Ayodhya Verdict: Meet VHP Leader Sharad Sharma, the Backroom Big Shot of Ram Mandir Movement
Hailing from Ayodhya, Sharad Sharma has dedicated almost three decades of his life to the temple cause. Presently an official spokesperson for the VHP, his responsibilities straddle a number of roles.
File photo of Sharad Sharma.
Lucknow: It was in the heyday of the Ram temple movement in the mid-1980s that a youngster from Ayodhya found himself drawn towards the saffron brigade spearheading the campaign.
The boy though, in his late teens then, had a different disposition compared to others of his age who were driven towards the agitation by raging adrenaline. He was more fascinated by backroom activities rather than confrontation and skirmishes while leading from the front.
This is Sharad Sharma, who gradually moved on to become the man for all information and coordination not just among the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and saints and seers of Ayodhya, but also journalists from across the spectrum. Now in his late 40s, Sharma has dedicated almost three decades of his life to the cause of the Ram temple, while remaining in Ayodhya. Presently an official spokesperson for the VHP, his responsibilities transcend a number of roles.
For any journalist covering Ayodhya and the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, Sharma stands out as one of the first persons to contact in the temple town. Sometime in the mid-1980s, Sharma, who hails from Ayodhya, gravitated towards the VHP and the temple movement that was gaining impetus.
“Those were stormy days in Ayodhya,” he told News18. “My association started with being a participant, like thousands of others. Gradually this association intensified. The fact that I was a local, came as an advantage, since I knew Ayodhya, its geography, mandirs, saints and seers. This soon developed into a mechanism where I was more like an errand guy between the VHP leaders on one hand and saints and seers on the other.”
By the time Babri Masjid was torn down in 1992, Sharma was already working with the Bajrang Dal, but in an administrative capacity: managing the office chores at Karsevak Puram. He says, “On the fateful day of December 6, 1992, when the demolition took place, not for once did I venture near the disputed site. That’s because I was busy managing hectic activities at Karsevak Puram. It was only later in the evening, after the demolition had taken place, that I got a chance to visit the spot.”
Following the incident, as Ayodhya started to cool down, Sharma remained firm on his commitment. For him, things were not over and, hence, he decided to devote his life to the cause he’s so cherished. Refraining from moving back to a domestic life or pursue a career as a lawyer, after completing his LLB, he went along with the VHP, and continued to be a key person in Ayodhya.
In 1998, he was made the spokesperson of the VHP and Karsevak Puram became his address. So what has his role been since then? “The responsibility of coordinating, passing on communications to prominent saints and seers was one of the biggest tasks and opportunities I got,” he said.
“It was my responsibility to coordinate and travel along with Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas chairman, Mahant Ramchandra Paramhans Das ji, a crucial figure in the Ram temple movement to important meetings held across the country.” Visits of the mahant to Goa, Gujarat, Delhi and elsewhere on the VHP’s call were in Sharma’s company. After Paramhans Das passed away, Sharma started discharging similar duties with Mahant Nritya Gopal Das.
Apart from coordination between two key axes of the temple movement, that is the VHP, and saints and seers, Sharma has also been a pivotal person supervising the Ram Mandir Karyashala, where carving of stones has continued for years in anticipation of the time when way for construction of the temple would be cleared.
“Though in recent days work at the Karyashala has been stopped in order to ensure a peaceful atmosphere ahead of the Supreme Court verdict, around 70 per cent of the stones needed for the proposed Ram temple have been carved,” he said. “A lot of stones still remain in deposit at the workshop.”
For journalists from across the country and even abroad, Sharma has been the point person when it comes to getting the perspective of the VHP and temple movement on the ground. He continues to discharge his duties in this role even today, with the apex court judgement on the title suit just days away.
So what are his plans after the historic verdict? Sharma said, “As of now, our focus is to ensure that harmony prevails in society and everyone accepts the court verdict. What is in store ahead is part of the future, so there is no need to comment on it.”
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