Masjid-i Janmasthan

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The Babri Mosque (Arabic:Babri Masjid بابری مسجد) (Hindi: बाबरी मस्जिद) was a mosque constructed by order of the first Mugal emperor of India, Babur, in Ayodhya in the 16th century. Before the 1940s, the mosque was called Masjid-i Janmasthan ("mosque of the birthplace"). The mosque stood on the Ramkot ("Rama's fort") hill (also called Janamsthan ("birthplace"). It was destroyed by hostile Hindu activists in a riot on December 6, 1992.

It was alleged that Babur's commander-in-chief Mir Baki destroyed an existing temple at the site, which many Hindus believe was the temple built to commemorate the birthplace of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu and ruler of Ayodhya (See Ram Janmabhoomi.). Interestingly there is a Rama Temple next to the mosque which shares a wall with the mosque. The Babri Mosque was one of the largest mosques in Uttar Pradesh, a state in India with some thirteen million Muslims. Although there were several older mosques in the city of Ayodhya, with a substantial Muslim population, including the Hazrat Bal Mosque constructed by the Shariqi kings, the Babri Mosque became the largest.

Timeline[edit]

  • 1992 Babri Masjid destroyed
  • 2002 Godhra train burning and riots
  • 2003 Gujarat after godra (book)
  • 2005 Banerjee report
  • 2008 NS report on Gohdra
  • 2009 Liberhan Commission on Babri
  • 2011 Court verdict
  • 2014 Gujarat Riots: The True Story (book)

Architecture of the Mosque[edit]

File:Babri-mosque-interior.jpg
Interior View under the right dome, with the octagonal fountain used for ablutions in the foreground. Under the Central dome (where the mihrab used to be) was placed an idol of Lord Rama separated from this area by a large canvas screen, for several years, before the mosque was sealed by the UP Government, both Muslims and Hindus offered prayers here.

The rulers of the Sultanate of Delhi and its successor Mugal Empire were great patrons of art and architecture and constructed many fine tombs, mosques and madrasas. These have a distinctive style which bears influences of later Tughlaq architecture. Mosques all over India were built in different styles; the most elegant styles developed in areas where indigenous art traditions were strong and local artisans were highly skilled. Thus regional or provincial styles of mosques grew out of local temple or domestic styles, which were conditioned in their turn by climate, terrain, materials, hence the enormous difference between the mosques of Bengal, Kashmir and Gujarat. The Babri Mosque followed the architectural school of Jaunpur.

The reported medicinal properties of the deep well in the central courtyard have been featured in various news reports such as the BBC report of December 1989 and in various newspapers. The earliest mention of the Babri water well was in a two line reference to the Mosque in the Gazette of Faizabad District 1918 which says “There are no significant historical buildings here, except for various Buddhist shrines, the Babri Mosque is an ancient structure with a well which both the Hindus and Mussalmans claim has Miraculous properties.”

Ayodhya, a pilgrimage site for Hindus has an annual fair attended by over 500,000 people of both faiths, many devotees came during the annual Ram festival to drink from the water well in the Babri Courtyard. It was believed drinking water from this well could cure a range of illnesses. Hindu pilgrims also believed that the Babri water well was the original well in the Ram Temple under the mosque. Ayodhya Muslims believed that the well was a gift from God. Local women regularly brought their new born babies to drink from the reputedly curative water.

The 125 foot (40 m) deep well in question was situated in the South Eastern Courtyard of the large rectangular courtyard of the Babri Mosque. There was a small Hindu shrine built in 1890 joining the well with a statute of Lord Rama. It was an artesian well and drew water from a considerable distance below the water table. Eleven feet (3 m) in radius the first 30 feet (10 m) from ground level were bricked. It drew water from a reservoir trapped in a bed of shale sand and gravel; this could explain the unusually cool temperature of the water. The water contained almost no sodium explaining its reputation that the water was ‘sweet.’ To access the well one had to climb on to a three foot (1 m) platform, the well was covered with planks of thick wood with an unhinged trapdoor. Water was drawn by means of a bucket and long lengths of rope and due to its claimed ‘spiritual properties’ used only for drinking.

File:Babri-mosque-arcade.jpg
The Babri Mosque Arcade. Following the traditional hypostyle plan imported from Western Asia, this opened to a large walled courtyard with a deep drinking water well.

Even though the medicinal properties of artesian wells can be explained by the high amount of calcium and mineral content in the water it, is significant that Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya considered the Babri Mosque Complex a haven of peace and spiritual tranquillity. Many people in the area, of both faiths, had a profound belief in the miraculous properties of its cold and pure underground water. Folklore is said to contribute much to the legends of the healing waters.

