In December 1992, Mark Tully, who was reporting for the BBC, witnessed at first hand the destruction by Hindu hardliners of the mosque in Ayodhya. Here is his account of that day.
On 6 December 1992, I was standing on the roof of a building with a clear view of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
This was the day the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other organisations supporting it were to begin work on building the temple, but they had given a commitment to the government and the courts that it would only be a symbolic start, a religious ceremony and no damage would be done to the mosque.
I saw young men clambering along the branches of trees… and rushing towards the mosque
A vast crowd, perhaps 150,000 strong, had gathered and was listening to speeches given by BJP and right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders.
Among those present were LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, now senior figures in the BJP-led government.
Trouble first broke out in the space below us when young men wearing bright yellow headbands managed to break through the barriers.
The police stood by and watched, while some men wearing saffron headbands and appointed by the organisers to control the crowd did try to stop them.
They soon gave up, however, and joined the intruders in beating up television journalists, smashing their cameras and trampling on their tape recorders.
Encouraged by this, thousands charged towards the outer cordon of police protecting the mosque.
Very quickly, this cordon collapsed and I saw young men clambering along the branches of trees, dropping over the final barricade, and rushing towards the mosque.
Crowd carried away
The last police retreated from the mosque, their riot shields lifted to avoid being hit by stones the crowd was throwing at them, and two young men scrambled on top of the mosque’s central dome and started hacking away at the mortar.
They were soon joined by others.
As telephone lines had been cut, I drove to Faizabad to file my story for the BBC and then tried to return to the site.
Before I could reach there, I and the Hindi-language journalists with me were threatened and then locked in a room by kar sevaks (Hindu volunteers).
We were kept there for several hours before we were rescued by a local official assisted by the head priest of one of Ayodhya’s best known temples.
But by then the Babri Masjid had been totally demolished.