Back in Time is ED’s newspaper-like column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred. This time, we take you Back in Time to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
December 6th, 1992: In a shocking turn of events, one which is likely to have repercussions for months and years to come, the disputed Babri Masjid at Ayodhya was demolished by an angry mob of Kar Sevaks today. Despite heavy police presence and assurance on the safety of the structure by Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, a restless mob of Kar Sevaks were able to slip past the security cordon, climb the structure and level it using axes and hammers.
The demolition is the latest and perhaps, the most potent of incidents in recent memory to stoke communal fires across the country and comes after weeks of rallies by the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, some even numbering over 150,000.
“The police offered only token resistance to the violent mob and soon disappeared,” said Arvind Kishore, a local Hindi correspondent who was at the site of demolition. “Egged on by a host of VHP, RSS and BJP leaders such as L.K Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti over the past few days, a mob brandishing swords and hammers stormed the structure and brought it down within a few hours.”
Although CM Kalyan Singh hasn’t been available for comment yet, it has been suggested that he’ll be resigning in the evening in light of the personal assurance he had given for the safety of the Babri Masjid. The CM’s resignation would trigger the dissolution of the UP government and the assembly and may bring about either emergency elections in the state or, President’s Rule to be imposed from the Centre. Meanwhile, curfew has been imposed in the district and across parts of Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The incident not only asks pertinent questions of the BJP-ruled State government which facilitated the unfettered organization of a thousands-strong crowd in the volatile town of Ayodhya but, also of P.V. Narasimha Rao’s government at the Centre which has over the past year been unable to find a solution to this long bubbling issue.
Although no arrests or charges have been filed yet against those responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid, there have been reports of the Central Government constituting an Emergency Committee to investigate the destruction of the Masjid at Ayodhya.
Post-scriptum: The demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6th, 1992 has been remembered as Shaurya Diwas by the VHP and its affiliates and as Yaum-e-Gham by Muslim organizations over the past 25 years. However December 6th is remembered as, the fact remains that the demolition triggered a new wave of politics of social identity, one where religion displaced caste as the primary metric of social identity as well as one after which Hindu nationalism truly came to the forefront.
For all the faults of the VHP, RSS, and BJP, parties that instigated the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Congress Party was far from blameless. In fact, people forget it was Rajiv Gandhi who in an attempt to balance his blatant appeasement politics who ordered the locked up premises of the Babri Masjid to be opened. He also happened to be the first national leader to utter the language of Hindutva and call for a ‘Ram Rajya.’ The INC was equally to blame for what transpired.
Little has changed since that fateful day in December 1991. The Liberhan Commission appointed to investigate the demolition reported that the demolition was neither spontaneous nor unplanned and laid the blame squarely on the VHP, BJP leaders on the ground as well as the State administration for failing to protect the structure. And yet, despite criminal conspiracy charges being framed against L.K. Advani and others, no arrests have been made and no one has been held responsible.
The future of the disputed land in question too remains in the air with the Supreme Court staying the Allahabad High Court’s order to divide the land equally between the UP Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. Whatever the final decision in the case, the social fabric of the country will never be the same.
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