25 years on, Ayodhya row continues to hurt faithfuls

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Babri Masjid 2A lot of water has flown under the Sarayu river in the last 25 years. Ayodhya has never been the same ever since the disputed structure the Babri mosque was razed to the ground on 6th December 1992, by a mob of frenzied Hindu militants. An entire generation was born and raised in the quarter of a century gone by. This generation was not there when India was being subjected to extreme communal violence, unseen in the years after Partition.

They were lucky, they do not carry the scars left by religious lashing. They have escaped watching the agony of a period of India that even history is ashamed to document. Journalists like us, who were witness to the historic event and were present on the site on that fateful day still get goosebumps when we recall the sudden attack on ourselves, defenseless we stood performing our professional duties. Our anchor was the raised platform near the disputed site – Ram Janmabhoomi, -.the name given to the site that many Hindus believe to be the birthplace of Rama, the 7th avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu.

Till date it is not clear why we were subjected to this extreme vandalism, The cameras were snatched and smashed, notepads torn and the journalists jostled and chased by man brandishing naked sword and shouting slogans of Jai Shri Ram. It was frightening all right and something that still sends a chill down my spine. To have escaped unhurt is a miracle and the credit for that has to be given to the Almighty- humans on that little patch of land that day seemed to have turned into ultra insensitive creatures born on Mother Earth.

Disturbing all right but what has been in fact more disturbing, and something that unwrapped, in the years that followed, was that while humanity hung its face in shame, Laxman’s Commonman was shaken to the core, there was a set of people on both the sides of the disputed shrine who seemed to have just been looking for a chance to spring up from the ashes and by donning the mantle of supporters of faith they prospered and prospered and the poor common man continued and still continues to have faith in this breed of faith healers…the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (RJN) (Trust) and the Babari Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) seemed to have acquired eternal life that day. RJN was founded as an independent trust by members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad on January 25, 1993 to take charge of the site of Ram Janmabhoomi and oversee the construction of the proposed Rama temple in Ayodhya.Ramchandra Das Paramhans (1913-2003) was head of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.

Those with Faith had already chosen their path. We journalists who visited Karsewakpuram, a workshop of volunteers set up by RJN in a pocket of Ayodhya saw them there working diligently. Hailing from different parts of India, chiefly from Gujarat and Rajasthan and different parts of Uttar Pradesh, these artisans had chosen their path- they worked on making parts of the Ram temple, according to the model provided to them. These were being stored and would be assembled at the time the Temple was to be installed. From far one could hear the sound of hundreds of men working on stone. The place vibrated with faith. Their energy and dedication was admirable… after all Faith was guiding them. But with no solution in sight for the Grand Ram Temple their fervor waned, family duties played heavy on their hearts and mind. They had to pack up and leave. The work had in the last few years been slowed down considerably. The few men who remained appeared to have so hope left, the temple seemed a distant dream. The same was the fate of the minority which looked forward to the Mosque being built again on the site. They tried to fan the hope by organizing Black Day every 6th December and by organizing seminars and debates to mourn the shahadat of the Babri mosque.

But all the while those who had to lead them were busy creating places in higher echoes’. Men hitherto unknown either professionally or socially suddenly shot up as messiahs on both the side. Their egos were inflated and they started enjoying the status of being called community leaders. They just had the faith of their supporters which raised them to the skies and in time to come they did not want to let go of this base. Neither side could get justice for the Common man while their leaders acquired wealth, position and fame…and all at the cost of the common man who had supported them to rise on their faith pedestal.

Full 25 years and still no solution. Is this justice? Is this justice for the man who has been chiseling the pillars of the Ram temple in the hope that it will be built one day. Or is it justice for the minority that has been hoping that the muezzin will one day give call from the Babri mosque once again.

Now a quarter century later when the matter has come full circle and when the country’s highest court has ruled that an out of court settlement be done through amicably settlement there is a refusal from the BMAC leaders and they want a court ruling… another 25 years maybe. Entire families have been uprooted, relations snapped between communities but still no solution.

While the Hindus with faith must ask their leaders why even after so many years they have failed to construct the Grand Ram Temple the Muslims of India must also subject their leaders what did and why they could not get them justice. Who is to blame for this state of affairs. Certainly not the Man with Faith. So is it the so-called leaders who led these faith believers. I know you know the answer. The time you spoke it out aloud.

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