History[edit]

Construction[edit]

The date of construction of the Babri Masjid is uncertain. The inscriptions on the Babri Masjid premises found in the 20th century state that the mosque was built in 935 AH (1528–29 CE) by Mir Baqi in accordance with the wishes of Babur. However, these inscriptions appear to be of a more recent vintage.[1]

There are no records of the mosque from this period. The Baburnama (Chronicles of Babur) does not mention either the mosque or the destruction of a temple.[2] The Ramcharit Manas of Tulsidas (AD 1574) and Ain-i Akbari of Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak (AD 1598) made no mention of a mosque either.[3][4] William Finch, the English traveller who visited Ayodhya around 1611, wrote about the "ruins of the Ranichand [Ramachand] castle and houses" where Hindus believed the great God "took flesh upon him to see the tamasha of the world." He found pandas (Brahmin priests) in the ruins of the fort, recording the names of pilgrims, but there was no mention of a mosque.[5] Thomas Herbert described in 1634 the "pretty old castle of Ranichand built by a Bannyan Pagod of that name" which he described as an antique monument that was "especially memorable". He also recorded the fact of Brahmins recording the names of pilgrims.[6]

The earliest record of a mosque at the site traditionally believed by Hindus to be the birthplace of Rama comes from Jai Singh II (or "Sawai Jai Singh") – a Rajput noble in the Mughal court who purchased land and established a Jaisinghpura in the area surrounding the mosque in 1717 (as he had also done in several other Hindu religious places). The documents of Jai Singh preserved in the Kapad-Dwar collection in the City Palace Museum of Jaipur,[lower-alpha 1] include a sketch map of the Babri Masjid site. The map shows an open court yard and a built structure with three temple spires (sikharas) resembling today's Babri Masjid with three domes. The courtyard is labelled janmasthan and shows a Ram chabutra. The central bay of the built structure is labelled chhathi, which also denotes birth place.[8]

The European Jesuit missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler, who lived and worked in India for 38 years (1743–1785) and wrote numerous works about India, visited Ayodhya in 1767. Johann Bernoulli translated his work Descriptio Indiae (in Latin) into French, published in 1788. According to this account, Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707) had demolished the Ramkot fortress, including the house that was considered as the birthplace of Rama by Hindus. A mosque with three domes was constructed in its place. However, he also noted, "others say that it was constructed by 'Babor' [Babur]". The Hindus continued to offer prayers at a mud platform that marked the birthplace of Rama. [9][lower-alpha 2] Tiefenthaler was well-versed in Persian and Sanskrit, having written a Sankrit–Persian dictionary, and other works in Persian. Evidently he did not find an inscription on the walls of the mosque stating that it was constructed under Babur's orders. He "emphatically attributed it to Aurangzeb, and Babur's name is carried by a few persons", states writer Kishore Kunal.[10]

Inscriptions[edit]

Francis Buchanan-Hamilton (Buchanan) did a survey of the Gorakhpur Division in 1813–14 on behalf of the British East India Company. His report was never published but partly reused by Montgomery Martin later. Kishore Kunal examined the original report in the British Library archives. It states that the Hindus generally attributed destruction "to the furious zeal of Aurangzabe". However it said that the mosque at Ayodhya was ascertained to have been built by Babur by "an inscription on its walls". The said inscription in Persian was said to have been copied by a scribe and translated by a Maulvi friend of Buchanan. The translation however contained five pieces of text, including two inscriptions. The first inscription said that the mosque was constructed by Mir Baqi in the year 935 AH or 923 AH.[lower-alpha 3] The second inscription narrated the genealogy of Aurangzeb.[lower-alpha 4] In addition to the two inscriptions and their monograms (turghas), a fable concerning a dervish called Musha Ashiqan was also included. The translator doubted that the fable was part of the inscription but recorded that the scribe "positively says that the inscription was executed at the erection of this building". The translator also had a difficulty with the anagram for the date, because one of the words was missing, which would have resulted in a date of 923 AH rather than 935 AH. These incongruities and mismatches made no impression on Buchanan, who maintained that the mosque was built by Babur.[1]

In 1838, British surveyor Montgomery Martin wrote that the pillars in the mosque were taken from a Hindu temple. A section of historians, such as R. S. Sharma, deny this, and state that such claims of temple demolition sprang up only after the 18th century.[9]

In 1877, Syed Mohammad Asghar the Mutawalli (guardian) of the "Masjid Baburi at Janmasthan" filed a petition with the Commissioner of Faizabad asking him to restrain the Hindus that raised a chabutara on the spot regarded as the birthplace of Rama. In the petition, he stated that Babur had inscribed one word "Allah" above the door. The District Judge and the Sub-Judge visited the mosque in the presence of all parties and their lawyers and confirmed this fact. No other inscriptions were recorded.[1]

In 1889, archaeologist Anton Führer visited the mosque and found three inscriptions. One was a Quranic verse. The inscription XLI was Persian poetry in the metre Ramal, which stated that the mosque was erected by a noble 'Mir Khan' of Babur.[lower-alpha 5] The inscription XLII was also Persian poetry in metre Ramal, and said that the mosque was founded in year 930 AH by a grandee of Babur, who was (comparable to) "another King of Turkey and China".[lower-alpha 6] The year 930 AH corresponds 1523 AD, three years before Babur's conquest of Hindustan. Despite the apparent contradiction, Führer published the date of "A. H. 930 during the reign of Babar", in his book of 1891.[1]

Writer Kishore Kunal states that all the inscriptions claimed were fake. They were affixed almost 285 years after the supposed construction of the mosque in 1528 AD, and repeatedly replaced.[11] His own assessment is that the mosque was built around 1660 AD by governor Fedai Khan of Aurangzeb, who demolished many temples in Ayodhya. Lal Das, who wrote Awadh-Vilasa in 1672 describes the janmasthan (Rama's birth place) accurately but does not mention a temple at the site.[12]

