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Ayodhya debate
Babri Mosque
Ram Janmabhoomi
Archaeology
2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack
Liberhan Commission
People and organizations
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
L. K. Advani
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Murli Manohar Joshi
Kalyan Singh
All India Babri Masjid Action Committee
Babur
Bharatiya Janata Party
Koenraad Elst

The Ayodhya debate is a political, historical and socio-religious debate that was most prevalent in the 1990s in India. The main issues revolve around access to the birthplace of Samrat Shri Ramachandra, known as the Hindu God Rama, the history and location of the Babri Mosque at the site, and whether a previous Hindu temple was demolished or modified to create the mosque.

Contents

History

When the Muslim emperor Babur came down from Ferghana in 1527, he defeated the Hindu King of Chittodgad, Rana Sangrama Singh at Sikri, using cannon and artillery. After this victory, Babur took over the region, leaving his general, Mir Baqi, in charge as viceroy.

Mir Baqi enforced Mughal rule over the population and used terror to maintain control over the civlian population. Mir Baqi came to Ayodhya in 1528 and allegedly destroyed the temple,[1] but he may have only renovated an existing building. The date of the construction of the Babri Mosque is disputed. Although there exists a detailed account of the life of Babur in the form of his diary, the pages of the relevant period are missing. The completion of the mosque is speculated to have occurred as early as the Ghorid conquests in 1194.

Ayodhya is revered by devout Hindus as the birthplace of Samrat Shri Ramachandra, an ancient King of India. Samrat Shri Ramachandra is more often referred to as Rama, believed by Hindus to be an avatar of Vishnu. Mir Baqi then built a mosque on the site of the destroyed temple. This was called the Babri Masjid (Mosque), named after King Babar. It was originally called the Masjid-e-Janamsthan, the mosque of the birthplace, which appears to acknowledge that the mosque was built on Hindu holy ground. During that period many Hindu temples were destroyed by Islamic rulers for both political and religious reasons.[2] The 2007 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica notes that as well as Ayodhya there are also no temple structures in either of the ancient and holy Hindu places of Varanasi or Mathura which dates prior to the 17th century.

In 1767, Jesuit priest Joseph Tieffenthaler records Hindus worshipping and celebrating Ramanavami at the site of the mosque. In 1788, Tiefffenthaler's French works are published in Paris, the first to suggest that the Babri Masjid is in proximity to the birthplace of Rama, saying that "Emperor Aurangzeb got demolished the fortress called Ramkot, and erected on the same place a Mahometan temple with three cuppolas."

During the 19th century, the Hindus in Ayodhya were recorded as continuing a tradition of worshiping Rama on the Ramkot hill. According to British sources, Hindus and Muslims used to worship together in the Babri Mosque complex in the 19th century until about 1855. P. Carnegy wrote in 1870: "It is said that up to that time [viz. the Hindu-Muslim clashes in the 1850s] the Hindus and Mohamedans alike used to worship in the mosque temple."

In 1858, the Muazzin of the Babri mosque says in a petition to the British government that the courtyard had been used by Hindus for hundreds of years.

By the middle of the 20th century, Hindus in the area were claiming that the Mosque had not been used by Muslims since 1936, and they took over the 'unused' mosque in 1949.

On 18 March 1886, the Faizabad District Judge passed an order in which he wrote:

I visited the land in dispute yesterday in the presence of all parties. I found that the Masjid built by Emperor Babar stands on the border of Ayodhya, that is to say, to the west and south. It is clear of habitants. 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 agree with the grievances. (Court verdict by Col. F.E.A. Chamier, District Judge, Faizabad (1886)

A view of the Babri Mosque, pre-1992.

The Babri Mosque was destroyed by Hindu activists during a political rally which turned into a riot on December 6, 1992.

