Kolkata: Purnima Kothari, the sister of ‘kar sevaks’ Ram and Sharad Kothari who were killed in police firing in Ayodhya on October 30, 1990, has expressed her willingness to be a part of the ‘Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust’ set up by the Centre to take all decisions for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Speaking to News18, Purnima said: “It was a battle of more than 30 years for us. Many people told me that I should be in the trust. I have expressed my wish in this matter to Kailash Vijayvargiya and Ram Madhav [BJP leaders]. Last month, I also wrote a letter to RSS general secretary Suresh 'Bhaiyyaji' Joshi. Let’s see what happens next.”
She said, “On January 23, I was in Ayodhya. I had the blessings of Mahant Nritya Gopal Das ji. There are other saints in Ayodhya who believe that I should also be a part of the trust. They feel that family members of those who laid down their lives for Ram Mandir should be included in the list. I heard that they have planned to keep one woman in the trust and am hopeful that they will include my name.”
Purnima and Rajesh Agarwal, her brothers’ friend who was with them during firing in Ayodhya, run an organisation called Ram-Sharad Kothari Smriti Samiti and every year, they organise an award ceremony for those who performed extraordinarily in the fields of education, health care and social work. Purnima also looks after her family business of iron parts.
Ram and Sharad Kothari were regulars at the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) shakha. At the age of 22 and 20, they had cleared first two years of the three-year RSS training course.
On October 22, 1990, they left their 9/2D Khelat Ghosh Lane home in Kolkata and boarded a train to Ayodhya. They managed to travel up to Varanasi because the UP government had then regulated movement by road and train to stop ‘kar sevaks’ from mobilising in Ayodhya.
The young ‘kar sevaks’ then took a taxi but were soon accosted at a police picket, forcing them to walk nearly 200 kilometres to reach Ayodhya around 4am on October 30. The crowds soon began to swell at Mani Ram Das Ji Ki Chawni road in front of Valmiki Bhavan in Ayodhya.
It was a direct challenge to former UP CM Mulayam Singh Yadav’s warning during the Ayodhya movement. Three days later, on the occasion of Kartik Purnima, ‘kar sevaks’ started to gather in front of Hunuman Garhi, a stone’s throw away from the disputed structure. They started marching towards the disputed site but were stopped by the police.
All of them sat on the road in protest and started singing bhajans. Suddenly, the police started firing and bodies of Sharad and Ram Kothari were later found in a narrow lane near Hanuman Garhi.
“My brothers were only doing kirtan (devotional song) at Hanuman Garhi. They were unarmed but despite that, Mulayam Singh ordered the security forces to open fire at them in 1990. The memories are still afresh in my mind,” Purnima said.