Dr Vinay Nalwa recounts series of crucial and less talked about events that took place during six months preceding the demolition of Babri structure on 6 December, 1992.
What happened on 6 December,1992 at Ayodhya was preceded by a series of events that must be revisited to understand the context of the Special CBI Court’s judgement acquitting all 32 accused in the case.
The court had clubbed all the cases related to Babri Masjid demolition into one single case in which 49 persons were made accused. They were primarily charged for hatching a ‘conspiracy’ to demolish the Babri Masjid. Seventeen of these accused passed away during the 28-year-long hearing. On September 30, the central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) special Court in Lucknow acquitted all 32 accused.
May 1992- 6 December,1992
It was in May, 1992, a large number of saints and ascetics representing various religious sects of Hindus gathered at Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh. They passed a resolution to start the next stage of ‘kar seva’ for the construction of a new and magnificent temple at the birth place of Rama i.e. Ram Janambhoomi from the shilanyas site(where the foundation was laid earlier). A delegation of saints also met the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao and apprised him of their resolve for the kar seva. They requested him to carry on with the mediation with the representatives of Muslim groups or organisations objecting to the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Meanwhile in the month of June when the levelling of the ‘disputed’ site of 2.77 acres started under the supervision of R.N.Srivastav, the then District Magistrate of Faizabad a new startling archaeological finding came to light while levelling. “At a depth of about 12 feet from the ground level near the Ramajanambhoomi temple . they found objects like architectural members of a Hindu temple-complex of the 11th century CE.
The experts who visited the site on behalf of the academic organization, “The Historians’ Forum”, on the 2nd and 3rd of July 1992, were unanimously of the view that the temple, to which these fragments belong, is of the developed NAGARA style of ancient temple architecture which was current in northern India during the later part of the early medieval period i.e. the period after 900 CE and before 1200 CE. The temples of this style are characterized by a distinctly imposing Shikhara, which is a tall and tapering spire over the Garbha-griha or sanctum sanctorum, which houses the main deity.
There were more than forty sculptural and architectural remains that included disjointed and broken image , Shikhara Amalaka , Shikhara Jala, the capital , cornice, Floral frieze , door-jamb and Images of Vishnu’s Incarnations: the most significant sculptures of a number of Vaishnavite gods, viz. a Chakrapurusha, i.e. a youthful male figure standing gracefully at an angle (tribhanga) and holding vertically in the palm of the right hand the characteristic wheel or Chakra of Vishnu. Another image is that of Parshurama, sitting cross-legged and holding a battle-axe in the left hand.
As the levelling work progressed more evidences of temple beneath the Mosque began to surface. A twelve feet deep section also surfaced in the levelling were examined by former Director of ASI Dr K.M.Srivastav and Dr S.P.Gupta . These were brick debris and large pits which suggested destruction of a huge wall . Dr Rakesh Tiwari ,director, UP State Archaeology , prepared a list of 263 artefacts belonging to a Hindu temple and stated to the court that these had been found at the site .
On July 9, the kar seva started in Ayodhya and it carried on for around 17 days till July 26. The atmosphere of the country remained peaceful during these 17 days. Inspite of the Central government objecting to the Kar Seva, the Bharatiya Janata Party ruled UP government allowed it but only in the undisputed area.
Amidst the sacred hymn chanting by 1400 vedic brahmins the construction of the foundation of proposed Temple begun. Vinay Katiyar and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal were the first to initiate the kar seva . Also witness to this were the saints of Ram janambhoomi Nyas , representatives of VHP besides two ministers of the UP government. The earth was first purified with the sprinkling of water from the river Saryu on whose banks Ayodhya is situated. Vishwanath Vamdev, head of the Vedic Studies Department at Banaras Hindu University performed the ‘Ganesh Puja’ before the construction began. A galaxy of prominent personalities carried bricks and cement as a part of kar seva to the construction site. Some of them were-Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindhia, Ashok Singhal, Acharya Giriraj Kishor, Mahant Nrityagopala Das, Paramhans Ramchandra Das, Mahant Avaidyanath, Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Ritambhara, Swami Vamdev, Acharya Dharmendra, Daudayal Khanna, Vishnuhari Dalmiya.
The kar seva had started for construction on 100 ft long and 80 ft wide platform on which columns were supposed to be erected. This was supposed to be entrance of the proposed temple. After that the sanctum sanctorum and a general assembly hall were to be constructed. The planning of foundation was done under the guidance of Roorkee Engineering College ‘s former Vice- Chancellor and his team of 5 engineers.
