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Deceit, Deception and Disinformation: Sangh Parivar’s Triple D in Ayodhya

  • January 21, 2024
  • 11 min read
Deceit, Deception and Disinformation: Sangh Parivar’s Triple D in Ayodhya

This is the second part of the series “AYODHYA: The Sordid Timeline to the Consecration of Ram Temple”

“The entire discussion around the temple is political, it has ceased to be religious. If it was about religion, we would have been consulted. Firstly, a trust of the Dharmacharyas called the Ramalyaya Trust had already existed. In 1997, when the land around the temple came to be contested, the Supreme Court said there would be proceedings. In the proceedings, whoever wins, be it the Hindus or the Muslims, will be given the land for establishing their place of worship. The earlier Trust was discarded by the Supreme Court in place of which the Ramalyay Trust was established in case the Hindus won the land. Despite that, the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) established a Trust of his own workers which he announced in the Parliament. It was clear that a temple was to be built, which means that the primary role is of the Dharmacharyas since they are men of God.” – Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotish Peeth, in an interview given to Karan Thapar of The Wire in the second week of January 2024. These words of Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati reflect the pain of a spiritual leader, who was literally cheated and divested of his rights in the making of the Ram temple. His expression also makes it clear as to how Modi and the larger Sangh Parivar manipulated the directions of the Supreme Court to create a new trust of handpicked cohorts to build the Ram Mandir, even while systematically keeping out senior spiritual leaders,including the Shankaracharyas. In the same interview, Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati suggests that the date of January 22 was actually thrust upon the astrologer who apparently fixed the date for “Pran Prathishta” at the Ayodhya Ram Mandir.

Swami Nishchalanand Saraswati and Narendra Modi in Puri

For those who have followed the history of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) led Sangh Parivar’s Ayodhya operations, these revelations about manipulation, coercion, deceit and deception would not come as a surprise. The entire trajectory of the movement right from the mid 1980s is replete with such seamy undertakings. One of the first striking examples of these despicable games had come up during the days of the first Ayodhya karseva of the Sangh Parivar held in 1990 November. There were attempts to storm the Babri Masjid in that Karseva too, but the then Uttar Pradesh government led by Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mulayam Singh Yadav prevented it . The government had to resort to firing to stop the unruly karsevaks. An elaborate disinformation campaign unfolded along with these events.

Mulayam Singh Yadav

A large number of media across the Hindi heartland were flooded with stories that hundreds had been martyred on account of police firing. The stories presented such a horrific picture that they said that the water flowing in the river Sarayu at Ayodhya had turned red as the blood of the “martyred” karsevaks had merged with the river. The Mulayam Singh Yadav government contested the claim asserting that less than 30 people were killed in the firing. In turn, the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) challenged this, and released a “first list” of 75 “martyrs”, complete with names and addresses. I and fellow journalist Sheetal P Singh got around to checking the list of persons who belonged to Uttar Pradesh and found 4 of the 26 listed from the State alive (Full Story). Even more interestingly, a person who never lived was created fictionally in an address in Saharanpur and then “killed”.

Report by Venkitesh Ramakrishnan and Sheetal P Singh for Frontline

Around five people in the Uttar Pradesh list had died on account of causes other than the Ayodhya firing, such as traffic accidents in their local towns or diseases like typhoid. The story did attract nationwide attention and caused embarrassment to the Sangh Parivar leadership. But, the masters of deceitful political manoeuvres took it in their stride and carried on with their operations in Ayodhya.

