New Delhi: As the Supreme Court on Saturday delivered its judgement in the title suit of Ayodhya, there were thousands of ‘kar sevaks’ beside the senior leaders of BJP, RSS and VHP who played a role in the demolition of the 16th century monument in the temple town in 1992.
In the 1980s the demand for the construction of Ram temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya grew, with senior BJP leader L.K. Advani leading the countrywide Rath Yatra in 1990, and then another big rally organised by the BJP and the VHP and the RSS in 1992 in the temple town, led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) with the backing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1984 started the campaign demanding a temple at the site of the Babri Masjid.
Here are the prominent faces who became famous during the Ram temple movement:
1. L.K. Advani: Advani, as BJP President embarked on the rath yatra in 1990 from Gujarat’s Somnath, which was supposed to culminate in Ayodhya. His rath yatra gained popularity across the country as he received a warm welcome at every place where he arrived thus strengthening the demand for the construction of Ram temple.
However, Advani was arrested in Bihar’s Samastipur during the yatra on the orders of the then Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. Advani is one of the accused for making inflammatory remarks during the rally on December 6 and encouraging kar sevaks to go on rampage.
2. M.M. Joshi: Joshi, like his predecessor Advani took over as BJP president in 1991, and played a prominent role in the agitation to reclaim what was termed the “birthplace of Ram”. According to the CBI, Joshi is alleged to have been on the stage with other RSS leaders on December 6. He has been charged with criminal conspiracy in the Babri masjid demolition case.
3. Kalyan Singh: Singh was Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister when the Babri masjid structure was demolished by thousands of kar sevaks. He, however, following the demolition of the mosque resigned from the post on the evening of December 6 after having failed to control the situation. Singh had signed an affidavit before the Supreme Court before the December 6 rally saying that he and his government will ensure that the mosque won’t be harmed.
It was reportedly based on this affidavit that the top court had allowed the “kar seva” rally on that day. According to the four-page affidavit that was filed on November 27, 1992, the state government claimed about its law and order record in order to dissuade the Supreme Court from entrusting the responsibility of protecting the mosque to the Central government headed by P.V. Narasimha Rao.
4: Uma Bharti: Bharti was also one of the BJP leaders present in Ayodhya on December 6, and is alleged to have made communal speeches and incited violence. She has also been charged with criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case probed by the CBI.
In 2017, after the Supreme Court transferred the Rae Bareli case to the special CBI court, she had said that she did not regret what happened in Ayodhya on December 6 and “I am happy to be accused in the Ayodhya movement case”.
5: Ashok Singhal: Singhal was the president of the VHP and was one of the people behind the campaign in 1984 that demanded a Ram mandir in Ayodhya. He is considered as one of the architects of the Ram temple movement that led to the demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992 and is also one of the accused in the Babri demolition case. Singhal was a proponent of turning India into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. He died at the age of 89 in 2015.
6: P.V. Narsimha Rao: Rao was the Prime Minister when the Babri Masjid fell in 1992. While many blamed him for inaction, the Liberhan Commission that probed the incident exonerated him. Rao’s government had mulled imposing President’s Rule in Uttar Pradesh, but didn’t do so since the state government had assured the Supreme Court through an affidavit that no harm would be done to the mosque. He died in 2004 aged 83.
7: Lalu Prasad Yadav: The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader was the Chief Minister of Bihar in 1990 and went down in history for his decisive stand against Advani’s rath yatra. He ordered Advani’s arrest from Bihar’s Samastipur on October 23, 1990 to halt communal polarisation at that time.
8: Vijaya Raje Scindia: The Rajmata of Gwalior and a senior BJP leader, Scindia was one of the well-known leaders present on the dias at the rally in Ayodhya on December 6 along with the BJP, RSS and the VHP leaders. She died in 2001 at the age of 81.
9. Bal Thackeray: The Shiv Sena Supremo was, however, never present at the site of the Babri masjid site demolition, but is thought to have been part of the conspiracy to bring down the 16th century structure. After the demolition of the mosque in 1992, Thackeray had claimed that his organisation had played a key role in the bringing down of the mosque. The Shiv Sena founder was known for his communal politics and had even praised the demolition of the mosque.