Kolkata: As the Supreme Court (SC) is all set to pass its verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title case, miles away in Kolkata, Purnima Kothari is eagerly awaiting justice for her brothers who laid down their lives for construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Purnima’s brothers Ram and Sharad Kothari were killed in police firing on October 30, 1990, and their bodies were found in a narrow lane near Hanumangarhi in Ayodhya.
“Jaab se CJI-sahab ne deadline fix kar diya, tab se sirf intezaar hai insaaf ka. (Ever since the CJI fixed the deadline, we are eagerly waiting for justice),” Purnima told News18.
“We want action against former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav for issuing firing order on innocent ‘kar sevaks’ (Hindu volunteers) in which my brothers Ram and Sharad Kothari were killed. They were unarmed and killed by police on instruction of the chief minister. It’s only with the construction of Ram mandir at Ayodhya that my brothers’ soul will rest in peace.”
“It is unfortunate that even after more than 28 years, nothing has happened in this case. Now, we are hopeful that the argument will be in our favour. My brothers were only doing ‘kirtan’ (devotional songs) in the Hanumangarhi area. They were unarmed, but Yadav ordered the security forces to open fire at them. We want justice,” she said.
Ram and Sharad Kothari were regulars at the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) shakha and had received two years of training with the Sangh by the ages of 22 and 20, respectively.
On 22 October, 1990, they boarded a train from Kolkata for Ayodhya. They managed to travel till Varanasi as the UP government had already started regulating movement by road and train to stop the ‘kar sevaks’ from mobilising in Ayodhya.
The Kothari brothers then hired a taxi, but being stopped at a police picket, they started walking for about 200km to reach Ayodhya around 4am on 30 October. The crowd had begun to swell at Mani Ram Das Ji Ki Chawni road, in front of Valmiki Bhavan, Ayodhya.
It was a direct challenge to Yadav’s governance ahead of the movement. Three days later, on the occasion of Kartik Purnima, the ‘kar sevaks’ started to gather in front of Hunuman Garhi, a stone’s throw away from Babri Masjid that was eventually demolished days later. They started marching ahead, but were stopped by police.
All of them sat on the road in protest and started singing ‘bhajans’ (religious songs). Suddenly, the police started firing that led to a number of deaths, including that of the Kothari brothers.
Rajesh Agarwal, who was with the two youths on the ill-fated day, said, “We started gathering at Mani Ram Das Ji Ki Chawni road. Despite police bandobast, the ‘jattha’ (group) lead by the Kothari brothers climbed atop the disputed structure and hoisted the ‘bhagwa dhwaj’ (saffron flag).
He said, “It was a direct challenge to the then UP chief minister. Three days later, on the occasion of karthik poornima, kar sewaks again started to gather in front of Hunuman Garhi and under the leadership of Ram and Sharad Kothari when suddenly a large contingent of police force arrived and began indiscriminate firing. I lost them in the melee. Later their bodies were found nearby.”
“It will be a historic day today as we are hopeful of a favourable verdict as only then Ram and Sharad’s souls will rest in peace. We will celebrate the day as Ram-Sharad Shahid Diwas,” he added.