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Ram Janmabhoomi: The untold stories of Kar Sevaks from Ayodhya

Author: Nishant Kumar Azad, Yatharth Sikka 
Publication: Organiser.org
Date: December 29, 2023
URL:   https://organiser.org/2023/12/29/213255/bharat/ram-janmabhoomi-the-untold-stories-of-kar-sevaks-from-ayodhya/?s=03

As the entire country prepares for the Pran-Pratistha ceremony of Ram Lalla, the families of Ayodhya-based Kar sevaks, who died in the firing on October 30, 1990, now have a sense of fulfilment in witnessing the culmination of the purpose for which their dear ones made the ultimate sacrifice

The saffron hue now adorns the walls of Ayodhya, with new structures emerging in anticipation of a moment awaited by Hindus for nearly 500 years. The whole city is in festive mode as the day of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir consecration ceremony is nearing. The ceremony is scheduled for January 22, 2024. But for some, along with happiness, there is a tinge of pain combined with pride.

Kar sevaks were the volunteers who joined the Ram temple movement. We know about the Kothari brothers but there are many others who also sacrificed their lives for Prabhu Shri Ram and Shri Ram Janmabhoomi.

On the morning of October 30, 1990, the family of Vasudeva Gupta, Rajendra Dharkar and Ramesh Pandey were unaware that the following day of their lives would not be the same. All three of them were killed in the police firing ordered by the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Since then, Ayodhya has undergone significant changes. The relatives of the martyr kar sevaks still endure the anguish of losing their loved ones. Nevertheless, they find solace in the realisation that the sacrifices of their dear ones are not in vain. They take comfort in the fact that the long-cherished dream for which their loved ones sacrificed their lives is finally coming to fruition.

‘The completion of the Ram Mandir will, at last, bring solace to my husband’s soul’

“Kuch dukh hai, kuch khushi hai” were the words spoken by Gayatri Pandey, the widow of the kar sevak Ramesh Pandey, when the Organiser team inquired about her sentiments regarding the consecration ceremony of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya.

“My husband told me, ‘I am going for the work of Bhagwan Ram. Once the work is completed, I will return.’ But he was shot by the police during kar seva. For the following days he didn’t return, we start looking for him. It was only after3-4 days we found his dead body. My husband was no more. Now, when the temple construction is in final stage and Pran Pratishtha of Ram Lalla will take place there soon, I feel satisfied that my husband’s sacrifice has not went in vain. His soul will find peace now,” pointed out Gayatri.

“Today, I am happy, as the Ram Mandir is being built. If my husband was there with us, the joy would have been doubled,” added Gayatri.

While narrating her sufferings, Gayatri said, “My husband was a manager at a brick kiln site. When he died, all the four children were small. I didn’t have much money. Life became tough for us still I managed to raise my kids. As time passed, we learnt to face hardships.”

“This house that I live in is rented, so I hope the government will come to our aid,” she said.

‘Sacrifice made by my brother has now come to fruition’

Another kar sevak from Ayodhya who was killed was Rajendra Prasad Dharkar, who, according to his family, was just 16 years old.

“I still remember the day October 30, 1990. It was the auspicious day of Ekadashi. Lots of people were coming from across the country to participate in the kar seva. My brother, father and uncle were also getting ready to join the fellow kar sevaks. When I asked them to take me along, my brother said, “tum abhi chote ho (you are still very small)”. I was 8 years old then. He had gone to participate in kar seva and he was killed there. The police used tear gas on the kar sevaks and then the firing. He was only 16 years old but he wanted to do his bit. My brother (Rajendra Prasad Dharkar) was killed in the firing,” said his brother Ravindra Prasad Dharkar with tears in his eyes.

“But I am really happy that, finally, the Ram mandir for which many people, including my brother, gave up their lives, is being built. Sacrifice made by my brother has now come to fruition,” he added.

“But with this happiness, we also want someone to pay heed to us and our condition. We are still the same way we were,” he said. “No one has listened to our problems. No one bothered to check how a Hutatma’s (martyr) family is surviving. We are in debt.”

Dharkar shared that he is the father of three sons and three daughters, highlighting the struggle to support his family with a modest income. Engaged in the sale of bamboo baskets, he faces challenges due to the increasing use of plastic. He stressed that the income generated is not enough to cover daily expenses, and in addition, he has the financial responsibility of repaying loans taken by his parents.

When inquired about his expectations from the government, he expressed, “I am not seeking much. I would be happy if the trust and the government simply provided me with a designated space within the temple complex to establish a shop.”

‘All our problems look insignificant in front of the fact that this Mandir is finally being built’

Seema Gupta’s father Vasudev Gupta had a sweet shop in Ayodhya. He was killed while returning home after hoisting the saffron flag, she told Organiser.

“All our problems look insignificant in front of the fact that this Mandir is finally being built and it will be inaugurated soon. My father gave up his life for this Mandir, and thanks to Modi-Yogi, we are seeing this day,” she said.

Recalling the tragic incident of losing his father, Sandeep shared Organiser, “During that time, responding to the call of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), people from all over the country came to Ayodhya for kar seva on October 30. Mulayam Singh Yadav, the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, had imposed a curfew. My father was leading a group of kar sevaks when the police initiated firing on the group, leading to his tragic demise.”

He continued, “Subsequently, my mother continued to be actively involved in the struggle for the Ram Temple, even after my father’s passing. Unfortunately, my mother also passed away while awaiting the construction of the temple. However, we find great joy now that the temple is nearing completion. The dream of my parents is finally coming true.”

Seema Gupta (38), a graduate, was running a garment shop at Naya Ghat, Ayodhya, that was demolished during a redevelopment project. She wants the government to help her with a job. “Our garment shop was removed as part of the road-widening project. It was the only source of our livelihood,” she added.

Sandeep Gupta, the 35-year-old son of Vasudev Gupta, currently holds a position in the locker department associated with the Ram Temple. He credited the trust members for assisting him in securing this job.

In a big tribute to the kar sevaks who had sacrificed their lives for the cause of a grand temple at Bhagwan Ram’s birthplace in Ayodhya, recently, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath said that his government will build a memorial for the ‘Ayodhya martyrs’.

Now is the opportune moment to document the tales of numerous unsung heroes (kar sevaks) whose stories must be preserved for future generations. Their contributions become increasingly significant as the construction of the grand temple at the birthplace of Sri Ram becomes a tangible reality.
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