Catastrophic Ayodhya Events in 1992
Continued from “Operation Blue Star in 1984”
The contentious and long pending religious and socio-political issue of building Rama Janmbhoomi Temple at Ayodhya is once again agitating manas (minds) of the majority community in India. The issue has a centuries old history of dispute and the main reason of the deteriorating relations between the two major communities in India i.e. Hindus with the majority community tag and Muslims with the minority tag despite the latter’s nearly twenty crore population in the country which is more than many other major nationalities in the world. During the Mughal and Colonial rules, the aspirations and religious sentiments of the Hindu community was suppressed but the hope and expectations grew after the independence in 1947. The current resentment and unrest among the majority Indians is mainly on account of the apex court’s indifference to accord adequate priority to decide the pending litigation as also the federal government’s failure to take any significant initiative to resolve the issue through legislation or other means.
The Dispute in Historical Perspective
The Ram-janmabhoomi Babari-masjid in Ayodhya is a historical dispute of the socio-religious nature which has been badly politicized by various political and religious groups with vested interests. The main dispute is centred around a piece of land which traditionally Hindus regard as the birth place of Rama, one of the most revered deities, while Muslims claim it a Masjid citing the last few centuries history and tradition. Hindus allege that the Masjid was created at the site by Mir Baki, a chieftain of the army of the Mughul emperor Babur aka Zahir-ud-Din Muhammad after demolishing the existing Hindu temple at the disputed site.
For the decades now, the Babri Mosque was not in use for offering namaz (prayers) by the Muslims while Hindu devotees were regularly using the precincts after such permission granted by the local court since 1986. The dilepidated structure at the disputed site was demolished during a massive politico-religious rally when the gathering became out of control on the 6th December, 1992. The outrageous event triggered violent protests and communal riots across the country as a backlash against Hindus and their religious places as also in the neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh leading to a grave loss and destruction of human lives and property. After a prolonged litigation about the title suit of the disputed land, the Allahabad High Court delivered a verdict but the litigants preferred to file an appeal in the Supreme Court in 2011 and the case is pending in the apex court ever since.
According to the great epic Ramayana and other Puranical texts, Rama was the great king of the Solar dynasty with Ayodhya - in the present day Faizabad district of the Uttar Pradesh province in India – as his birth place and kingdom. He is believed to have been born in Ayodhya in the royal family with father-king Dasaratha and mother-queen Kaushalya. The majority of Hindu devotees believe him as an Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu and as per Garuna Purana, Ayodhya is among the designated seven sacred places with mythological belief where the adherents could achieve Moksha (liberation) through worship from the vicious cycle of death and rebirth. It is believed that around Buddha’s time, it was called Saket and was among the few large and prosperous cities in North India (then Bharatvarsha). According to legends, Ayodhya became desolate after Rama’s ascent to heaven and it was subsequently again revived during the kings of Gupta dynasty. In Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa, there is a reference to Gopratara Tirtha, which is believed to be the waters of "Guptar Ghat" of the present day Saryu river where Rama entered waters during his ascent to heaven.
After Guptas, once again Ayodhya lost its prominence which was again revived by the Gahadavala dynasty during the 11th century. Rulers of this dynasty had their kingdom spread over the present day Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with Varanasi as their capital. They followed Vaishnavism sect and built several Vishnu Temples, some of which survived subsequent Muslim rulers’ onslaught till Aurangjeb’s time. The second millennium CE also experienced the cult of Maryada Purushottama Rama as the foremost avatar of Lord Vishnu and the importance of Ayodhya grew as a holy pilgrimage and his birth place.
