‘Manarul Huda’, in its December 2008 issue, had published the most shocking interview between its reporter and 2 commanders of ‘Flying Squad’ of ‘Siva Sena’, who played pivotal role in the actual demolition of Babri Mosque in Ayodya (Yoginder Pal & Balbir Singh), who later converted to Islam. That caused many to raise their brows and to many others, make their ‘hair stand’.
Similar to those 2 noble men, another man – Set Ramji Lal Gupta – who undertook active part in the demolition of the Babri Mosque physically & financially, has wholeheartedly & voluntarily embraced Islam, to the surprise of many hundreds; changing his name to Mohamed Umar. His interview with the reporter of Manarul Huda follows:
Reporter (R): Set Sahib! Maulana Kaleem Siddiqi has been talking very frequently about you during the last 2, 3 months. In his sermons, he cites you as an example to remind Muslims, saying Allah would use any means to give Iman to his subjects.
Muhamed Umar (Ramjit Lal Gupta)(MU): Yes! Maulana’s saying is totally true! My life itself is a clear sign of Allah’s immense compassion. There could not have been a worse enemy (like me) to mosques before; but still, His Compassion superseded everything.
However, if my contact with Hazrat or his men had been a bit earlier, my beloved son would not have died without Iman. (MU weeps; weeps for a long time. Then composing himself continues): He (MU’s son) had told me so many things! He had so close contact with Muslims! But he has passed away without ‘Iman’ (not embracing Islam), leaving me in very great sorrow.
(R): Can you please tell me about your family?
(MU): I was first born on 6 December 1939, in a small village near Lucknow, in a family involved in a small business. My father had a shop in a small town known as ‘Kirana’. In our family line, for 4 generations, there was only 1 offspring for each generation. I am the only son of my father. After studying up to Standard 9, I became involved in my father’s business. My father named me as Ramji Lal Gupta.
(R): You just now said that you were first born on 6 December 1939. What did you mean by that?
(MU): it is only now, in this year (2009) on January 22, I was born again. In actual fact, it is only now I was born (he means, a person after embracing Islam). It is better not to consider my first life. It was full of darkness.
(R): Yes, alright. Can you please tell about your family?
(MU): My family was a deeply religious family. My father was the area leader of Jana Sankh – the forerunner of BJP. Because of this, the hatred towards Muslims & Islam was the symbol of family. This hatred was so great and to such an extent that I was one of those fools who were involved in all those foolish activities – from the breaking of the lock of Babri Masjid to the demolition of that mosque.
I married a girl from a very good, but secular family. My wife too was of that nature – secular. My wife’s family was very close with Muslims. After my wedding ceremony, when we went to their house celebration, all arrangements & preparations were managed by my father-in-law’s Muslim friend. And, 10 bearded Muslims were serving the food for the guests. I did not like it at all. Once, when a Muslim handled my food while serving, I totally refused to eat it! However, a Hindu pundit who was my father’s friend asked me: “Where in Hinduism it is said that you should not eat food handled by Muslims?” Not wanting to create an issue of it, I ate the food most reluctantly.
My marriage was in 1952. There was no child for 9 years. Then in 1961, God gave a son. I named him Yogesh. I educated him in the best of schools and with the intention of making him devoted to Hindu religion; I made him to study PhD in relevant Hindu scriptures. From the beginning to the end, he shone in his studies. But, in his character, he reflected more of his mother. He was more inclined towards Muslims than Hindus. Religious fanaticism was very allergic to him. He was very polite & respectful towards me; but at the same time, he argued politely with me regarding religious fanaticism. Because I had joined ‘Rama Koil (temple) movement’, and spend a lot of money for that cause, he left our house twice, due to his displeasure. His mother phoned him and pleaded & cried, and made him return home.
(R): Can you please relate the background for your conversion to Islam?
(MU): I was of the opinion that Muslims were conquerors of this land. Also, the feeling that these people demolished Rama’s temple, and built a mosque at that place, was extreme in me. So, I decided to build Rama’s temple at that place at whatever cost! For that purpose, I sacrificed everything in me: monetarily & physically. From 1987 to 2005, I had spent 25 lakhs Rupees (2.5 million Rupees) as donation to help the ‘Karasevaks’ (volunteers assigned to demolish the Babri Mosque). Because of this, my wife & son were very displeased with me.