These developments were apparently known to local Muslims. In mid-nineteenth century, the Muslim activist Mirza Jan quoted from a book Sahifa-I-Chihil Nasaih Bahadur Shahi, which was said to have been written by a daughter of the emperor Bahadur Shah I (and granddaughter of Aurangzeb) in the early 18th century. The text mentions mosques having been constructed after demolishing the "temples of the idolatrous Hindus situated at Mathura, Banaras and Awadh etc." Hindus are said to have called these demolished temples in Awadh "Sita Rasoi" (Sita's kitchen) and "Hanuman's abode." [13][14] While there was no mention of Babur in this account, the Ayodhya mosque had been juxtaposed with those built by Aurangzeb at Mathura and Banaras.

Fable of Musa Ashiqan[edit]

According to an early 20th-century text by Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar and the surrounding historial sources examined by historian Harsh Narain,[lower-alpha 7] the young Babur came from Kabul to Awadh (Ayodhya) in disguise, dressed as a Qalandar (Sufi ascetic), probably as part of a fact-finding mission. Here he met the Sufi saints Shah Jalal and Sayyid Musa Ashiqan and took a pledge in return for their blessings for conquering Hindustan. The pledge is not spelled out in the 1981 edition of Ghaffar's book.[15] Lala Sita Ram, who had access to the older edition in 1932 wrote, "The faqirs answered that they would bless him if he promised to build a mosque after demolishing the Janmasthan temple. Babur accepted the faqirs' offer and returned to his homeland."[16][17][18]

Other theories[edit]

However, some historians have argued that it was built during the Delhi Sultanate period (13th-15th century), and may have been renovated during Babur's period. R. Nath has stated that, judging from the architecture of the mosque, it should be taken to have been built in the pre-Mughal period.[2][19]

Apart from Hindus, Jains and Buddhists have also claimed the site. According to Jain Samata Vahini, the mosque was built over a 6th-century Jain temple.[20] Similarly, Udit Raj's Buddha Education Foundation has claimed the mosque was built over a Buddhist shrine.[21]

1880s temple construction attempts[edit]

In 1853, a group of armed Hindu ascetics belonging to the Nirmohi Akhara occupied the site, and claimed ownership of the structure.[22] Periodic violence erupted in the next two years, and the civil administration had to step in, refusing permission to build a temple or to use it as a place of worship. In 1855, after a Hindu-Muslim clash, a boundary wall was constructed to avoid further disputes. It divided the mosque premises into two courtyards; the Muslims offered prayers in the inner courtyard. The Hindus offered their prayers on a raised platform, known as "Ram Chabutara", in the outer courtyard.[22][23]

In 1883, the Hindus launched an effort to construct a temple on the platform. After Muslim protests, the Deputy Commissioner prohibited any temple construction on 19 January 1885. On 27 January 1885, Raghubar Das, the Hindu mahant (priest) of the Ram Chabutara filed a civil suit before the Faizabad Sub-Judge. In response, the mutawalli (Muslim trustee) of the mosque argued that the entire land belonged to the mosque.[22] On 24 December 1885, the Sub Judge Pandit Hari Kishan Singh dismissed the suit. On 18 March 1886, the District Judge F.E.A. Chamier also dismissed an appeal against the lower court judgment. He agreed that the mosque was built on the land considered sacred by the Hindus, but ordered maintenance of status quo, since it was "too late now to remedy the grievance". A subsequent appeal before the Judicial Commissioner W. Young was also dismissed on 1 November 1886.[23]

On 27 March 1934, a Hindu–Muslim riot occurred in Ayodhya, triggered by cow slaughter in the nearby Shahjahanpur village. The walls around the Masjid and one of the domes of the Masjid were damaged during the riots. These were reconstructed by the British Government[citation needed].

Shia–Sunni dispute[edit]

In 1936, the United Provinces government enacted U.P. Muslim Waqf Act for the better administration of waqf properties in the state. In accordance with this act, the Babri Masjid and its adjacent graveyard (Ganj-e-Saheedan Qabristan) were registered as Waqf no. 26 Faizabad with the UP Sunni Central Board of Waqfs. The Shias disputed the Sunni ownership of the mosque, claiming that the site belonged to them because Mir Baqi was a Shia.[22] The Commissioner of Waqfs initiated an inquiry into the dispute. The inquiry concluded that the mosque belonged to the Sunnis, since it was commissioned by Babur, who was a Sunni. The concluding report was published in an official gazette dated 26 February 1944. In 1945, the Shia Central Board moved to court against this decision. On 23 March 1946, Judge S. A. Ahsan ruled in favour of the Sunni Central Board of Waqfs.[23]

Placement of Hindu idols[edit]

In December 1949, the Hindu organisation Akhil Bharatiya Ramayana Mahasabha organised a non-stop 9-day recitation of the Ramacharitamanas just outside the mosque. At the end of this event, on the night of 22–23 December 1949, a group of 50–60 people entered the mosque and placed idols of Rama and Sita there. On the morning of 23 December, the event organisers announced over loudspeakers that the idols had appeared miraculously, and exhorted Hindu devotees to come to the mosque for a darshan. As thousands of Hindus started visiting the place, the Government declared the mosque a disputed area and locked its gates.[23]

Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru directed the state's Chief Minister Govind Ballabh Pant and Uttar Pradesh Home Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri to have the idols removed from the mosque premises. Pant issued orders to remove the idols, but Faizabad's deputy commissioner K. K. Nayar feared that the Hindus would retaliate and pleaded inability to carry out the orders.[23]

On 16 January 1950, Gopal Singh Visharad filed a civil suit in the Faizabad Court, asking that Hindus be allowed to worship Rama and Sita at the place. In 1959, the Nirmohi Akhara filed another lawsuit demanding possession of the mosque. On 18 December 1961, the Sunni Central Wqaf Board also filed a lawsuit, demanding possession of the site and removal of idols from the mosque premises.[23]

History as cited by the Muslim parties of the dispute[edit]

Muslims claim that neither history nor fact can come to prove the Hindu case. Hindu motives are not confined to Babri Masjid. If they succeed in snatching away Babri Masjid from Muslims, it will be made a precedent to extend the agitation to every other place of religious importance to the Muslims.

They claimthat is clear that the allegations, on which, the demands of RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad & Hindu Munnani are based for laying claim to Babri Masjid are rooted in hatred.

In India, several Buddhist and Jain temples were demolished and several Hindu temples constructed instead. If the Buddhists and Jain claim on historical demands for justice, then will the Hindu agree to demolish them and allow the Buddhists and Jain to erect their places of worship?

They further say that there is no limit to the Hindu fanatical imagination like of the theory that Taj Mahal is a Shiva Temple? A paper presented at the World Hindu Conference at Columbo in April 1982 claimed that "The Hajrul Aswad (Kaaba, the Black Stone) is only a form of Shivalinga."

According to the District Gazetteer Faizabad 1905, it is said that "up to this time (1855), both the Hindus and Muslims used to worship in the same building. But since the Mutiny (1857), an outer enclosure has been put up in front of the Masjid and the Hindus forbidden access to the inner yard, make the offerings on a platform (chabootra), which they have raised in the outer one."

Militant Hindus in 1883 wanted to construct a temple on this chabootra, but the Deputy Commissioner prohibited the same on Jan. 19, 1885. Raghubir Das, a mahant, filed a suit before the Faizabad Sub-Judge. Pandit Harikishan was seeking permission to construct a temple on this chabootra measuring 17 ft. x 21 ft. the suit was dismissed. An appeal was filed before the Faizabad District Judge, Colonel J.E.A. Chambiar who after an inspection of spot on March 17, 1886, dismissed the appeal.

A Second Appeal was filed on May 25, 1886, before the Judicial Commissioner of Awadh, W. Young, who also dismissed the appeal. With this, the first round of legal battle fought by the Hindu militants came to an end.

During the "communal riots" of 1934, walls around the Masjid and one of the domes of the Masjid were damaged. These were reconstructed by the British Government.

On mid-night of December 22, 1949, when the police guards were asleep, idols of Rama and Sita were quietly smuggled into the Masjid and were planted by a group of Hindu Nazis. This was reported by constable, Mata Prasad, the next morning and recorded at the Ayodhya police station.

According to a pre-conceived plan, the following morning (Dec. 23, 1949), a large "Hindu" crowd made a "frantic attempt" to enter the Masjid on the pretext of offering puja to the idols illegally planted. The District Magistrate K.K. Nair has recorded that "The crowd made a most determined attempt to force entry. The lock was broken and policemen were rushed off their feet. All of us, officers and men, somehow pushed the crowd back and held the gate. The sadhus recklessly hurled themselves against men and arms and it was with great difficulty that we managed to hold the gate. The gate was secured and locked with a powerful lock brought from outside and police force was strengthened (5:00 pm)." Thus, the fight of fanatics became frustrated.

On hearing this shocking news Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru became very furious and directed UP Chief Minister Govind Ballabh Pant, to see that the idols were removed. Under Pant's orders, Chief Secretary Bhagwan Sahay and Inspector-General of Police V.N. Lahiri sent immediate instructions to Faizabad to remove the idols. However, K.K. Nair feared that the Hindu mob would cause "bloodshed and manslaughter" and pleaded inability to carry out the orders. Since then, the Hindu extremists came to believe that "disorder and violence" alone would pay.

They say that it prove that the Hindu militants believe in "bloodshed and manslaughter" as a means to achieve their goals. On Jan. 5, 1950 the chairman of the Faizabad-cum-Ayodhya Municipal Board was appointed Receiver to take charge of the Masjid under Sec. 145 of the Cr.P.C. The Civil suit (No. 2 of 1950) filed by Gopal Singh Visharad on Jan. 16, 1950 before the Civil Judge Faizabad seeking permission to worship these idols (which had been illegally planted in the Masjid), is still pending and the matter is now before the High Court. There are eight defendants including five Muslims and the Govt. of UP. The statement of the Deputy Commissioner, J.N. Ugra, filed before the court, said: "on the night of Dec. 22, 1949, the idols of Ramachandraji were surreptitiously and wrongly put inside the Masjid."