Yet another weapon of the Sangh Parivar in this elaborate and well thought out master plan of deceit,deception and disinformation is the ploy of speaking in multiple voices with a deliberate intent to confuse. For example, in the run up to the 1992 December karseva, which resulted in the demolition of the Babri Masjid, a range of leaders of the Sangh Parivar such as Atal Behari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh and VHP Vice President Swami Chinmayanand had adopted varied positions on the December 6 Karseva. These multiple voices created tremendous confusion among political observers and analysts. While Kalyan Singh and Chinamayanand stated in the National Integration Council and the Supreme Court respectively that karseva would be confined to performing bhajans and kirtans, Advani, who led a yatra in Uttar Pradesh during the run up to the demolition skirted direct references to the possible happenings on the karseva day. His ploy was to repeatedly harp on the responsibility of the Indian State and its people to correct the “historical wrongs heaped on the Hindu community.”

Kalyan Singh

Vajpayee, on his part was at his cryptic best stating in a public meet at Lucknow on December 5 that “no one can say for sure what would happen during the karseva.” He went on to add that “even to carry out peaceful bhajans and kirtans, the place will have to be cleaned and set up.” In the process, he added, some bumpy mounds and protruding, piercing structures would have to be cleared. Amidst all these pronouncements, Ramachandra Paramahans and Vinay Katiyar, who was considered a trusted deputy of the “warrior Mahant” at that point of time, were the two people who averred that the “structure would go this time and that preparations for this, including the formation of suicide squads has been done by the Sangh Parivar. What Katiyar was saying was that the solemn assurance given by the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and a senior VHP leader, even before constitutional bodies, would be bypassed. “Is there a power and constitutional authority bigger than Lord Ram?”. Katiyar had retorted when we pointed out that the implementation of the demolition plan as delineated by him would put leaders like Kalyan singh, who have assumed office affirming allegiance to the Constitution, in a legally worrying position. Indeed, the positions held by Paramahans and Katiyar were also part of the deliberate “multi-speak strategy” employed by Sangh Parivar. In its immediate context, these positions also added to the confusion among the public. But, ultimately things turned out exactly as Paramahans and Katiyar had predicted.

Demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992

Incidentally, Paramahans was also the head of the Digamber Akhara, which he used to term as a collection of “Warrior Mahants”. He himself had some reputation as a wrestler, who used to periodically defeat much younger competitors in the wrestling pit. He would often tell those who came to listen to his periodic pravachans (expositions on religion and related matters) that as a practitioner of different martial arts and their philosophies, he saw nothing wrong in violence, subterfuge and crafty moves. Unlike many others in the Sangh Parivar, especially those who were part of the BJP, Paramahans did not hide behind pretensions of piety and adherence to social and democratic values. A large number of reporters covering events in Ayodhya for long also knew that in the scheming and duplicitous multi-speak strategies employed by the several small and big outfits of the Sangh Parivar, the seemingly pompous voice of this longstanding “Hindutva warrior” was the closest to the actual perspective held by the RSS and associate organisations.

I had observed this “streak of outspokenness” in Paramahans right from 1986, the period in which I had started covering Ayodhya and related developments. This streak remained steady with him till mid 2003, the period he fell into a long illness and passed away on July 31 that year. In the very early interactions with me as a reporter he openly proclaimed he was one of the persons instrumental in surreptitiously placing the idol of Ramlalla inside the Babri Masjid on the night of December 22-23 1949, along with other “Warrior Priests” such as Abhiram Das, Ram Sakal Das and Sudarshan Das. In the other long conversations he had with self and other fellow journalists, from time to time, he would recount how, as a 21 year old in 1934, he had led a crowd of rioters to ransack the police station to assert Hindu supremacy over the twin towns of Ayodhya and Faizabad.

And indeed, in yet another conversation with me eight years later, Paramahans harked back to the 1993 December interaction with me wherein he had talked about the “Kaam Jaari hain” (work is on) concept. Reminding me of that conversation he posed yet another bombastic question: “Kya Bola Thaa Maine! Kaam Jari Hain Na!! “(What did I tell you, work is on, right?). This was in March 2002, a few days after Gujarat had witnessed the horrific anti-Muslim pogrom that marked the killing of hundreds of Muslims along with other dreadful acts of violence, including mass rapes and mutilation. On that occasion, Paramahans went on to explain further: “all the resistance that political adversaries put together in the name of secularism and empowerment of Dalits and OBCs or social justice and socialism would not be able hold on before the might of Hindutva. Gujarat and Ayodhya, as laboratories of Mission Hindu Rashtra have proved it and would go on proving it.”

