Jobs @ MG
A Tale of two liars
By Amberish K Diwanji
powerful men were responsible for destruction of Babri Masjid. Mr. Advani
is an acknowledged RSS-BJP leader, whereas Mr. Narasimharao's saffron
dress (under dhoti) gets exposed with high winds.The author is a senior
associate editor at rediff.com.
In March 1997, he became the first Indian journalist working on the
Internet to win the prestigious British Council Chevening Fellowship.
Amberish began his journalistic career at The Indian Post, worked at The
Independent, Bombay, and DSJ Television before moving to rediff.com in
Two men deposed before the Liberhan Commission hearing the Babri Masjid
demolition case. One was P V Narasimha Rao, who was prime minister when
the incident at Ayodhya occurred and therefore morally responsible for
whatever happened, and did not happen. The other is Home Minister L K
Advani, who can be called the leader of the mass upsurge that demolished
the dilapidated Babri Masjid so that a temple in honour of Lord Ram could
be built on the same spot.
Both of these men are responsible for the events that occurred in Ayodhya
on December 6, 1992, and strangely, both these men in their depositions
chose to speak in couched terms, half-truths and misrepresentations.
Advani said the day the masjid ('disputed structure,' according to him)
was destroyed was the saddest day in his life. It may well have been,
because that one act has ensured that when it finally came to selecting a
prime minister for India, Vajpayee won over Advani, who was perceived as
In his deposition, he said he tried hard to stop the kar sevaks, but
failed, and what is more, he did not rejoice. But why did the BJP, in
tandem with the VHP, bring thousands of kar sevaks to Ayodhya in the
fateful first week of December 1992? And does this master organizer
actually believe that these men and women just strayed into Ayodhya?
Here, the best rejoinder comes from none other than Bal Thackeray, who had
categorically asked, "Did the kar sevaks assemble at Ayodhya to sing
bhajans?" Yes, when the kar sevaks broke the masjid, Advani was
reportedly quiet. He had no reason to be otherwise. His acts over the past
few years, right from the time of the shilanyas in 1989, to the infamous
rath yatra in 1990 had finally climaxed. No words were needed from him;
because his will was being achieved. Advani has consistently told lies,
ever since he took the lead in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement down to his
deposition to the Liberhans ommission. Sickeningly, as home minister, he
continues this hallowed tradition. And makes matter worse by saying, to
the commission, that anyway there was a de jure temple where the masjid
once stood but the courts were refusing to pass judgment on the dispute.
No one can deny that Indian courts slow to hand out a verdict, but surely
that gives no one, not even the BJP or Advani, the right to take the law
into their own hands. Advani now says he wants a negotiated settlement to
the dispute; naturally, since his party is in power now. The goal for
Advani was always Delhi, never Ayodhya. The means hardly mattered.If
Advani was pathetic, Rao was worse. This man, prime minister of India, an
aspiring super power and South Asian giant, second most populous nation in
the world and counting, with one of the largest standing armies and
paramilitary forces in the world, conclusively proved how ineffective a
nation can be if its leaders so desire.
While the nation and the world watched aghast, Rao did nothing. Absolutely
nothing! And in true Indian politician style, he blamed everyone else for
the demolition: Kalyan Singh, then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, his
home minister S B Chavan, the district magistrate, the BJP, the VHP, the
kar sevaks, the weather, the cold, the sun... everyone but himself. It was
a despicable performance by any standard, even by the extremely low
standards that we in India judge our politicians by. Simply horrendous!
And to make a mockery of the Liberhans Commission, Rao gives a soliloquy
in the court, and then pompously claims he is speaking for the benefit of
Alas, Mr Rao, history is already judging you, on the count of the Babri
Masjid, and it is judging you very harshly. If there was one person who
could have prevented the demolition, it was Rao, the prime minister of
Especially since it was clear, even to a political novice, that Kalyan
Singh, a BJP leader, would do nothing to stop any demolition. He could
have asked the paramilitary assembled there to disperse the crowd
peacefully, he could have arrested the ring leaders, which could have
taken the steam out of the assembled kar sevaks (a gathering usually loses
its nerve when the ring leaders are nabbed, this is a classic crowd
control tactic), he could have deployed a sufficiently large force around
the masjid so that the kar sevaks could not reach it, he could have... but
why go on?
The moot point is that Rao chose to do nothing even after repeated
intelligence warning to him that the kar sevaks were hell bent on breaking
the masjid. The rest is history. And today Rao laments about clearing his
name for the sake of history. If it weren't so tragic, it would actually
be quite funny.
If Rao had taken firm action on the masjid, history would remember him
favourably, especially since he launched India's economic liberalization.
But like Nehru, who in the end is considered a failed statesman for simply
not seeing the Chinese threat to India, Rao too will be remembered as a
failed statesman, who could not save India's soul and secular integrity.
And in their depositions to the Liberhans Commission, both Advani and Rao
have shown that they are mere politicians, and liars at that.
A few months after the Babri Masjid was demolished, students of MA
(Politics), University of Bombay, where I was then enrolled, met a police
superintendent who, on December 6, 1992, was on duty outside the masjid.
And when we asked him if he could have stopped the kar sevaks without
drawing blood, he assured us that it could have been done. "In any
gathering of people, the police usually fire into the air. But this often
leads to a stampede and people die. This is what happened during the
shilanyas, when quite a few people died in the stampede, not because of
bullet wounds. What made the situation worse in the shilanyas time was
that the area around the masjid comprised narrow lanes and bylanes, thus
making it difficult for people to run, causing more chaos and more deaths.
"But by 1992, all the houses around the masjid had been removed by
the BJP government, it was an open area. So if people ran away, there was
ample space for them to run without causing a stampede. And we had water
cannons ready to use. In December, Ayodhya is very cold and cold water
would have turned the kar sevaks away quickly without loss of life,"
the officer stated confidently.But the reason the police did nothing, he
added, was because they received no orders from anyone. Not from Advani
who was very much around and could have requested the police to stop the
kar sevaks (or told Kalyan Singh, his junior party member to issue the
necessary order), nor from the prime minister of India. q