On Jan. 25, 1986, a 28-year old Umesh Chandra Pandey who was not even born when the suit was filed, went to court seeking permission for himself and his co-religionists to worship these idols in the Masjid. The District Judge, K.M. Pandey recorded a statement of the District magistrate (i.e., the Revenue Officer) T.K. Pandey and without even giving an opportunity to the others who were parties to the dispute, passed an interim order related to a dispute whose file was at the High Court. At the time of passing the orders, the main file was not before the said District Judge!

Within minutes of passing the order the locks that had been put 37 years ago (on Dec. 23, 1949) were broken and "idol worship" started. It is very clear that V.C. Pandey, K.M. Pandey and T.K. Pandey all belong to a subsect of a sub-caste, as their very names indicate.

The state TV lost no time to telecast the opening of the locks, the worship and the mob fanfare on that very day. Muslims claim that this goes to show the TV officials might have had prior knowledge of the court's orders. Evidently the media was under the influence of high-caste Brahmins.

The upper Hindu caste-controlled "national press" has hidden the above mentioned facts while highlighting the events related to the Baht Masjid / Ram-Janam-Bhoomi issue. The media is projecting only the Nazi view-point.

Lately, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other like minded militant Brahmins are holding meetings where pledges are being taken that the Babri Masjid shall not be released to Muslims irrespective of the final judicial verdict. And these Nazis are the very people who often boast that "judiciary is the only hope of India". Those who advocate the rule of law are breaking the law on Babri Masjid.

History as cited by the Hindu parties of the dispute[edit]

The date of the construction of the Babri Mosque is disputed. Before the 1940s, the Mosque was called Masjid-i Janmasthan. It is presumed that Babur built the mosque, based on an inscription. Although we have a detailed account of the life of Babur in the form of his diary, the pages of the relevant period are missing in the diary. But it is possible that the mosque already existed before Babur, who may only have renovated the building. However, the construction of the mosque must have been between 1194 and 1528. The Ghorid conquests reached Ayodhya in 1194.

1528[edit]

Babur may have built the mosque in 1528, or he may only have renovated the building.

1767[edit]

Joseph Tieffenthaler records that Hindus are worshipping and celebrating Ramanavami at the site of the mosque.[24] The tradition of treating the mosque site as the birthplace of Rama appears to have begun in early l8th century. The earliest suggestion that the Babri Masjid is in proximity to the birthplace of Ram was made by the Jesuit priest Joseph Tieffenthaler, whose work in French was published in Berlin in 1788. It says:

"Emperor Aurangzeb got demolished the fortress called Ramkot, and erected on the same place a Mahometan temple with three cuppolas. Others believe that it was constructed by Babar. We see 14 columns of black stone 5 spans high that occupy places within the fortress. Twelve of these columns now bear the interior arcades of the Masjid; two (of the 12) make up the entrance of the cloister. Two others form part of the tomb of a certain Moor. It is related that these columns, or rather the debris of these columns, were brought from Lanka (called Ceylon by the Europeans) by Hanuman, chief of the monkeys." which in French reads as

l'empereur Aurungzeb a détruit la forteresse appelée Ramkot et construit à la même chose placer un temple musulman avec 3 dômes. D'autres indiquent qu'il a été construit par Babar. On peut voir 14 colonnes faites en pierre noire qui soutiennent des découpages. Plus tard Aurungzeb, et certains indiquent que Babar a détruit l'endroit afin d'empêcher des heathens de pratiquer leurs cérémonies.Toutefois ils ont continué à pratiquer leurs cérémonies religieuses dans le places, sachant ceci pour avoir été endroit de naissance de Rama, en le circulant 3 fois et en se prosternant sur la terre..

We see on the left a square platform 5 inches above ground, 5 inches long and 4 inches wide, constructed of mud and covered with lime. The Hindus call it bedi, that is to say, the birth-place. The reason is that here there was a house in which Beschan, (Bishan-Vishnu) took the form of Rama, and his three brothers are also said to have been born. Subsequently, Aurangzeb, or according to others, Babar razed this place down, in order not to give the Gentiles (Hindus) occasion to practice their superstition. However, they continued to follow their superstitious practices in both places, believing it to be the birthplace of Rama."Questions of history

This record reveals that Aurengzeb demolished the Ramkot fortress; that either he, or Babar constructed a Masjid there; the 12 columns of black stone pillars were brought from Lanka; and when veneration of Rama became prevalent after the 17th century, a small rectangular mud platform was built to mark the birthplace of Rama.(History and Geography of India, by Joseph Tieffenthaler, (published in French by Bernoulli in 1785))

However, this account does not explicitly mention the existence of a temple but a mud platform.

19th century[edit]

Some Hindus of Ayodhya never lost the tradition to worship Rama on the Ramkot hill, and always returned to the site. 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 mosquetemple. 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." (P. Carnegy: A Historical Sketch of Tehsil Fyzabad, Lucknow 1870, quoted by Harsh Narain: The Ayodhya Temple/Mosque Dispute, Penman, Delhi 1993, p.8-9, and by Peter Van der Veer: Religious Nationalism, p.153)

1854[edit]

Edward Thornton records that Hindus are worshipping Ramanavami at the site of the mosque (Gazetteer of the territories under the Government of East India Company, pp-739-40).

