With the Supreme Court of India all set to decide the Ram Janambhumi-Babri Masjid case any day, the dubious role played by two politically ambitious bureaucrats occupies what position in the decision will be worth watching. Up till now the name of the then-District Magistrate of Ayodhya had promptly figured in court proceedings. But the other remained out of gaze in the high-voltage legal and political drama enacted by those who held the opinion that India should be declared a Hindu Rashtra after partition and that Muslims opting to stay back should accept gladly their new position as second-grade citizens.
The bureaucrats lying beneath thousands of documents related to one of the most important verdicts to be delivered on the Ayodhya issue might have not guessed in their wildest dreams that their coercive tactics and gross abuse of administrative machinery will one day expose the limitations of the judiciary in deciding the matter of faith.
It was not the District Magistrate (DM) KKK Nayar but the City Magistrate Guru Dutt Singh who was approached by Abhiram Das with the idea of placing the idol on the pulpit of the mosque, claiming that he was being asked to do so by Lord Rama himself in his dreams.
Singh also shared with him that he too was having similar dreams and so it was incumbent upon them to liberate ‘Janamsthan’ in free India. Singh then convinced the district magistrate to be part of the ‘conspiracy’ aimed at correcting the historical wrong done in 1528.
It was not a difficult task for Singh, for he knew the intimacy between the then-district magistrate and powerful Hindu Mahasabha leader Dig Vijay Nath, Mahant of Gorakhnath Temple. The trio held closed-door meetings in ‘Lorpur House’ to chalk out the strategy to place the idol on the premises.
They then finally decided on December 22 as the date for executing their game plan to frustrate ongoing efforts by the Nehru led-Congress to declare India as a secular state in the constitution adopted on January 26, 1950.
Both bureaucrats were confident of getting the support of Congress leaders having sympathy for the cause of a ‘Hindu India’ even after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, and when hectic efforts were being made by Nehru to have a secular nation.
The duo had made up their mind to assist Abhiram Das in his endeavour to liberate Lord Rama as both had reverence for ‘Mariyada Purushottam’ (translates to ‘peerless among men’). Singh resigned within six months after the appearance of idol while Nayar took voluntary retirement when they found the heat generated by the Prime Ministers Office (PMO), the Home Ministry, and the state government too hot to handle.
The city magistrate was a graduate from Allahabad University. He was tall, obstinate and rigid. He joined the provincial civil services but never wore hats preferred by the British. He attended his office wearing a turban and had even invited irk of the British officer Michael Nethersole during his posting in Bareilly. The incident did not dampen his spirit; he continued to attend office with the turban. Singh was not in favour of Partition. He visited Ayodhya annually before becoming the city magistrate there. From his college days, Lord Rama had been in his heart and putting him back to the place of birth became the sole mission of his life even at the cost of a coveted job.
Singh was of a firm opinion that Muslims should handover the mosque to Hindu brothers without hue and cry. In an interview given to Washington Post in 2012, his son was quoted as saying, “My father was a devout Hindu who used to have a tussle in his mind that while he respected Islam so much why Muslims don’t reciprocate.”
Singh had met Nayar, the DM, in the mid-1940s and soon discovered that they had a common love for Lord Rama. It is believed that they used their connections with the then appointment secretary and got themselves posted in Faizabad. Singh moved to Faizabad in 1948 and was joined by Nayar later.
After many closed-door meetings at Lorpur House, where the Singh family had moved, it was decided that with the help of the guards at the site, Abhiram Das and his aides were to gain entry into the mosque.
According to the version narrated by Singh’s son, there were two guards—One Hindu guard for the day shift and one Muslim guard for the night shift. The Hindu guard was taken into confidence by Singh by telling him about “the virtues he’ll earn for being a part of this ‘extremely holy work’.” On the other hand, the Muslim guard was ‘briefed’ by threatening. He was told that if he didn’t cooperate, he wouldn’t “live for long”.
On December 22, the plan was executed successfully. Abhiram and a small group of Sadhus entered into the mosque and placed Lord Rama idol under the central dome. At around 3 am, they started ringing bells inside the mosque and chanted ‘Jai Siyaram, Jai Siyaram’.
Now it was time for the Muslim guard to act. In the morning he gave a statement to the local authorities, “I saw the area under the central dome bathed in a golden light and then saw a tiny figure of Ram seemed to have appeared by itself.”
The Muslim guard’s “revelation” spread like wildfire. Thousands of Hindu devotees managed to reach Faizabad. All of them wanted to see the idol in the mosque that had ‘miraculously’ appeared.
Soon after the idols were installed, Singh resigned from his post. He believed that ‘his work was done’. Within six months he joined a Hindu nationalist party which was founded by a former president of the Hindu Mahasabha.
Singh was made the Jana Sangh’s district chief in Faizabad. Meanwhile, Nayar was transferred and he took voluntary retirement in 1952. He settled in Faizabad and joined the Jana Sangh along with his wife. In 1967, he contested the Lok Sabha elections and won the seat from a constituency near Ayodhya.
The duo succeeded in their plan. They also achieved what they wanted, little realising that their acts have badly affected our social fabric. The million-dollar question that arises today is whether it will ever be restored or not.