On December 6, 1992, Babri Masjid was smashed into the earth. ‘Commemoration’—the making of memory—has been an annual ritual thereafter. Media images recall the spectacle of unruly kar sevaks clambering atop the mosque’s domes. The keyword that accompanies the images: demolition. For a modern cataclysmic event, with its own set of mnemonic props, there should really be no room for doubt as to what happened in Ayodhya.
Video: Pragya Singh; Editing: Suraj Wadhwa
But how much does it really resonate in the collective consciousness of the younger generation? The media images and words seek to make that event tangible once again, to create a fresh bookmark in collective memory.
Yet, it’s a hazy message that reaches those born in the 1990s and after. Many in the post-Babri generation believe the mosque is intact, fully or partially. Many do not know there is a makeshift temple on the site now. Here’s a line from one of around 40 people Outlook spoke to, mostly millennial students and professionals too young for direct memories of the demolition. “There’s a mosque there and they want to break it,” says Vishal Sharma, a private airline employee in his 20s.
It isn’t just him. Many of his generation have a vague sense of what happened 25 years ago; only a few recognise an intact Babri Masjid from its photograph—guesses range from “Jama Masjid” to “Wazirpur fort”. A picture of the demolition in progress, though, has higher recall. Abhimanyu, an MA student at Delhi...