Contradictory evidence

It was until about 1990 the standard view that an ancient Ram Janmabhoomi temple was demolished and replaced with the Babri Mosque. References such as the 1986 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica reported that "Rama’s birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Moghul emperor Babar in 1528 on the site of an earlier temple".[3]

However, there are some contradictory viewpoints, indicating that there may not have been a significant Hindu temple at the site. In his Communal History and Rama's Ayodhya, Professor Ram Sharan Sharma writes, "Ayodhya seems to have emerged as a place of religious pilgrimage in medieval times. Although chapter 85 of the Vishnu Smriti lists as many as fifty-two places of pilgrimage, including towns, lakes, rivers, mountains, etc., it does not include Ayodhya in this list."[4] Sharma also notes that Tulsidas, who wrote the Ramcharitmanas in 1574 at Ayodhya, does not mention it as a place of pilgrimage. This suggests that there was no significant Hindu temple at the site of the Babri Mosque. [4] After the demolition of the mosque in 1992, Professor Ram Sharan Sharma along with Historians Suraj Bhan, M.Athar Ali and Dwijendra Narayan Jha wrote the Historian's report to the nation saying that the assumption that there was a temple at the disputed site was mistaken, and no valid reason to destroy the mosque.[5]

Demolition of Babri Masjid

On 6 December, 1992 the mosque was destroyed by Hindu nationalists,[6] 150,000 strong, despite a commitment to the Indian Supreme Court that the mosque would not be harmed.[7][8]

On 16 December, 1992, Liberhan Commission was set up by the Government of India to probe the circumstances that led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid.[9] It has been longest running commission in India's history with several extensions granted by various governments. Politicians like L.K.Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were alleged to be influential in the demolition.

More than 2000 people were killed in the riots following the demolition. Riots broke out in many major Indian cities including Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.

On 23 November 2009 the Liberhan commission report was leaked. The leaked report concluded that the demolition was planned by top leaders of the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.[10]

Hindu nationalism

The Ayodhya debate has grown along with a revival of Hindu fundamentalism and Hindu Nationalism.

The issue of the disputed structure had remained inactive for four decades, until the mid-1980s.[11] The Hindu Nationalist movement pressed for reclaimation of three of its most holy sites which had suffered at the hands of Islam, at Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi. L K Advani, the leader of the BJP in his memoirs argued, "If Muslims are entitled to an Islamic atmosphere in Mecca, and if Christians are entitled to a Christian atmosphere in the Vatican, why is it wrong for the Hindus to expect a Hindu atmosphere in Ayodhya?"

The legal case continues on the title deed of the land tract which is for the a government controlled property.[12] While the Muslim parties want the Babri Mosque to be reconstructed through a court order, the Hindu side wants a law in parliament to have a temple constructed,[13] saying faith in the existence of Ram Janmabhoomi can not be decided in a court of law.

The situation regarding the Ram Janmabhoomi has been compared to the Temple Mount controversies and claims in Israel by the Daniel Pipes. In particular, Pipes writes:

Ayodhya prompts several thoughts relating to the Temple Mount. It shows that the Temple Mount dispute is far from unique. Moslems have habitually asserted the supremacy of Islam through architecture, building on top of the monuments of other faiths (as in Jerusalem and Ayodhya) or appropriating them (e.g. the Ka'ba in Mecca and the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople).[14]

Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul has praised Hindu Nationalists for "reclaiming India's Hindu heritage"[15]. He further added that the destruction of Babri mosque was an act of historical balancing[16] and the repatriation of the Ramjanmabhoomi was a "welcome sign that Hindu pride was re-asserting itself."[17]

