There was nothing unusual on December 6, 1992, a bright Sunday winter morning. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad had given a call for kar sewa at Ayodhya. It seemed a routine call as the VHP had been doing so since 1984.
Responding to the VHP, kar sewaks, both men and women, had thronged the temple town in hordes from almost every nook and corner of the country. They started pouring in since November 28 and by December 4, the town had lakhs of kar sewaks. Makeshift camps were set up for them.
On the day the nation’s political narrative changed forever, frenetic activity started around 10.30 am when kar sewaks in large numbers started congregating around a concrete platform built by the VHP for performing puja and a symbolic kar sewa. This platform was located at the 2.77 acre disputed site adjacent to the Babri masjid.
Senior BJP and VHP leaders, Including L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar, accompanied by saints also arrived in Ayodhya with sacred water and sand from the river Saryu to perform puja.
But the leaders remained at the Ram Katha museum, 500 metres from the spot where the puja was being performed.
Around 11.45 am, the DM and SSP of Faizabad took a round of the complex where the puja and kar sewa had already started.
Except for a few provocative slogans from some sections of the crowd, there was nothing to suggest that things would go horribly wrong hours later.
At 11:55 am, loud whistles suddenly went off. This was probably a signal as a few teenaged kar sewaks started climbing the 14-feet raised platform and jumping over the barbed wire fence that separated the platform and the mosque.
The UP Police’s Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel and some mahants tried to stop the kar sewaks. RSS volunteers also pushed them back. But the kar sewaks later returned, this time armed with bricks and iron rods.
They broke the barricades and climbed the masjid. It took everyone by surprise and the kar sewaks used pickaxes, hammers, shovels and even the uprooted rods of the barricades to dig at the domes.
During all this the police and paramilitary personnel inside the disputed structure remained mute spectators.
In the next 75 minutes the first dome of the masjid had been considerably damaged. This is when the para military men started leaving the disputed structure. A senior police official shouted at them: “Arre kuchch to karo, hawa mein hi goli chalao (Do something, at least fire in the air).”
But none reacted and they walked away silently.There was cheering each time a dome came down. By dusk the third dome had collapsed and the mosque reduced to rubble.
(The author is a senior journalist based in Ayodhya and an eyewitness)