The Mughal king Babur invaded North India in 1525 and captured Delhi after defeating Ibrahim Lodi in the First Battle of Panipat in 1526 CE. He founded the Mughal Empire by conquering a major portion of the Northern India. Reportedly, one of his army generals, Mir Baqi came to Ayodhya in an army expedition in 1528, destroyed a pre-existing Hindu temple with Rama as the main deity and built a mosque on the ruins of the religious structure which was initially called masjid-i-janmasthan (mosque at the birthplace) and later it became popular as Babri Masjid (Babur's mosque). It is widely believed that the alleged “mosque-temple” (after creation of the mosque) was used by both the Hindus and Muslims for the worship, Hindus outside the religious place while Muslims inside the compound. Later the colonial British erected a railing between the two areas to prevent conflicts.
As per a legend, Babur initially visited Ayodhya in the guise of a Qalandar to take the blessings of certain faqirs and subsequently he met the Sultan Sikndar Lodhi in Delhi in the same attire before taking expedition to conquer India. After his successful venture, the said Masjid at Ayodhya was built in 1528 under his orders and this fact was corroborated from the inscriptions on the said structure. There is no mention of the Masjid in two important contemporary books viz. the Baburnama (Chronicles of Babur) and Ramcharit Manas of Tulsidas. The latter text refers to Rama’s birth and rule at Ayodhya without any reference of a mosque at the birth place. Abu’l-Fazl’s Akbarnama around 1600 CE too reportedly refers to Hindus’s galore at the birthday festival of Rama at Ayodhya, the holiest place of antiquity, without making any reference to the Masjid at the site. These as well as some later Indologists’ accounts of Ayodhya too do not suggest presence of any significant mosque there.
A book Sahifa-I-Chihil Nasaih Bahadur Shahi said to be written by the daughter of the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah (1643-1712) finds a mention that many mosques were constructed after demolishing the temples of the idolatrous Hindus at the places like Mathura, Awadh and Banaras during Aurangjeb’s time. Based on the contemporary findings and records, Prof R. Nath suggested that Sawai Jai Singh had acquired the land of Rama Janmasthan in 1717 with ownership vested in the deity. Another Christian priest Joseph Tieffenthaler had suggested that the Hindu fortress Ramcot was demolished to create a mosque with triple domes by Aurangjeb and that Hindus used to worship a square box slightly raised above the ground called the “Bedi”, the cradle. Thus the historical ambiguity as to whether Babur or Aurangjeb remains but the majority people believe that the disputed mosque was of the Babur origin.
The first recorded religious conflict at the site dates back to 1850s when allegedly the Babri mosque was attacked by some Hindu groups after their repeated demands of handing over the possession of the site and permission to build a temple was not acceded to by the British colonial powers. Ever since there were occasional protests and violence between the two communities. In twentieth century, the Akhil Bharatiya Ramayana Mahasabha (ABRM), a Hindu religious organization, started a sustained agitation for the cause which was later joined by the priests and followers of the Gorakhnath Math in 1949. In the same year, the recitation of the Ramcharit Manas was organized by the religious groups for several days and at the end of the ceremony, the idols of Rama and Sita were reported inside the disputed mosque structure on 29 December 1949. While some devout Hindus believe the miraculous appearance of the idols as a divine event while others hold that the Hindu activists actually broke into the structure and placed the idols inside.
Reportedly, contrary to the orders of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the district magistrate of Ayodhya KKK Nair used his own discretion and decision of not removing the idols citing serious law and order situation going beyond the control in such case. However, the premises were closed for the public and only the priests were allowed to perform daily worship of the installed deity. Both the Hindu (ABRM) and Muslim (Sunni Waqf Board) parties filed civil suits in the Faizabad (Ayodhya) court staking their claims to the site. Subsequently, in August 1964 Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) was constituted which along with other Hindu organizations undertook the cause of the Rama Janmbhoomi. Similarly, on the Muslim side also, the issue received national attention with a political overtone and the matter was hijacked by the community political leaders and clergy.
