In 1990, Bharatiya Janata Party president, LK Advani conducted a Rath Yatra across the state of Gujrat to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh in order to garner support from people for the Ayodhya movement. This has been said to be an attempt to instill an ‘anti-muslim’ sentiment in people and seek Hindu votes. This helped BJP rise to power in UP.
Advani was arrested before he could make it to Ayodhya but on 30th October of the same year, a significant number of Sangh Parivar activists reached tried to cause damage to the masjid. However, this led to a ‘pitched battle’ with paramilitary forces which resulted in the death of many kar sevaks. The order to open fire on the Hindutva mob came from the Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was the chief minister of UP under the Janata Dal government.
This event foreshadowed what was to come in the future.
6th December 1992 is a date of paramount importance in the religious history of India. It marks the day, the Babri Masjid came crumbling down at the hands of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Visha Hindu Parishad Kar Sevaks.
On this day, the RSS and other organisations associated with it organised a rally involving about 150,000 Hindus at the disputed Masjid. The event involved speeches from prominent leaders of the BJP such as LK Advani, Uma Bharati and, Murli Manohar Joshi.
The speeches contributed to the provoking of crowd, and they started chanting slogans and grew more and more restless after a while. Despite police officers surrounding the structure, a young man slipped past and managed to climb the structure and brandish the saffron flag. This was seen as a sign by the mob and they set upon the building with axes, hammers, and grappling hooks, and within some hours, the complete structure, made from mud and chalk, was levelled. Once, the structure was brought down by these kar sevaks and a make-shift mandir was made.
The police, who were immensely outnumbered and ill-equipped for the size of the attack, fled.
FIR 197 was filed against the thousands of unnamed kar sewaks alleging offences of dacoity, robbery, causing hurt, injuring/defiling places of public worship, promoting enmity between two groups on grounds of religion, etc. Along with that, FIR198 was lodged against eight people belonging to the RSS, VHP, BJP, and the Bajrang Dal for hate speeches from the Ram Katha Kunj Sabha Manch. The eight named accused were LK Advani, Uma Bharati, Ashok Singhal, Vishnu Hari Dalmia Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Giriraj Kishore and Murli Manohar Joshi.
In 2009, a report, authored by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, had found sixty-eight people to be responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid, most of them being leaders from the BJP. Some of those named were Advani, Joshi and Vijay Raje Scindia. Kalyan Singh, who was then the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, also faced severe criticism.
It is said that the violence was not ‘spontaneous’, several allegations have been made that the demolition was a planned attack on the Babri Masjid. There was silent agreement that Ayodhya violence offered to a certain section of radical Hindus ‘a unique opportunity to take the Hindutva wave to the peak for deriving political benefit’.
The devastation at the Babri Masjid sparked a huge outcry from those against the demolition around the nation, inciting months of inter-communal rioting during which Hindus and Muslims attacked, burned and killed one another recklessly. Burning and plundering of homes, shops and places of worship had become frequent.
The Mumbai Riots alone, which happened in December 1992 and January 1993 (which the Shiv Sena had played a huge portion in organising) caused the death of nearly nine hundred individuals. Quite a few of the BJP pioneers were taken into care, and the VHP was briefly prohibited by the government. In spite of this, the following riots spread to cities like Mumbai, Surat, Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Delhi, Bhopal and a few others, in the long run resulting in over 2000 deaths.
The demolition and the resulting riots were among the major variables behind the 1993 Mumbai bombings and numerous successive riots in that decade. The ‘Indian Mujahideen’ claimed that the demolition of the Babri Masjid was the reason for their terror attacks. The Gulf Cooperation Council also strongly condemned the Babri Masjid demolition. It adopted a resolution which described the act as a "crime against Muslim holy places."
The demolition of the Babri Masjid not only hurt the sentiments of Muslims all around the world, but also was the cause for a huge number of inter-religious riots, leading to the death of Hindus and Muslims indiscriminately.
Let the controversy begin
Explained Desk. (2020, June 4). Court records statements of Babri Masjid demolition accused: What is the case. Retrieved from The Indian Express: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/babri-masjid-demolition-what-is-the-case-6442794/
Sachdev, A. S. (2020, July 28). Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020. Retrieved from The Quint: https://www.thequint.com/explainers/babri-masjid-demolition-case-a-timeline-from-1528-to-2020
The Economic Times. (2017, April 19). 25 years of Babri Masjid demolition: How it all began. Retrieved from The Economic Times: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/25-years-of-babri-masjid-demolition-how-it-all-began/decades-old-issue/slideshow/58260270.cms