Babri Masjid demolition absolute deceit, says President

Babri Masjid demolition absolute deceit, says President

Demolition of Babri Masjid was an act of absolute deceit, and a senseless, wanton destruction of a religious structure, purely to serve political ends, President Pranab Mukherjee says.

He also found fault with then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi for opening of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple site in Ayodhya on February 1, 1986 and describes it as perhaps another error of judgement that people felt could have been avoided.

In ‘Turbulent Years: 1980-1996’, second volume of his autobiography, he writes, “the demolition of the Babri Masjid was an act of absolute perfidy, which should make all Indians hang their heads in shame. It was the senseless, wanton destruction of a religious structure, purely to serve political ends. It deeply wounded the sentiments of the Muslim community in India and abroad.”

Mukherjee felt that it destroyed India’s image as a tolerant, pluralistic nation where all religions have coexisted in peace and harmony. He also recalls an interaction with a foreign minister of an “important Islamic country” pointing out to him “such damage had not been inflicted on a mosque even in Jerusalem, which has seen religious conflicts for centuries".

The President’s remarks came at a time the Sangh Parivar has raised the pitch for building Ram temple in Ayodhya. Six months ago, the VHP had announced a nationwide drive to collect stones for the temple construction and first lot had reached the site last month. Mukherjee believes that the inability to prevent the demolition of the Babri Masjid was “one of PV's (then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao) biggest failures”.

He also recalls a meeting with Rao when he did not mince words, as he burst out, was there no one who advised you (Rao) of the dangers? Did you not understand the global repercussions of any damage to the Babri Masjid?”

“PV looked at me as I said this, and in his characteristic style did not let any emotion cross his face...I could feel his sadness and disappointment,” he says. “I have often wondered later if it was this outburst of mine which finally led to the call I received from him on January 17, 1993, inviting me to join the Cabinet,” Mukherjee, who was first appointed Planning Commission Deputy Chairman by Rao, writes.

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