1855[edit]

Hindu-Muslim clashes over the mosque-temple occurred (Hadiqai-Shahada by Mirza Jan, 1856, pp. 4-7).

1858[edit]

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 (Petition by Muhammed Asghar dated 30.11.1858 in Case No.884 to the British Government).

1886[edit]

On 18th 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))

20th century[edit]

The Hindus claim that the Babri Mosque was not used by Muslims since 1936, and that the Hindus took over the unused mosque in 1949. A court ruling on March 3, 1951 by the Civil Judge of Faizabad states: “it further appears from a number of affidavits of certain Muslim residents of Ayodhya that at least from 1936 onwards the Muslims have neither used the site as a mosque nor offered prayers there... Nothing has been pointed to discredit these affidavits.” Prof. B.P. Sinha stated: “As early as 1936-37, a bill was introduced in the legislative council of U.P. to transfer the site to the Hindus (... ) the bill was withdrawn on an unwritten understanding that no namaz [be] performed.” (in annexure 29 to the VHP evidence bundle). Of the 26 mosques in the region, only half of them were used for offering namaz in the early 1990s. It is also noted that there are about 40 different temples in Ayodhya where the worshippers believe that Lord Rama was born. However, Abdul Ghaffar the Imam of the mosque asserted that Muslims prayed in that mosque until 1949 when some miscehevous elements placed the idols of Ram after breaking into the mosque.[citation needed]

November 2, 1989[edit]

On November 2, 1989 the first stone for the planned new temple was laid.

The events of November 2 1989 led to riots in Bangladesh and Pakistan, which left 50,000 Hindus homeless in Bangladesh. 245 Hindu temples were demolished in Pakistan. More than 200 Hindu temples were demolished in Bangladesh. [1] However, many Muslims were also shot directly on their heads in the rioting that followed in Maharshtra by the state police.

1990[edit]

Lal Krishna Advani, a high-ranking member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) began a campaign tour (a rathayatra, or "chariot-journey") in 1990, to build support for a Rama temple at the mosque site.

November 2, 1990[edit]

During demonstrations by Kar-Sevaks, many Kar-Sevaks and other demonstrators were arrested and killed by the police. The official death toll is 45, although this is disputed. The BJP estimated that 168 were killed. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) alone cremated 76 bodies.

In connection with the Ayodhya debate, at least forty temples were demolished in November 1990. According to the Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikya Parishad, the Bangladesh minorities' association, over fifty women were raped in a village in the Chittagong district and hundreds of temples were razed or burnt down.

January 24, 1991[edit]

A government-sponsored discussion platform for the two parties (VHP and Babri Masjid Action Committee/BMAC) was organized for January, 24 1991. The BMAC then demanded that their historians would get special privileges and be recognized as independent scholars who could pass a verdict on the case (this demand wasn't granted). The BMAC team didn't show up on the day of the meeting and claimed that they weren't prepared for the discussion, although shortly before that day they signed a public statement that stated that (according to them) there would be absolutely no evidence for an ancient temple on the disputed site.

However , other accounts said that They met first on December 1, 1990, presented the 'evidence' of their sides to the Indian government on December 23, obtained copies of the 'evidence' of the other side from the government, and met again on January 10, 1991. In that meeting they decided to set up four committees of experts nominated by both parties to examine the historical and archaeological evidence and revenue and legal records collected as evidence. The VHP released the summary of 'evidence' to the public, turned down the demand of the other side for more time to study and evaluate the evidence, and made it known that they were not interested in an amicable solution.(28)VHP's actions were taken by the Muslim parties to mean aggressive postures and unnecessary public arousal made to shore up vocal support from the hindu masses.

1992[edit]

On December 6 1992, over a million Hindutva activists brought in by the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, "World Hindu Council") and BJP, razed the three domes of this 16th century Muslim mosque, sparking nationwide riots between Hindus and Muslims that killed more than 2,000 people in the worst sectarian violence since the killing of Sikhs after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.Template:Inote

The demolition of the Babri Masjid set off a horrific round of killings, especially in Bombay, that lasted two months (December 1992 & January 1993), and where the actual toll of lives is far less than the official one (See also Justice Sreekrishna Commission of Inquiry). However, most enquiry reports in India fail to satisfy all the parties.In retaliation, Muslim mafia, principally the D-Gang operated by Dawood Ibrahim Khaskar, the Konkanni Muslim and acolyte of former Mafia don Haji Mastan, staged a simultaneous, multiple bomb attacks in Bombay using RDX and whose toll is also not finally set. See 1993 Mumbai bombings.

December 6, 1992: the destruction of the Babri Masjid[edit]

The mosque was destroyed on December 6, 1992, by a crowd of 75,000 people [2](karsevaks) of the VHP and other associated groups. However, some estimates put the number at 200,000 (Growth & Change, Spring 2000). The destruction occurred at the end of Advani's rathayatra, and there is some evidence that it was pre-planned by nationalist groups.

