Karni Sena (/ˈkəˈrni snɑː/; Hindi: करणी सेना, romanizedKaraṇī sēnā), known as Shri Rajput Karni Sena (Hindi: श्री राजपूत करणी सेना, romanizedŚrī rājapūta karaṇī sēnā, lit.'army of Karni Rajputs', abbr.: SRKS), is an organisation based in Rajasthan, India. Founder by Lokendra Singh Kalvi and led by Mahipal Singh Makrana, Vishwabandhu Singh Rathore and others. It takes its name from Karni Mata, who is believed to be incarnation of Hinglaj by her followers.[3][4]

Karni Sena
Shri Rajput Karni Sena
श्री राजपूत करणी सेना
Flag of the Maratha Empire.svg
NicknameRajput Karni Sena
Named afterKarni Mata
FormationSeptember 23, 2006; 15 years ago (2006-09-23)
FounderLokendra Singh Kalvi
Founded atJaipur, Rajasthan
Legal statusReligious Organisation
OriginsJaipur, Rajasthan
Official language
Hindi, Rajasthani and Gujarati
  • Lokendra Singh Kalvi
  • Mahipal Singh Makrana
  • Vishwabandhu Singh Rathore
RemarksSelf-organising and Legal
Formerly called
Rajput Karni Sena


The origin of the Karni Sena can be traced to attempts by the Rajput leader Lokendra Singh Kalvi to mobilise the Rajput community in 2005.[5] The organisation was formed in on 23 September 2006 in Jhotwara locality of Jaipur,[6] primarily by unemployed Rajput youth.[7] The central aim of the newly-formed organisation was to demand caste-based reservation for Rajputs in government jobs and education. Its other objectives included ending the alleged "sidelining of Rajput figures in textbooks" and help elect Rajput legislators in the government.[6]

The first President of the organisation was Ajeet Singh Mamdoli. During the 2008 Rajasthan Assembly elections, the group supported the Indian National Congress on the condition that the party would give a specified number of tickets to Rajput candidates.[6] At that time, Kalvi was associated with the Congress, and Mamdoli wanted a Congress ticket to contest the election.[7] According to Mamdoli, Kalvi was concerned about his growing political clout, which led to differences between the two leaders, and a split in the group.[5] Mamdoli left the group and formed a new faction. Mamdoli filed a case against Kalvi's group, claiming that he had registered the name "Shri Rajput Karni Sena"; as of 2018, the case is sub-judice.[6]

After Mamdoli's departure, Kalvi appointed Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi as the President of his faction. Later, differences developed between Kalvi and Gogamedhi over demands for reservation.[6] In 2015, Gogamedi was expelled over criminal charges, and formed his own faction, called "Shree Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena."[5] Kalvi then appointed Mahipal Singh Makrana as the state president of his faction.[6]

As of 2018, there are three major Karni Sena factions:[5][7]

  • Shree Rajput Karni Sena, led by Lokendra Singh Kalvi
  • Shree Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena Samiti, led by Ajeet Singh Mamdoli
  • Shree Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena, led by Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi

The Karni Sena members initially focused on the caste-based reservation issue, but later, they became involved in a number of political issues in order to gain limelight. In 2008, they protested against the release of the movie Jodhaa Akbar, alleging that it distorted Rajput history. In 2012, Karni Sena members from Shekhawati protested against a CBI inquiry against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Rajendra Singh Rathore.[5]

In 2017, the Sena's members organised protests against the police encounter killing of gangster Anandpal Singh, whom they saw as a defender of Rajputs against Jats. Kalvi's faction sidelined the other factions during these protests, and became prominent. Also in 2017, the group came to national limelight when it protested against the release of the movie Padmaavat.[5]


Jodhaa AkbarEdit

SRKS had protested when the film Jodhaa Akbar was released in 2008. According to Goldie Osuri, an academic with specialist interests in depictions of nationalism in the media, the public objection of the SRKS was related to a "minor historical indeterminacy" regarding whether the fictional central character was the wife or daughter-in-law of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Osuri says that a wider analysis of media and blog sources shows that the real objection was to the depiction of marriage between the Muslim Emperor Akbar and a Hindu Rajput princess.[8][9]

The SRKS did not receive an apology from the Jodhaa Akbar film-maker, Ashutosh Gowariker, as they had demanded but some Rajasthani cinemas did refuse to show the production and there were some protests in other states also. The organisation then objected to the 2010 movie Veer, which they claimed maligned their community. They vandalised some cinemas that showed the film, the acts being described by commentator Chitra Padmanabhan as:

Thereupon the Sena wrote a new chapter in bravery by indulging in acts of vandalism in theatres screening the movie. Clearly, the 'art' lies in feeling aggrieved all the time.[10]

