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The Demolition And The Verdict: Ayodhya And The Project To Reconfigure India

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From the time of the demolition, there was much speculation over the extent to which the action was pre-planned. The Liberhan Commission concluded that large amounts of money were raised to mobilize kar sevaks and conduct the programme on 6 December—‘amounts transacted exceeded tens of crores of rupees,’ he said. This, the retired judge concluded, was a ‘categorical pointer to the planning and preplanning carried out for the entire process of the movement commencing with mobilisation onwards right till the very demolition’. Without doubt, the mobilization of kar sevaks and their convergence at Ayodhya were neither spontaneous nor voluntary but organized, orchestrated as well as planned by astute managers well versed in ways of enlisting activists for political actions.

Cover of The Demolition and The Verdict Ayodhya and the Project to Reconfigure India by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

Liberhan firmly concluded that the Sangh Parivar was responsible for the demolition, both hardliners, as well as, what he termed, ‘pseudo-moderates’. The closest he went to accusing BJP leaders was his formulation that it ‘cannot be assumed even for the moment that LK Advani, AB Vajpayee or MM Joshi did not know of the designs of the Sangh Parivar’. His words bore an eerie likeness to the ones used by the Justice JK Kapur Commission of Inquiry into the conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi. Kapur had written: ‘Facts (unearthed or established by the Commission) taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.’ Liberhan further wrote that the BJP ‘was an essential element in the Parivar smorgasbord and essential to capture de jure power and authority, in furtherance of its goals of establishing Hindu Rashtra’. For all the scant attention given to his report and its damnation by the current regime in India, the document remains a finely distilled work which examines claims and counter-claims of all parties and key individuals, at least those who agreed to appear before the commission.

While the role of the BJP and VHP leadership in the entire Ram temple agitation has been documented at length, little is known about how the RSS leadership managed the agitation. Did they directly intervene? Did they give directions from behind the curtains? Or is autonomy of affiliated organizations an article of faith within the saffron fraternity? Fact of the matter is that Madhukar Dattatreya (Balasaheb) Deoras was the sarsanghchalak from before the agitation’s inception in 1984. He had personally overseen the revival of the VHP from the early 1980s and knew the political potential of the Ram temple demand.

The RSS has designated ‘handlers’ for affiliated organizations. These functionaries, in turn, nominated assistants at regional levels for regular monitoring. Moropant Pingle, a senior RSS person who had the potential to succeed Deoras, was the ‘chief operational commander’ during the crucial days prior to the demolition. He was ensconced in one of the bhawans or ashrams close to the Babri Masjid. Without stepping out once, he knew what was happening every minute courtesy loyalists acting as his eyes and ears.

I was told in conversations with people in the know of developments at the time of the Ayodhya agitation that the first group of activists leading the attack was personally selected by Pingle. The decision to raise this cohesive body of people was taken at Nagpur with Deoras’s knowledge. These men literally came out from the dark and disappeared into it once the task was completed. In the years after the demolition, many people made claims regarding their role in the movement, but no one accepted involvement in the demolition. Even senior leaders against whom the criminal conspiracy case was being heard pleaded innocence in the special court which was winding up hearings as the Bhoomi Pujan drew close in August 2020. Despite publicly proclaimed bravado, accepting involvement in the demolition in court would have been an admission of guilt, making them liable to be convicted. Yet, there is no denying that the Babri Masjid demolition was a planned operation, and was known to a select group of people in the RSS, VHP and BJP, including of course the sarsanghchalak.


Excerpt from “The Demolition and the Verdict: Ayodhya and the Project to Reconfigure India”, written by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay and published by Speaking Tiger Books (2021).

Featured image is for representational purposes only. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
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