As we stand at the cusp of the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict, it is important to recall what happened 29 years back and how Hindus fought for Lord Shri Ram. The incidents that happened in Ayodhya in the last days of October and the 1st four days of November 1990 have left an indelible mark in the history of India.
The incidents of October 1990 made Mulayam Singh and his administration jittery. Despite all his efforts, thousands of Karsewaks reached Ayodhya. Over 2 lakh Karsewaks were arrested in various cities, on the way to Ayodhya. All borders to Ayodhya and even neighbouring districts were sealed. The annual Panchkosi and Chaudah Kosi parikrama were stopped by the administration despite orders of the High Court which said parikrama should be allowed. These are the most important pilgrimage in the city where millions come every year. All big Sadhu-Sants along with many BJP, RSS and VHP leaders including Shankaracharya of Jyotishpeeth were arrested on way to Ayodhya.
The role of Mulayam Singh and his administration has been the vilest and proved to be most brutal over the years. The administration even tried to demolish the Shilanyas mandap at Janmasthan in Ayodhya and even remove the Vigrah of Ramlalla from the place. The role of the Central Ministry of Home Affairs was also suspicious. While a section of BSF and CRPF soldiers deployed in and around Ayodhya came down brutally on Karsewaks, there was a big section that actually was sympathetic towards them. This sympathy was probably one big reason why despite all the bans, Karsewaks and leaders were successful in reaching Ayodhya in such big numbers.
Karsewaks entered the Janmasthan complex on 30th October 1990 and moved towards the dome. Some climbed up the dome and even hoisted the Bhagwa flag on the structure. Two of them were immediately shot at by the forces. Many Karsewaks were murdered by forces during the Karsewa and their bodies were dumped into Sarayu river. Many such dead bodies were discovered by Sadhus and Karsewaks for many following days.
2nd November was the most dreadful day. Almost 40 people were killed in police firing and more than 100 were gravely injured by bullets shot in head or chest. Sharad Kothari and Ram Kothari, the brothers who were part of the team who climbed atop the dome were shot in cold blood after being dragged out from a mandir they were sitting in. Sitaram Kori, a Karsewak from Jodhpur was shot in the head for picking a teargas shell from the road and putting it a drain nearby, according to Hemant Sharma’s book, ‘Ayodhya ka Chashmadid’. Karsewaks was shot in chest and head that too without any provocation. Senior Journalist Hemant Sharma writes in his Book ‘Yuddh me Ayodhya’ how a sadhu was shot when he was throwing water on Karsewaks who were suffering from the impact of teargas.
Another aspect of the handling of the movement by the government was the brut force by which the government brushed the media aside. Almost no big Hindi newspaper was allowed to publish or distribute in Ayodhya and the neighbouring districts. Those papers which were published, their all copies were confiscated by police from their offices and hence weren’t allowed to get distributed. Many editors faced police action for publishing newspapers. Cases were filed against them. The Chief Secretary and DGP categorically denied any type of firing in Ayodhya, which was nothing but a plain lie.
3rd November 1990 saw an unprecedented incident, unique in the history of India which has been recorded in the book by Hemant Sharma. Wives and children of administrative and military officers led a big demonstration and did gherao of the residence of the Ayodhya Commissioner. They were demanding that the action against Karsewaks should be stopped immediately. They told their husbands to not follow orders of Mulayam Singh govt and not become part of his evil plan. They were carrying placards ‘General Dyer Mat Bano’ and ‘Karsewako ki Hatya Band Karo’. They sat for hours and finally decided to leave only after assurance that action against Karsewaks will be stopped at the earliest.
In 1990, Ayodhya saw the blood of Karsevaks being spilt and much more. 29 years have passed since then. Now we are looking at the judgement which will be a culmination of a 491-year-long struggle, which started in 1528. A struggle that claimed the lives of many. Many, like the Kothari brothers.