The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ram in Gujarat, Shiv in Sharjah

Ayodhya, Dec. 5: Ten years after the Babri demolition, Ram Babu has gone from being a kar sevak in Ayodhya to a Bajrang Dal foot soldier in Gujarat.

Shiv Prasad, another of the army of kar sevaks that felled the mosque, has travelled a longer distance — to Sharjah and to a new identity as Mohammed Mustafa.

Both are back, one to celebrate and the other, to seek forgiveness.

“I am proud of what I did and, given a chance, will do it again,” says 29-year-old Ram. (Picture on Page 7). A college dropout at the time of the demolition, he is now a full-time Bajrang Dal activist.

Here for the 10th anniversary, Ram, the son of a Kanpur teacher, says: “I have been working in Gujarat for the last seven years to unite the Hindus, and their reaction to the Godhra massacre shows that we have succeeded.”

Wasn’t his conscience pricked by the bloodshed that followed the demolition'

“It’s a dharmayuddha (a religious war). Hasn’t Gita taught us to fight for the right cause even if one has to spill the blood of one’s near and dear ones'” Ram counters.

The storm-trooper of the saffron brigade describes the post-Godhra massacre of Muslims as “an act of self-defence”.

The Sangh parivar looks after his needs now as he runs around the country at the beck and call of the VHP leadership.

Ram’s father teaches in a Kanpur college and his two brothers and sister are now married. “I visit them occasionally when I get time. But I have told my family that I have decided to devote my life to the service of the Hindu samaj,” he says, trying to sound self-righteous.

If the demolition inspired Ram, it left Shiv disillusioned.

On December 6, 1992, Shiv was given the responsibility of guiding 4,000 kar sevaks to the mosque. “In fact, I had told them how to carry out the demolition and shouted ‘Ram Ram’ when we finally saw the majestic minarets of the mosque come down,” he says.

On December 6, 1999, the repentant Shiv embraced Islam and became Mohammed Mustafa.

“Soon after the demolition, I went into a depression. There was no peace of mind and the thought that I had committed a blunder kept coming to mind,” he says. Shiv went to Sharjah in 1997 in search of a job. Walking down a street one day, he heard a cleric deliver a speech before Friday prayers.

‘That was the turning point when I decided to embrace Islam,” says Shiv. He returned to Faizabad and sought the views of his parents, but they would have none of it.

“I have now left them and decided to remain out of India,” says Shiv, in Faizabad to seek Allah’s forgiveness. He has no plans for the future, but knows one thing for sure. “ I will never come back to India.”

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