Throughout all these grandiloquent narrations, there was a singular theme that reappeared repeatedly. It was the insistence that the demographic dominance of the Hindu communities in India would ultimately gain political control first over Ayodhya and later over the country despite “long rooted diversionary political ideologies and practices like secularism, social justice, socialism and communism.” Many reporters, including myself, had seen him make one of the most telling statements asserting this conviction, on December 9, 1992 three days after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. As a group of journalists went to see him on that afternoon at his headquarters of Digamber Akhara in Ayodhya he was playing the dice game of Bhag-Bakhri with his disciples. Lifting his head from the game his first comment to the journalists was as follows: “Is khel mein bakri jeeth sakthi hain. Lekin asli sansar mein Kar saktha hain kya?” (The goat can win in this game, can it in real life?). Paramahans was clearly asserting the Hindutva hegemony angle blatantly, but figuratively.

Sangh Parivar Rally

According to CK Mishra and Singhdeo, senior journalists based in Faizabad, the physical occupation part of the Ayodhya Hindutva laboratory had been completed almost comprehensively by 1992. In their view, nearly two thirds of the town of Ayodhya was practically under the control of the Sangh Parivar by mid 1992. It was in such a context that Paramahans responded to the 1993 electoral reverse with the “Kaam Jaari Hain” remark. In later years, till he passed away in 2003, Paramahans would return to this metaphor as well as the “yeh tho sirf janki hain, ab kaashi, mathura baaki hain” (This is only the trailer, now Kashi and Mathura are our targets) slogan raised by the departing karsevaks as a consummate encapsulation of Hindutva politics and its goal, the Hindu Rashtra. He would also assert often that the advancement of the larger Hindutva political plank in the country would also follow the path as practiced in the laboratory of Ayodhya.

The predictions of the loud and bombastic “warrior mahant” have seemingly come true, nearly two decades after his death, at the cost of very many foundations of India as a country, including its constitutional institutions, concepts of free and democratic public life and of course the lives and property of thousands of people, especially belonging to the minority communities. In the process, there is a spectacle of governance institutions being turned into vehicles of sectarian Hindutva propaganda. The “Pran Prathishta” at the Ram Mandir being done by Modi and not by the Dharmacharyas is a telling symbol of this conversion obtained through the “triple D” campaigns.

Third Part “Pran Prathishta and its Political Import” to follow. Stay Tuned!

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About Author

Venkitesh Ramakrishnan

Venkitesh Ramakrishnan is the CMD and Managing Editor of The AIDEM. A Delhi based political journalist with four decades of experience.

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Manish Raju
Manish Raju
4 months ago

What a riveting recall !! VR should seriously consider developing these long form articles into a book . It would be a valuable resource for students of history and politics .

Charu Soni
Charu Soni
4 months ago

Excellent re-cap and insights. I will add one nugget to “When the dead came back” episode. In 1990 I worked for Surya magazine that Maneka Gandhi had sold to J.K. Jain. The Jain Studios that sprawled next to our office at the Mata Scindia property opposite Bhikaji Cama Place, was where various attempts were made (using latest video editing tech) to colour the Saryu river red and show multiple bodies floating down the river (by duplication of body images). All this was executed by designers hired for the job then. Today such tactics are common, in 1990 it was perhaps, a first.

Venkitesh Ramakrishnan
Venkitesh Ramakrishnan
4 months ago
Reply to  Charu Soni

Thank you Charu for the response and recall of the interesting personal story

Zahira Rahman
Zahira Rahman
4 months ago

What you say about Multi-speak absolutely right.