During the 1980s, the VHP started a fresh drive of building opinion among the common Hindu Manas (minds) to reclaim the disputed site and construct a grand temple dedicated to Ramalala (infant Rama). The newly formed Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), as sibstitute of the erstwhile Jana Sangh, decided to pursue the cause and became the main political force behind the Rama Janmbhoomi movement. In a landmark judgment, the district judge decided in 1986 to open the gates of the locked premises to enable the Hindu devotees to have darshan (sighting) of Ramlala in a makeshift enclosure (temple) and offer prayers inside the premises from a distance. This judgment provided a major boost and justification to the claim of the majority community on the site. The prominent BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani undertook a rath yatra to Ayodhya in September 1990 in order to mobilize support for the Temple Movement. He reportedly wrote in his memoirs, “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 then Bihar government arrested Advani forcing him to suspend the rath yatra citing the law and order problem. However, a large number of ‘kar sevaks’ and activists had already accumulated in ayodhya who organized a march towards the disputed structure. With the then state government of Uttar Pradesh determined not to allow the mass gathering near the disputed structure, they asked the state police and paramilitary forces to use force leading to violence in which a large number of kar sewaks were killed and injured. The event had a cascading effect at the centre as well as state politics whereby the UP state assembly elections returned the BJP in power and the government at the centre got destabilized.
In a short span, the VHP, BJP and allied organizations organized another mass gathering of the kar sewaks and activists at Ayodhya in December 1992. During the speech of their leaders, the religiously charged assembly got restless and stormed into the disputed structure. The heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces proved inadequate to control the mob, the disputed structure was taken control of and grounded in a few hours by the frenzied mob. Consequently, the state BJP government was immediately sacked by the Centre citing their failure to protect the disputed structure (mosque). The event also triggered massive backlash from the minority community countrywide leading to communal riots in several cities as also in the neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh that left over 1,000 people dead and numerous Hindu religious places desecrated and damaged in vengeance.
Aftermath of 6th December 1992
The Muslims population in India and neighbouring countries was infuriated by the sacrilegious event at Ayodhya and went on rampage in many parts to attack people, property and specially the religious places of the majority community. More than the direct clash between the two communities, it was more of a fight between the Muslims and the police and paramiliraty forces trying to control the situation. After the heinous bloodbath at the time of the partition in 1947, these were the worst and far more spread communal riots in the country. As one of the Muslim dailies in Maharashtra observed, the Muslims were more enraged and indignant with the perception that the police didn’t use force against the kar sewaks demolishing the mosque while they were now shooting people protesting the demolition at Ayodhya.
This frenzy and mob violence continued for several days in various parts of the country. Although any political party was not found directly involved but many lumpen elements were seen taking part in mindless violence and destruction spree. Dozens of Hindu temples and other religious places were desecrated and damaged in revenge, hundreds of shops were looted or burnt in various cities and more than one thousand people, some estimates put it to two, of both the communities were killed in direct clashes or police firings. Some of the remote areas like Assam were among the worst affected where the Bangladeshi immigrants reportedly caused havoc killing local Hindus and destroying temples for days together. As per official account, the death toll in some of the worst affected states was as follows: Maharashtra, 259; Gujarat, 246; Uttar Pradesh, 201; Madhya Pradesh, 120; Assam, 100; Rajasthan, 48; West Bengal, 32; Bihar, 24; Andhra Pradesh & Kerala each, 12; and Tamilnadu, 2.
The law and order is, in common parlance, a state subject in India; however, the Ayodhya dispute was under the scanner of the Central Government and Supreme Court all along. The disputed structure was guarded jointly by the state police and CRPF (Central Reserved Police Force) under the jurisdiction of the state and central governments, respectively. The state had a popular BJP government with a known stand of their commitment of building a Rama Temple at the site claimed by the majority community while the Central had a minority Congress government known for so often flip-flopping on the temple issue. Thus both the governments were responsible for the volatile situation turned into ugly event at Ayodhya on 6 December 1992 and should have owned responsibility for it. However, only the state government was made scapegoat and summarily dismissed by the Central when the situation became out of hand consequent to the demolition of the disputed structure.
