On 6 December 1992, my father was in Ayodhya on government duty. He was sent there along with a number of other colleagues as part of the transport department’s contribution to the arrangements for maintaining the law and order situation. So, naturally, we all in the family were worried about situation in Ayodhya city on that day. A large number of people from all corners of the country had gathered in the city and, frankly speaking, the situation felt like a ticking time bomb.
Ayodhya is a sacred city for those who have faith in Hinduism. Lord Rama was born in Ayodhya on a piece of land that is now referred to as the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi. In 1528, after the Mughal invasion of India, a mosque was built by Mughal general Mir Banki. He destroyed a pre-existing temple at the site and named the mosque after the emperor Babur. After India got independence several lawsuits were filed by Hindus and Muslims to take possession of the land. Both the parties have different views about existence of a temple before the mosque was built on the disputed site.
On 25 September 1990, the BJP leader L. K. Advani began a Rath Yatra, a tour of the country to educate the masses about the Ayodhya struggle. The BJP wanted to make a temple dedicated to Lord Rama on the site of his birthplace. The Yatra began from Somnath and concluded in Ayodhya on the tense morning of 6 December 1992. More than 150,000 Kar Sevaks had gathered in the city. The morning began with a symbolic Kar Seva and prayer. The BJP leaders addressed the gathering. But at the noon, something happened and suddenly a crowd of Kar Sevaks began to climb on top of the mosque. And soon the mosque structure was destroyed. Today’s iconic photograph has become a symbol of this event. The photograph shows a few people atop the mosque’s dome during the demolition act.
The entire Ayodhya issue has been the most controversial. There are hardly any universally accepted facts because almost everything stated by one side is rejected by the other side. Whatever might be the truth, but at least 2000 people lost their lives in the Hindu-Muslim riots that took place after the destruction of Babri mosque. The opposing parties are still fighting the ownership case in the courts. The Allahabad High Court recently gave its verdict of dividing the land among three parties involved. But the case is still far from having settled.
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