Long read. Written by Vanya Doval. A grade 8 student.
The Ayodhya dispute is a political , historical and religious debate in India over a plot of land in Ayodhya , Uttar Pradesh.
It all began in 1528 , when Emperor Babur , the founder of the Mughal dynasty , instructed his commander Mir Baqi, to construct a mosque in Ayodhya . The mosque came to be known as ‘ Babri Masjid’ or Babur’s mosque . Now, it must be noted that the site where the mosque was built is regarded among Hindus as the birthplace of Lord Rama also called ‘Ram Janmabhoomi ‘ .The question that arises is that was a pre-existing Hindu temple demolished by Babur’s generals to make the mosque ? Hindus claimed Babur had destroyed a temple and believed the land was rightfully theirs to pray on . Both faiths clashed and a conflict ensued.
In 1542, a platform called Ram Chabutara was built, upon which an idol of Lord Ram was kept. In 1885 , a wall was constructed between the mosque and the platform . The clash finally came to an end. It was decided that Muslims would not perform Namaz at the time prayers were being offered to Lord Rama and vice versa . Soon after this , Mahant Raghubir Das filed a plea in the Faizabad district court, seeking to build a temple around the Ram Chabutara . However, the courts rejected his plea. All was considerably well until…
Fast forward to 1949 , when, around midnight , idols of Lord Rama were placed inside the mosque , which triggered the dispute once again. On the 22nd of December ‘49 Sant Digvijay Nath of Gorakhnath Math organised a 9 day continuous recitation of Ramcharit Manas, at the end of which Hindu activists broke into the mosque and placed idols of Ram and Sita inside. People were led to believe that the idols had ‘miraculously ‘ appeared inside the mosque.
Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister, insisted that the idols be removed. However, the local official K.K.K Nair , a devout Hindu, refused to do so saying it would spark communal riots. The police locked the gates and refused entry to anyone ( Hindus or Muslims ). But, the idols remained inside and priests were let in to perform daily worship. So, the mosque became a de facto temple. Muslims were extremely angered by this and filed civil suits in a local court staking their claims to the site. The land was declared to be under dispute and the gates stayed shut.
In the 1980s the Vishwa Hindu Parishad ( VHP), from the Sangh Parivar , launched a new movement to reclaim the site for Hindus and build a temple on the site for Lord Rama. The BJP became the political face of the campaign . In 1986, a judge ruled that the gates would be reopened and Hindus would be allowed to pray once again. In September 1990, BJP leader L.K.Advani began a Rath Yatra or pilgrimage procession to Ayodhya to generate support for the movement. The Yatra resulted in communal riots in many cities in its wake , prompting the police to arrest Advani . Inspite of this Hindu activists reached Ayodhya and tried to attack the mosque. They were stopped by paramilitary forces and UP police resulting in many hindu activists or kar sevaks as they were called, being killed. As a result of this incident , the BJP withdrew its support from the acting UP government necessitating fresh elections. In these elections, the BJP won a majority in the legislative assembly and formed the state government.
On 6th of December, 1992, the BJP organised a rally involving 150,000 kar sevaks at the site of the mosque . The ceremonies included speeches from prominent BJP leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi , Uma Bharti and L.K Advani. The mob stormed the mosque as soon as the speeches finished. The mosque was attacked with a number of improvised tools and was demolished within hours. This happened despite a promise made by the state government to the Supreme Court that the mosque would remain untouched . More than 2000 people were killed in the riots following the destruction of Babri Masjid. Riots broke out in many major Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Following this , the Liberian Commission was set up by the government of India to probe the circumstances that led to the demolition. The report found that a number of people were culpable including Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the then UP CM Kalyan Singh. Relying on testimonies from eyewitnesses they stated that the leaders had made provocative speeches that provoked the violence. They also believed that they could have stopped the demolition if they had wished . Many Muslim organisations expressed their outrage through terrorist attacks . In 2007, M.N. Gopal Das
(the then head of the Ram temple ) received phone calls making threats against his life. Many terrorist organisations used the dispute as an excuse for terrorist attacks.
A subsequent land title case was lodged in the Allahabad High court by Muslim groups the verdict of which was pronounced on 30th September 2010. In the verdict, the judges ruled that the 2.77 acres of land would be divided into three parts. 1/3 rd going to the Ram Lalla represented by the Hindu Maha Sabha, 1/3rd going to the Sunni Waqf Board and the remaining 1/3rd going to Nirmohi Akhara . This decision was challenged by all parties and the matter was referred to the Supreme Court of India for a final decision.
The five judges Supreme Court bench heard the title dispute cases from August to October 2019. On 9 November 2019, the Supreme Court ordered the land to be handed over to a trust to build the Hindu temple. It also ordered the government to give alternate 5 acre land to Sunni Waqf Board to build the mosque. As of this writing, some Muslim groups are unsatisfied and are most likely to plea for a re-view .Some have even gone so far as to say that they don’t want the SC’s “charity”. Let’s just hope this centuries old dispute finally comes to a peaceful end .