In 2013, SRKS announced their opposition to the similarly-titled and -themed Jodhaa Akbar historical drama television series. Various objectors associated with SRKS said that the group would organise legal action and public protests to ban the series from being broadcast if discussions with the television company, Zee TV, did not achieve their aim. They claimed that the Hindu-Muslim marriage involved a fictional character and was a distortion of history resulting from poor research.[11] In 2014, SRKS organised a protest against Ekta Kapoor, who had produced the now-broadcast series.[12] A month later, it was alleged that a group of around 40 SRKS members attacked the offices of Zee Media in Jaipur, a part of the television company that had broadcast the series. Journalists' trade unions demanded that the police should react by arresting Lokendra Singh Kalvi, the SRKS leader.[13][14]


In 2017, the Karni Sena started protesting against film Padmaavat, based on Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi's epic poem Padmavat (1540) about Padmavati, claiming that the film is distorting Rajput history and hurting community sentiments.

There were allegations from the group that the film is depicting inaccurate facts, with activists vandalizing the sets of the film. According to a sting operation[15] conducted by an Indian news channel, activists may have planted the controversy in order to extort money from the filmmakers.[16] The vandals broke the mirrors that were installed in the Chittor Fort around 50 years ago, claiming that they misrepresent the story of Padmavati, whose face, according to PAD, was shown to Alauddin Khalji using a mirror.[17]

In January 2017, a film set was vandalized. Several historians responded to the vandalism, with The Times of India reporting, "Sufi poet Jayasi made up the story that later got legend status, so Bhansali can't be threatened for taking creative licence with the tale, say historians".[18] Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali was assaulted by the Karni Sena on a film set,[19] which led to a number of celebrities and public figures condemning the attack.[20]

The Karni Sena made threats of violence, reportedly threatening to burn down theatres if the film is released to audiences before it is shown to them for evaluation. Bhansali responded to the threats by reiterating that rumours of a romantic dream sequence between Padmavati and Khalji are false, and that the film contains no such scene.[21] The Karni Sena have held protests, supported by politicians in the ruling BJP party. Historians have criticized the protests, such as Aditya Mukherjee, who called the protests "absurd", stating that, in "the contemporary period, there is no mention of this event, no accounts of Padmavati by Amir Khusrau, a prolific writer of the era and a courtier of Alauddin Khalji. This is misuse of both fiction and history. There is no historical evidence of this Padmavati event - this story is a poet's imagination". He referred to the controversy as "manufacturing of hurt sentiments clearly with an eye on politics".[22]

Threats were made against Bhansali and lead actress Deepika Padukone, and riot police might have been deployed at Indian cinemas.[23] The Karni Sena threatened to assault and mutilate Padukone by cutting off her nose, which Mumbai Police responded to by giving her special security.[23][24][25][26][27]

The Karni Sena changed its stance on 23 November, and agreed to support the release of the film, provided that the makers screen the film to the royal family of Mewar and agreed to withdraw the protests if nothing objectionable is found in the film.[28] However, in January 2018, the group engaged in violent protests against the film, resulting in the arrest of its national secretary Suraj Pal Amu.[29] Among other acts of violence, the Karni Sena has been accused of stoning a school bus with children in it.[30] The Karni Sena has denied these allegations, and have claimed that their protest is non-violent.[31]

On 2 February 2018, Karni Sena declared withdrawal of the protest against the film and stated they would help with the release of film throughout cinema houses in India.[32]

Other types of activismEdit

Protests involving supporters of SRKS also occurred in 2009 at the University of Rajasthan, where a dispute between a Rajput student and one from the Jat caste escalated as fellow Jat students protested against the treatment of their colleague. The two castes constituted a significant proportion of students at the university and their caste associations — the SRKS and the Jat Mahasabha — tended to get support in particular from those caste members who came from small towns and villages. The caste barriers were reinforced by the existence of caste-based accommodation and tended to become particularly evident in student politics, which reflected the similar caste-based rivalry found in the politics of the state of Rajasthan itself.[33]

In 2010, the Indian Police Service said that it had detained seven SRKS activists who were planning to disrupt an event at which Sonia Gandhi would be attending.[34]

The organisation also participates in social services on various occasions.[35]

On May 16 2021, Asif Khan, a Muslim resident of Khera Khalilpur village in Nuh district of Haryana, was murdered. He was attacked by a group of men while on his way home. The motive behind his murder is disputed with claims of personal enmity and mob lynching supposedly stated as possible causes.[36] However, Karni Sena's President Suraj Pal Amu justified Asif's murder while addressing a Mahapanchayat (large village gathering) organised by Amu Noonh, the accused caught in the case.[37]


