Journalism was considered the first draft of history when journalists reported faithfully what they saw, without agenda. Closest to the truth are photographs ---before the age of photoshopping---and news photographers without even realising it became documenters of history. So it was with news photographer Praveen Jain, who with the enthusiasm of the young man set to make a career, and like most journalists in the profession fast became addicted to news.

No matter what has been said and argued subsequently, Jain recorded the events of December 5 and December 6, 1992 on his camera. The first when he was smuggled in by a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader in Ayodhya to take photographs on December 5 of what he says was the ‘rehearsal’ to the demolition.The Babri Masjid site was swarming with mobs as the photographs show. Again on December 6, when the photographers were set upon by mobs, who beat them mercilessly and snatched their cameras to destroy evidence. Jain, like the others, ran to save his life. And again on December 7 when he along with some other brave journalists dressed in saffron and shouting Jai Shri Ram merged into the mobs to see the remnants of the demolition for themselves.

Some rarely seen photographs of the ‘preparations’ afoot at the site on December 5 , and of recognisable leaders at Ayodhya on December 6:

Tomorrow: More photographs of the day before the demolition of the Babri Mosque