Kothari Brothers’ Tragedy – The Wasted Martyrdom (Ayodhya Revisited)

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The Farce

It is said- “History repeats itself twice, once as a tragedy once as a farce”

History is repeating itself as a farce today in Ayodhya. The events around the 84 Kos Parikrama seem to be unfolding to the promptings of a well written and directed script. On expected lines, it has caught the fancy of a very interested Media and has become a rage across channels. Debates on the Parikrama are being inflicted on a weary audience while the larger issues that threaten the existence of our democracy have got lost in the sound and fury. What the self-acclaimed leaders of Hindus read VHP and BJP and the self-styled defenders of the minorities read SP do not see in their brazen arrogance is that the public of the largest republic in the world has matured in the two decades post Babri Masjid and can no more be haunted by the ghosts of decadent issues any more. In fact the way the old script is being played out makes it so obvious that the match has been fixed between the SP and the BJP with the Congress playing the role of a bought umpire.


The Tragedy

However, while we see the enactment of this farce, few will recall the Ayodhya tragedy of November 1990 when again SP was in power and Mulayam Singh Yadav the Chief Minister of UP. In September 1990 BJP president L.K. Advani announced a well-publicized padyatra to apparently educate the people about the Ayodhya movement. Ram Mandir had been the BJP’s main election plank during the 1989 elections and in spite of his manifestations the political intent behind the much hyped yatra was all too evident. Advani was arrested in Samastipur on October 23 by then chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav before he could reach the kar seva announced at Ayodhya on October 30. However many RSS workers had responded to BJP’s call for kar seva. Among them were twenty-three-year-old Ram Kothari and his 21-year-old brother Sharad Kothari, who were then still in college. Their sister Purnima’s marriage was fixed for December and their father was reluctant to let them go. However, they left on the promise to return soon. Unfortunately, that would be their last journey from home.

They left on October 22, a day before Advani was arrested. The luxury of mobiles was not available then and it was not easy to remain connected with your family. Their family lost contact with the brothers. However they got a letter from the brothers a week after they left conveying that they were walking towards Ayodhya and would be there soon. They had got down from the train at Mughalsarai, managed to evade arrest at Banaras and were now proceeding on foot.

On November 3, the world of the Kothari family was shattered. Their relatives received a call from police in Ayodhya informing them that the brothers’ were no more. Ram and Sharad Kothari had died in police firing. Two innocent young lives were lost forever.

The Kothari brothers were RSS workers. They were from a business family. They passionately believed that BJP was championing a cause with utmost sincerity. Little did they realize that they were merely pawns in a political game. That their religious belief was merely being exploited for a larger political intent-to create a frightening divide between two communities to polarize the votes. But so overpowering was the frenzy built around the Mandir issue that many unsuspecting devotees got incited and were drawn to the kar-seva in Ayodhya Some were not destined to return.

The Wasted Martyrdom

So sworn was the Kothari family to the cause of the Mandir that in spite of the devastating tragedy the mother Sumitra and father Hiralal Kothari went for kar seva in 1992 the third and the last kar seva when the mosque was finally demolished. The question is, was the Kothari family’s sacrifice worth the cause? Let us hear from the late Ram and Sharad’s mother and sister whose deep wounds will perhaps never be healed. These are some clippings culled from mainstream newspapers which speak of their pain and anguish at the great betrayal of the political masters who used this family and many like them for narrow political interest.

“Even more painful is the fact that my sons were duped into courting death for a poll plank. We believed in the kar seva call but those who had started the movement were dishonest. Nobody talks about Ayodhya any more, except during election. And I don’t think the temple will be built in my lifetime.” (Sumitra Devi Kothari, Ram and Sharad’s mother to Times of India, Nov 25, 2009)

“They were innocent young men who had responded to a call. Over the years, it has become clear that it was more about politics than a temple or a mosque. We feel hurt and cheated to have been duped into believing that the party was serious about it.”
(Sumitra Devi Kothari, Ram and Sharad’s mother to Times of India Sep 21, 2010)

“The BJP was driven by the sole motive of whipping up a religious frenzy and translating it into votes rather than a commitment to building a temple at the site,”

“They were innocent young men, who believed in a cause. But they were deceived by a party that sought to use the Ram Mandir issue for political gain,”

“We were made to believe that it was only a matter of time for the temple to be built. My brothers believed it and were ready to risk their lives for the cause. Though the BJP rode to power on the temple issue, but conveniently swept it under the carpet. It hurts very much to realize that my brothers and hundreds others like them were taken for a ride.”

( Purnima, Ram and Sharad’s sister to Times of India, Nov 25, 2009)

Ayodhya has again set the media aflame. The Parikrama is trying to become a precursor to many such coming acts in the future. With the country almost going into an economic tailspin and with no substantive solution to offer the suffering masses, the netas are compelled to take shelter in the last refuge of politics-divide and rule. However, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. The secret of match-fixing is out. People can now see through these stage-managed political gimmicks. People are now well aware that in Ayodhya history is repeating itself as a farce. But, my heart still bleeds for all such families for their wasted martyrdom.

Written by Milan Kumar >>

Retired as a Trainer from L.I.C of India. Regularly follow politics and media developments.

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Indian Exponent: Kothari Brothers’ Tragedy – The Wasted Martyrdom (Ayodhya Revisited)
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