“Brainwashing me was easy, because yeh bhavnayen (these emotions), they are deep-rooted. Back where I come from, if you did something that was not considered acceptable, even a simple thing like eating a roti with your left hand, people would ask, “Tu Mussalman hai ke?” (What is this? Are you a Muslim?) I thought that these Muslims came from outside India and had snatched our land and destroyed our temples.”
Plus, in a state like Haryana that valorises machismo, he said he wanted to do something that would effectively show his ‘mardangi.’ “When I left for Ayodhya in the first week of December, my friends told me, ‘kuch kare bina wapas na aana (Don’t come back without achieving something)’,” says Balbir who was among those being tracked by the Intelligence Bureau.
“Ayodhya was abuzz on December 5,” he recalls. “The men from VHP ruled the town and Faizabad. We stayed with thousands of other kar sevaks, heard the chatter going around. Advaniji was not important because he worshipped Jhulelal (the community god of Sindhis), and hence was not considered to be a Hindu; Uma Bharati was a drama queen. I was there with my close friend Yogender Pal. We were all impatient, we wanted to get going.”
A few distinct shards of the following day are still embedded painfully in his memory of it. One of them is an aural one, of the rousing slogans (‘Saugandh ram ki khai hai, mandir yahin banayenge’; ‘Kalyan Singh kalyan karo, mandir ka nirmaan karo’); he remembers mocking senior police officials as he walked along with the other kar sevaks towards Babri Masjid on that cold afternoon; and then the final rush and the frenzied scramble atop the central dome.
“I was like an animal that day. Only briefly, I got scared when I saw a helicopter approach us from a distance. Then, the rallying cries from below reached my ears and I felt emboldened again and plunged my pick-axe into the dome.”