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Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 19:17 GMT
Demolishing history in Pakistan
Ayodhya mosque in India
Pakistanis wanted to avenge the Ayodhya destruction

The shocking images of men standing on a 16th century building in India trying to demolish it made international headlines.

I was working at the time on the Lahore edition of The News International, Pakistan's leading English-language daily.


For those of us who wanted co-existence between India and Pakistan, what happened a decade ago was very disturbing

The Ayodhya story was our lead and when I joined other journalists in the small hours of the morning in a cafe to discuss the stories of the day, the only thing we talked about was the Babri Masjid and its possible repercussions.

Reaction

What we didn't know was that those repercussions were already underway - just half a mile down from where we were sat eating kebabs and tikkas.

When I left to go home, I was stopped by a mob on the road. There were some 200 men armed with clubs, axes and hammers.


The disused temple was destroyed bit by bit accompanied by anti-Indian slogans

They were gathered at Jain Mandir, a blackened, weather-beaten Hindu temple that had not been in use since 1947.

It was, in fact, a home to a couple of poor families. But the mob wanted to pull the temple down to "avenge what the Hindus had done in Uttar Pradesh [state]."

My part was to keep the car engine running and direct the headlights towards the temple so they could see better.

I tried in vain to tell them that whatever they were doing was not sane, civilised or even Islamic.

They just told me to shut up.

Violence

So for almost two hours I was forced to do what they asked fearing the worst if I tried otherwise, while the disused temple was destroyed bit by bit accompanied by anti-Indian slogans.

And it was not the only temple building to be pulled down in Lahore, or for that matter Pakistan.

There were more violent incidents in other parts of the country with the loss of life.

For those of us who wanted co-existence between India and Pakistan, what happened a decade ago was very disturbing.

And it made it all but impossible to explain to my very inquisitive children that there was a time when Hindus and Muslims lived together in Lahore and what is now Pakistan.

Buildings like the Jain Mandir used to make that job slightly easier.

Now I have to settle for the history books - but even some of these are being rewritten to present their own "version" of the past.

Ayodhya special report

Ten years on

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