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Umh!, Whats this?
Babri Demolition: A Pre–Planned
Since December 6, 2000 when prime minister, Atal Behari
Vajpayee cynically re-opened the Ayodhya issue declaring that ‘the Ramjanmabhoomi
movement was the outcome of national sentiment’ much has been said and
written about the motives and actions of major players from the sangh combine
at the time, in preparation for the act of demolition, especially the roles
of present Union ministers, Lal Krishna Advani, and his colleagues Uma
Bharati and Murli Manohar Joshi.
Interestingly, many of the BJP leaders who face criminal
charges pertaining to the demolition of the Babri Masjid are now pretending
that they did all within their power to prevent the mosque’s demolition.
The prime example of this is Uma Bharati, who recently deposed before the
officially-appointed Liberhan Commission. While the Liberhan Commission
has yet to complete its investigations and present its report, the findings
of a Citizens’ Tribunal on Ayodhya, head by a team of three prominent
retired judges is quite revealing.
Immediately after the demolition of the Babri Masjid
in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, some individuals and groups of citizens
concerned with the protection of human rights and the cherished objectives
of our Constitution, decided to set up a Citizens’ Tribunal to inquire
into the events leading to the demolition and its aftermath. This decision
was prompted by their realisation of the futility of unearthing the truth
and identifying the guilty from the proceedings of the official inquiry
Three eminent ex-judges were approached who readily
agreed to head a Citizens’ Tribunal. To quote the three (Justices O. Chinnappa
Reddy, DA Desai and DS Tewatia): “Though we have no legal authority…we
do have moral authority. We do not derive our authority from the State,
but we derive our authority from all those people who have abiding faith
in democracy, human rights and secularism.”
They appointed a Commission of Inquiry, which visited
Ayodhya and Faizabad in February 1993, examined witnesses, met and discussed
with various professionals, government officials, religious leaders and
others, and came out with a report. Following this there were sittings
and more submissions in Delhi in July 1993.
In their recommendations the judges demanded:
¨ a total ban on all political parties subscribing
to a communal credo directly or indirectly;
¨ Strong, stringent and swift action…against all
political parties identified as communal parties.
We reproduce excerpts from the findings of the Citizen’s
Tribunal on Ayodhya to refresh public memory on the issue.
The form of Kar seva
By late Novem ber 1992 the
political au thorities has started showing symptoms of failure and the
courts seemed to provide an escape route. There were pending contempt cases
for violation of court orders during the July 1992 kar seva. The Supreme
Court, therefore, asked the UP government on November 24, 1992 to specify
steps on compliance of orders, namely, prohibiting “any construction” and
“any permanent construction” on 2.77 acres of land.
The Prime Minister is reported to
have picked on this straw immediately on November 26, 1992, when he told
the Congress parliamentary party, “no one can do kar seva now to build
a temple on the proposed plot in Ayodhya since there is a stay order in
force”. He reportedly termed the planned kar seva ‘illegal’ and declared
the government’s commitment to implement the Supreme Court orders and to
uphold the Constitution. The UP government refused, in a discussion in
the state legislature, to be pinned down regarding the form of the kar
The UP counsel in the Supreme Court,
KK Venugopal, assured the court that the state government would not allow
the ground situation in Ayodhya to build up to a situation which resulted
in violation of court orders. However, to a suggestion by the attorney
general that extensive preparations were going on for kar seva, the court
announced: “Preparation is not an offence. Only on our fullest satisfaction
before us that state government has failed in its duty will we pass any
orders”. The VHP-BJP leaders showed apparent reasonableness in stating
that kar seva would not involve any violation of court orders.
On November 28, 1992, recitations
from the Gita were started on the disputed site even before the court passed
its final orders on kar seva. The court asked the UP government to file
an affidavit after consultation with the VHP and to provide further guarantees
that construction materials and machinery would not be kept near the disputed
site. The submission of the attorney general on the ground realities cited
in the affidavit on kar seva and the deteriorating situation was brushed
So, on November 29, 1992, the Supreme
Court finally passed its order on the carrying out of ‘symbolic kar seva’
and provided for its own observer to monitor the situation in Ayodhya and
report on the same. The separation of the judiciary and executive moved
a stage further. A division, in the appreciation of the ground realities,
between the local administration and the judicial observer was created.
The VHP took the UP government assurances
as a tactical move. The Bajrang Dal chief was more emphatic: “Supreme Court
ruling can apply to an individual but not to an entire society.” He stated
on November 29, itself that kar seva was not just bhajans but temple construction
also. LK Advani and MM Joshi were to take part in the planned kar seva.
A BJP press release on the same
day described the movement of building a temple at Ayodhya as “not the
culmination but the commencement of national reassertion” and the proposed
presence of these national leaders as “symbols of the party’s commitment
to national reassertion”. In Ayodhya, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das stated that
“a section of the Janmabhoomi movement is so committed to the Hindu cause
that if they decide to take matters into their own hands even the saints
would be powerless to stop them”…
The confusion regarding the contents
of the kar seva continued until December 6, 1992. Thus, the main task of
main task of mobilising the kar seva could be carried out without any problem.