As the main cause of the dispute was not addressed decisively by the law makers or the judiciary of the land, there have been several minor and major communal flashpoints in the country linked with the Babri-dispute. The worst was the Gujarat riots in 2002 following the Godhra event wherein 58 kar sewaks, women and children were burnt alive in two train bogies on 27 February by the miscreants of the minority community. The consequent backlash led to the communal outbreak against the minority community population which rendered 1,044 dead (790 Muslims and 254 Hindus) and a score of others found injured or missing apart from the damage and destruction of property. Motivated political parties and opponents charged the Chief Minister of Gujarat for complicity in riot; however, he was cleared of all charges by the Special Investigation Team appointed and worked under the supervision of the Supreme Court. In yet another case of Mumbai Bombings in March 1993 organized by the underworld don Dawood Abraham to avenge Babri demolition and death of the fellow Muslims in the subsequent riots, at least 257 people were killed and over 700 injured.
In Pakistan, all the government offices and schools were closed in protest on 7 December 1992 and strikes were organized across the country to protest against the demolition of the dispute structure. Muslim mobs set on fire or bulldozed as many as thirty temples in one day, and attacked Indian interests including the office of the Air India. There were some violent incidents against the minority Hindu families and cases were reported where the Indian citizens in Pakistan were harassed and discriminated. The Islamist mobs continued retaliatory attacks and rhetoric calling for “Jihad” with the slogans of the death and destruction to "Hindus" and "Hindustan".
In Bangladesh too, Muslim mobs attacked and burned down many Hindu temples, houses and business interest of the local Hindu population in December 1992, and many Hindus were killed in mob violence. The Air India office at Dhaka was attacked and destroyed and an on-going India-Bangladesh cricket match disrupted by a huge violent crowd in the Bangabandhu National Stadium in the national capital. The impact was felt even in the Gulf countries with the Gulf Cooperation Council strongly condemning the mosque demolition. At some places in Gulf countries, street protests were organized, with angry mob pelting stones on Hindu temples and Indian Consulate in Dubai.
The Government of India constituted the Liberhan Commission on 16 December 1992 to investigate the circumstances under which the alleged mosque was demolished. Ironically, it proved to be the longest running commission in the history of India with repeated extensions granted under various governments. The Commission was originally given three months but it submitted its report on 30 June 2009 after almost a delay of seventeen years. Notwithstanding the fact cited in the preceding paragraphs, the Commission did not raise fingers on the role or failures of the Central Government; instead, tried to downplay it. On the other hand, it summarily indicted the top BJP leaders as being actively involved in the meticulous planning of the demolition of the alleged mosque. The report held many people from the BJP, RSS and Shiv Sena responsible, including Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Kalyan Singh, the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, and concluded that many of them made provocative speeches inciting the mob, and that they could have prevented the demolition if they so wished.
Chronology of the Milestone Events in Dispute
Although the two major communities in India already had a troubled history with communal conflicts occurring off and on in the past, the demolition of the disputed structure in 1992 became a major sore point drawing a sort of deep fissure in the relations of Hindus and Muslims in India. While Hindus are traditionally docile and tolerant community but the majority of them are unable to accept that they are denied their right to a place which is a symbol of their eternal faith and sentiments in a country which has been traditionally their homeland since the civilization began in the sub-continent. On the other hand many Muslims feel that the demolition of the Babri Masjid was a personal attack on their religion and any compromise on the issue will put them at disadvantage socially and religiously for all time to come. Here is a chronological fact sheet of milestone events of this dispute:
- A mosque was reportedly built by Mir Baki in 1528 at a site in Ayodhya which Hindus claim to be the birthplace of their most revered deity Lord Rama.
- A few incidents of communal violence occurred in 1850s at the disputed site and, consequently, the colonial administration fenced the place of worship in 1959 allowing the Muslims to use the inner court and Hindus the outer court for the prayers,
- Idols of Lord Rama and his consort appearrd inside the disputed complex in December 1949 after a religious ceremony; both parties filed civil suits to claim ownership but the government declared it a disputed site and locked it denying access to people of both communities.
