Updated: Sep 18, 2021
One of the greatest socio-religious and political disputes of India has been over what a section of Hindus believe to be Ram Janmabhoomi and the prior location of the Babri Masjid. The very core of the issue lies in the belief that the Masjid stood at the birthplace of ‘Ram Lalla’. For over a century, the two communities have fought over who should be given control of the site.
It is claimed that the Babri Masjid was built after demolishing a Hindu Shrine which marked the exact site of Ram’s birth. The Babri Masjid, according to its inscriptions was built in the year 935 of the Islamic Calendar (Around 1528-1529 CE).
The very start of this conflict can be traced back to January of 1885 when a case was filed by Mahant Raghubir Das in the Court of the Sub-Judge, Faizabad. The Mahant had filed his case against the serving Secretary of State for India, Lord Woodhouse. Raghubir Das’s plea, which requested permission to build a temple on the Chabutara outside the Masjid, was rejected. According to this, the birthplace of Ram was claimed to be right outside the Masjid and not the land the Masjid stood on.
On the night of 22nd – 23rd of December in 1949, an idol appeared at the exact spot which was proclaimed to be the birthplace of Ram. This caused the pouring in of Hindu Devotees who began performing Kirtans, which in turn led to protests from Muslims.
The area was hence declared disputed and the gates were locked. Muslims were barred from entering the mosque. However, Hindus were allowed darshan from the side gate along with giving four pujaris access to the idols.
Gopal Singh Visharad filed a case in the Faizabad civil court on the 16th of January 1950, seeking exclusive rights for performing puja and a permanent injunction disallowing the removal of the idol from the Ram janmasthan. A temporary injunction was issued. Later on 24 April 1950, the Allahabad High Court confirmed the order.
Nearly ten years later, in 1959, The Nirmoi Akhara, one of the Akharas recognized by Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, began to demand a transfer of exchange of the disputed site. In 1961, as retaliation and in fear of losing claim over the site, the Sunni board of Wakfs claimed the mosque and the land which was adjoined to it. Along with that, they also demanded the removal of the Hindu idols from the Masjid.
In the year 1986, the locks of the Babri Masjid were opened for Hindu worshippers. The same year, the Babri Masjid action committee was set up by Muslims to protest this decision.
The former Vishva Hindu Parishad vice-president and a retired judge of the Allahabad High Court, Deoki Nandan Agarwala, filed a case at the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on 1st July 1989 in the name of Bhagwan Ram Lalla Virajman. 'Ram Lalla' had himself become a party.
Agarwala claimed that Babur had destroyed the temple in 1528 and built a mosque in its place but the Allahabad High Court ordered maintenance of status quo at the site. In late 1989, the Congress government, led by Rajiv Gandhi, allowed the Vishva Hindu Parishad to perform the Shilanyas ceremony and the first stone of the Ram Mandir was put in place.
The next major incident related to the dispute was the haunting demolition of the Babri Masjid.
The crux of this entire conflict lies in the claim that the location of the Babri Masjid was the birthplace of Ram. However, there is no evidence to support these claims other than a declaration that the fact was inscribed on the Babri Masjid. It is said that the claims regarding the same arose only in the 18th century and that several parts of India, Afghanistan, and Nepal have also been proposed as birthplaces of Ram.
Do the events leading up to the violence of 1992 justify the demolition in any way?
Let the controversy begin.
Mishra, P. (2020, August 01). The History of a Dispute: Rolling Back the Years in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Case. Retrieved from News18: https://www.news18.com/news/india/the-history-of-a-dispute-rolling-back-the-years-in-the-ram-janmabhoomi-babri-masjid-case-2748889.html
Shamshad, M. R. (2020, August 04). Ayodhya — History will be the judge. Retrieved from The Indian Express: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/ayodhya-ram-mandir-babri-masjid-demolition-national-shame-to-pride-of-nation-6539270/
The Economic Times. (2017, April 19). 25 years of Babri Masjid demolition: How it all began. Retrieved from The Economic Times: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/25-years-of-babri-masjid-demolition-how-it-all-began/the-godhra-riots/slideshow/58260279.cms