India – Kalyan Singh, the veteran politician and former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, has been a central figure in one of India’s most contentious episodes – the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The events that unfolded on December 6, 1992, not only altered the course of Indian politics but also left a lasting impact on communal harmony in the country. Kalyan Singh’s role in the Babri Masjid demolition continues to be a subject of intense debate, with some seeing him as a leader standing up for Hindu sentiments, while others view him as a controversial figure responsible for the tragic incident.
Kalyan Singh, a prominent leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a staunch advocate of Hindutva ideology, served as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh during the early 1990s. The Babri Masjid, a centuries-old mosque located in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, was at the heart of a longstanding dispute between Hindus and Muslims over its historical and religious significance. The dispute revolved around the belief that the mosque was constructed on the birthplace of Lord Rama, a revered figure in Hinduism.
As the Chief Minister, Kalyan Singh faced tremendous pressure from various Hindu organizations and the BJP to support their demand for the construction of a Ram temple at the site. Despite the mosque being a religious site for Muslims, Kalyan Singh’s government allowed the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other right-wing groups to conduct a symbolic “kar seva” (religious ceremony) near the disputed site on December 6, 1992.
The situation escalated rapidly, leading to a large mob gathering at the site. Despite assurances from the state government and the central government that the mosque would be protected, the structure was brutally demolished by the mob. The incident triggered widespread communal violence across the country, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives.
Kalyan Singh’s role in the Babri Masjid demolition has been a matter of significant controversy. Critics argue that he failed to take appropriate measures to prevent the destruction of the mosque, leading to accusations of complicity and a deliberate act of appeasing the Hindu nationalist sentiments for political gains. They argue that as the Chief Minister, it was his duty to uphold the rule of law and ensure the safety of all religious sites.
In the aftermath of the demolition, Kalyan Singh’s government was dismissed by the central government, and he faced legal consequences for failing to protect the mosque. He was even briefly arrested. However, his political career endured, and he continued to remain active in Uttar Pradesh politics.
Supporters of Kalyan Singh, on the other hand, maintain that he was merely responding to the sentiments of millions of Hindus who believed in the significance of the Ayodhya site for their faith. They assert that his actions were a reflection of the collective will of Hindus and should be viewed within the context of the deep-rooted religious sentiments associated with the site.
The Babri Masjid demolition and Kalyan Singh’s role in it remain a deeply polarizing topic in Indian politics. The incident has had far-reaching consequences, leading to the rise of identity-based politics, a surge in communal tensions, and prolonged legal battles over the ownership of the disputed site.
As India moves forward, addressing the historical events surrounding the Babri Masjid demolition requires a delicate balance between seeking justice, fostering communal harmony, and promoting a spirit of inclusiveness in the diverse fabric of the nation. It serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding the principles of secularism, rule of law, and social harmony in a pluralistic society like India.