Yogesh (my son) told me: ‘’3 categories of foreigners had come & ruled our country.
First category: Aryans. These people only caused injustice (to locals)! They regarded the locals as most disrepute (untouchables); and regarded themselves as superior class. They did nothing good for the country. With such injustice & wickedness, they pushed many of the locals to death.
Second category: The English. These people made the people of this country slaves. Not only they embezzled the gold, silver and invaluable gems of this country, and took them to England, but also committed inhumane torture to the locals, and killed so many of us.
Third category: These people came in between the two. They are theMuslims. They regarded this country as their own, and built the ‘Red Fort’ (in Delhi); built Taj Mahal, the pride of this country. Built roads & pathways and way-ward rest-houses; established postal services, land survey system, irrigation to agricultural lands, maintenance of rivers; and other innumerable social development. Also, they brought all the smaller states under one rule to form a large country. Though being a minority, they ruled the country for about 1000 years by giving justice and religious freedom. Yogesh narrated all these facts, and showed by historical evidences the Muslim rulers’ rule of justice.
However, my hatred towards Islam & Muslims never changed!
On 30 December 1990, I took part in Advani’s chariot-journey (ratha yaatirai). On 6 December 1992, I went to Ayodya. There was a team under my command & responsibility (to demolish Babri Mosque). After demolishing Babri Mosque, I went home and celebrated with a grand feast. My son, Yogesh, disgusted with all these, again left my house. I celebrated the victory (?) with great happiness. I spent a lot to erect a Rama’s temple in future, at that site.
But after this, I was struck with unexplainable unknown fear! Again & again, for some unknown reason, a fear that great disaster is going to descend on me from the skies, kept on worrying me. On the same December 6th, the next year (1993), my shop and the godown which was a bit further away, was totally devastated by fire caused by electrical short-circuit. More than 1 million Rupees of goods were destroyed. After this disaster, I was stricken with more fear. At every year’s December 6th, our group was troubled with intense fear. And true to our fear, some disaster kept on happening.
On 6 December 2005 my son Yogesh was going to Lucknow on a business matter. His car collided with a truck. My son & the driver were killed on the spot. Yogesh had 6 year old daughter and 9 year old son. I could not bear that loss. I was mentally disturbed. Leaving my job, I was straying from house to house as a mad man; beating myself. My wife took me to many moulanas. She took to a madrasah in a town named Harthoi, run by a great moulana. There was a Qari Sahib from Bihar in that madrasah. I felt a bit alright. But, my mind was always greatly disturbed with the thought that I was in a wrong way. So, I said to myself: “I must study Islam to know it”, and I started to study Islam.
(R): To know about Islam, what did you read?
(MU): First, I read a small book about the history of Prophet Muhammad. Then I read ‘What Is Islam?’ (Islam Kia-he?); and then ‘Islam Ek Parise’ written by Ali Mian Sahib. On 5 December 2006, a lady gave me a book ‘Apki amanath apki seva me’ (Your amanah is in your service) written by Moulana Kaleem Siddiqi. Because the next day was December 6th, the fear in me as to whether some disaster would happen, was horrifying me. This book gave me the idea to embrace Islam; and avoid any mishap from befalling on me. So, on the evening of 5th December, I approached 5, 6 Muslims to convert me to Islam. But, because of fear, no one came forward to convert me.
(R): You became a Muslim on 6 December 2006! But, you just told me that you became a Muslim just a few months ago, on January 26th!
(MU): I decided with a strong determination to become a Muslim on 5 December 2006. However, until this year (2009), no one came forward to convert me to Islam (fear of repercussion from Hindu fundamentalists). However, a Muslim brother, who was himself converted to Islam by Moulana Kaleem Siddiqi sometime ago, had told Moulana that a Lalaji, who had spent considerable amount in the demolition of the Babri Mosque, now wishes to embrace Islam. Immediately, Moulana sent a ‘master’ (this person is the one who first raised the crowbar in the demolition of Babri Mosque!). Because he did not have my correct address, he was searching for me for 3 days. On 22 January 2009, he found me and taught the Kalimah (of embracing Islam). He also conveyed Moulana’s salam to me.
