The visual evidence of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteers actively participating in and supervising the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, makes a tremendous impact. It explodes several myths, among them the RSS assertion that it tried to prevent the events of that black day from taking place.
A six-hour video film screened shows leading lights of the Sangh Parivar inspecting the site of the demolition a little before the fanatics began felling it with sledge-hammers and iron rods. They include Mr. L.K. Advani, Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Mr. Pramod Mahajan, Ms. Uma Bharati (all BJP), Mr. Ashok Singal (VHP) and Mr. Moreshwar Save (Shiv Sena MP). Sadhvi Rithambara, the fiery orator of the saffron brigade, and various "sants" including Swami Dharmendra, Mahant-Avaidnath, Swami Vamdev and the chairman of the nyas (trust) are also seen in the film which gives a graphic account of what happened that day.
The video film also shows the Uttar Pradesh police either standing as passive spectators or slinking away from the site only to reappear in the evening when the makeshift temple was being constructed. As is well known, the Ayodhya police were under instructions from chief minister Mr. Kalyan Singh, not to use force or fire upon the kar sevaks.
In the process, the explosive footage gives the lie to the plea of the former state government that it could not protect the Babri Masjid by pushing back the aggressive demolition squad as this would have resulted in a blood-bath. To begin with, there were just about 25 to 30 youth wearing distinctive saffron scarves to mark them out as the "hard core of the demo-squad". Nothing was done to stop their entry from the 'chabutra' towards the Babri Masjid through a barricade. A little later, in a crowd of a few hundred, the saffron scarves group did not number more than hundred. This too was not tackled. Instead, this group pushed its way with sants on other side, as if being given a guard of honour.
Later, as the frenzy built amid high pitched chants on the public address system of "Jai Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Sri Ram", the demo-squad grew steadily but at no stage exceeded 400 to 500 men, many of them in khaki shorts. Not only was there no political will to stop them but instead there was full encouragement to them to pull down the historic structure.
The chanting was being done from a dias outside the 'Ram Dwar' where Mr. Advani, Mr. Joshi and Mr. Singhal sat for a while waving at the kar sevaks sitting there and whom they addressed before the demolition began. At no stage did any leader of the Sangh Parivar come forward to stop the demo-squad from performing their task. Indeed, the video film shows RSS men in khaki shorts clambering up the fence and waving from atop the Babri Masjid in jubilation.
Yes, the film does show a couple of RSS volunteers pushing back one or two men towards the barricades. But they were only disallowing the "untrained" men from joining the professional demolishers. Thus, the film does not bear out the RSS claim that it tried to prevent the mosque from being damaged or demolished. The passivity of the U.P. police was appalling.
Not recorded in this film but recorded elsewhere is how the district administration officials, with their families in tow, watched the "operation demolition" take place as if they were watching a one-day cricket match on a Sunday outing. The net result was that there was free access to the Babri Masjid to those who were thirsting to raze it to the ground. This, after Mr. Kalyan Singh had given an affidavit affirming that he would do all to protect the structure.
This is the sequence of the more important events filmed minute by minute by the crew.
7.20 a.m. The first group of RSS men enter the 2.77 acre plot.
8.26 a.m. Mr. Ashok Singhal walks in with some "sants", protected by policemen.
8.57 a.m. First group of 200 kar sevaks comes in.
9.00 a.m. A police posse takes position.
9.04 a.m. A saffron flag is hoisted on a pole like in a shakha (local city office).
9.15 a.m. A policeman arrives on horseback.
9.20 a.m. Chabutra is swept with brooms by RSS men and others.
9.34 a.m. Puja begins on chabutra.
10.01 a.m. "Sants" appear on chabutra for puja.
10.07 a.m. Illegal entry through barricades begins with ease.
10.10 a.m. Swami Vamdev enters followed by saffron clad sadhus.
10.14 a.m. Ms. Uma Bharati and Sadhvi Rithambara arrive.
10.15 a.m. Shankha Dhwani takes place (blowing of conch shells).
10.24 a.m. Mr. Advani, Mr. Joshi, Mr. Mahajan, enter followed by Mr. Singhal and Mahant Avaidnath and take an inspectional round of the site. Waving their hands, policemen hold hands to encircle Mr. Advani in a protective manner. This group leaves after a few minutes for the dias behind Ram Dwar.
10.35 a.m. Men seen clambering up the barricades fence at this stage, there is a frenzied announcement saying that those who were breaking the "arrangements" were not kar sevaks. This is meant to keep at bay people not trained for breaking the structure. Youths seen dancing and jumping.
10.43 a.m. RSS men lead the demo-squad towards Babri Masjid
11.54 a.m. An aggressive group enters the structure from the rear : there is a bit of stone throwing and the police quietly melt away, leaving the field clear.
11.56 a.m. The first stroke on the dome of the Babri Masjid and the assault beings with sledge-hammers, pick-axes, iron rods and shovels. As the work of destruction begins, the public announcement cautions the demo-squad to beware of the electric lines and wires. Clouds of dust rise in the next few minutes.
17.56 p.m. In floodlights, the makeshift temple is readied. The white umbrella and idol of Ram Lalla taken away at 12.15 p.m. is brought back here. Sadhvi Rithambara is roaring away on the mike. One sadhu watching the scene from horseback makes an interesting sight.
8.41 p.m. The makeshift temple is ready. Cops reappear.
(Courtesy : Times Of India, Dec.19, 1992)