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Ayodhya: As the Countdown to Justice Begins; A Walk Down Memory Lane

Posted on September 26, 2010 in Society

By Divya Gupta:

It happened on that fateful day – December 6, 1992, a day of shame for India, a country that boasts of its secular ideologies. On that day, a section of people caused harm to the Babri Masjid (Babri Mosque), a place of worship in Ayodhya with the intention of creating a divide among different communities.

Sixteen years have passed by since that day. Days then were not marked as 9/11 and 26/11 or else 6/12 would have been legend by now, as a day not just black marked for all the things that the day has any way come to be associated with but also as the day when a section of our own people literally took hammer and tongs and smashed a piece of our own heritage and history.

This episode is not about fundamentalism or terrorism or communal divides. It is simply about the way, in which we view our history and culture and the way we seem to presume that with a few blows of the hammer, we can shape or alter our history and our legacy. No one knows conclusively as to who really had constructed the mosque — Babur or his commander or anyone else but does it matter? Just as no one knows the exact spot where Ram was born or Krishna was born but that doesn’t matter. They are venerated anyway, so the mosque that was destroyed on December 6, was part of our past, our heritage.

The following is an illustration of the development of the title suit which had been undertaken by the court in the past years:

1885 – The first suit was filed by Mahant Raghubir, seeking permission to build a temple on Ram Chabootra. But petitioners were not accepted by the Faizabad district court in 1886.

1950 – Second was by flied Hashim Ansari in the Faizabad court asking for the mosque gates to be opened and namaz allowed. Soon after which Gopal Visharad and Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das filed a suit asking for permission to offer prayers to deities at Asthan Janmabhoomi.

1959 – The third suit was filed by the the Nirmohi akhara (headed by Mahant Bhaskar Das) in the Faizabad court asking to remove Priya Dutt Ram from the management of the “temple” and take charge himself.

1961 – A fourth suit was filed by the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board asking for the restoration of the Muslims’ right to pray at the mosque.

1964 – All three suits filed by Hindus and the one filed by the Waqf Board are consolidated as suit No. 12/196, becoming the main case in the dispute.

1989 – VHP steps up campaign, laying the foundations of a Rama temple on land adjacent to the disputed mosque. Former VHP vice-president Justice Deoki Nandan Agarwal files a case, seeking the mosque be shifted elsewhere.

1992 – The mosque was razed by a Hindu mob, resulting widespread clashes between the Hindus and the Muslims in which more than 2,000 people lost their lives.

Jan 7, 1993 - After the demolition, the President Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma sends a single-point reference under Article 143 to the Supreme Court to decide whether a Hindu temple existed in the area on which “the structure” stood.

Oct 1994 – The SC declines to answer the Presidential Reference and returns it.

The criminal cases are still on hold against 49 persons, including L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati. They are accused of conspiring to demolish the Babri Masjid on Dec 6, 1992.

Apr 2002 – Arson attack on Ayodhya pilgrims in Godhra leaving 58 dead, spark clashes in Gujarat. This was followed by Allahabad High Court bench who began hearing on title suit.

Sep 2003 – A court rules that seven Hindu leaders should stand trial for creating the destruction of the Babri Mosque, but no charges are brought against Mr. Advani, who was also at the site in 1992.

Nov 2004 – A court in Uttar Pradesh rules that Mr. Advani’s role in the destruction of the mosque should be reviewed.

Jul 2010 -  High Court wraps up title suit hearing, verdict awaited.

Sep 23, 2010 – A day ahead of the Allahabad High Court verdict, the Supreme Court stayed the judgment.

And now the High Court will not be delivering its verdict on the Ayodhya title suit on September 24. All eyes will be on the Sep 28 hearing of the postponement petition. Meanwhile the situation is tense all over India especially in the epicenter of this dispute.

The Ayodhya issue is a political, historical and socio-religious debate. The controversial issue of Ram Janambhoomi and Babri Masjid has always been a big influence on Indian politics for several decades.

Such issues have strong repercussions which rarely if ever die. It may not affect us directly today. But such issues are like those stains which never go away and even if they do they leave their marks behind. We have to learn to live in harmony and learn to forgive and forget. The need of the hour is peace. And one of the ways could be by utilizing the place in such a manner that it benefits both the communities equally. I know it’s easier said than done, but things cannot continue the way they are. Maybe they will just dwindle into the dustbins of history some day like innumerable such issues.

On December 6, in Ayodhya, a bunch of Hindus destroyed a Muslim monument. In March, 2001, a bunch of Muslims having learnt their lesson well it would seem from Ayodhya, blew up the Bamiyan Buddha’s. Maybe there was a direct connection between the two — maybe there was none. But on both occasions, an immense piece of our heritage was lost and like Humpty Dumpty, all the world’s efforts and archaeologists can never ever bring them back to life again.

The writer is a Special Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.