See also

References

  1. ^ Sayyid Shahabuddin Abdur Rahman, Babri Masjid, 3rd print, Azamgarh: Darul Musannifin Shibli Academy, 1987, pp. 29-30.
  2. ^ Legacy of Muslim Rule in India Chapter 8
  3. ^ 15th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1986, entry "Ayodhya," Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.
  4. ^ a b Sikand, Yoginder (2006-08-05). "Ayodhya's Forgotten Muslim Past". Counter Currents. http://www.countercurrents.org/comm-sikand050806.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-12.  
  5. ^ Ali (preface by Irfan Habib), M.Athar (2008). Mughal India. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195696615.  
  6. ^ Babri mosque demolition case hearing today Yahoo News - September 18, 2007
  7. ^ Tearing down the Babri Masjid - Eye Witness BBC's Mark Tully BBC - Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 19:05 GMT
  8. ^ Babri Masjid demolition was planned 10 months in advance - PTI
  9. ^ Six more months for Liberhan Commission The Hindu - March 12, 2004
  10. ^ Report Blaming Hindu Nationalist Leaders for Role in 1992 Destruction of Mosque Rocks Indian Parliament
  11. ^ "India Seeks Harmony Amid Diversity". The Christian Science Monitor. 1993-02-03. http://www.csmonitor.com/1993/0203/03191.html. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  
  12. ^ Obeying court orders only course open: Muslim board, Times of India
  13. ^ Lessons for Ayodhya from Lahore gurdwara, Times of India
  14. ^ Pipes, Daniel (2001-01-17). "The Temple Mount's Indian counterpart". Jerusalem Post. http://www.danielpipes.org/article/368. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  
  15. ^ Naipaul, V.S, Beyond belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples,Vintage Books,1998
  16. ^ outlookindia.com
  17. ^ Naipaul V.S. a million Mutinies now, Penguin 1992

Further reading

  • Communal History and Rama's Ayodhya, by Ram Sharan Sharma, People's Publishing House (PPH), 2nd Revised Edition, September, 1999, Delhi. Translated into Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Two versions in Bengali.
  • Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor. 1996. Edited, translated and annotated by Wheeler M. Thacktson. New York and London: Oxford University Press.
  • Ayodhya and the Future of India. 1993. Edited by Jitendra Bajaj. Madras: Centre for Policy Studies.
  • Elst, Koenraad, Ayodhya: The Case Against the Temple (2002) ISBN 81-85990-75-1
  • Emmanuel, Dominic. "The Mumbai bomb blasts and the Ayodhya tangle", National Catholic Reporter (Kansas City, August 27, 2003).
  • Harsh Narain. 1993. The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources. Delhi: Penman Publishers.
  • R. Nath. Babari Masjid of Ayodhya, Jaipur 1991.
  • A. Nandy, S. Trivedy, S. Mayaram, Achyut Yagnik Creating a Nationality: The Ramjanmabhumi Movement and Fear of the Self, Oxford University Press, USA (1998), ISBN 0195642716.
  • Rajaram, N.S. (2000). Profiles in Deception: Ayodhya and the Dead Sea Scrolls. New Delhi: Voice of India
  • Thakur Prasad Varma and Swarajya Prakash Gupta: Ayodhya ka Itihas evam Puratattva— Rigveda kal se ab tak ("History and Archaeology of Ayodhya— From the Time of the Rigveda to the Present"). Bharatiya Itihasa evam Samskrit Parishad and DK Printworld. New Delhi.
  • Thapar, Romila. A Historical Perspective on the Story of Rama in Thapar (2000).
  • Thapar, Romila. Cultural Pasts: Essays in Early Indian History (New Delhi: Oxford University, 2000) ISBN 0-19-564050-0.
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Ayodhya debate
File:Babri rearview.jpg
Demolition of Babri Masjid
Babri Masjid
Ram Janmabhoomi
Archaeology
2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack
Liberhan Commission
People and organizations
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
L. K. Advani
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Murli Manohar Joshi
Kalyan Singh
AIBMAC
Babur
Bharatiya Janata Party
Koenraad Elst

The Ayodhya debate (Hindi: अयोध्या विवाद, Urdu: ایودھیا وِواد) is a political, historical and socio-religious debate in India, centred on a plot of land in the city of Ayodhya, Faizabad district, Uttar Pradesh. The main issues revolve around access to a site traditionally regarded as the birthplace of the Hindu God Rama, the history and location of the Babri Mosque at the site, and whether a previous Hindu temple was demolished or modified to create the mosque. The Babri Mosque was destroyed by hardline Hindu activists during a political rally which turned into a riot on December 6, 1992. A subsequent land title case was lodged in the Allahabad High Court, the verdict of which was pronounced on September 30, 2010. In the landmark hearing, the three judges of The Allahabad High Court ruled that the 2.77 acres of Ayodhya land be divided into 3 parts, with 1/3 going to construction of the Ram temple, 1/3 going to the Islamic Sunni Waqf Board and the remaining 1/3 going to the Hindu religious denomination Nirmohi Akhara. It is clearly said in the court verdict that the disputed structure was constructed on the site of old structure after demolition of the same. The Archaeological Survey of India has proved that the structure was a massive Hindu religious structure. [1]

