The Faizabad district administration has refused permission to a trust which wanted to stage a play at the disputed Karsevakpuram in Ayodhya to honour “the sacrifice of Kothari brothers” who had died in the police firing on November 2, 1990 during the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
Monday would mark the 25th death anniversary of Ram Kumar Kothari and Sharad Kothari for which the Kothari Bandhu Sewa Trust — formed by the brothers’ family members — had organised a play.
It had invited, along with ‘karsevaks’ and ‘ram bhakts’ from Ayodhya and elsewhere, Union minister Uma Bharti, Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath, VHP president Ashok Singhal and its leaders Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and Acharya Dharmendra among others.
The district administration, which had already received a protocol on Bharti’s proposed visit, however, refused permission for the programme, saying that the proposed event “could disturb religious and communal harmony and affect peace and the law-and-order situation in the district”.
The administration’s decision was based on a report by the SHO of Ayodhya police station, Narendra Singh.
Singh told The Indian Express that section 144 of the CrPC was still effective in the district as was the model code of conduct.
“In these conditions, any new programme on any sensitive issue cannot be allowed. It was the first time that the trust had decided to hold such a programme at Karsevakpuram (which is controlled by the VHP). Every year, the VHP and other organisations hold a ‘shradhanjali sabha’ at Digambar Akhara on November 2,” Singh clarified.
After the administration’s refusal, the event organisers have dropped the play from their schedule.
Coordinator for the event and a member of the trust, Amil Kumar Mishra said that through the play they wanted to show that both Ram and Sharad were “nationalists whom the government had declared rioters”.
Mishra, who is also the state executive member of BJP’s Yuva Morcha, said performers from Kolkata had been called to play the characters of the two brothers who themselves hailed from the Bengal capital.
Mishra added that along with the play, the trust has also dropped the plans to hold the ‘shradhanjali sabha’, a blood donation camp, and the recitation of bhajans and patriotic songs. He said that only a ‘pyau’ (drinking water kiosk) will be inaugurated as per schedule.
Union Minister Uma Bharti will dedicate the ‘pyau’ to the public.
The administration has, however, allowed the trust to hold a blood donation camp at the nearby Sri Ram Hospital.
VHP spokesperson Sharad Sharma said that the administration’s refusal of permission to the Trust was “an attack on the freedom of expression on the directives of the Samajwadi Party government”.