Babri Masjid verdict: ‘Death’ of a history...

Dhaka, Tuesday   27 October 2020

Babri Masjid verdict: ‘Death’ of a history


 Published: 10:34 PM, 30 September 2020   Updated: 02:59 PM, 10 October 2020

Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

Babri Masjid was also called Mosque of Babur or Baburi Mosque, formerly Masjid-i Janmasthan, the mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India. According to inscriptions on the site, it was built in the year 935 of the Islamic calendar (September 1528–September 1529 CE) by Mīr Bāqī, possibly a bey serving under the Mughal emperor Bābur. Along with the mosques at Sambhal and Panipat, it was one of three mosques said to have been constructed in the 16th century upon Bābur’s orders.

Babri Masjid (meaning Mosque of Babur) was a mosque in Ayodhya, India at a site believed by many Hindus to be the birthplace of Hindu deity Ram. It has been a focus of a dispute between the Hindu and Muslim communities since the 18th century. However, the mosque was attacked and demolished by Hindu Kar Sevaks (A Kar Sevak is someone who offers services for free to a religious cause) in 1992, which ignited communal violence across the Indian subcontinent and claimed more than two thousand lives.

Police guard the premises of disputed Babri Masjid site nears in Ayodhya. Photo: Collected

History after controversy

The Babri Masjid has taken the place in history strongly after the dispute of two communal groups in the subcontinent- Hindus, and Muslims around the right of the place.  Since its establishment in 1528, it has been under the control of Muslims until 19th century.

The Indian city of Ayodhya known as Ramayana is located in the Faizabad district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh near the Ramkot mountain. The mosque was built there in 1528 by the order of Emperor Babar, which is why the mosque became popularly known as Babri Mosque. It is also heard that this mosque was also known as 'Masjid-e-Janmasthan' before the forties of the last century.

The mosque was constructed in a style developed under the short-lived Lodī dynasty that preceded the Mughals: small with a single aisle arrangement of three domed bays along the wall of the qiblah. The gateway of the middle bay—a pīshṭāq emphasizing the building’s presence and importance—was considerably higher than those of the side bays.

There have been innumerable records of clashes with Babri Mosque However, according to the 1905 Gazetteer of Faizabad District, both Hindu and Muslim communities prayed and worshiped in the building till 1852.

In 1885, Mahanta Raghubar Das petitioned to the Faizabad District Court to hang the canopy outside the Babri Mosque. The application was rejected in court.

On Dec. 6, 1992, Hindu attackers hit the wall of the 16th century Babri Masjid with iron rods. Image: AFP

Property right: Onset of conflict

For the first time, there was a clash between Hindus and Muslims. In 1859, the British government separated the places of worship of Hindus and Muslims establishing walls. Then on 23rd December 1949 - A statue of Ram Lala was brought into the main dome of the controversial structure. After the installation of the Ram-Sita idol, the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru wrote a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Govinda Vallabh Panth instructing him to remove the idols of Hindu gods and goddesses, saying "a dangerous precedent is being set there".

1950 - Gopal Shimla Bisharad appeals to the Faizabad District Court for the right to worship the idols of Ramlala. And in the same year, Paramahansa Ramchandra Das sues for abandoning idols and continuing worship. Considering the then situation, the government locked the mosque, and bar both party to stay refrain from entering the place. In 1949, the Vaishnava community Nirmohi Akhara (one of 18 Akhara) sues for the right to the place.

On the other hand, in 1961 - The Sunni Central Waqf Board files a case demanding the same.

In 1984, the World Hindu Council started a massive movement to demand the unlocking of the mosque.

But, the then the Rajiv Gandhi's government gave exactly the same instructions in 1986 following local court’s direction to give the Hindus access to the mosque to use it as a temple for religious prayers.

The situation started to be worsening then, millions of Muslims became furious to get their right of mosque back.

Besides, a campaign was launched in 1984 to remove the mosque and build a Hindu temple in its place. The movement gained momentum in the following years, leading to riots in 1990 and the collapse of India’s ruling coalition. Ramlala Birajman of Ramjanmabhoomi in Ayodhya filed the case through her friend Devaki Nandan Agarwal, a former judge of the Allahabad High Court.

On the other hand, On August 14, 1989 - The Allahabad High Court rules that the status quo must be maintained in the disputed area. On December 25, 1990 - BJP leader LK Advani starts his Rath Yatra from Somnath in Gujarat.

This momentum helped sweep the Bharatiya Janata Party to power in several states, including in Uttar Pradesh, and on December 6, 1992, security forces stood by Hindu Kar Sevaks activists including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Binoy Katia and other Hindu leaders arrived at the mosque premises. At the urging of Bharatiya Janata Party BJP, Shiv Sena and BJP leaders, about 1.5 lakh people attacked the Babari Mosque and destroyed. Communal riots spread This sparked a nationwide riot across India, and also other countries in the Southeast Asia region, that claimed more than 2000 lives.

The Babri masjid shortly before it was demolished on December 6, 1992. Photo: Collected

The demolition by Hindu extremists: And then…

April 3, 1993 - The Acquisition of Controversial Areas Act was passed to acquire land in Ayodhya. A writ petition was filed in the Allahabad High Court challenging various aspects of the Act. The writ petition was transferred by the Supreme Court through Article 139A of the Indian Constitution.

April 24, 1994 - The Indian Supreme Court ruled in the case of the historian Ismail Farooqi that the mosque did not belong to Islam.

April 2002 - The High Court begins hearing on the disputed land ownership. Meanwhile, the then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee set up a special cell for bilateral talks. Former Bollywood actor Shatrughan Sinha has been tasked with holding talks with Hindu and Muslim leaders.

March 13, 2003 - The Supreme Court rules that no religious activity will take place on the acquired land.

After a long 17 years, the special commission submitted a report on the demolition of Babri Masjid in 2009 probing the demolition as illegal. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was probed accused in the report.

A series of court battles played out in the following decades. The land was divided between Hindus and Muslims in 2010 by the decision of the Allahabad high court. The judgment of Allahabad High Court

In 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled that the dispute over space should be divided between Hindus and Muslims. The court decided to give one third to Hindus, one third to Muslims, and the rest to Nirmohi Akhara. The verdict further said that the main part of the dispute should be given to the Hindus. Later, the decision was appealed by both Hindu and Muslim litigants, and in 2019 the Supreme Court entrusted the site exclusively to Hindus.

Ayodhya verdict: Police on high alert

The last verdict on September 30, 2020

The verdict on the Babri Masjid demolition case has been announced after 28 years. Judge Surendra Kumar Yadav delivered the verdict in a special court in Lucknow just before his retirement on Wednesday. The court acquitted all the 32 accused. The judge argued that the devastation was not premeditated. The court also said that the evidence was not enough. As a result, all the accused were released with dignity.

The verdict on the destruction of Babri is about 2000 pages. The work of writing the verdict started on September 2. Judge Surendra Kumar Yadav started reading the verdict at 11.50 am on Wednesday. Judge Surendra Kumar Yadav reached the court around 10.30 am. Reaching one by one, Sadhvi Ritambhara, Sakshi Maharajas. A total of 26 accused joined the court. However, Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi could not come due to old age. They joined the video conference. Uma Bharati could not come due to the coronavirus attack. Mahant Nritya Gopal Das also did not come. No one except the accused, CBI lawyers and defendants’ lawyers had access to the court premises.

After decades of controversy, dispute, and clashes, last year, the Indian High allocated the land of Babri Masjid for Ram Temple considering the right of (so-called) origin; and today the court has declared the acquittal of all accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. So, the Babri Masjid of once is now dead history.