- The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) formed in 1984 to liberate the birth place and built a temple and the political party BJP extended its wholehearted support to the campaign.
- The locks of the disputed structure were opened with the orders of the district court in 1986 allowing Hindus to worship at the site without altering the status quo. The Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) constituted in protest to defend the interests of the minority community.
- The VHP accelerated the movement of the liberation of Rama Janmbhoomi, the then state government led by the Samajwadi Party used force in September 1990 on kar sewaks gathered around the disputed site resulting in several deaths and injuries.
- The disputed structure is demolished by a frenzied mob comprising of the followers of the VHP, Shiv Sena and BJP on 6 December 1992; the state BJP government is dismissed by the Centre; thousands of people die in the outbreak of communal riots as a backlash.
- The popularity and support to the BJP showed a phenomenal increase in 1990s and it emerged as a major political force and challenger to the Congress, the traditional ruling political party since independence.
- The VHP renews its resolve to start construction of the temple at the disputed site on 15 March 2002; two bogies of the train carrying kar sewaks were set on fire at Godhara, Gujarat killing at least 58 people including women and children; communal riots broke out in Gujarat in which over a thousand people died, a majority of which were Muslims (790 Muslims, 254 Hindus).
- In January 2003, a team of Archeologists was constituted under the orders of the Allahabad High Court to investigate the site, the findings of which suggested the existence of a Hindu religious temple based on the findings of the underneath structures and artifacts. The BJP government reiterated its commitment of the construction of temple at the site hoping the issue will be resolved through courts and negotiation.
- Suspected Islamist militants attacked the disputed site in July 2005 targeting the makeshift temple of Ramlala using a jeep laden with explosives. However, the security forces foiled the attack killing the attackers.
- Allahabad High Court delivered its verdict in September 2010 to equally divide the disputed site in three parts; one part in favour of Ramlala Birajman, the second part to the Nirmohi Akhara and the third part to the Sunni Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh. Unhappy with the verdict, the Muslim group decoded for the appeal in the Supreme Court.
- Consequently, both the Muslim and Hindu parties filed appeals in the apex court which suspended the High Court order in May 2011. However, the issue put in a deep freeze for the subsequent many years.
- A sincere attempt was made by Sri Ravi Shankar, a spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation, for an out of court settlement in 2017 by meeting and consulting all stakeholders of the Ayodhya dispute. His proposal was met with skepticism and resistance, particularly from the Muslim groups who insisted on settlement through the court.
- For almost seven years, several appeals and cross-appeals in the Ayodhya were kept pending by the Supreme Court. In February 2018, a three-judge bench headed by the then Chief Justice listed the case for hearing. The pleaders of the minority community argued for referring the case to a larger bench to first review its 1994 judgment which held that the mosques were not the integral part of the Islam, and postpone the current hearing till after the General Elections are held in 2019.
- On 27 September 2018, the Supreme Court decided that there was no need to review the 1994 verdict delivered in a different context and that the regular hearing shall commence from 29 October 2018.
- On 29 October 2018, the Supreme Court bench, headed by new Chief Justice of India, adjourned the hearing of the case to January, 2019 and that a new bench shall be constituted to hear the case then. In response to the request of lawyers of the Hindu groups for early and expeditious hearing of the case, he remarked that the apex court has other priorities to do.
Archeological and Legal Findings
In the past, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had done some excavations in 1970s and 1992 in and around the disputed site. In the first case, reportedly the work was abruptly stopped mid-way and a partial report published later suggested the archaeological findings of burnt bases of pillars made of brick, a little farther from the mosque, suggesting that a large temple structure stood in alignment with the Babri Mosque possibly of the 11th century vintage. On the second occasion in July 1992, a team of eminent archaeologists presented their findings which included religious sculptures and a statue of Lord Vishnu. The other objects recovered were terracotta Hindu images of the Kushan period (100-300 CE) and carved buff sandstone objects and images of Vaishnavas deities and Shiva-Parvati. The team suggested that, at least on one side, the inner boundary of the disputed structure rests on an earlier existing structure, possibly belonging to a temple. Prof SP Gupta, an Indian archaeologist, art historian and ex-Chairman of the Indian Archaeological Society, was far more committal about the existence of a 10th-12th century temple at the site, citing more evidences like amakalas, cornices, pillar capitals, mouldings, door jambs with floral patterns, etc.
