Ayodhya Bhumi Pujan: Remembering the leaders who watched Babri demolition up close
Ayodhya Bhumi Pujan: Remembering the leaders who watched Babri demolition up close
PTI Images Collage by FPJ

August 5 is going to be a historic day for many Indians as the long awaited Ayodhya Ram Temple foundation event is set to take place on this day.

And while the preparations for this day is in full swing, let's go a bit back in the history and have look at what happened on the day of Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 and who were present on the dais on this day when the mosque was pulled down.

Nearly three decades ago, the temple movement reached a crescendo on December 6, 1992 when thousands of 'kar sevaks' came together to Ayodhya and demolished the disputed structure, which led to communal riots across the country.

Sajeda Momin a journalist narrated how it was like to witness the demolition of the mosque. She says, "I can still see the thousands of saffron-clad ‘kar sevaks’ clambering atop the 16th-century mosque and pounding it with shovels, iron rods, pickaxes and anything they could lay their hands on."

She said that she can still hear the screeching of Uma Bharti egging them on shouting “ek dhakka aur do, Babri Masjid tod do” through the microphones. "I can visualize the three domes of the mosque collapsing inwards one by one at intervals of roughly an hour on that cold, wintery Sunday afternoon," she adds.

The demolition led to the dismissal of the BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

FIR was lodged against thousands of kar sevaks for several offences including dacoity, robbery, causing hurt, injuring place of worship, promoting enmity between two groups on the basis of religion and more.

An FIR was also against 8 leaders belonging to BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and RSS for the speeches from the Ram Katha Kunj Sabha Manch. The eight accused were LK Advani, Ashok Singhal, Vinay Katiar, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Ritambara, Murli Manohar Joshi, Giriraj Kishore and Vishnu Hari Dalmia. However, Singhal and Kishore have passed away.

It was reported that Advani and Joshi sounded the clarion call for a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya decades ago. Reportedly, Advani was on the dais erected at Ram Katha Kunj, barely 100 meters away from the contested site. And the other seven shared the stage with him. "The opening lines of Vijayaraje Scindia's speech were a signal to bring down the Babri mosque," said Santosh Dube who was one of the kar sevaks.

Dube narrates the pulling down of the mosque on Dec 6, 1992. He says "On December 3, then revenue minister of UP, Brahmdutt Dwivedi, told me that Advani and Joshi were calling me. He took me to Hanuman Bagh temple in Ayodhya. We reached there and found Advani, Joshi, Sadhvi Ritambhara and the rest sitting there. I touched Advani's feet. He and Joshi said the Babri mosque should not survive December 6, 1992."

Dube said that Advani told him he needed the support of young people like me. "He said he was with us and that we should go ahead. Everything had been prepared in advance. Tools to bring down the mosque had been collected. The officials were with us. We wanted a temple at Ayodhya," Dube says.

The Liberhan Commission was formed a few days later to investigate those responsible for provoking the demolition of the mosque.

On October 5, 1993, CBI filed a consolidated charge sheet and more persons were named including Balasaheb Thackeray, Kalyan Singh, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, and others.

In January 2002, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee started an Ayodhya department in his office. This department's job was to resolve the dispute between Hindus and Muslims.

In April the same year, a three-judge bench began hearing on the ownership of the disputed site in Ayodhya.

The Archaeological Survey of India started excavation in Ayodhya in 2003, under the instructions of the Allahabad High Court. The ASI claimed that there was evidence of the temple remains under the disputed structure, but the Muslims had different opinions about it.

In September 2010, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court delivered the historic verdict and divided the disputed land into three parts -- one part was given to the Ram temple, the other to Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara got the third.

The High Court decision was challenged in Supreme Court and after efforts to amicably resolve the dispute failed, the apex court, on November 9, 2019, gave its verdict - the disputed land shall be given to Hindus for the construction of a temple and a separate plot of 5 acres would be given to Muslims in Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque.

The court also asked the government to set up a Trust that would oversee temple construction.

The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust was set up in February this year to initiate temple construction.

Had it not been for the Corona pandemic and the national lockdown, the temple construction would have started in April on Ram Navami.

The state government, meanwhile, has given five acres of land to Muslims in Dhannipur in Ayodhya.

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)

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