Contents

Religious background

At the center of the debate is the status of the land known as Ram Janmabhoomi, on which the original Babri Mosque was built in 1528.

Ram Janmabhoomi

Ayodhya is revered by Hindus as the birthplace of the Maryaada Purushottam, i.e. ideal person, Lord Rama, legendary King of Kosala, who is also worshiped by millions as an avatar of Vishnu. The Skandh Puraan, an over 2000 year old work of reference for ancient pilgrimage sites in India, narrates in detail the different temples in Ayodhya, including the one commemorating the birthplace of Rama.

Ayodhya is one of seven most holy places for Hindus in India whereas Varanasi is considered as Holiest of the seven holy cities for Hindus.[2]

Ayodhyā Mathurā Māyā Kāsi Kāñchī Avantikā I

Purī Dvārāvatī chaiva saptaitā moksadāyikāh II - Garuḍa Purāṇa I XVI .14

A Kṣetra is a sacred ground, a field of active power, a place where Moksha, i.e. final release from cycle of rebirth,can be obtained. The Garuda Purana enumerates seven cities as giver of Moksha, They are Ayodhya, Mathura, Māyā, Kāsi, Kāñchī, Avantikā and Dvārāvatī.[3]

History of the Babri Mosque

, pre-1992]]

When the Mughal invader Babur came down from Kabul in 1525, he first defeated Ibrahim Lodi at the battle of Panipat and then the Rajput King of Chittorgarh, Rana Sangram Singh at Khanwa, making pioneering use of cannon and light cavalry. After these triumphs, Babur took over a substantial part of northern India.

One of his generals, Mir Baki Khan came to Ayodhya in 1528 and built the "Janmasthan" i.e. "Birthplace" Mosque.[4] Mir Baki, after building the mosque, named it Babri Masjid.[5] The Babri Mosque was one of the largest mosques in Uttar Pradesh, a state in India with some 31 million Muslims.[6]

Demolition of the Babri Mosque

By the middle of the 20th century, Hindus in the area were claiming that the mosque had not been used by Muslims since 1936, and according to a court ruling an idol of Rama was placed inside the mosque in the intervening night of 22/23 December, 1949.[7] A movement was launched in 1984 by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP party) to reclaim the site for Hindus who want to erect a temple dedicated to the infant Rama (Ramlala) at this spot.

On 6 December 1992, the structure was demolished by karsevaks,[8] 150,000 strong, despite a commitment by the government to the Indian Supreme Court that the mosque would not be harmed.[9][10] More than 2000 people were killed in the riots following the demolition. Riots broke out in many major Indian cities including Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad[citation needed]

On 16 December 1992, the Liberhan Commission was set up by the Government of India to probe the circumstances that led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque.[11] It was the longest running commission in India's history with several extensions granted by various governments. Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani, senior leaders of the of the BJP were held culpable by the report. Other senior BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi and then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh and top brass of VHP like Giriraj Kishore and Ashok Singhal were also held culpable. Other prominent political leaders indicted by the commission include Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, former RSS leader K Govindacharya, late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, former BJP leader Uma Bharti and BJP leader Vijayraje Scindia.[12]

Many Muslim organizations have continued to express outrage at the destruction of the disputed structure. In July 2005, Islamic terrorists attacked the makeshift temple at the site of the destroyed mosque. In 2007, M. N. Gopal Das, the then head of the Ram temple, received phone calls making threats against his life.[13]

Early historical surveys

In 1767, Jesuit priest Joseph Tieffenthaler recorded Hindus worshiping and celebrating Ramanavami at the site of the mosque. In 1788, Tieffenthaler's French works were published in Paris, the first to suggest that the Babri Mosque was on the birthplace of Rama[citation needed], saying that "Emperor Aurangzeb got demolished the fortress called Ramkot, and erected on the same place a Mahometan temple with three cuppolas" reclaimed by Hindus through numerous wars after death of Aurangzeb in 1707 A.D like they earlier fortified it during Jahangir's rule as Ramkot.