LK Advani was present at the rostrum constructed opposite the Mosque on the day of its destruction and was the guest of honour. He is believed to have witnessed the events without protest. Witnesses report that many of the speeches on loudspeakers on that day praised Advani for mobilizing opinion for the destruction of the mosque. It is thought that the demolition was further incited via microphone by firebrand Uma Bharati of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), along with two top associates, Sadhvi Ritambhara and Achraya Dharmendra. Bharati in her several turns at the microphone articulated two slogans to the crowds, 'Ram nam satya hai, Babri Masjid dhvasth hai,' (True is the name of Ram; the Babri Masjid has been demolished) and 'Ek dhakka aur do, Babri masjid tod do' (Give one more push, and break the Babri Masjid).

While the mosque was being destroyed some local Hindus from Ayodhya pleaded with Acharya Dharmendra of the VHP's Marg Darshak Mandal and BJP leader Uma Bharati to intervene and help stop gangs of karsevaks, who were allegedly attacking Muslims in the town and burning and looting their houses and shops. In response, Acharya Dharmendra was quoted in the Times of India as having said, "Although the local Hindu residents did ask me to hold the crowds from burning Muslim homes I would have never stopped them. This is the only way in which Ayodhya could become like the Vatican." Journalists present were also attacked according to a letter by Time magazine journalists Jefferson Penberthy and Anita Pratap which they sent to the judicial Liberhan commission established in the wake of the violence. This was further corroborated by BBC correspondent Mark Tully in his radio commentary.

The rule of the Centre was imposed in UP at 6 p.m. on 6 December, although according to the BBC rioting did not begin in earnest until about 4 a.m. the following morning. However according to the BBC the violence and destruction continued for nearly 12 hours, with mobs several hundred strong roaming the streets of the town, shouting 'Jai Shri Ram'. According to some reports, the mobs also targeted other mosques with the result that almost all the masjids and idgahs of Ayodhya were damaged or destroyed. Only two mosques survived the violence. In the aftermath of the riots, members of both Hindu and Muslim communities hold 'outsiders' responsible for the events in Ayodhya, and insisted that they would survive recurring waves of violence together. These communities speak of how the Muslims of the town supplied the wood used to build the temples of the Hindus and grew flowers to string around the necks of the gods and goddesses (Dutas and Devis).

Following the destruction of the mosque, communal riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims across India, including in Mumbai (Bombay), which was a largely secular and cosmopolitan city. It is generally accepted that the campaign to build the Rama temple and the destruction of the mosque was responsible for the BJP's meteoric rise to power. In 1994 The President of India sent an official inquiry to the Supreme Court to decide whether a temple existed below the mosque, which the High Court returned saying it was not competent to decide on matters of historical evidence, only matters of law and fact. It added that the question whether a temple existed beneath the mosque was " and superfluous" in the context of the legal dispute.


1993[edit]

The 1993 Mumbai bombings, which were connected to the Ayodhya debate, occurred.

2002[edit]

Since then, the AIBMAC and other Muslim groups have been campaigning to have the mosque rebuilt at the same site, while the VHP has been moving forward with plans to build a Rama temple there. In December 2002 the VHP announced that it would construct the temple in a year and a half (i.e., mid 2004). Prime Minister Vajpayee said in February 2003 during election campaigning in Himachal Pradesh that he firmly believed that the Babri Mosque existed on the site of a temple. The main opposition Congress Party took a cautious stance fearing it might alienate the Hindu vote by taking a position different from the Hindu hardliners'. Kapil Sibal, Congress Party spokesman, said the court order was part of judicial process for the final adjudication of the dispute.

2005[edit]

On July 5, 2005 five militants attacked the disputed Ram Janmabhumi site. Security forces killed all five militants while a pilgrim guide Ramesh Pandey, was killed in the blast triggered by the militantts to breach the cordon wall. The attack, suspected to be the work of Lashkar-e-Toiba, a designated organization fighting for Kashmir's secession from India, has once again put the town in the spotlight. [3] See 2005 attack on Ayodhya.


Babur[edit]

It is generally thought that the mosque was built by Babur, because an inscription on the mosque records his name. Although we have a detailed account of the life of Babur in the form of his diary (Babur Nama), the pages of the relevant period are missing in the diary. But it is possible that the mosque already existed before Babur, who may only have renovated the building. The contemporary Tarikh-i-Babari records that Babar's troops "demolished many Hindu temples at Chanderi".

The Ayodhya Debate[edit]

It was commonly believed until about 1990 that the mosque stood on an ancient Hindu temple. The Encyclopædia Britannica of 1989 reported that the Babri Mosque stood "on a site traditionally identified" as an earlier temple dedicated to Rama's birthplace. [25] According to their view, the ancient temple could have been destroyed on the orders of Mughal emperor Babur. This view is challenged by the Muslims, Indian secular, Marxist [26] and mainstream Indian historians since the early 1990s.