LK Advani is reported to have launched his march to Ayodhya from Varanasi
with the announcement that kar seva would not be limited to ‘bhajans and
kirtans’. By the time he reached Ayodhya, he was reported to have said
firmly: “We will really construct the temple and not confine ourselves
to symbolic kar seva of bhajans and kirtans.
“MM Joshi was more forthcoming.
He asserted that the “Court can define and interpret the constitution and
the law but not the nature and the format of the kar seva”, and that during
the kar seva “everything, right from puja to construction can be done”.
The sadhus, sants, on December 5, told the huge gathering of kar sevaks
that the kar seva would begin at 12.15 p.m. on the next day, there would
be no construction on the 2.77 acres of disputed land, and that they should
follow the instructions of the sadhus in regard to modalities of kar seva.
The VHP general secretary is reported to have stated, “The construction
will be carried out but at its own pace and in conjunction with the advice
of experts, not on the court’s instructions”.
The kar sevaks were given a clear
message that the court order was not sacrosanct. There need not be any
construction on 2.77 acres of disputed land but elsewhere. It was not necessary
to have construction material and equipment at or near the site; transportation
from places of storage nearby would not be a problem. The court observer’s
report was confined to the area of dispute and activities there, and therefore
monitoring would not interfere with any of the arrangements planned. In
any case, the court had already ruled that preparation alone was no offence.
Fate of the Structure
The Puri Sankaracharya was not the
only one who demanded that it should be demolished. This was implicit in
the repeated efforts of chief minister, Kalyan Singh; to persuade Muslims
to agree to relocate the mosque outside the boundaries defined by the VHP.
By November 20, Vinay Katiyar announced that there was “no guarantee for
the safety of the existing structure”. While RSS joint secretary, Rajendra
Singh, promised that the masjid would not be damaged, general secretary
HV Seshadri announced that “pre-construction work” involving levelling
of land, cleaning and watering outside the disputed are would be carried
LK Advani is reported to have said
in Varanasi: “We do not want to destroy any masjid and make a mandir. There
was never a masjid at Ramjanmabhoomi site”. Simultaneously, MM Joshi was
noting unambiguously that the proposed construction of Ram temple was impossible
without demolishing the Babri Masjid.
The implications of such stances
on the local situation in Ayodhya were to create a real risk to the old
structure. The home ministry was aware of this risk, as is abundantly clear
from the guarded language of the letter to the chief minister of UP on
December 5 which was also leaked to the press. He went to the extent of
stating: “The possibility of some mischievous elements using explosive
to damage the Ramjanmabhoomi Babri Masjid structure cannot be ruled out”.
The local police were apprehending
construction at the site of the Babri Masjid from November 28 onwards.
On December 2, it was noted that Shiv Sainiks along with others could be
expected to destroy the disputed structure. On December 3 one Manas Maharathi
Tyagi is reported to have told the kar sevaks that the disputed structure
should be destroyed with a blow (jhatka). In the public meeting on December
5, resentment was expressed about calling the place of rest of “Ram Lalla”
a Masjid, with the assertion that this would be tolerated no longer. Slogans
calling for demolition of the Masjid were heard in the night of December
Speeches on December 5
Inflammatory speeches were made
at the mass meeting at Ram Katha Kunj on the afternoon of December 5, at
which major leaders of the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, BJP, and Shiv Sena were
present. Those present included, Ashok Singhal, Ramchandra Paramhans, Swami
Chinmayanand,Swami Vasudevanand,Mahant Avaidyanath, Acharya Vamdev, Sadhvi
Rithambara, Acharya Dharmendra and Vinay Katiyar, among others.
Acharya Dharmendra, a key VHP leader
and reportedly a major organiser of the events the next day, repeatedly
stated that they would obey the commands of the sants which they considered
the true law, and break the law of the courts. He had, from December 3
onwards, been saying “chashmen ke number badal lo, dekh lo mandir vahin
banega”. (Change your spectacles, the [Ram] temple will be built at that
very site [where the masjid was located]).
Both Dharmendra and Swami Ramchandra
Paramhans said at the conclusion of the Gita path (recital from the Bhagvad
Gita) that: “Kurukshetra ki ladai prarambh hogi, mandir banega, ladai jab
tak chalegi, Hindu Rashtra banega”. (The battle of Kurukshetra [a reference
to the epic struggle between good and evil as told in the Mahabharata]
will begin, the temple will be made, and the battle will continue until
the establishment of Hindu Rashtra). Dharmendra clarified that the battle
would begin the following morning, which was the anniversary of the original
battle according to tradition.
Attacks on journalists
From around December 3, journalists
were being threatened. Those photographing the demolition rehearsal on
December 5 were threatened and made to leave. At 5.15 p.m. Ashok Singhal,
speaking at the mass meeting at Ram Katha Kunj, wrongly accused the BBC
of misreporting in the previous day’s broadcast that “a lathi-charge had
broken out”. This enraged the kar sevaks, thirty of whom later attacked
a German TV crew, injuring them and damaging their equipment.