During the 19th century, the Hindus in Ayodhya were recorded as continuing a tradition of worshiping Rama on the Ramkot hill. According to British sources, Hindus and Muslims from the Faizabad area worshiped together in the Babri Mosque complex in the 19th century until about 1855. P. Carnegy wrote in 1870:

"It is said that up to that time, the Hindus and Mohamedans alike used to worship in the mosque-temple. Since the British rule a railing has been put up to prevent dispute, within which, in the mosque the Mohamedans pray, while outside the fence the Hindus have raised a platform on which they make their offerings."[14]

This platform was outside the disputed structure but within its precincts.

In 1858, the Muazzin of the Babri Mosque said in a petition to the British government that the courtyard had been used by Hindus for hundreds of years[citation needed].

The Mahant Ram case

In 1885, Mahant Raghubar Ram moved the courts for permission to erect a temple just outside the Babri Mosque premises. Despite validating the claim of the petitioner, the Faizabad District Judge dismissed the case, citing the passage of time.[15] On 18 March 1886, the judge passed an order in which he wrote:

I visited the land in dispute yesterday in the presence of all parties. I found that the Masjid built by Emperor Babur stands on the border of Ayodhya, that is to say, to the west and south it is clear of habitations. 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 agree with the grievances. (Court verdict by Col. F.E.A. Chamier, District Judge, Faizabad (1886)[16]

Post-independence

Several later mosques were built in Faizabad district, in which the pilgrim city of Ayodhya falls. Ayodhya itself has a small[17] Muslim population, though there are substantial numbers of Muslims 7 km away at District Headquarters - Faizabad. Since 1948, by Indian Government order, Muslims were not permitted to be closer than 200 yards away to the site; the main gate remained locked, though Hindu pilgrims were allowed to enter through a side door. The 1989 Allahabad High Court ordered the opening of the main gate and restored the site in full to the Hindus. Hindu groups later requested modifications to the Babri Mosque, and drew up plans for a new grand Temple with Government permissions; riots between Hindu and Muslim groups took place as a result. Since, then the matter is sub-judice and this political, historical and socio-religious debate over the history and location of the Babri Mosque, is known as the Ayodhya Debate.

Excavations

Before 2003, the standard view that an ancient Ram Janmabhoomi temple was demolished and replaced with the Babri Mosque, was not supported by any archaeological evidence. References such as the 1986 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica reported that "Rama’s birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Mughal emperor Babur in 1528 on the site of an earlier temple".[18]

However, archaeological excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1970, 1992 and 2003 in and around the disputed site have clearly found the evidence indicating that a large Hindu complex existed on the site.[19] In 2003, by the order of an Indian Court, The Archaeological Survey of India was asked to conduct a more indepth study and an excavation to ascertain the type of structure that was beneath the rubble.[20] The summary of the ASI report [21] indicated definite proof of a temple under the mosque. In the words of ASI researchers, they discovered "distinctive features associated with... temples of north India". The excavations yielded:

stone and decorated bricks as well as mutilated sculpture of a divine couple and carved architectural features, including foliage patterns, amalaka, kapotapali, doorjamb with semi-circular shrine pilaster, broke octagonal shaft of black schist pillar, lotus motif, circular shrine having pranjala (watershute) in the north and 50 pillar bases in association with a huge structure [22]