  1. ^ "Rajput Karni Sena Membership". The Times of India.
  2. ^ "भारत में करणी सेना का बंद". The Wire. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  3. ^ Navina Jafa (15 December 2017). "Of rats, rituals and Rajputs". The Hindu.
  4. ^ "इस देवी के नाम पर बनी है करणी सेना, देवी के मंदिर की खूबी जानिए" (in Hindi). Navbharat Times. 14 June 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "One-upmanship behind rise of various Karni Senas". The Times of India. 22 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Salik Ahmad (24 January 2018). "In many faces of Karni Sena, Lokendra Kalvi the pivot". Hindustan Times.
  7. ^ a b c Ashish Mehta; Dishank Purohit (24 January 2018). "The rise & rise of Karni Sena". The Times of India.
  8. ^ Osuri, Goldie (2013). Religious Freedom in India: Sovereignty and (anti) conversion. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-41566-557-5.
  9. ^ Osuri, Goldie (Spring 2012). "Secular Interventions/Hinduized Sovereignty: (Anti) Conversion and Religious Pluralism in Jodhaa Akbar". Cultural Critique. University of Minnesota Press. 81: 70–99. doi:10.5749/culturalcritique.81.2012.0070. JSTOR 10.5749/culturalcritique.81.2012.0070.
  10. ^ Padmanabhan, Chitra (20 February 2010). "Art under Fire". The Hindu. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  11. ^ Singh, Arvind (16 June 2013). "Rajputs protest against 'distortion' of history in Ekta Kapoor's TV serial". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 25 April 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Rajput Karni Sena Shout Slogans at Ekta Kapoor During Jaipur Lit Fest". The New Indian Express. IANS. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  13. ^ Singh, Mahim Pratap (27 February 2014). "Journalists demand arrest of Karni Sena president". The Hindu. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  14. ^ Khole, Purva (26 February 2014). "Karni Sena attacks Zee TV office over Jodha Akbar". Bollywood Life. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  15. ^ "Padmavati: Karni Sena attackers' extortion plans exposed in sting operation". Deccan Chronicle. 26 September 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  16. ^ "India Today expose: Padmavatis Karni Sena attackers run extortion racket". Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Mirrors In Historic Chittorgarh Fort In Rajasthan Broken By Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Attackers".
  18. ^ "Padmavati isn't history, so what's all the fuss about?". The Times of India. 29 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Sanjay Leela Bhansali assault: 'Padmavati' actors Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor break their silence - Times of India". The Times of India. 29 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Sanjay Leela Bhansali assaulted on 'Padmavati' set, Bollywood celebs condemn attack". The Times of India. 27 February 2017.
  21. ^ Cain, Rob (10 November 2017). "Threats Of Theater Violence Weigh On Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmavati'". Forbes.
  22. ^ "Bollywood film Padmavati faces protests from Karni Sena". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  23. ^ a b Safi, Michael (16 November 2017). "Indian film Padmavati sparks protests over 'Hindu-Muslim romance'". The Guardian.
  24. ^ "Deepika Padukone Gets Special Security After Threats Over Padmavati". NDTV. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  25. ^ "'Padmavati' row: Rajput Karni Sena says 'compromise formula' has been worked out with Sanjay Leela Bhansali - Times of India".
  26. ^ "Padmavati row: Gujarat chapter of Rajput Karni Sena slams Sanjay Leela Bhansali, says it supports Lokendra Singh Kalvi's threat to chop off Deepika Padukone's nose - Ahmedabad Mirror".
  27. ^ "'A lot will burn, stop if you can': Rajput Karni Sena warns as row over 'Padmavati' rages". 15 November 2017.
  28. ^ "Padmavati row: Karni Sena changes stand, wants Mewar royalty to 'clear' movie". Times of India. 23 November 2017. Archived from the original on 23 November 2017.
  29. ^ "Karni Sena national secretary arrested, says police". The Hindu. 26 January 2018.
  30. ^ "Karni Sena's Gurgaon chief held over Padmaavat violence, SIT to probe bus attack". Hindustan Times. 27 January 2018.
  31. ^ "Karni Sena Chief Denies Role In Violence, But Says Protests Will Continue". NDTV. 28 January 2018.
  32. ^ "Karni Sena Declares Withdrawal Of Protest Against "Padmaavat"". NDTV. 3 February 2018.
  33. ^ "Minor dispute becomes major caste issue". The Times of India. 6 October 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  34. ^ "Police denies detaining Karni Sena leader". Business Standard. Press Trust of India. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  35. ^ "जरूरतमंदों की रसोई के लिए करणी सेना ने दिया राशन". Dainik Jagran (in Hindi). 9 April 2020.
  36. ^ Saxena, Shivangi. "Murder or mob lynching: Why was Asif Khan killed in Nuh?". Newslaundry. Newslaundry website. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  37. ^ "'Hum unka murder bhi na kare..." The Free Press Journal (FPJ). FPJ. Retrieved 6 July 2021.

External linksEdit