After the case was referred to the judicature of the Allahabad High Court, the court ordered the ASI to conduct a more in-depth excavation and examination at the site in 2003. In August 2003, the ASI submitted a 574-page report to the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, the findings of which included evidence of a large 10th century structure similar to a Hindu temple at the disputed site. Among the structures listed in the report were several brick walls ‘in east-west orientation’, several ‘in north-south orientation’, ‘decorated coloured floor’, several ‘pillar bases’, and a ‘1.64-metre high decorated black stone pillar (broken) with yaksha figurines on four corners’ as well as "Sanskrit inscription of holy verses on stones". Earlier findings also included stone and decorated bricks as well as mutilated sculptures of some divine couple and carved architectural features, including foliage patterns, amalaka, kapotapali, doorjamb with semi-circular shrine pilaster, broken 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.
In fact, various structures and artifacts recovered or reported from the site belonged to periods as back as 1000 BCE to 300 BCE, Shunga Period (200 BCE), Kushan period (100-300 CE), Gupta period (320-600 CE) and immediatrly after era including 11th and 12th century. A ground-penetrating radar search performed by the Canadian geophysicist Claude Robillard in January 2003 suggested a huge structure ranging from 0.5 to 5.5 meters in depth comprising of ancient and contemporaneous structures such as pillars, foundation walls, slab flooring, extending over a large portion of the site. Besides, three inscriptions on stones were recovered during the demolition of the disputed structure, one of which was reportedly on a 1.10 x .56 metre slab dated 1140 CE. While the three-judge bench of Allhabad High Court was not unanimous about the construction of the mosque after demolition of the existing temple but they did agree that a temple or temple like structure predated the mosque at the same site.
The dispute has a long legal history since the colonial era but so far none of the verdicts have been found acceptable to either both or one party. Perhaps this is also the reason why even of late the Supreme Court suggested an out of court settlement through negotiations. Also judicial verdicts have not been unanimous in all cases despite the same evidences, witnesses and records were available before the judges. This only suggests that in the matters of faith, probably the legal and judicial principles too have no universal appeal or grasp, and perhaps considerable infuence of the emotions and inclinations remain at play.
After the fateful events of 1949, the locks of the disputed site were opened with the orders of the district court in 1986 allowing Hindus to worship at the site without altering the status quo. While the majority Hindus rejoiced the event in their struggle for centuries of securing the right of worship at the site; the Muslims, unhappy with the decision, constituted the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) to prepare for a prolonged battle to secure their own right or claim. After the demolition of the disputed structure in December 1992, the federal government (the Congress) acquired a little over 66 acres of land in Ayodhya, including 2.77 acres of the disputed area, through an Ordinance that sought a status quo just prior to acquisition. The Presidential Act was challenged in a famous Ismail Faruqui vs Union of India case which by implication was also to decide if a mosque constitutes an essential part of the Islam.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court then decided by a majority 3-2 verdict that while offering the prayer or worship is a religious practice, its offering at every location where such prayers can be offered would not be an essential or integral part of such religious practice unless the place has a particular significance for that religion so as to form an essential or integral part thereof. By implication, this implied that offering namaz at the mosque was not an integral part to Islam. The same bench, however, declined to give its opinion whether a Hindu temple or any Hindu religious structure existed at the site before the construction of the Babri mosque.