Before the archaeological opinion was published, there were some differing viewpoints. In his Communal History and Rama's Ayodhya, written prior to the ASI researches, Professor Ram Sharan Sharma writes, "Ayodhya seems to have emerged as a place of religious pilgrimage in medieval times. Although chapter 85 of the Vishnu Smriti lists as many as fifty-two places of pilgrimage, including towns, lakes, rivers, mountains, etc., it does not include Ayodhya in this list."[23] Sharma also notes that Tulsidas, who wrote the Ramcharitmanas in 1574 at Ayodhya, does not mention it as a place of pilgrimage. This suggests that there was no significant Hindu temple at the site of the Babri Mosque.,[23] or that it had ceased to be one, after the mosque was built. After the demolition of the mosque in 1992, Professor Ram Sharan Sharma along with Historians Suraj Bhan, M.Athar Ali and Dwijendra Narayan Jha wrote the Historian's report to the nation saying that the assumption that there was a temple at the disputed site was mistaken, and no valid reason to destroy the mosque.[24]

The title cases

In 1950, Gopal Singh Visharad filed a title suit with the Allahabad High Court seeking injunction to offer 'puja' (worship) at the disputed site. A similar suit was filed shortly after but later withdrawn by Paramhans Das of Ayodhya.[25] In 1959, the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious institution,[26] filed a third title suit seeking direction to hand over the charge of the disputed site, claiming to be its custodian. A fourth suit was filed by the Muslim Central Board of Wakf for declaration and possession of the site. The Allahabad high court bench began hearing the case in 2002, which was completed in 2010. However, the bench withheld its verdict till September 24. After the Supreme Court dismissed a plea to defer the high court verdict, the high court set September 30, 2010 as the final date for pronouncing the judgement.[27][28]

On September 30, 2010, the High Court of Allahabad, the three-member bench comprising justices SU Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and DV Sharma, ruled that the disputed land be split into three parts. The site of the Ramlala idol would go to the party representing Ram Lalla Virajman (the Ram deity), Nirmohi Akhara to get Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, and the Sunni Wakf Board to get the rest. The court also ruled that status quo was to be maintained for three months.[29][30]

Reacting to the verdict, all the three parties, including the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf board announced that they will appeal against the division of disputed land among three parties in the Supreme Court of India .[31] All the three parties, however, conceded that this judgment was an important step forward, towards resolution of a long pending dispute.

Hindu Nationalism

The Ayodhya debate has grown along with a revival of Hindu Nationalism.

The issue of the disputed structure had remained inactive for four decades, until the mid-1980s.[32] The Hindu Nationalist movement pressed for reclamation of three of its most holy sites which it claimed had suffered at the hands of Islam, at Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi. L K Advani, the leader of the BJP in his memoirs argued, "If Muslims are entitled to an Islamic atmosphere in Mecca, and if Christians are entitled to a Christian atmosphere in the Vatican, why is it wrong for the Hindus to expect a Hindu atmosphere in Ayodhya?"

The legal case continues regarding the title deed of the land tract which is a government controlled property.[33] While the Muslim parties want the Babri Mosque to be reconstructed through a court order, the Hindu side wants a law in parliament to have a temple constructed,[34] saying faith in the existence of Ram Janmabhoomi cannot be decided in a court of law.

The situation regarding the Ram Janmabhoomi has been compared to the Temple Mount controversies and claims in Israel by conservative blogger Daniel Pipes. In particular, Pipes writes:

Ayodhya prompts several thoughts relating to the Temple Mount. It shows that the Temple Mount dispute is far from unique. Muslims have habitually asserted the supremacy of Islam through architecture, building on top of the monuments of other faiths (as in Jerusalem and Ayodhya) or appropriating them (e.g. the Ka'ba in Mecca and the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople).[35]

Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul has said that the destruction of Babri mosque was an act of historical balancing[36] and the repatriation of the Ramjanmabhoomi was a "welcome sign that Hindu pride was re-asserting itself."[37]