Muslim claims over the site are largely represented by the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee which has held a hardline position on the issue, demanding the restoration of the site and the mosque. It also holds that the case should be decided by the courts and if it is proved that a Hindu Temple existed at the spot the same will be handed over to the Hindu party; while the Hindu parties have been asking the minority Muslims to show magnanimity by handing over the land for the construction of the temple.Some Muslim members of the Hindu nationalist party BJP do not share the views of the Babri Masjid Action Committee like Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, president of the so called Muslim Youth Conference, an organisation known for its cooperation with the Hindu parties but equally unpopular with the Muslims who believe he is not Muslim[citation needed], he said: "It is the duty of every nationalist Indian to protect the birthplace of Lord Rama to save India's honour, prestige and cultural heritage.... Anti-national and communal activities of Muslim fundamentalists are a blot on the entire community... It is the duty of all nationalist Muslims to expose such designs and accept the truth.” (Indian Express, 21/9/1990.)Hindu parties have also cited that a Muslim scholar Asghar Ali Engineer wrote: "The Muslims, in my opinion, should show magnanimity and [make] a noble gesture of gifting away the mosque... (“Communalism and Communal Violence in India (Ajanta Publ., Delhi 1989), p.320.)However, a majority of Muslims question this idea saying as minority community and thereby deprived - they should themselves be shown magnanimity.

One option discussed was also to build the temple next to the mosque or to relocate the mosque to another site (many mosques in Islamic countries have been relocated for reasons such as road expansion).However, Indian Muslim parties claim that the place of prayer is what is constituted by the mosque and not the structure.Secondly, this idea of relocating could be considered only in the case of grave necessity and not the whims and fancies of any community that has hegemonous mentality and claims from three to thirty thousands more mosques as being built on destroyed Hindu temples.

A large number of prominent people, many of them Hindus, particularly those who are sympathisers of the Communist/Congress party oppose the destruction of the Babri Mosque e.g. Anand Patwardhan, Gyanendra Pandey, Pujari Laldas etc. But it is claimed by some other Hindus associated with the BJP led movement that at the time the structure was felled, it did touch a chord with millions of Hindus who looked to this incident as a fountainhead of Hindu religious nationalism in India. Muslims on the other hand regarded this as a black day for the Indian nationhood and Indian secularism. While Muslims observe December 6 , when this historic mosque and monument was felled as a Black day, Extremist Hindus observe this as the Shourya Divas - Victory Day.

Some Muslims note that many in west and the same bunch of extremist nationalist Hindus made hue and cry over the destruction of historic Buddha statues of Bamiyan - they celebrate with similar zeal the destruction of monuments in India.Some other Muslims have claimed that ASI is being used as a tool to deny them the right to worship in Historical mosques and other monuments.

Some Hindu observers claim that a large number of Hindu religious leaders do not subscribe to the policies of the BJP and the VHP. These seers and religious leaders are opposed to the politicizing of the Ram Mandir issue and want to construct the new temple in a civilized manner. The Akharha Parishad, which is the supreme body of the sadhus of different Hindu sects, has not only boycotted BJP meetings but has also sharply criticized the RSS-BJP-VHP troika for politicizing and inflaming the issue. The All India Akharha Parishad and Bharat Sadhu Samaj have made it clear that they have refused any affiliation with the Dharama Sansad, which is a religious council set up by the VHP.

Muslims on the other hand have claimed that this issue is just the crest of an iceberg.The Hindu parties whether shunning violence or doing it are just waiting for another moment to fantasize on other Muslim heritage coming up with a story on birth of their dieties, places of their marriage or their death and claim those Muslim monuments as their own.They cite many places where actions by the right wing Hindu party BJP and its affiliate religious and militant organisations have either led to the closure of these places of worship to the Muslims or partial curtailment of the prayers to a few days in a week or limiting the number of people who could perform the prayers.

Archaeological excavations[edit]

In 2003, by the order of an Indian Court, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was asked to conduct a more indepth study and an excavation to ascertain the type of structure that was beneath the rubble.[27] The excavation was conducted from 12 March 2003 to 7 August 2003, resulting in 1360 discoveries. The ASI submitted its report to the Allahabad high court.[28]

The summary of the ASI report indicated the presence of a 10th-century temple under the mosque.[29][30] According to the ASI team, the human activity at the site dates back to the 13th century BCE. The next few layers date back to the Shunga period (second-first century BCE) and the Kushan period. During the early medieval period (11–12th century CE), a but short-lived huge structure of nearly 50 metres north-south orientation was constructed. On the remains of this structure, another massive structure was constructed: this structure had at least three structural phases and three successive floors attached with it. The report concluded that it was over the top of this construction that the disputed structure was constructed during the early 16th century.[31]

Muslim groups immediately disputed the ASI findings. The Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (Sahmat) criticised the report saying that it said that "presence of animal bones throughout as well as of the use of 'surkhi' and lime mortar" that was found by ASI are all characteristic of Muslim presence "that rule out the possibility of a Hindu temple having been there beneath the mosque." The report claimed otherwise on the basis of 'pillar bases' was contested since no pillars were found, and the alleged existence of 'pillar bases' has been debated by archaeologists.[32] Syed Rabe Hasan Nadvi, chairman of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) alleged that ASI failed to mention any evidence of a temple in its interim reports and only revealed it in the final report which was submitted during a time of national tension, making the report highly suspect.[33]

The Allahabad High Court, however, upheld the ASI's findings.[34]

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The Ayodhya Debate in fiction[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


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