The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Revenge raid on Rajmata kothi: ghosts catch up

Bhopal, July 27: An unlawful entry 20 years ago, triggered by an ugly spat over property and wealth, has landed several close associates of the late Madhavrao Scindia in trouble.

Gwalior police today arrested Mahendra Pratap Singh, who was secretary to the late Maharaja of Gwalior, in connection with the “raid” on Heeravan Kothi, a prime property of the Scindias, on October 11, 1983. The police action came in the wake of stern judicial pronouncements.

On July 23, special judge R.K. Verma rejected the anticipatory bail plea of 19 accused people. Verma has fixed July 31 as the next date of hearing after he received a directive from the Supreme Court to speed up the case.

In 1983, Madhavrao Scindia’s supporters had ostensibly tried to “release” the premises the late Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia — Madhavrao Scindia’s mother — had given to Sardar Sambaji Rao Angre, who was her political mentor after her husband’s death in the sixties. Angre looked after the palace and handled the Rajmata’s financial matters. He also helped the Rajmata chart her political career.

Mahendra and several former Madhya Pradesh ministers have been booked on several charges. They have also been slapped with dacoity charges under Section 11 (13) of the Anti-Dacoity Madhya Pradesh Act. Other prominent state-level Congress leaders accused in the case include K.P. Singh, Sharad Shukla, Ashok Sharma and Rajendra Tomar.

Madhavrao Scindia’s men had “raided” Angre’s home when he was away. The house is now sealed and in the court’s custody. Angre’s daughter Chitralekha, who used to live in Heeravan Kothi, expressed satisfaction at today’s development. “In the last 20 years I had become so demoralised that I was losing faith in the judiciary. But now I am confident that the rule of law will catch up with the culprits.”

Chitralekha had recently moved an application in the Supreme Court lamenting the tardy progress in the case.

During the Scindia rule, royal ladies used to entertain themselves at the kothi, watching dance performances, listening to music or playing with chambermaids. In 1979, when political differences between the Rajmata and her son hit an all-time low, Vijayaraje Scindia gave the prized premises to Angre virtually for free — at a nominal rent. Madhavrao Scindia, who had joined the Congress — the Rajmata was with the saffron camp — bitterly opposed the move and had public spats with his mother and Angre and threatened to “release” the kothi.

The Madhavrao camp apparently bided time. On October 11, 1983, when Angre was away, a group “raided” Heeravan Kothi at night and forced Chitralekha to flee. Chitralekha filed a case naming Madhavrao Scindia and 19 others. She alleged that the accused persons indulged in looting, too.

The kothi is among several other worldly possessions that the Scindias have been fighting over among themselves. Other notable possessions of the Rajmata include an emerald Shiva lingam larger than an egg; gold tongue scrapers, a vault full of jewellery encrusted with rubies, diamonds and pearls; a silver bathtub set on a leaping fish; more than 200 acres of prime land in Delhi; and a huge crystal chandelier from Vienna.

The chandelier is so heavy that a ramp was built to the roof that was to hold it so that elephants could parade across it to test the roof’s strength.

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