He (the ‘master’) tried to contact the moulana by phone since morning till evening; but couldn’t; because he was on his journey to Maharastra. That evening we managed to speak to Moulana through a friend’s phone. ‘Master’ said to Moulana: “I have met Setji. He has embraced Islam. Please, kindly recite again the Kalimah to him.” Moulana taught me again the Kalimah; and, requested me to recite the Hindi translation of the Kalimah.
Masjid in 2.5 million Rupees
I, then told Moulana: “Hadzrat! I, the most wicked man, had spent 2.5 million Rupees to demolish the Most Compassionate’s prayer house, to erect a house of shirik. To plead for pardon from Allah for my wickedness, I have taken an oath to build a mosque for 2.5 million Rupees, as repentance. So Moulana, please do‘a to Allah, Who gave me hidayah through that very same despiteful action, to remove my name from His list of those who demolished the house of Allah; and include my name among those who build mosques. Also, please, you yourself give me an Islamic name.” Moulana blessed me, and do‘a for me, and named me Muhamed Umar.
(addressing to the reporter) Moulavi Ahmad! My God has helped me so much! Even if I sacrificed my life and all my belongings, it would be insufficient to show my thankfulness & gratitude to Him. My God has made my greatest sin as the cause of my hidayah!
(R): What else did you do to improve your knowledge about Islam?
(MU): Alhamdulillah! I arrange tuition in my house. I have a very good, knowledgeable alim. He is teaching me Al-Quran and also explaining the verses.
(R): What about your wife & grandchildren?
(MU): With Allah’s Grace, my wife, Yogesh’s wife (daughter-in-law) & grandchildren all have become Muslims. We study Al-Quran together.
(R): On what purpose, did you come to New Delhi?
(MU): It’s nothing. Moulana invited me; so I came. I had been very anxious to meet him; but he was going from place to place. Now, Alhamdulillah! I have visited him. I’m really very pleased.
(R): What matters did you discuss with Moulana?
(MU): Hadzrat (Moulana) told me: “Just like you, there are so many of your blood-relations, who had taken part in the demolition of the Babri Mosque, because of ignorance. Go to them; and do dakwah; and explain to them, the truth.”
I recollected the list of such people in my mind. Although my health and physical condition would not permit me to wholly involve in the mission, I have vowed to submit the message of Kalimah, to all of them to the best of my ability.
(R): Your message to Muslims……?
(MU): The loss of my son Yogesh, brings sadness to me every minute. No doubt death comes to every one. O Moulavi (Ahmad)! Death would come at its appointed time. However, my beloved son, who was born in my house, and who was very friendly with the Muslims, passed away without getting ‘Iman’. This greatly brings sorrow to me. In this matter, my heart has been very deeply affected, thinking that Muslims have failed to fulfill their duty.
So many young & old people passed away without getting ‘Iman’, because of this indifferent attitude of Muslims.
(R): Thank you very much, Setji. May Allah Bless you with His Barakah.
You are very worried about Yogesh! Hadzrat (Moulana Kaleem Siddiqi) used to say: “At the time when those non-Muslims, who had always had Islamic inclinations & thoughts, pass away (without reciting Kalimah; i.e. embracing Islam) the ‘Malaikats’ (angels) teach them the Kalimah. Such instances had happened! Let us hope firmly that Allah’s Rahmat would have been showered on your son, Yogesh; and he would have been accepted as a Muslim.
(MU): May Allah Bless my son as you have said. I shall then meet my son in Heaven.
Armugan: June 2009; translated in Tamil by Moulana A.Mohamed Farouk Qashifi. Thanks to Tamil monthly: ‘Manaarul Huda’ from Chennai (Nov-Dec 2009 issue)
Thanks to Perak Islamic Information Centre for translating into English and forwarding to us.