The razing of the Babri Masjid echoes in Kalyan Singh’s words and among the crowds thronging his Lutyens Delhi bungalow. Seventeen years after it was demolished, the 77-year-old former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, defiant and unrepentant, spoke to Neha Dixit.
According to the Liberhan Commission’s report, the build-up to the demolition of the mosque was meticulously planned. As UP chief minister, what did you know of the plan?
The Liberhan Commission report is meaningless and baseless. For hundreds of years, kar sevaks had been denied kar seva at the Ram janmabhoomi. On the spur of the moment, they went on a rampage and pulled down the mosque.
The report, however, says that top BJP leaders like LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were present just 200m from the site of demolition.
This is the proof that the demolition was not planned. They would not be present if they knew what was going to follow, for they would be the first ones to be caught if something happened.
You filed an affidavit assuring the Supreme Court that the “disputed structure” wouldn’t be harmed and asked the court to allow “peaceful kar seva”. How sincere were you in saying you would prevent the demolition?
My responsibility was to protect the structure, but I was not responsible for what happened after it was pulled down. The only thing I could have done was to resign, which I did. Anyway, the structure had to fall one day or another. I don’t feel bad that it was demolished.
Meaning you wanted to replace the Babri Masjid with a Ram temple.
Of course. I am still committed to the cause of the Ram temple and I am ready to face any challenge for this cause. I am happy to go to jail if the court deems fit.
Even if it meant a day of national shame?
It was a day of national pride for me. The day of national shame was in 1528, when Babar’s captain Mir Baki demolished the temple and built a mosque there.
The Liberhan report says that it was under your instructions that the District Magistrate of Faizabad signed the orders sending the Rapid Action Force (RAF) back. It says you “forced the administration into ineffectiveness.”
Justice Liberhan is a liar. The RAF couldn’t enter the area because people obstructed their path by lying down on the road. Nobody asked the RAF to return. And what was the Centre doing? It sent the RAF and halted it at the station. I was not even consulted. The Governor and the Centre had their own plans. What followed was under the Centre’s control. I had left by then.
You also issued certain orders to the district administration, one of which asked them not to fire at the kar sevaks “under any circumstances.”
I instructed the police to use teargas and lathis. Yes, I did ask the police not to fire because the lives of 5,000 kar sevaks was at stake. My priority was their lives, not the mosque.
It says you handpicked babus and police officers to make the task smooth.
The report is politically motivated. If Liberhan has said this about me, he should have said this about [then Prime Minister PV] Narasimha Rao as well or even mentioned him in the report.
‘The training to demolish Babri was given by me’
HARESH BHATT, the Bajrang Dal national co-convenor during the 2002 Gujarat riots, was caught boasting about his exploits on a TEHELKA spycam
‘The training to demolish the structure (the Babri masjid) was given by me… 40 young men were called here from all over the country… I also trained Bajrang Dal activists here in Sarkhej, which created a ruckus later’
‘It continues to be the training centre… At the start, we trained them like how the army trains its soldiers… judo, karate… rifle… obstacles course… 30-feet rope climb… bungee jumping… to jump from one wall to another… all this is done in 15 days here’
‘Rajesh Pilot even said in the Lok Sabha that the training was given in Sarkhej… to demolish the structure… A CBI inquiry went on here… against the instructors’
What was Narasimha Rao’s role?
I don’t want to say anything about him but it was the Congress who erected the statues, who opened the locks and who initiated the shilanyas. We brought about the Ram mandir, but the Congress laid its foundation.
The report indicts Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi as being responsible for the incident. What was their role?
I don’t want to comment on them. Both Advaniji and me want a magnificent temple for Ramlalla.
Your testimony before the Commission runs over 400 pages. What does it say?
No sorrow, no grief, no repentance, no regret. That is what I wrote in my affidavit to the Liberhan Commission. God gave me the duty to build the Ram mandir. Crores of Hindus support me. I represent their anguish, their anger and their wish to see a Ram temple.
Are you planning a return to the BJP?
After I left the BJP, it became very weak in Uttar Pradesh. Party insiders accept this. I am ready to strengthen it once again if they want — and if my actions have damaged the BJP, I am ready to make up for it.
With UP elections coming up in 2012,how will this issue help you and the BJP?
This report is a Sanjeevani booti(rejuvenating elixir) for me and for the BJP. It has given us a new lease on life and a goal for the rest of our lives.
What is the ideal solution to the dispute?
The only solution is for Muslims to join hands with Hindus to build the Ram temple. That will be real communal harmony. This is a chance for them to mend the damage their ancestors did to Hindus.