“Saugandh Ram Ki Khaate Hain, Hum Mandir Wahi Banayenge”
“Jaha Ram Ka Janma Hua Tha, Hum Mandir Wahi Banayenge”
“Ram Lalla Hum Aayenge; Mandir Wahi Banayenge”
These slogans that I started shouting way back in 1985-86 when I participated in the Ayodhya-related movements and which reverberated and resonated throughout the country, are set to become a reality with the verdict of the Supreme Court that was delivered today. I could not control my tears that came out due to emotions even as I sat glued watching the TV waiting with bated breath to hear what I had been waiting to hear for the last 34 years.
For someone like me who participated in all the four Rath Yatras and was present in the two of the three Karsevas at the holy temple-town of Ayodhya related to the Sri Ram temple movement, 9th November 2019 will be emotionally memorable.
I am not aware if the Supreme Court consciously decided to pronounce its verdict in this centuries-old dispute today, on 9th November. Or whether it was irony or co-incidence as it was on this day three-decades ago, on 9th November 1989 that the first Kar seva was performed in Ayodhya. The foundation stone was laid for the construction of a grand temple befitting the stature and personality of Lord Ram.
The four yatras that were taken out starting 1986 to rekindle the spirit of cultural nationalism and awaken the Hindus to realise their cultural ethos as well as remember their national hero were - Sri Ram Janaki Rath Yatra; Sri Ram Jyoti Rath Yatra; Sri Ram Shila Rath Yatra and 10,000 Kms Somnath-Ayodhya Rath Yatra undertaken by the then BJP President L.K. Advani. While I took part in the first three yatra in various parts of Karnataka, I also was part of Advani’s Rath Yatra for about 6000 Kms. I was fortunate to have travelled in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi and some parts of Bihar.
This “biggest mass movement the country has ever seen since Independence – as Advani prefers to put it - began on September 25 1990 from Somnath in Gujarat and abruptly ended on October 23 when Advani was arrested at Samastipur, Bihar. In fact, I was present at Samastipur when Advani was taken away by the District Magistrate to Masanjore Dam Guest House near Dumka on Bihar-Bengal border to be kept as detenue for the next fortnight.
The choice of Somnath to launch the Rath Yatra to build the solidarity of the people was not accidental. It was a conscious decision taken by Advani. By choosing Somnath, Advani sent out a message to “emulate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel” on Ayodhya.
The alliteration slogan – Sardar & Somnath; Advani and Ayodhya” reverberated throughout the ranks of the faithful. Advani also penned a small handbook titled “A Tale of Two Temples”, highlighting the disregard shown to Ayodhya as opposed to Sardar Patel's will to re-build Somnath temple.
The reverence that the people have for Lord Ram had to be seen to be believed. Millions who thronged various Rath Yatras actually wanted to touch the vehicles and the people manning Rath Yatras. Advani’s public meetings were attended by lakhs of people. In fact at Jaipur (Rajasthan) and Mandsaur (Madhya Pradesh), the crowd swelled to five to seven lakhs. And they heard Advani in rapt attention.
Advani brought out five dimensions of the Ayodhya movement. 1) Philosophical (that Ram Janmabhoomi is axiomatic – self-evident – as millions of Hindus since time immemorial believe that Ram was indeed born there and hence a grand temple is a must.
2) Historical (that Ram may not be a god to many but he can still be our national hero.)
3) Ideological (that Ayodhya is essentially a cultural nationalism issue).
4) Political (that the Ayodhya issue was politicised by constituting Babri Masjid Action Committee and used as a symbol of secularism. But Advani demolished this argument by saying pseudo-secularism practised by non-BJP parties was a euphemism to show hate against Hinduism).
5) Legal (that the issue is not to find out whether Ram was indeed born there or not. The issue was whether any temple preceded the mosque; whether any temple was demolished and upon which a mosque constructed. Advani said this can be ascertained by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) excavations which commenced in 2002 when he was the Deputy Prime Minister of India. The Allahabad Court too had said something similar.
To my eternal regret, I wasn’t present at Ayodhya during the Karseva 2 on October 30, 1990 when hundreds of Kar sevaks were shot dead by the UP police. But I was fortunate to have been present in Ayodhya in my capacity as a journalist belonging to Rashtriya Sahara in Kar Seva 3 on December 6 1992.
I've always wondered how such a huge structure fell at the hands of Kar sevaks who had no sophisticated tools? The secret, a former official of ASI in January 1993 told me, was pronounced by the Supreme Court today. The official had said, “The mosque was a superficial structure. The mosque never had a foundation of its own. It was constructed on the pillars that belonged to a temple."
The Advani Rath Yatra was a major watershed in the political history of Independent India, a much-needed turn to the cultural compass of the country. I'm witness to history in the making. Welcome Lord Ram, to your rightful place!
(S. A. Hemanth is a journalist closely associated with the BJP)...