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Book Extract

How Babri Masjid fell, brick by brick

A civil servant, who saw the demolition of Babri Masjid from the closest power-proximity, recounts the role of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, and others. An extract from ‘Born to Serve’, penned by Dr Yogendra Narain, former Chief Secretary, UP, central Defence Secretary, and Secretary General, Rajya Sabha.

THE atmosphere in Lucknow was surcharged with the developments relating to the Babri Masjid. Both the Central Government and the State Government had given an assurance to the Supreme Court that they would protect the Babri Masjid. On the other hand the Kar Sevaks were coming to Ayodhya from all over the country. There was no way of stopping them from going to Ayodhya. Police did search them to ensure that no arms were being carried. Every day the gathering of Kar Sevaks was increasing. The Supreme Court was keeping a watch on the situation and taking an assurance from the State Government that all precautions to protect the Babri Masjid had been taken.

One day Kalyan Singh went to Delhi to see the Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. I accompanied him to the Prime Minister’s residence. While I sat outside, both of them proceeded inside. After an hour Kalyan Singh came out and sat in the car with me. He turned to me and said, “Yogendra, do you know what the Prime Minister told me.” I looked at him. “The Prime Minister told me that the ASI had, in the course of its digging under the Babri Masjid as per directions of the Supreme Court, actually found remnants of a temple at the location.” This confirmed the fact that the Babri Masjid had been built after razing a temple on that place. I was surprised but Kalyan Singh felt quite relieved. This is what his party had been saying always.

With Nirmala Maa of Sahaj Yoga and her husband CP Srivastava who was Joint Secretary to Lal Bahadur Shastri

As the Kar Sevaks gathered in Ayodhya, the Central Government rushed Central para-military forces to the temple town. The strength of the central forces increased day by day as did the strength of the Kar Sevaks. It was an explosive situation under the watch of the Supreme Court, the Central Government, the State Government, as well as the Muslim and Hindu communities.

Then came 6th December 1992. The Chief Minister, together with Lalji Tandon and Sri Om Prakash Singh were closeted together in front of a TV in the Chief Minister’s house. I sat outside the Chief Minister’s room. Lunch was served to all of them. They were glued to the TV even while they lunched. Some Kar Sevaks had got on top of the Babri Masjid. The Central forces were trying to pull them down. LK Advani and many other dignitaries were sitting on an erected platform nearby and were giving speeches.

Welcoming Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Amausi Airport (July 1999) in Lucknow. The author was then Chief Secretary, UP.

Suddenly, we saw the Kar Sevaks started breaking the dome. The police could not rush in, because the Kar Sevaks had surrounded the structure in a thick formation.

SM Tripathi, DGP, Uttar Pradesh, came rushing to meet the Chief Minister. I informed the ministers inside. They asked him to wait till they had finished their lunch. When I conveyed this to Tripathi, he said he wanted to talk to the Chief Minister himself urgently. The Chief Minister agreed to meet him. Tripathi was straightforward. He wanted permission to open firing to prevent the Kar Sevaks from breaking the structure. Kalyan Singh asked him whether a large number of people could get killed if firing was ordered on the mob. Tripathi said, “yes. A large number will die in the firing.” Kalyan Singh then denied him the permission to fire and asked the DGP to control the mob by any other means (like a lthi-charge or tear gas shelling). The DGP went back to his office.

The author’s book Clouds and Other Poems being released by Amitabh Bachchan. Priyanka Chopra and Suraj Bhan, Governor of UP at Raj Bhawan, Lucknow

After that one could only watch on the TV, how the structure fell, brick by brick. There was no way the police and the Central forces could reach the disputed structure in view of the large number of Kar Sevaks who had surrounded it.

The Central Government wanted to send the Central forces with the help of helicopters, but by that time nothing could be done. The structure had been completely dismantled.

Kalyan Singh asked for his writing pad. He wrote his letter of resignation with his own hand and proceeded to the Governor’s house to deliver it personally to the Governor. By evening, news of his resignation was picked up by the TV. President’s rule was announced thereafter. Governor Satyanarayan Reddy took over the reins of the State Government.

Soon after, Sri Rajesh Pilot, State Minister for Home, Government of India, came on an official visit. He sought me out and asked where I was posted. I informed him that I was Principal Secretary, Information. He said that they would post me as Home Secretary. I requested him not to do it as I had been Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and my actions against those who perpetuated this demolition would be always viewed with suspicion. He agreed and I lay low in a non-descript position voluntarily.

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