Thursday 7 December 2017

Babri Masjid demolition and what followed: In 25 years, films from Bollywood

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Babri Masjid ,  Bollywood

The 1992 Babri Masjid demolition and its aftermath have been documented only in a handful of Hindi films in the last 25 years.

"Mazhabon waale poochhte hai ab / Kisne pehle kudal maari thi / Koi kehta hai ek masjid thi / Koi kehta hai ek mandir tha"

When Suzanna Anna-Marie Johannes begins falling in love with Wasiullah Khan, spell-bound, as the chinar trees sway in the breeze, the shayar is reciting lines that remind the entire gathering of a black day in the history of modern India. December 6, 1992. A near-150,000 strong mob of Hindu kar sevaks tore down the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. As the red dust settled on the ground, it took along with it the dream of a secular India.

India plunged into chaos following the demolition. From Bombay to Bangladesh, places burnt. The scene of kar sevaks with pickaxes and bright yellow headbands, as chants of "Ek dhakka aur do / Babri Masjid tod do" rent the air, comes back to haunt the country every year on the sixth day of December.

Dilip Awasthi, whose detailed report from the site was carried by the India Today Magazine on December 31, 1992, wrote, "The scenes will return, like deranged ghosts, to haunt those of us who were at the graveside to witness the burial of a secular dream. The screams of exultation with each blow of a pickaxe, each thrust of a rod, each dome that came crashing down."

The three domes of the 16th Century Babri Masjid, that sat on the Ayodhya horizon, were razed to the ground by hordes of fanatic kar sevaks.

"The forest of gleaming trishuls raised high in militant victory. And, the twin plumes that snaked to the skies: the dust from the demolished structure, and smoke from nearby Muslim houses torched in the orgasmic fever. Religion was their opium and it returned Ayodhya to the medieval ages," wrote Awasthi in his report.

December 6, 1992, was the day that was to mark the beginning of the construction of the Ram Mandir at the disputed Ram Janambhoomi in Ayodhya... the very spot where the Babri was. The kar sevaks who had gathered in Ayodhya to partake of the proverbial prasad, being part of the construction of the Ram Mandir, were close to two lakhs. But the government and the courts were assured by the BJP that the 'kar seva' was to be merely a symbolic act. That no damage would be caused to the mosque.

That assurance by the BJP leaders came as a huge blow to the kar sevaks who had congregated at the venue. These men were listening to speeches by VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) leaders. "Trouble first broke out in the space below us when young men wearing bright yellow headbands managed to break through the barriers," wrote Mark Tully, in his account of the day for the BBC.

Tully went on to describe how journalists were beaten up by the kar sevaks. The mob soon reached the security cordon and the policemen in charge of guarding the Babri Masjid. The barrier fell.

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