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The Unsung Heroes of Ayodhya: The Kothari Brothers

  • Ram and Sharad Kothari martyred for Ram cause during police firing on Kar sevaks On November 2, 1990

  • The sacrifice of the Kothari bandhu remains an unsung chapter in the Ayodhya movement

Abhyansh Singh Rathore

In the turbulent times of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in 1990, Ayodhya witnessed a grave episode that left an indelible mark on India’s modern history. Amidst the chaos, the story of Ram and Sharad Kothari, two young and unmarried brothers from Kolkata, emerged as a poignant tale of sacrifice and commitment.


The Kothari brothers, along with their friend Rajesh Agarwal, were active participants in the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) shakha in Kolkata’s Bara Bazar locality. The previous year’s shilanyas ceremony had ignited a nationwide Hindu movement to reclaim the site historically revered as Ram Janmabhoomi, seized in 1528 by Babur’s commander Mir Baqi, who erected a mosque there.


Devotees across India were contributing to the construction of the Ram temple, purchasing bricks as a symbolic financial contribution. The air was charged with devotion, and the friends, like many others, yearned to do more.


In October 1990, Hindu organizations rallied for ‘karseva’ in Ayodhya on October 30. However, then UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav strictly prohibited the entry of karsevaks, asserting that not even a bird would breach Ayodhya’s borders.


Undeterred, the Kothari brothers, along with 70 others, aimed to reach Ayodhya. Facing canceled trains and strict curfews, they embarked on a challenging journey.


Despite canceled train services, the determined group reached Ayodhya after a seven-day trek, avoiding main roads and traveling through villages and fields. Villagers, recognizing them as karsevaks, offered shelter and support along the way.


On reaching Ayodhya on October 30, the brothers and their companions faced heavily barricaded paths. In a dramatic turn, they witnessed VHP leader Ashok Singhal taking control of a police vehicle, breaking through barricades, and reaching Ram Janmabhoomi.
On November 2, 1990, during a peaceful demonstration, the police opened fire, fatally shooting Ram and Sharad Kothari. Bajrang Gupta, an eyewitness, recalls the horrifying incident where the police indiscriminately fired at the karsevaks, leaving a lasting image of bloodied young men. The killing of the Kothari brothers outraged Hindus across the country, and they were treated as the heroes and martyrs of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. In the 1990s, the deaths drew a large number of youth to this movement.

Mahendra Tripathi, a local photographer and journalist, captured the aftermath, revealing the chaos and police brutality. Tripathi himself narrowly escaped being mistakenly picked up by the police.


The sacrifice of the Kothari brothers remains an unsung chapter in the Ayodhya movement. Their journey from Kolkata to Ayodhya, overcoming numerous obstacles, and their ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of a Hindu place of worship, exemplifies unwavering commitment and devotion. The Kothari brothers, along with others who lost their lives, deserve recognition as unsung heroes who contributed significantly to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Ram & Sharad Kothari were spearheading the sacred work of SHRI RAM MANDIR NIRMAAN. They dedicated themselves whole-heartedly for the cause. They left no stone unturned to make it happen. The twosomes were the first to get registered for the RAM JANAM BHOOMI agitations.

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