19 June, 2021

The Secret Witness

Undercover with the kar sevaks in Ayodhya, winter 1992

D. Ravinder Reddy
The Secret Witness

Each time I read about Ayodhya, it reminds me of the terrifying experience I went through during my first visit to the holy town in 1992. Armed with a letter of introduction from a member of the Delhi unit of the BJP, I had wormed my way into the ranks of the kar sevaks at Ayodhya. Initially I was put through intense grilling. Several times I had to recite an apocryphal tale of being a Kashmiri Hindu who had abandoned his studies in Kashmir because of militant activity. But after I was accepted as ‘genuine’, I saw at first hand the face of the religious drama that had remained veiled by political hoopla.

Somehow, I managed to stay in a tent near the disputed site. One early morning (a few days before the December 6 demolition), I saw hundreds of people assembled near two grave sites. Soon, they started breaking the gravestones with iron rods, large boulders and sharp instruments. I, too, had to join them. People called it “chhoti (small) kar seva’’.

Another grave was spotted, and this was also...

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