Have you ever imagined why a person becomes a gangster? Well, I have some thoughts on the reasons based on the story I’m about to share. The story of a gangster whose death changed the political scenario in Rajasthan, whose death lead to protests that lasted for nearly a month and forced the state government to its knees.
On June 24, 2017, a Special Operations Group (SOG) shot dead infamous gangster Anandpal Singh in the Malasar village of Churu district in Bikaner, Rajasthan. The state government had deployed 3,000 specially trained policemen, had spent crores of rupees, and covered the whole state with high-security check polls and blockades to find him after his escape from police custody on September 3, 2015.
According to police and official records, Singh was killed during an encounter that also injured three cops. But Singh’s supporters, especially in the Rajput community, have claimed that it was a fake encounter. The Karni Sena and the Rajput community have been demanding a CBI investigation of this case.
After the encounter, his supporters came out to protest across the state. His family refused to accept his body for 19 days and demanded that it be preserved until a CBI investigation is conducted. The protests after his death were massive, with over 80,000 people from Rajasthan, UP, MP, Haryana and Punjab flooding the streets, and lasted for 19 days. One man was killed and over 20 cops injured during the unrest.
Anand Pal Singh came from Sanvrad in the Didwana district of Nagaur. He belonged to the Ravna Rajput community, who are generally considered a lower caste among the Rajputs. According to his followers and people in the region, the gangster always supported his community and had always stood by them. This is one of the reasons why the Rajput community was enraged with his encounter killing.
In 1992, in Sanvrad the house of Hukum Singh Chouhan of Ravna Rajput community was teeming with revellers setting out with a procession for the wedding of his 17-year-old son Pappu (Anandpal). However, he was stopped from climbing a horse since members of his community were not traditionally allowed to do so. With the help of his closest friend Jeevan Ram Godara, Anandpal Singh resisted the discrimination and eventually lead his baraat on horseback. Godara and Singh were very close but later had a falling out after they got into a fight in Didwana. In 2006, Singh allegedly shot and killed Godara.
After five years of marriage, Singh completed his B.Ed in 1997 and started a cement factory in Ladanu. Soon his interest turned to politics and in 2000, he contested and lost the Panchayat elections. Then he filed nominations for the post of Pradhan for Panchayat Samiti as an independent candidate and lost the elections by just 2 votes. He was defeated by senior Congress leader Harji Ram Burdak’s son Jagnath Burdak.
During the Panchayat Samiti, Anand Pal came into conflict with Burdak and the senior leader filed multiple cases against him. According to his supporters, he was arrested and tortured by the police. After this Singh entered the world of crime.
Soon, Pappu of Sanvrad got involved in liquor smuggling and illegal land possession with which his influence in the state increased. He came to limelight with local gang rivalries and multiple cases filed against him, six of those being murder charges. Among the murder cases was Gopal Fogawat, a nurse and ABVP worker.
Fogawat’s murder was a result of gang rivalry between Raju Theht and Anandpal Singh. After falling out with his partner Balbir Banuda, Theht sought Fogawat’s asylum while Banuda partnered with Singh. Singh allegedly killed Fogawat for Banuda.
In 2014, after Balbir Banuda was shot dead by a rival gang member inside the Bikaner jail, Anandpal brutally murdered Banuda’s assailants inside the jail premises.
After this, Singh’s gang gained more power in Rajasthan through their liquor smuggling and illegal land possession business.
As the gangster’s crime rose, so did his fan following. One reason behind this was his support towards the Rajput community, especially during their tiffs with the Jat community. During his time in jail and as a fugitive, many fan pages were started on Facebook by his youth fan club.
On the morning of June 25 when newspaper frontpages showed photos of the dead gangster, there was massive resentment.
While his followers are determined that the encounter was fake, the police held a press meeting to explain details of the incident to dispel any such claims. They described how they surrounded the gangster’s hideout and had even fired a warning shot to warn him. Police stated that Singh opened fire and was eventually killed in retaliatory fire.
In January 2018, CBI took the case up and the investigation is in process.
See how a young man who wanted to contest elections ended up becoming one of the most notorious gangsters in the history of Rajasthan. See how the community that once stopped Pappu for climbing a ghodi, travelled from all over the state to protest his death.