Ki merE qatL kE ba’d us NE jafA sE taobA,
hAE! Us zUd paSEmAn kA paSEmAn hoNA
(She swore she would no longer tease
When she had me slain for fun;
That remorse should have so stricken her
After the deed was done.)
(Raina’s Ghalib, 1984).
On December 6, 1992, when the Babri mosque was razed to rubble, Ruchira Gupta was a journalist with Business India.
She was at the site of the carnage, where she met L.K.Advani and the other indicted (by the Liberhan Commission) leaders of the Sangh Parivar who sat "in a mood of excitement on the terrace as if waiting for a celebration."
At a commemorative meeting on December 6, 2009 organised by SAHMAT, Ruchira gave a first-hand public recital of what she saw and heard on that fateful day in 1992—evidence that she had given to the Liberhan Commission, having flown especially from New York to do so where she has been working for a UN organization.
The specifics of her evidence, however, do not find any place in the Commission’s voluminous report.
In regard especially to the much-touted remorse that Advani was later to claim to have felt, some of the direct snippets of her interaction with him on that day must seem revealing in the extreme, even though that claim may never have anyway won any credibility among Indians at large, with or without any direct evidence.
Here is what Ruchira had to say, and in her own voice from notes taken on December 6, 2009:
–when I heard the slogan "kasam Ram ki khatein hein/ mandir wahein banayeinge" (we swear by lord Ram that we shall build his temple at the very same spot), I asked Advani what this meant. He said to me "when you reach there you will find out what the slogan means" (this episode during his infamous rath yatra).
On the day of the demolition, I heard Advani direct Uma Bharti to advise "the boys to come down (from the dome) because the dome would come down anyway." Needless to say, the latter half of what he says here puts a whole different colour on his much-propagated anxiety at the violence to come.
Uma Bharti in the meanwhile was busy shouting "Mussalmanoun ke dou hee sthan/ Pakistan ya Qabristan (there are only two places for Muslims/ Pakistan or the graveyard.)
I saw Murli Manohar Joshi carrying statues, clearly to be installed after the demolition.
I heard Vijay Raje Scindia say "ab meri aankhoun ko shanti milegie" (now my eyes will have rest).
I went inside the mosque, crowded with marauding karsevaks (religious draftees).
Someone shouted "Muslim"; people began choking and molesting me. Shouts of mar dou (kill her); another shout "yahan nahi" (not here) because this is the "garba grah" (the place of Ram’s birth).
They took me to the trench outside, where a karsevak recognized me and shouted "yeh patrakaar hai" (she is a journalist). "Hindu hai" (she is a Hindu.)
Released, I went back to the terrace where I saw Chandan Mitra and Swapan Dasgupta, two senior journalists, were also sitting.
I pointed Advani to homes burning at some distance; he said, "yeh Mussalmaan ghar jala rahei hein muavzzei ke liye" (these are Muslims burning their own houses for compensation.)
And then: "Itna badda dinn hea, cheeni khaaw" (it is such an auspicious day; have some sweet.)
I noticed Mark Tully, S.P.Jain and some other journalists being attacked.
I said to some TV journalist, "Psycopaths."
Which is when I began to be hounded; character assassination, hate mails, whisper campaigns were unleashed.
During the Liberhan hearings, the defence lawyer was to ask me, "do you smoke? Do you act in TV serials? What gods do you believe in? Why did you not run if you were molested?"
The very next day, the campaign to propagate the mythology of Advani’s "sadness" began to be floated in the media by journalists allied to the Sangh.
Ruchira also said that some journalists were "pressurized not to testify, and others were bought off."
As said above, none of this testimony finds a place in the Liberhan report.
But, we salute Ruchira for the strength of commitment which obliged her to make a clean breast, and in the best national interest.
Will the state bring the psychopaths to book?