Timeline of the debate

  Year     Date   Event[38]
1528 The Babri Mosque was built in Ayodhya in 1528. Hindu groups claim it was built after demolishing a temple.
1853 The first recorded communal clashes over the site date back to this year.
1859 The colonial British administration put a fence around the site, denominating separate areas of worship for Hindus and Muslims. And that is the way it stood for about 90 years.
1949 In December of that year, idols were put inside the mosque. Both sides to the dispute filed civil suits. The government locked the gates, saying the matter was sub-judice and declared the area “disputed”.
1961 Case filed in Indian courts against forceful occupation of the Babri Mosque and placing of idols within it.
1984 The movement to build a temple at the site, which Hindus claimed was the birthplace of Lord Ram, gathered momentum when 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 and allowed Hindus to worship inside the “disputed structure.” A Babri Mosque Action Committee was formed as Muslims protested the move to allow Hindu prayers at the site.
1989 The clamour for building a Ram temple was growing. Fronted by organizations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, foundations of a temple were laid on land adjacent to the "disputed structure."
1990 The then BJP president Lal Krishna Advani took out a cross-country rathyatra to garner support for the move to build a Ram temple at the site. VHP volunteers partially failed. Many were gunned down by the police on orders of the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Sing Yadav, when they gathered in Ayodhya as participants of the Rath-Yatra and their bodies were thrown in the river Saryu.
1991 Riding high on the success of Advani's rathyatra, and annoyance at the previous regime's killings of the Kar Sevaks, the BJP became India's primary opposition party in Parliament and came to power in Uttar Pradesh.
1991 The movement for building a temple gathered further momentum with Karsevaks or Hindu volunteers pouring into Ayodhya. Bricks were sent from across India.
1992December 6The Babri Mosque was demolished by Karsevaks. Communal riots across India followed.
1992December 16Ten days after the demolition, the Congress government at the Centre, headed by PV Narasimha Rao, set up a commission of inquiry under Justice Liberhan.
1993 Three months after being constituted, the Liberhan Commission began investigations into who and what led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque.
2001 Tensions rose on the anniversary of the demolition of the mosque as the VHP reaffirmed its resolve to build a temple at the site.
2002February 27At least 58 people were killed in Godhra, Gujarat, in an attack on a train believed to be carrying Hindu volunteers from Ayodhya. Riots followed in the state and over 3000 people were unofficially reported to have died in these.
2003 The court ordered a survey to find out whether a temple to Lord Ram existed on the site. In August, the survey presented evidence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim groups disputed the findings.
2003SeptemberA court ruled that seven Hindu leaders, including some prominent BJP leaders, should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque.
2004NovemberAn Uttar Pradesh court ruled that an earlier order which exonerated LK Advani for his role in the destruction of the mosque should be reviewed.
2007 The Supreme Court refused to admit a review petition on the Ayodhya dispute.
2009 The Liberhan Commission, which was instituted ten days after the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992, submitted its report on June 30 - almost 17 years after it began its inquiry. Its contents were not made public.
2010September 30 The Allahabad High Court pronounces its verdict on four title suits relating to the Ayodhya dispute on September 30, 2010. Ayodhya land to be divided into 3 parts. 1/3 goes to Ram Lalla,1/3 to Sunni Wakf Board, 1/3 goes to Nirmohi Akhara.[28]

See also

Further reading

  • Online court verdict is available from the official website of india's Allahabad High Court from September 30, 2010 [ Allahabad High Court's eLegalix portal at http://elegalix.allahabadhighcourt.in/elegalix/DisplayAyodhyaBenchLandingPage.do and website http://www.allahabadhighcourt.in/indexhigh.html][mirrorsite http://rjbm.nic.in/]
  • Appeal for Peace and Calm on Ayodhya Verdict Day [39]
  • Ayodhya dispute history [40]
  • Communal History and Rama's Ayodhya, by Ram Sharan Sharma, People's Publishing House (PPH), 2nd Revised Edition, September, 1999, Delhi. Translated into Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Two versions in Bengali.
  • Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor. 1996. Edited, translated and annotated by Wheeler M. Thacktson. New York and London: Oxford University Press.
  • Ayodhya and the Future of India. 1993. Edited by Jitendra Bajaj. Madras: Centre for Policy Studies.
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  • Harsh Narain. 1993. The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources. Delhi: Penman Publishers.
  • Hassner, Ron E., War on Sacred Grounds. 2009. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. [2]
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