Time: 8:30 PM, 5th December, 1992
Place: A maidan in outskirts of Ayodhya on the bank of river Saryu (VHP later renamed this place as Karsevapuram)
It was quite chilly and translucent a night on the way off the railway station. Streets seemed to be narrower than ever, lulled to shrink in to a thick dimmed rug of fog. Closer I was heading toward the river bank, chai shops looked superfluous with men in ocher. I was fearless but my steps were struggling with enhanced gravitational pull with the street, increased frictions of cajoling winds from Saryu rivers. Combined smokes from clay stoves and chillums whirling up. Suddenly I discovered, I am just one among hundreds, who are also heading the same direction, like a saffron river of humanity to be poured in the gigantic potpourri on the field.
Suddenly everything changed. Suddenly there was an invasion of flashy bromide lights chopping off the creepy night on the Saryu banks. Suddenly the title song of popular tele-serial Ramayan sounded much beyond decibel limits of auricular tolerance. Suddenly I found myself lost.
The dais was set. The crowd already accumulated in the maidan beat my unscientific method of calculating head-count thrice and I gave up. I was late and hence at the farthest end from dais but could see three mixed aged people entering into it. Two of them looked like a nun and a monk respectively while the third one was a kurta-clad northie. The earth beneath the maidan and the air columns around resonated with echos of 'Jai Shri Ram' by thousands of voices. I was a first year college student with no affiliation to any political or socio-cultural wings of any umbrella organization, hither to. I did not know many other leader-ly men who went up the dais, waived at the crowd and were orating fireballs. I did not know more than two of living beings in the sea of humanity on the other side of dais. But nothing stopped me to shout my soul off along with them. I never looked back, and behind me, when I stared, there was a turban-geared Sikh sardar roaring the same war-cry. I saw a nation of Punjabis, Marwaris, Gujratis, Tamils, Marathis, Bengalis, Kannadigas united on that riverside maidan for the first time. I saw an India arisen up on one ground for the first time. I trust, I felt Lord Ram for the first time outside my picturesque Ramayan booklet or TV opera for the first time. I was convinced that this is the India, we all feel, with no fear to live in, with confidence and oneness. The sardar asked in a rusty voice, 'kahan se?'. 'Ji Bangal' I replied friskily. He reacted ecstatically, also as his son is studying in Siliguri, Bengal. The conversation continued to the chai-bidi-stall by the maidan side where I met few more men of Ram. I still remember very well three of them as spent 2 days together. One Parameswaran from Kanyakumari Tamilnadu, Hitesh Jain from Jodhpur Rajasthan and Lakha Yadav from Mugalsarai Bihar. Yadav shook me off saying, he and his community wants temple of Ram on janmabhoomi and hardly care about Mandal Commission.
Unsurprisingly, watermarks of that night and the day following, whirlpooled in my mind on the eve of Ayodhya verdict by Prayag Highcourt when a major part of young India was either not born or at infancy during that moment that vibrated this nation from Kashmir to Kanyakumari from Kutch to Kamrup. A section of the media, as I switched across channels, have recently been downplaying janmabhoomi movement. If only time can fade the significance of anything, as 1984 anti-Sikh riots and Bhopal disaster (both 26 years) have or rather been maneuvered purposefully to fade off, then this would only imply nothing else than bankruptcy of intellect.
My initial reaction to the verdict was little disturbing as could not digest how can court divide Ram janmabhoomi land into three and grant a third to Waqf board. If the Babri domes did not exist before 500 years as very few of similar structures existed before it, and if the verdict was based upon thousands of years of beliefs, then why two parts? Why not full? Then again, a Hindu-like attitude to accept every censure with time compelled me to agree that collective aspirations & dreams of lakhs of sants & mahants and commoners of all ages, who gathered from every corner of India on that week of 1992 at Ayodhya, has been paid off to an extent - if not fully.
Parties might decide to appeal to higher court. And perhaps Supreme court will not defy Prayag High court's verdict, But will the section of media ever stop harping on the same string of downplaying peoples' aspirations, jurisprudence and democracy? Will they ever realize that this is not their India, not corporates' India, not leftists' India, not corrupts' India, not authoritarians' India but always was and will remain peoples' India. And no justice can be justified if it fails to be just to majority of people.