crises. He particularly mentioned China. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said on 22 July that the recent clashes “initiated” by the Chinese military against India in eastern Ladhak were the latest example of the “unacceptable behaviour” of the ruling Communist Party. He praised India’s decision to ban 59 Chinese apps, including Tik-Tok, which he said were “security risks” to India.

We should be careful not to jump in America’s lap. Non-alignment may be out of date, but we must never give up our independent foreign policy.