As already mentioned before, in yet another milestone verdict, the Allahabad High Court decided in September 2010 to equally divide the disputed site in three parts; one part in favour of Ramlala (infant Rama), the second part to the Nirmohi Akhara and the third part to the Sunni Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh. Unhappy with the outcome of the court case, the Muslim group opted for the appeal in the Supreme Court and then the Hindu parties too followed suit. The main plea of the litigants was that the title suit was over the issue as to who was the owner of the disputed structure and not about the partitioning of the property. After a lull of seven years, when the Supreme Court started hearing of the case in February 2018, it was clearly visible that the pleaders of the majority community were keen for an early resolution of the issue while the ones representing the minority community were seen doing everything that could prolong the judicial process.
Clearly, there are only two viable options to resolve the long pending dispute which is constantly threatening the communal harmony and peaceful coexistence of the two major communities in India. Even the Dupreme Court has suggested that the best course would be an out of court settlement of the Ram-janmabhoomi Babari-masjid dispute. The Hindus have at least four thousand years' cultural and religious history in the Indian sub-continent. For Hindus, Lord Rama is an eternal hero - an embodiment of truth and morality, an ideal son, an ideal husband, and above all, an ideal king to look after his subjects. As per the religious belief, he is the most important Avtar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. As per the traditional Hindu belief, Ayodhya was Rama’s birthplace, capital, kingdom and karmabhoomi in the ancient ages. In short, for the devout and faithful Hindus, Rama’s birthplace has similar religious, socio-cultural and emotional value as Mecca may have for the Muslims and/or Vetican has for the Christians.
In 1994 Supreme Court verdict of a 5-judge bench in the Ismail Faruqui vs Union of India case, the position of a mosque vis-à-vis Islam, and for that matter any religion, has been amply clarified and the position has been reiterated in a recent judgment in September 2018 again. It is true of the Hinduism and it is true of the Islam that a temple or mosque is not an essential part of religion for the worship or prayer but certain temporal seats or places may have significant value for the faithful as illustrated in the foregoing paragraph. In fact, the other significant sect of Islam (Shia) in India and many people in general of the minority community understand this truth and are whole-heartedly supporting the cause of the Rama Janmbhoomi. Therefore, it is in the larger interests of all that the leaders and clergy in the minority community show the required goodwill and kindness to settle the issue through peaceful negotiations. This kind gesture would for sure undo many wrongs done in the past and during the unfortunate event in December 1992 and the backlash there-against.
The other viable but less desirable alternative is that the Apex Court may take cognizance of the gravity of the cause in right perspective, initiate judicial proceedings through uninterrupted hearings and deliver an early verdict in the case. Currently, some politicians or parties with their opportunist and ambiguous utterances and manoeuvers are trying to exploit the situation for their vested interests. They should stop behaving like vultures, spare this cause and cooperate with the judicial process to facilitate an early verdict. In such case, once a judgment is delivered, both the communities must accept and honour it, irrespective of the outcome, and desist from taking any recourse to other available legal options which may only further complicate and drag the issue.
The approach of the judiciary could really perplex and beat any rational and judicious mind in this case. It's so because in this country, the self-proclaimed human rights activists, liberals and sympathizers of the enemy of nation and terrorist condemned to death are able to approach the Apex Court for hearing at the midnight; the same elements could seek an urgent hearing within hours for relief to the urban naxals with a chequered history of anti-national activities ignoring the normal prescribed judicial route; but a critical issue of the national importance which has been agitating minds of millions of Indians and has already taken a toll of thousands of innocent lives is routinely and repeatedly adjourned on various pretexts including the position that the court has other priorities to attend. Judiciary is one of the three most important limbs of the Indian democracy and has an added responsibility to deliver correct and timely justice, particularly in view of the deep vested interests and rot in the remaining two organs of the executive and legislature. People still have aspirations and faith in judicial process; hence the judiciary should also reciprocate and respond same way. Indeed, the justice delayed is justice denied...a very old legal maxim often ascribed to PN Bhagvati, a former Chief Justice of India, having remarked in a case is so relevant.
Continued to “The Kargil War of 1999”