AYODHYA, Uttar Pradesh — "This is where I was shot. One bullet went straight through my chest and the second was lodged in my hand," said Santosh Dubey, as he walked along Shaheed gali, a quiet street in Ayodhya.
"That is where Ram Kothari and his brother Santosh Kothari were shot dead. Ram Kothari fell first and when his brother ran towards him, they killed him with burst fire," he said, closer to the mouth of the street.
It was 2 November, 1990, and hundreds of karsevaks were marching towards the Babri Masjid for the second time in three days, determined to pray inside the 16th century mosque, where Hindu activists had placed idols of Hindu gods Ram and Sita in 1949.
That day, two months after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani had whipped up communal strife by embarking on his Rath Yatra from Gujarat to Ayodhya, Mulayam Singh Yadav, then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, had ordered security personnel to fire on the karsevaks.
At least 16 karsevaks were killed that day in Ayodhya. Two years later, hundreds more karsevaks would demolish the Babri Masjid, and plunge the country into one of its its darkest period of communal violence since 1947.
On 6 December, 1992, Dubey, armed with a pickaxe, climbed to the very top of the Babri Masjid and hammered away at its middle dome for two hours.
Recalling chants of Har Har Mahadev rising over the city as he ran towards the mosque, Dubey said, "We spilt our blood, ate bullets, went to jail, our families suffered, but the BJP has only lied, lied and lied about building the Ram Temple for 30 years."
"And now, PM Modi ji goes to Safai to attend Mulayam Singh Yadav son's (grandnephew) wedding. They have made fools of us."
When the BJP government swept to power with a significant majority in 2014, hardliners like Dubey felt that the Hindu right finally had the numbers to build a temple over the ruins of the Babri Masjid.
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