- Amagarh Fort of Jaipur, Rajasthan is at the centre of a conflict between the tribal Meena community and local Hindu groups.
- Members of the Meena community say the Amagarh Fort was built by a Meena ruler predating Rajput rule in Jaipur, and has been their holy site for centuries.
- They accused Hindu groups of trying to appropriate tribal symbols into the Hindutva fold, and of changing the name of Amba Mata to Ambika Bhawani.
- The Meenas, also known as the Meos, or Mewati, are a tribe and caste inhabiting parts of western and northern India.
- According to Meena tradition, the Meenas ruled most of what is now eastern Rajasthan, an area they referred to as “mind-esh” (country of the Meenas). They subsequently were replaced by Rajput clans, the most recent being the Kachhwaha Rajputs who founded the state of Amber, later known as Jaipur.
- The community has substantial clout in Rajasthan. Of the 25 Assembly seats (out of 200) reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST), most are represented by Meena MLAs.
- The community is also well represented in the bureaucracy. According to Census 2011, STs constitute 13.48% of the state’s population.
- Due to a scattered population across the state, the community can influence election outcomes in unreserved seats, too.
- The present form of the Amagarh Fort was given in the 18th century by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, founder of Jaipur.
- It has always been believed that there was some construction at the place before Jai Singh II built the fort.
- Prior to Rajput rule by the Kachhwaha dynasty, Jaipur and its nearby regions were ruled by Meenas, who had political control.
- And as claimed by the Meena’s the fort was built by a Meena Sardar from the Nadla gotra, now known as Badgoti Meenas.
- Sardars from the Meena community ruled large parts of Rajasthan till around 1100 AD.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT