A day before the grand Bhoomi Pujan of the Ram temple at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, miles away in Kolkata’s 9/2D Khelat Ghosh Lane, jubilant locals decided to organise a special ‘Ram Stuti Karyakram’ in memory of Ram Kothari and Sharad Kothari who were killed in police firing on October 30, 1990, and their bodies were found in a narrow lane near Hanumangarhi in north Indian town.
Ram and Sharad were regulars at the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) shakha from a young age and had cleared the first two years of the three-year Sangh’s training course at the age of 22 and 20, respectively.
On 22 October, 1990, the duo left their 9/2D Khelat Ghosh Lane home in central Kolkata and boarded a train to Ayodhya. They managed to travel up to Varanasi because the then UP government had then regulated movement by road and train to stop ‘kar sevaks’ from mobilising in Ayodhya.
The brothers then took a taxi, but were soon accosted at a police picket, forcing them to walk nearly 200km to reach Ayodhya around 4am on 30 October. Crowds had begun to swell at Mani Ram Das Ji Ki Chhawani road in front of Valmiki Bhavan in Ayodhya.
Many felt that it was a direct challenge to former chief minister and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s warning over the Ayodhya movement.
Three days later, on the occasion of Kartik Purnima, kar sevaks started to gather in front of Hunuman Garhi, a stone’s throw away from the Babri Masjid. When they started marching ahead, the police stopped them.
All of them sat on the road in protest and started singing ‘bhajans’ (devotional songs). Suddenly, the police started firing in which the Sharad and Ram Kothari were reportedly killed. Their bodies were later found in a narrow lane near Hanumangarhi.
Beside ‘Ram Stuti Karyakram’ in memory of Kothari brothers at 6pm on Wednesday – ‘soil’ (packed in silver containers) from RSS shakhas in Kolkata’s Rabindra Shakha (at Company Bagan), Vikram Shakha (Tarasundari Park), Mahesh Shakha (Jorabagan Park) were flown to Ayodhya for the special event on Wednesday to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The duo’s sister, Purnima Kothari, who has reached Ayodhya to attend the grand event, said, the event will help her brothers to finally rest in peace.
“Soils from all the shakhas where my brothers used to visit were brought to Ayodhya for prayers. With tomorrow’s ‘bhoomi pujan’, my brothers’ soul will rest in peace.”
“My brothers were doing devotional song at Hanumangarhi. They were unarmed, but Mulayam Singh had ordered the security forces to open fire at them in 1990. The memories are still fresh in my mind. I am honoured to have received an invite for the grand event in Ayodhya,” she told News18.
For Rajesh Agarwal, Ram and Sharad’s friend who was with them during the firing in Ayodhya, Wednesday will be a memorable day bringing an end to their decades-old fight for Ram Mandir.
“Even now I struggling with the loss of my friends. Their deaths devastated me completely but we decided to fight for justice and tomorrow is the golden day in my life. Not only we have sent soils from the shakhas they used to visit but also we have sent soil from ‘Belur Math’ and ‘Cellular Jail’ in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. A swamiji of Belur Math handed over the soil to us and the soil from Andaman came via courier. It has already reached Ayodhya for the Bhoumi Pujan,” Agarwal said.
Purnima and Agarwal run an organisation called Ram-Sharad Kothari Smriti Samity that annually awards outstanding performers in the field of education, health care and social work.