Speaking at a book release function, he also asked had he not ordered firing “what would have the Muslim population thought”. Sixteen karsavaks were killed in police firing in 1990 when the Ram temple movement was at its peak. On the VHP’s call, a lakh of karsevaks from across the country had assembled in Ayodhya for the construction of a temple at the disputed Ram Janambhoomi-Babri mosque site.

Mulayam said wherever he went after the Ayodhya incident, he was always attacked with stones and some even fired at him. Earlier in January, Mulayam had said that he “felt sad” about having ordered firing on karsewaks in Ayodhya but it was necessary to save the religious place.