On 6th December 1992, a large crowd of Hindu Kar Sevaks demolished the 16th-century Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodhya, in Uttar Pradesh. The demolition occurred after a political rally at the site turned violent. Many died in the post riots and many agendas were set after that to build grand temple at the same place. Politicians made it election agenda and played with sentiments of the people but the issue remains unresolved since last 25 years. In May 2011, during a preliminary hearing of the appeals, a Supreme Court bench of Justices (retired) Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha had described the High Court judgement fixing Lord Ram’s birthplace as a sheer “leap of faith” transgressing into the mythological realm. Now, the Supreme Court said fresh attempts must be made by all parties concerned to find a solution to the Ayodhya temple dispute which is a “sensitive” and “sentimental matter.” A Bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar said that such religious issues can be solved through negotiations and offered to mediate to arrive at an amicable settlement.
The BJP welcomed the Supreme Court’s suggestion of an out-of-court settlement of the Ayodhya dispute. On the other hand, Congress came out with a guarded response, saying there should either be a “consensus-based” solution, which will go a long way in ensuring lasting peace and goodwill, or the apex court should adjudicate the case on merit. On February 26th last year, the apex court had allowed Subramanian Swamy to intervene in the pending matters relating to the Ayodhya title dispute with his plea seeking construction of Ram Temple at the site of the demolished disputed structure. The BJP leader had earlier moved the plea for a direction to allow construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya at the disputed site.
Meanwhile, the CBI, which is prosecuting both the Lucknow and Raebareli cases, appealed the Raebareli decision to the Allahabad High Court, which upheld the lower court’s verdict. The premier investigative agency then took the matter to the Supreme Court. On March 6, the apex court indicated that it was not in favour of the conspiracy charges being dropped and also suggested that it would order clubbing of the two trials. The Supreme Court bench of Justices PC Ghosh and RF Nariman also expressed concern over the delay in trial against Advani and others. There are chances that these leaders may face heat of demolition.
If we look back in same case in an accusation against PV Narasimha Rao, President Pranab Mukherjee said that the inability to prevent the demolition of the Babri Masjid was the former PM’s biggest failures as head of the nation. The demolition of the Babri Masjid was an act of absolute perfidy, which should make all Indians hang their heads in shame. It was the senseless, wanton destruction of a religious structure, purely to serve political ends. It deeply wounded the sentiments of the Muslim community in India and abroad. It destroyed India’s image as a tolerant, pluralistic nation where all religions have co-existed in peace and harmony. In fact, the Foreign Minister of an important Islamic country later pointed out that such damage had not been inflicted on a mosque even in Jerusalem, which has seen religious conflicts for centuries.
In the late 1980s, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) brought the Ram Janmabhoomi issue to the Centre stage of national politics, and the BJP and VHP organized large scale protests in Ayodhya and around the country. Members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) demolished the Babri Mosque (which was constructed by India’s first Mughal emperor, Babar). The site is the supposed to be the birthplace of the Hindu deity Rama. The destruction of the disputed structure, which was widely reported in the international media, unleashed large scale communal violence, the most extensive since the Partition of India. Hindus and Muslims were indulging in massive rioting across the country, and almost every major city including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bhopal struggled to control the Unrest.
Later Liberhan Commission, after extensive hearing and investigation, exonerated PV Narasimha Rao. It pointed out that Rao was heading a minority government, the Commission accepted the centre’s submission that central forces could neither be deployed by the Union in the totality of facts and circumstances then prevailing, nor could President’s Rule be imposed “on the basis of rumours or media reports”. Taking such a step would have created “bad precedent” damaging the federal structure and would have “amounted to interference” in the state administration, it said.
The Supreme Court’s own observer failed to alert it to the sinister undercurrents. The Governor and its intelligence agencies, charged with acting as the eyes and ears of the central government also failed in their task. Without substantive procedural pre-requisites, neither the Supreme Court, nor the Union of India was able to take any meaningful steps. Of late, Hindutva leaders have been increasingly demanding the construction of Ram Temple.
The Ramayana states that the location of Rama’s birthplace is on the banks of the Sarayu River in the city of Ayodhya. There is historical evidence for the claim regarding the precise location. Hindu tradition maintains that a temple existed at the site in historical times. In 1528, a Mosque was built at the site by the Mughal General Mir Baqi, and named the “Babri Masjid” in honour of the Mughal Emperor Babur.
From 1528 to 1853 the Mosque remained a place of worship for Muslims. Following communal disputes in 1853, a separate area near the mosque was earmarked for Hindus to perform religious ceremonies. In 1949 an idol of Rama was surreptitiously placed inside the mosque. Following Muslim outrage and a legal dispute, the gates to the mosque were locked. In the 1980s the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party launched a campaign to build a temple at the site. In 1992, a rally for this movement developed into a riot involving 150,000 people that led to the demolition of the Mosque. Since then, the future of the site has been debated in court. The debate around the history of the site is colloquially known as the Ayodhya dispute. Let’s see where it leads in future.
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