Ayodhya Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Dispute

Ayodhya Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Dispute Introduction:

The BJP’s manifesto for the recently concluded UP elections prominently included, “exploring possibilities for construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya within the constitutional framework”.

The selection of Yogi Adityanath, the Mahant of Gorakhnath Math, as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, has added further credence to the fact that the agenda of Hindutva is likely to be followed by the ruling party with greater vigour. The views and track record of this Hindutva firebrand leader could be a bit unsettling for even those Hindus, whose belief in the Hindutva ideology is not adequately staunch.

However, while in power he will have to assume a more reconciliatory approach and has already declared that he will deliver on the Modi’s mantra of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’. Notwithstanding, the 25 year old issue regarding the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya, which was also one of the major election manifestos of BJP, has already started to appear from behind the horizon.
In order to have a clear understanding of the present noise being created about the Mandir-Masjid debate, let us first comprehend, as to what this issue is all about.

Important Timelines of the Case

1528 – Babur invaded India in 1527 and built a mosque at Ayodhya, allegedly after demolishing a Hindu temple. It was popularly called ‘Babri Masjid’.
1853 – First ever recorded communal clashed over the site, which forced the British to put a fence around the site. They denominated separate areas of worship for Hindus and Muslims in 1859. The site existed in this form for the next 90 years.
1949 – The workers of the Hindu right wing organisation forced its way and placed Ram Idols inside the mosque. Both sides to the dispute filed civil suits for ownership of the Plot no 583. The administration locked the gates and declared the area disputed.
1984 – The movement to build a temple at the disputed site gathered momentum and Hindu groups formed a committee to spearhead the construction of a temple at the Ramjanmabhoomi site.
1986 – A district judge ordered the gates of the mosque to be opened after almost five decades to allow Hindus to worship inside the “disputed structure.” Consequently, a Babri Mosque Action Committee was formed as Muslims protested the move to allow Hindu prayers at the site.
1989 – In November, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad laid foundations of a temple on land adjacent to the “disputed structure” in the presence of Home Minister Sh Boota Singh and then Chief Minister Sh ND Tiwari.
1990 – A coalition government under PM VP Singh was formed at the centre with a major support from BJP. In order to consolidate its political position better, the then BJP president Lal Krishna Advani took out a crosscountry
rathyatra to garner support for the move to build a Ram temple at the site. He was arrested in Bihar
during the rathyatra and as a consequence, BJP withdrew its support from the centre government, bringing the government down.
1991 – Congress came to power at the centre after elections, while BJP became the major opposition party at the centre. The BJP at that time had power in many states such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Kalyan Singh became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
1992 – Kalyan Singh took steps to support the Ram janambhoomi movement such as making entry into area easier, promising no firing on Karsevaks, opposing decision of central government to send Central Police force in the area, etc. Meanwhile, several rounds of not so meaningful meetings were held between Babri Masjid Action Committee and VHP leaders in presence of the home minister.
06 December 1992 – The VHP and its associates, including the BJP, organised a rally involving 150,000 VHP and BJP kar sevaks at the site of the mosque. Fiery speeches were delivered by the BJP leaders such as Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti. Despite a commitment from the state government to the Supreme Court that the mosque would not be harmed, the mob demolished the mosque. More than 2000 people were killed in the riots that followed the demolition. The Congress government at the Centre, headed by PV Narasimha Rao, set up a commission of inquiry under Justice Liberhan.
2002 – Communal tension continued over the years. At least 58 people were killed in Godhra, Gujarat, in an attack on a train believed to be carrying Hindu volunteers from Ayodhya. The communal riots that followed the Godhra incident in Gujarat led to over 2000 people dead.
2003 – The court ordered the Geological Survey of India to find out whether a temple of Lord Ram existed on the site. In August, the survey presented evidence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim groups disputed the findings.
2005 – A group of five terrorists attacked the makeshift temple on 05 July 2005. All five were shot dead in the ensuing gunfight with the Central Reserve Police Force personnel and one civilian was killed by a grenade thrown by a terrorist to breach the cordoned wall.

The Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Dispute in a Nut Shell

The crux of the said dispute is hinged to the land title-ship rights of a plot of 2.77 acres of land in the city of Ayodhya, located in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh.
The Hindus believe that this very spot was the birth place of lord Ram and a mosque was built by Babur after destroying their most holy temple that existed at that location in 1528.
The contention of the Muslims on the other hand is that the Babri Mosque was one of the largest and the most sacred mosques in Uttar Pradesh, which has a sizable Muslim population, was illegally destroyed by the workers of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its associates, including the BJP on 06 December 1992.
Subsequent to the destruction of the mosque, a land title case was lodged in the Allahabad High Court, the verdict of which was pronounced on 30 September 2010.
The three judges of The Allahabad High Court ruled that the 2.77 acres of Ayodhya land be divided into three parts:
The first part was allotted to the site of the Ramlala idol (birthplace of lord Ram), which was assigned to the party representing ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’ who could install Infant Ram deity in that location.
The second part was allocated to the Nirmohi Akhara, who as per mythological belief, stand for the
construction of Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara at that location.
The third part was given to the Sunni Wakf Board for the construction of the mosque.
Although, the above stated landmark judgement of the High Court was an important step towards the
resolution of the long outstanding dispute, but all the three parties were not satisfied with the ruling to split the land and appealed against it in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court on 09 May 2011 stayed the High Court order splitting the disputed site into three parts and said that status quo will remain.

Recent Developments on the Issue

The Supreme Court once again stroked this highly controversial issue on 08 March 2017, when it remarked that it will examine the issue of reviving the conspiracy charges against L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati and Kalyan Singh for the demolition of the Babri masjid.
Amongst the most recent developments on the issue, the honourable Supreme Court on 21 March 2017, has called upon all the stake holders to look for an amicable, out-of-court settlement for the ongoing dispute over the Ram Temple rather than on insisting for a judicial pronouncement.
The above statement was issued in response to the BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s request to the apex court to constitute a bench to hear a batch of petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court order.
The court has urged all the parties to choose mediators to make a fresh attempt to settle the issue and if required, a principal mediator can be chosen by the court for settling the issue and has asked Swamy to consult the parties and mention the matter on or before 31 March 2017.

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