by Anya Daftary

Ram Janm-Bhoomi, or so they claimed. Babri Masjid, just built off a myth? A disputed piece of land claimed both by Hindus and Muslims. The case, going on for years, finally reached a verdict. A destroyed mosque, years of riots,  a socio-religious debate, over 2000 deaths and the pains of our legal system. But what brought us here? 

The Babri Masjid or, Babur’s Mosque is said to be constructed by Mir Baqi, a general of Babur, the first Mughal Emperor, in 1528, as per Babur’s orders. However, we do not find any text which talks about the presence of the mosque unti1668. The first actual record comes from Jai Singh II, a Rajput noble in the Mughal Courts. Interestingly enough, his documents compile of a three-domed structure that appears to be similar to the mosque but, however, is titled “birthplace1” and a courtyard which shows Hindus praying. Details were later confirmed by a Jesuit priest, 50 years later. The mosque remained there until 1962 wherein, it was destroyed amidst a political rally which turned into a riot. 

A worship site for Hindus and Muslims, casually called a “mosque-temple,” it seems to be just the kind of equality our country needs, right? But this “mosque-temple” did everything but create a mutualistic place of worship. Muslims remained inside the mosque while Hindus prayed outside it, but in the same compound. During the British raj, they set up a barricade of sorts to avoid conflicts. In 1949, an idol or Ram was placed inside the mosque. It is safe to say, things were never the same, then on. 

The seventh incarnation of Vishnu, Ram is widely worshipped across Hinduism. He was born in the kingdom of Ayodhya and it is said that that is where Hindus attain moksha, a release from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Ayodhya Mahatmya traced the maturity of the ram cult or following in the 2nd millennium AD. it became the Ramdurga or Ram’s fort, a pilgrimage site. Although there is no direct proof, a wide consensus based shreds of hazy evidence spread across centuries, Hindus believe there was once an ancient temple. 

These 33.11 square meters have been the cause of deep-rooted hate and discontentment between Hindus and Muslims

If there was a day where boundaries were crossed, it was 6 December 1966. A day India should not forget where Hindu kar sevaks stormed the masjid, demolishing the boundary wall, amongst other parts within the premises. When the masjid was broken, it created a series of riots, inter-communal ones that nation hadn’t witnessed since the partition of 1947.  Different retellings of the subsequent events are retold. The catalyst, unknown. Some say that the Muslims had their eye on a nearby temple and others that the Hindus broke in and placed an idol or ram as though they’d have these visions and dream. On December 23rd of 1949, idols or ram and Sita appeared in the mosque where allegedly 50 Hindus broke in to place them.  A documentary, Ram Ke Naam, or in the name of god (Trailer) discussed and explored the campaign the Hinduist side has set up. It was shot and filmed one year before the destruction of the masjid. It showed the hostility between the two sides and the politics between and propagated by the VHP. 

Litigations and the Justice System

30 September 2010, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court ruled for a three-way division of the land between Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Hindi Mahasabha. The three-judge bench cited faith in order to title the area as the Janmasthan of ram but ordered the three way split due to the historical use of land. Developments in the case continued for the next few decades, notables ones being,  The Liberhan commission, the excavation and when the Supreme Court 21 of the accused including top BJP leader such as LK Advani.

On October 9th, the Supreme Court finally reached a verdict unanimously, giving the land to the Hindus but, assigning a plot 5 acres away for the Sunni Waqf Board to build a mosque. The foreign world and other leftist members of today believe that this just another step in India becoming an extremist Hindutva state?  Perhaps today was one step forward towards finally living up to a word which has finally lost all meaning in our constitution. Secularism. 

In matters like this, there cannot be a right or a wrong. The involvement of the BJP and it’s close collisions with the VHP makes me question who we have elected. What does it say about our government? What does it say about our people? What is this saying about our democracy? What us it saying about our people?