At Ayodhya, India discovered its nationalist soul – Ravi Shankar

Babri Masjid Demolition

Ravi Shankar EttethAyodhya is the conjunction of faith and aspiration. It is possible that both would become one. Whether it will happen at the cost of one over the other will predict the contours of politics for the next 26 years. – Ravi Shankar

That day was crisp and sunny for December. The heat emanating from the crowds that had gathered on a large, grassless maidan on December 6, 1992, had its own voltage. The Babri Masjid squatted on a small hillock, its domes scarred with ugly patches, its body black and stained with turbulent history. A dinosaur from a bloody past, cornered by nationalism’s foot soldiers. I stood on the terrace of a building opposite Babur’s abomination, watching the heaving sea of people baying for blood.

They were mostly young, with saffron headbands on which “Ram” was inscribed. There were sadhus bearing shining tridents and wooden staffs. I had evaded the cops who had entered the area to take reporters away. They anticipated trouble. Unlike now, the media was not a favourite with bhakts because most magazines and newspapers—the raucous age of raging, ranting, shallow television journalism lay in the future—did not support the movement.

With the sun at its meridian, a sudden surge among the restless multitude below me caught my attention. Cheers rent the air as waves of people raced up the slope, smashing through police barricades into the disused mosque. Their roar spread through the air, scattering the birds on the domes. In the matter of what seemed like minutes, the first dome fell to pickaxes and even bare hands. Beside me, an old gentleman held his grandchild aloft and told him, “Look beta, they are setting Ram Lalla free.”

I borrowed his Ram headband and rushed down to join the crowd. Propelled by their energy, I ran up the incline into the collapsing structure which wept dust. Through the swirling plumes of collapse and clamour, a sadhu spotted me. He thrust his trident into my hand and exhorted me to pound the wall down. It was a scoop for the magazine I worked for then.

Now, almost 26 years later the old man may not be around. That grandchild would be a young man who has a job or is looking for one. His father probably drives a motorbike, and he is looking to upgrade his car. He may be married or expecting a child. A very different life from December 1992. The probability is he also voted BJP in 2014 and 2017—a vote for Narendra Modi and development.

A vote against the minority appeasement politics of the Congress. Perhaps he is now aware that Udhav Thackeray desires to become a national leader from Ayodhya and the VHP is looking for a comeback under its old Ram banner.

India discovered its nationalist soul in 1992, which was reborn as the nemesis of the Congress over four years ago. India also went through unprecedented prosperity. Ayodhya is the conjunction of faith and aspiration. It is possible that both would become one. Whether it will happen at the cost of one over the other will predict the contours of politics for the next 26 years. – The New Indian Express, 2 December 2018

» Ravi Shankar is an author and noted columnist for The New Indian Express in New Delhi.

Ramlalla Temple on the Babri Masjid site after the demolition.


3 Responses

  1. Sadhus & VHP at Bangalore

    Bring Ram Temple ordinance or we will fast: Pejawar Mutt seer – The New Indian Express = Bengaluru – 3 December 2018

    Seers of various Hindu religious mutts and leaders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Sunday vowed not to rest till the Ram Temple is built in Ayodhya as they declared “it is our birthright.” Leading the charge, Vishvesha Teertha Swami of Pejawar Mutt said they would launch hunger agitation if the Union government fails to bring an ordinance in this regard.

    Addressing the ‘Janagraha Sabha’ at the National College Grounds here organised by VHP to demand that the Modi government take the legislation route to enable construction of the temple, the Pejawar seer said, “A delegation of Hindu seers and religious leaders should soon meet the Prime Minister to urge him to bring an ordinance.”

    Referring to the Supreme Court declining to hold a hearing with immediate urgency, the seer said, “I am now 88 years old. I want to see the temple built during my lifetime. We should not rest till the temple is built. We all should turn into Hanumans in the endeavour to build the temple.”

    He took exception to those who term those fighting for Ram Temple as ‘communal’. “We want to build the temple with love, not violence. We are not begging for the temple. It is an issue of Hindu pride,” he said and appealed to Muslims and Christians to co-operate to fulfil the wish of the Hindus.

    Swami Akhileshwarananda Swamiji of Jabalpur in his address accused the successive governments of ignoring the sentiments of Hindus to appease one community. “Sri Ram is our hero and idol, not Babar who razed the Ram Temple in Ayodhya to build Babri Masjid. Hindus and Indian culture are under sustained attack for centuries and we should put an end to this unitedly,” he said.

    VHP National Secretary-General Milind Parande made a strong plea for the Modi government to bring an ordinance. “The patience of Hindus is running out. The apex court showed urgency to deliver its judgment on Sabarimala issue, but is refusing to show the same urgency on Ram Temple issue,” he said.

    Earlier, thousands of VHP activists and members of various pro-Hindu outfits took out bike rallies from various parts of the city and converged at National College grounds. Thousands marched in a procession with a huge cut-out of Lord Ram.


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  3. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy addresses a seminar on the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, at Delhi University in New Delhi.

    If Statue Of Unity Can Be Built, Why No Action On Ram Temple: RSS To BJP – NDTV/PTI – Mumbai – December 3, 2018

    An RSS member on Sunday (Dec. 3rd) asked why an act cannot be passed for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya even as the Statue of Unity has been built in Gujarat.

    At a public rally jointly organised the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and some regional religious outfits in Mumbai, RSS leader Dattatreya Hosabale said that though a separate bench has been formed by the Supreme Court for the Ayodhya case, no decision has been taken yet on the issue.

    “If Sardar Patel’s statue can be erected on the banks of the Narmada river (in Gujarat), why an act cannot be passed to build a giant Ram temple?” asked Mr Hosabale, the joint general secretary of the RSS.

    The rally was organised to mount pressure on the Centre for expediting the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated a 182-metre statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, touted as the world’s tallest, on October 31 near the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

    “Then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao while speaking before the Supreme Court had stated that if the archaeological survey finds the remains of a temple (at the site), the land would be made available for the temple. The excavation has found remains of the temple, but the court now says that this decision is not on its priority list,” Mr Hosabale said.

    In his annual Vijaya Dashmi rally in Nagpur this October, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had demanded a law to pave the way for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

    On October 29, the Supreme Court fixed the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute cases for the first week of January in 2019 before an appropriate bench that will decide the schedule of hearing.

    Many Hindu organisations have been demanding the construction of a Ram temple, as promised by the BJP before the party came to power in 2014.

    The BJP has said that it was committed to the construction of the temple, but was silent on bringing an ordinance in Parliament for the purpose.

    A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court had in 2010 ordered that the 2.77 acres of the disputed land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

    There are at least 14 appeals filed against this high court judgement.


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