Memories of Ayodhya, December 6, 1992

06 Dec,2012

 

By Ananya Saha

 

Twenty years have passed since the Babri Masjid demolition. While the Ayodhya verdict did bring some cheer to the country, December 6 1992 has been engraved as a blot to India’s history. Two journalists, who were present on the scene, recall the horrific incident.

 

Mark Tully former Bureau Chief for BBC in New Delhi was also present on the scene.

 

My memory is of the complete failure of security to control the situation and of the extremely violent and disgusting slogans which were being shouted by the people who attacked the mosque. Lotof violence and damage was done to journalists. And I myself was surrounded by these so-called Kar Sevaks. There was an argument whether to beat me up or let me go. Eventually, a compromise was reached and they decided to lock me up in the temple room. That is my recollection.

 

It was a sad day for India. It was a sad day for me because I have maintained that India is naturally, culturally, a secular country. But I believe that India has returned to its secular moorings. I think there are many lessons to be learnt from Ayodhya.

Ajay Jha, currently, is the Delhi Bureau Chief for Gulf News. He was working with Mid-Day in 1992 and witnessed the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992.

 

It feels that it happened just the other day. Even after 20 years, people feel anxious of the day. It was a blot for the country.

 

I was staying at a hotel in Faizabad. I reached the spot about 9’o clock in the morning. It was, of course, not very easy to reach there due to security and administration. But finally when I reached there, I saw people running out of the Babri Masjid campus and shouting ‘Kaam hogaya’ (work is done).  As I went inside, I saw a mob atop tombs dancing and celebrating. There were three tombs at Babri Masjid. Then they started demolishing one of the central tombs. They were using iron bars to break it, which implies that they were prepared for the demolition. It continued for over three hours. It was not easy for them to demolish it.

 

Suddenly I saw that lot of journalists were being assaulted. The reason, I was told, was something different. I was not the eyewitness to the reason. I was told that some foreign TV crew had apparently thrown biscuits towards the crowd that was hungry. They were angry that foreign media saw them as poor and hungry and second, that it should not go out to the world that demolition is going on until work is finished. Hence, the journalists were thrown out of the complex. Journalists were assaulted and mobbed. Probably, I was the only person who remained there throughout the evening.

 

The first thing I did was to throw the pen and paper away. I started pretending that I was one of the Kar Sewaks. They looked at me suspiciously, and when asked I told them I had come from Delhi, they asked me to do kar seva, which I did.

 

When they had demolished two tombs, they realised that it was already 1’o clock. They wanted to finish the work the same day because in winters it gets dark early, and it wouldn’t be possible for them to carry on after dark. After a while, we heard another noise telling the people, ‘sab hat jaao’ (everybody move away). It never came out in any of the enquiries but I can say it for sure, out came the huge dynamite sticks to blow up the remaining two tombs. The area was cleared. I could not see who said it, but heard it clearly, ‘ek dhakka do aur babri masjid tod do’ (give one push and destroy Babri Masjid).

 

Finally, when everything was demolished by 3:30, lot of celebration was evident.

 

While the demolition was going on, Advani requested the crowd to not carry on the destruction it in the name of Lord Ram. Whether it was union call or it could be that he created a monster he could not control. At least for public consumption he was urging the public to get off of the tomb.  But nobody would listen to him. In the evening when I left, I carried with me a small-sized brick on which was engraved 1516 in Hindi, the year that the brick was made.

 

I had to walk a long way before I could reach Faizabad and file my report. It was very tough day. Interestingly, I reached there again the very next day around 9’o clock and I couldn’t see or find a single brick. Entire place was transformed overnight. They cleared everything and you could not recognise the area. Complicity of UP govt, administration, police, and to some extent govt also was evident. Policemen were present but were only watching what was happening. It was responsibility of Kalyan Singh govt, Narasimha Rao govt. local administration: everyone was working together towards the same aim that the mosque has to go and it went. It was all done in a planned manner – they brought their rods and what not to tear it down.

 

I was told that dynamite sticks were brought from Punjab and that was the time that militancy in Punjab was at peak and it could have been done with Sikh militants.

 

When I came back to Delhi, people used to come and worship the brick that I had as a reminder of the day. When riots had started next day, we were told to write timid reports so as not to create Hindu-Muslim tension.  I did visit Ayodhya thereafter as well. I still get the same feeling that what was the need to demolish it? It was a structure of mosque but it was temple inside. Now, you cannot get inside. You could not get the ‘mandir’ you wanted, and Hindu fanatics did not get anything by damaging a functional temple. You have to stay 50 metre away from structure, and only ‘pandit’ can do a ‘pooja’ on your behalf.

 

Yes, BJP came to power after that, so probably that was the achievement. It was a power game, a political campaign.

 

 Image: Artist Rafiq’s impression of what happened on December 6

 

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