Mosque’s demolition erased ‘symbol of slavery’, says kar sevak-turned-BJP leader

Bengaluru: Karnataka BJP’s joint spokesperson Prakash Shesharaghavachar, who participated in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, states that 30 years down “we feel very satisfied that a symbol of slavery has been erased and a grand temple is coming up”.

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“We are looking ahead to the opening of the temple,” he says. Prakash was part of the movement launched by the Bharatiya Janata Party to build the Ram Mandir and went from Karnataka with his family to Ayodhya as a young man. Now, he is a senior leader in the state BJP. “First of all it was not Babri Masjid, it was a disputed structure and the dispute is over,” he says.

“There is an absolute sense of satisfaction today. If the issue was not to be raised, the court would not have taken the decision of handing over the property to the original owners. Our efforts did yield results,” Prakash asserts.

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Answering the charge that the incident led to the division of the country on communal lines, Prakash maintained that people have answered those allegations by electing the BJP repeatedly at the Centre and in several states.

He maintains that the memories of the Babri Masjid demolition on December 6, 1992, are evergreen and exciting till date. “The influence of the Ram Mandir movement was huge in Karnataka. Ram Bhakts used to board the Karnataka Express trains in large groups to reach Ayodhya.”

“We used to visit the railway station to send them off and the momentum made me take a call to go to Ayodhya as a Kar Sevak. I reached Allahabad and from there a bus was arranged to take us to Ayodhya on December 2, 1992.

“I reached Ayodhya at 1.30 am. Proper arrangements were made for volunteers to stay and eat. The preparations were done a week ago and teams reached Ayodhya much earlier from their states.

“On December 3, everyone went to Shri Ram Janmabhoomi and took the blessings of Ram Lalla. An iron fence had been errected after 1990 around the disputed structure. It was decided to carry out Kar Seva in a 150 square feet place located in front of the disputed structure.

“There was no cold though it was December. We were informed that our roles and responsibilities would be told to us by December 4. The next day, we were asked to go statewise and put the soil brought from Saryu River at the designated spot.

“We were aghast at the change of plans as everyone thought the plan was to bring down the disputed structure. Hundreds of Kar Sevaks expressed their anger over the decision. The next day, we were given the responsibility of maintaining security at the designated place where Kar Seva was supposed to take place.

“On December 6, 1992, people swarmed like bees and even sign boards were put up stating there is no place in Ayodhya. People stood on all the surrounding buildings of the disputed structure.

“Ram Bhakts took control of the city of Ayodhya. As per the directions of our head V. Manjunath, at 8 a.m. we reached the spot in front of the disputed masjid where Kar Seva was to happen.

“A little away from this spot, a dais had been erected for the leaders to make speeches. The atmosphere was getting tense and it was definitely not for the weak hearted.

“As we saw, one person dressed as Hanuman, barged inside the barricade. Many followed him and sat in front of Babri Masjid raising slogans of Jai Shri Ram. When the authorities attempted to drive them away, thousands of Kar Sevaks stood in support of them.

“In a moment, the place was taken over by the Kar Sevaks. The twist came when a group of about 50 youths came inside the barricade and tried to put the Kar Sevaks out. This angered the Kar Sevaks. Thousands of Kar Sevaks marched ahead breaking the barricades.

“The authorities lost control of the situation. On the other hand, from the dais veteran leaders L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Ashok Singhal, Uma Bharti, Saadhvi Rithambara were making appeals to the Kar Sevaks to maintain peace.

“But the appeals fell on deaf ears. As we stood a group of women Kar Sevaks appeared on the towers of the Babri Masjid and started breaking them. The women took the initiative to break the disputed structure, it indeed remains a lifetime memory.

“The Kar Sevaks rushed to join the women with such force that the policemen could remain only as mute spectators without making any attempt to stop them. As we saw, the masjid started to break.

“The people started targeting mediapersons and photographers. Tower after tower was destroyed and by 6 p.m. that day, all the towers were demolished.

“A Marg Darshak Mandali meeting was held that night and it was decided to install the statue of Lord Ram in its original place. The next day, the rubble of the Babri Masjid was cleared.

“Thousands of Ram Bhakts removed the debris with their bare hands in a few hours. All preparations were made to construct a temporary temple. Late BJP MLA B.N. Vijaykumar, a civil engineer, gave directions to lay the foundation. All were given a chance for a darshan of Shri Ram.

“President’s rule was declared in Uttar Pradesh. Directions were given on December 7 for the Kar Sevaks to vacate Ayodhya. The next morning at 4 a.m., RAF jawans started to take the Kar Sevaks into custody. I slowly started towards the railway station with my luggage,” Prakash Shesharaghavachar ended.

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