On the morning of December 6, mediapersons,
all of whom had been given badges by the VHP, were systematically, though
perhaps selectively, attacked and their equipment destroyed. The photographers
who were video-recording for the VHP were not attacked. These attacks were
therefore not indiscriminate, and were apparently directed at destroying
About a hundred mediapersons, in
a statement in Ayodhya the next day, blamed the RSS-VHP-BJP for these incidents,
holding Ashok Singhal squarely responsible for his anti-media speeches,
and regretted that HV Seshadri and LK Advani had not tried to stop the
attackers. Vijaya Raje Scindia, when stopped outside her hotel in Ayodhya
by protesting mediapersons, allegedly retorted: “You deserve it”. She later
denied the statement. All evidence therefore suggests that this attack
on the press was pre-planned and co-ordinated.
Crucial meetings of Sangh combine
Late on the evening of December
5, there was a meeting at Digambar Akhara in Ayodhya, where informants
claim, HV Seshadri, Vinay Katiyar and Ashok Singhal, among others, were
present. LK Advani arrived at night, pre-poning his arrival from 1.00 p.m.
on December 6, and joined this meeting. Another meeting was held in Katiyar’s
residence from about 8.00 a.m. on December 6, where it is reported that
Advani, Singhal, KS Sudarshan (RSS joint secretary), Seshadri and Moreshwar
Save (Shiv Sena leader) were present. Pramod Mahajan, BJP MP, joined them
around 10.00 a.m.
Demolition of the Masjid
The Sangh combine had already created
the atmosphere and the conditions for the demolition. Significantly, the
first attempts to break past the cordon of RSS volunteers and the police
occurred between 10.00-10.30 a.m. on December 6, when Advani and Joshi
arrived on the scene. No serious effort was made by any of the major leaders
to stop the demolition.
The systematic way in which the
Babri Masjid was demolished points to prior planning and training. The
old mosque’s structure was not weak. Because of damages caused to it when
it was attacked in 1934, the central dome and parts of the walls had been
repaired at that time using cement, etc. Though the claim that there was
an explosion has not received any confirmation, all eyewitness reports
indicate a purposive destruction.
Only about 2,000 of the kar sevaks
participated in the actual demolition. A few hundred were the main workers.
The initial successful assault was by kar sevaks who had distinctive yellow
headbands. According to local police reports, and all available video records,
kar sevaks attacked the Babri Masjid simultaneously from more than one
direction and in more than one group. The entire operation was therefore
marked by a careful division of labour.
The Babri Masjid was not the only
shrine destroyed. The Ram Chabootra where Hindus had worshipped for centuries,
as well as the Sita Rasoi (more recently also called Kaushalya Rasoi) were
also destroyed. The destruction of the disputed structure was, therefore,
not the only instance of demolition of a shrine at the site by the Sangh
The manner in which injured kar
sevaks were taken away, and ambulances provided, with access to the hospital
despite roadblocks, again point to pre-planning. The way in which the routes
that the central forces would have to take to get to the site were blocked,
with rubble, burning tyres and other barricades, shows that it could not
have been spontaneous. The human wall formed near Saket degree college
which stopped the RAF contingent on the afternoon of December 6, was also,
informants have testified, pre-meditated. The principal of the college
was an active BJP sympathiser who had earlier expelled anti-BJP student
The call by Singhal and others,
to kar sevaks to come down from the domes of the masjid, may have been
a proforma effort to indicate claim of willingness to honour Supreme Court
orders. But it could also have been an attempt to avoid injuries to the
latter when the domes collapsed. Singhal was seen signalling some kar sevaks
to move towards the mosque. While the demolition was on, Advani reportedly
warned the police not to “touch kar sevaks or use force”.
In the early afternoon, around 2.30
p.m., he called upon the kar sevaks to block all entry points to the complex
so that central troops could not enter. SC Dixit, vice-president of the
VHP, congratulated the police forces for their “restraint” while the demolition
was going on. Uma Bharati and Sadhvi Rithambara shouted inflammatory slogans,
instigating kar sevaks against Muslims.
The attitude of these senior leaders
was clear encouragement to the kar sevaks to launch a pogrom against the
Muslim community which was already terrified by what some of its members
had seen of the demolition, and many had heard over the public address
systems. Even, if, for the sake of argument, the widespread allegations
about specific communal slogans and speeches by prominent leaders are exaggerated
and untrue, the consistent support by Sangh combine leaders to the depredations
of the kar sevaks which had been going on since at least December 1 was
tantamount to encouraging their actions.
If that is indeed the case, and
this would require further investigation, all these leaders are guilty
not only of instigating communal passions, but also of aiding and abetting
acts of murder, attempt to murder, assault, rioting, looting and arson.
on Ayodhya published by its Secretariat, K-14, Green Park Extension, New
Delhi – 110016).