Time to untangle Ayodhya title dispute

The Supreme Court has decided to begin its final hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict, on Ayodhya title dispute, from February 8, 2018. A three judge bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and SA Najeeb will hear 13 appeals filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement on Ayodhya.

The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had directed that the 2.77 acres of disputed site in Ayodhya be shared equally among three parties – the Hindus, the Muslims and the Nirmohi Akhara (a Hindu group). In May 2011, the Supreme Court had stayed the Allahabad High Court verdict with a bench comprising of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice RM Lodha terming the verdict "strange."

Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had filed a separate petition seeking enforcement of his "fundamental right" to worship in the Ram Temple without "much hassle" and sought expeditious settlement of the Ram Temple-Babri dispute.

In March this year, a Supreme Court Bench – comprising of then Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul – had said that the parties involved in Ayodhya tangle must find a solution to the dispute, sort out the issues amicably as it involves sentiments and religion. Even the then Chief Justice Khehar had offered his services as a mediator in selling the case.

Undoubtedly the Ram Temple-Babri dispute is the longest pending case in Indian judiciary. The dispute dates back to the Colonial British era of early 1890s. In Independent India, a law suit on Ayodhya dispute was first filed in 1951.

It is pertinent to quote the Allahabad High Court observation four years after the Ayodhya suit was filed. The Allahabad High Court on April 26, 1955 had said:

"It is very desirable that a suit of this kind is decided as soon as possible and it is regretted that it has remained undecided for four years."

Sixty six years on, justice still awaits!

Ram Mandir-Babri dispute – A brief histroy

Historically, the razing of the Ram Temple — built in the honour of Lord Ram in Ramkot, which happens to be the janmasthan (birthplace) of the revered Hindu deity — dates back to 1528. Several historical sources suggest that Mir Baqi, a general in the army of invader Babar had demolished the temple on his order and erected a "mosque" on its ruins. The "mosque" came to be known as "Babri Masjid". The so-called mosque was originally called Masjid-e-Janmasthan, thus establishing the fact that it was built over the Ram Janmasthan Temple.

Numerous observations in different periods of history indicate a similar account that a temple existed on the spot, which had been destroyed to erect the so-called mosque.

Historian Prof Harsh Narain in his book 'The Ayodhya Temple-Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources' cited a galaxy of historical references – particularly from Muslim sources – on the very existence and desecration of Ram Temple and its replacement with a so called mosque. Even as the sanctity of Ayodhya as the birthplace of Lord Ram is being repeatedly questioned by Left-leaning historiographers, Historian Meenakshi Jain in her book 'The Battle for Rama' has left no stone unturned in collating a vast corpus of historical and literary evidences in Arabic, Persian and Urdu which clearly point to the demolition of the Ram Temple and the subsequent construction of the so called Babri Masjid.

Mirza Jan, a Muslim writer, who participated in an attempt to re-conquest the Hanuman Ghari temple in 1855 -- situated a few hundred yards from the 'Babri Masjid' -- during Wajid Ali Shah's rule, wrote in his book 'Hadiqah-i-Shuhada', "a lofty mosque has been built by Badshah Babar" on "the original birthplace of Rama", so that "where there was a big temple, a big mosque was constructed, and where there was a small temple, a small mosque was constructed."

Dutch scholar Hans Bakker in his most comprehensive study 'Ayodhya' categorically mentioned that an old Vaishnava temple was situated on the holy spot where Lord Ram descended on earth. Egbert Forsten wrote:

"Ram Janmabhoomi Temple was one of the oldest Ram temples in the country which was in existence in the 12th century. This Janmabhoomi temple was destroyed by Babar in 1528 and replaced with the mosque structure. 14 black-stone pillars from the temple were utilised by Mir Baqi in the construction of the mosque. Two more pillars have been driven upside down into the ground at the grave of the Muslim saint Musa Ashiqan, who is said to have incited Babar to demolish the Janmabhoomi Temple."

European traveler William Finch, after visiting Ayodhya in 1611, had confirmed the existence of the ruins of Ramkot, the castle of Lord Ram.
Joseph Tieffenthaler, the Austrian Jesuit priest who stayed in Awadh in 1766-71, in his book 'History and Geography of India' wrote that Babar had destroyed the birth-place temple of Lord Ram and constructed a mosque by using its pillars.

A 1838 report by British surveyor Montgomery Martin said:

"The Masjid was built on the ruins of the Ramkot itself and that the pillars used in the mosque have been taken from Ram's palace, the figures thereon having been damaged by the bigot (Babar)".

Edward Thornton, who wrote 'East India Company Gazetteer' (1854), had mentioned that Babar's mosque was embellished with 14 columns of elaborate workmanship taken from the old Hindu temple.

British chronicler P Carnegy in 'Historical Sketch of Faizabad' (1870) said that the columns of Janmasthan Temple, which were made of strong close-grained dark slate-coloured kasauti (touch-stone) and carved with different devices, were used by Muslims in the construction of Babar's mosque.

The Gazetteer of the Province Oudh (1877) said Moghul rulers destroyed three important Hindu temples at Ayodhya and constructed mosques thereon. Babar built the Babri mosque on Ram Janmabhoomi in 1528, Aurangzeb built one on Swargadwar, and either Aurangzeb or Shahjahan did the same on Treta ka Thakur.
German Indologist Alois Anton Führer in his 'Archaeological Survey of India report, 1891' wrote:

"Mir Khan built a masjid in AH 930 during the reign of Babar, which still bears his name. This old temple must have been a fine one, for many of its columns have been utilised by the Musalmans in the construction of Babar's Masjid."

HR Neville, the editor of the 'Faizabad District Gazetteer' (1870), wrote that the Janmasthan temple "was destroyed by Babar and replaced by a mosque." Neville further wrote:

"The Janmasthan was in Ramkot and marked the birthplace of Rama. In 1528 AD Babar came to Ayodhya and halted here for a week. He destroyed the ancient temple and on its site built a mosque, still known as Babar's mosque. The materials of the old structure (i.e., the temple) were largely employed, and many of the columns were in good preservation."

The 'Imperial Gazetteer of Faizabad' (1881) also confirmed the construction of three Moghul mosques at Ayodhya on the site of three celebrated shrines – Janmasthan, Swargadwar and Treta-ka-Thakur.

The 'Faizabad Settlement Report' (1880) confirmed that Babar built the "Babri mosque" in 1528 on the site of Janmasthan Temple marking the birthplace of Ram.
Col FEA Chamier, the then District Judge of Faizabad while delivering his judgment in 1896 had observed:

"It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to remedy the grievance."

Who was Babri and was that really a mosque?

Even as the so called Babri mosque had stood as a symbol of invasion, historical facts further suggest that Babur was not a true follower of Islam at the first place and the so-called Babri Masjid was neither a mosque, nor an Islamic monument. An English translation of Babur Nama – the auto-biography of Babur – by Annette Beveridge clearly suggests that Babar was a "compulsive homosexual" and the so called Babri Masjid was nothing but a "memoir in the name of his homosexual partner Babri".

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