Meanwhile, a petition had been filed in the Supreme Court to stop this Kar Seva. The vacation judge Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah asked the UP government about the details of the construction work . and gave directions that if any permanent structure was found to be constructed on disputed land , it will be demolished.
An interesting episode has been quoted by author Hemant Sharma in his book ‘Yudh mein Ayodhya’ about Union Home minister S.B.Chavan’s visit to Ayodhya on July 12, 1992 to inspect the nature of construction at the site . Chavan went to the sanctum sanctorum and performed puja . After that he asked, “Since I have visited the temple now take me to the mosque. People there started laughing and told him that this is also the mosque.”
On July 14, Chavan spelled out his government’s stand in Rajya Sabha that even if Kar Seva went on in Ayodhya the government would not let anyone touch Babri Mosque.
On July 15, 1992 the Allahabad High Court put a stop on kar seva . Meanwhile the Supreme Court gave direction to the UP government to submit an affidavit undertaking that no permanent structure was being built on the disputed area. The team that went to Ayodhya with Chavan gave the report that while the Babri Mosque was intact, the construction going on there was certainly not temporary.
On July 18 the Faizabad administration expressed their inability in implementing court orders through force. On July 20, 1992 the Faizabad collector met leaders of VHP to discuss the implementation of the latest court orders. Chavan said in the Lok Sabha that they have an emergency plan as a solution.
The Supreme court asked the UP government to reveal the nature of work going on in Ayodhya .It further said that if the state government would get the construction work stopped , the court would combine all cases and they would be heard by a large bench on daily basis so that the court could decide whether the temple could be built on the acquired land .
On July 23, the Prime Minister again appealed to stop the construction indicating that the government was willing to resolve the issue in stipulated time. So on July 25, 1992 a representative of the Prime Minister met VHP leader Ashok Singhal with an assurance that the PM would not only personally handle the matter, but would also find a solution within three months by consulting both the parties . In response to this appeal, the construction work was stopped. However, the leaders of the VHP also indicated that the kar seva could resume in the month of October-November, 1992, if a solution is not found within three months deadline.
In September 1992, Sri Ram Paduka Pujan(worshipping the footwear of Lord Rama) was organized in villages across the country. Another call was given to devotees to reach Ayodhya on Gita Jayanti (December 6, 1992).
Amidst all this, a group of 45 historians and archaeologists conducted a seminar at Ayodhya to examine the ASI’s latest findings on the disputed site . Meenakshi Jain has given detailed account of this seminar in her book ‘Rama and Ayodhya’(PP 187). According to Jain, during the exploration trip, R.C.Agarwala, former Director of Department of Archaeology and Museums ,Government of Jaipur , discovered a letter “Shri” written in Nagari script. It was found to be written on a black stone pillar fixed on the left-hand outer wall of the main entrance of the Babri Mosque. It was found to be of eleventh-twelfth centuries. Another finding was on the eastern boundary wall of the masjid. It was found that this was built on the plinth of the temple.
“Dr S.R. Rao , advisor on Marine Archaeology at the institute of Oceanography , Goa ,also came upon a large piece of stone decorated with floral motifs fixed below the southern dome on the eastern wall of the structure”(BJP Today, 1-15 February 1993: 13-17).
On December 6, 1992, more than 1.5 lakh Hindus reached Ayodhya for the symbolic Kar Seva. The efforts of the state administration and paramilitary forces to stop people from coming to the place where Lord Rama was born(Ramjanamsthan) proved futile.
The forces deployed in and around Ayodhya included 35 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), 195 companies of paramilitary forces, four companies of CRPF, 15 tear gas squads, 15 police inspectors, 30 police sub-inspectors and 2,300 police constables. Both political and religious leaders present there were addressing the crowd since morning. Although it started like a public rally but within couple of hours the crowd gradually grew restless and started raising slogans.
Inspite clear instructions by these leaders that the disputed structure shouldn’t be disturbed, devotees of Lord Rama grew even more impatient. The crowd ripped through the heavy barricades which had been put up around Babri structure for its safety. Riding high on the passion, a group of kar sevaks (volunteers performing Kar Seva) climbed up the three domed structure and brought it down.
The entire structure made from mud and chalk was levelled by the crowd with axes, hammers, and grappling hooks. Within next five hours, the Kar Sevaks pulled down the disputed structure. A deity of Sri Rama Lalla was installed at a flat platform. The place was enclosed by a boundary wall made of bricks and a canopy was also erected for the protection of the deity. The puja also had continued there. Incidentally many remnants of a Hindu temple were recovered from the debris of the demolished Babri structure.
(The writer has co-authored the book ‘Ramjanmabhoomi:Truth,Evidence,Faith’. The views expressed are personal)