On January 22, 2024, amidst Hindu rituals, the Pran Pratishtha of Ram Lalla took place at his Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, marking a significant event in the ongoing Ram Mandir movement. However, amidst the celebrations, there were several reports about Karsevaks and devotees who sacrificed their life for this cause. Organiser also brought several ground reports and features in its special Ram Mandir edition. Recently, there have been reports about one Munnan Khan, a close aide to the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh and a figure allegedly connected to a dark chapter in the movement’s history.
As per an exclusive report by OpIndia, Munnan Khan, a former Member of Parliament from Balrampur and a close associate of former CM Mulayam Singh Yadav, stands accused of orchestrating the massacre of karsevaks in Ayodhya in 1990. It is alleged that Khan’s private militia, masquerading as police personnel, perpetrated the killings. Following Khan’s demise, his son Qasim Khan purportedly continued his father’s alleged criminal activities.
Investigations have revealed that not only are streets, villages, and even a competition named after Munnan Khan, but his name also appears in government records.
In Gonda, an intersection bears Munnan Khan’s name, located on the road to Ayodhya where the alleged massacre took place. Most shops at this intersection are owned by members of the Muslim community, with boards bearing the name “Munnan Khan Chowk.”
Further scrutiny of the area reveals Munnan Khan’s former residence, now occupied by his son Mohammad Asim Khan, who operates an office nearby. Additionally, a green shrine, believed to be a recent addition, stands near the Munnan Khan Chowk, contributing to traffic congestion in the area.
Moreover, an MK petrol pump, standing for Munnan Khan, operates in the vicinity under the ownership of Salahuddin Khan, another of Munnan Khan’s sons. Despite being awarded the dealership by Bharat Petroleum in 2019, the petrol pump has received negative reviews for low-quality fuel and poor customer service.
Both the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Uttar Pradesh Police officially recognise the intersection under the name of Munnan Khan. Similarly, a village in the Katra Bazar Thana area of Gonda bears the name “Munnan Khan Purwa” in official records.
Sports competitions, including the Munnan Khan Cricket Tournament, are organised in memory of Munnan Khan in Gonda, attracting teams from surrounding districts. Hoardings featuring the Samajwadi Party adorn the venue, with family members of Munnan Khan prominently featured.
Furthermore, Qasim Khan operates Unity Public School in Haldhar Mau of Katra, and the family owns extensive lands in Gonda city, which have come under scrutiny by the district administration following Qasim Khan’s legal troubles.
The controversy surrounding Munnan Khan’s alleged involvement in the Ayodhya massacre persists, juxtaposed against the honours bestowed upon him, raising questions about the intersection of politics, history, and public memory in the Ram Mandir movement.