New Delhi, Dec. 6 -- On October 22, 1990, Rajiv Tuli, then a final-year student of BCom (Hons) at Delhi University, left for Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. His mother sent him off with a tilak on his forehead and the family braced for the prospect of not seeing their son again.

Tuli, then 20, was one of kar sevaks (volunteers) who dreamt of demolishing the disputed 16th century Babri Masjid and building a temple to Lord Ram on the site they believe marks the birthplace of the Hindu deity.

"We were aware of the dangers, there was a hostile government [led by Mulayam Singh Yadav] ruling Uttar Pradesh and we knew anything could happen. But we knew we had to go, no fear or government could stop us," Tuli said.

On October 30 and November 2, 1990, ...