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Seeking to play the minority card with polling underway to elect a new Uttar Pradesh Assembly, Samajwadi Party (SP) patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday recalled his "extreme" action to safeguard the Babri mosque in 1990.
"We could not have allowed the minority community and their interest to suffer," he said.
Mulayam had earned the title of 'Mullah Mulayam' after his government opened fire on karsewaks in Ayodhya.
His comments justifying the police firing is seen as an attempt to unite Muslim electorate in favour of the SP.
Mulayam, who was the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, had ordered firing on karsewaks in Ayodhya in 1990 in which 16 people were killed.
"We had to fire. When I tried to justify my action, the BJP called me the murderer of humanity. If we had not fired at them, imagine what the Muslim population would have thought. Then how would I justify my position as chief minister," he had said earlier.
He had also said in the past the decision to order firing on karsevaks was "painful" and noted that he had had no other option.