#AyodhyaVerdict| A Brief History Of India's Most Controversial Land Dispute

A look at the chronology of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case

Vanya Lochan Updated: Nov 9, 2019 10:02:32 IST
#AyodhyaVerdict| A Brief History Of India's Most Controversial Land Dispute The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure was demolished on December 6, 1992. Image Source: India Today

One of the longest-running land disputes in India, the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, also known as the Ayodhya case, is likely to draw a close as the Supreme Court will announce the ‘Ayodhya verdict’ today. The 40-day long hearing for this much prolonged politically sensitive and divisive case was closed on 16 October, which was followed by much speculation and acrimonious debates. Today, the CJI Ranjan Gogoi-led five-judge Constitution bench which consists of Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, Justice S. A. Bobde, Ashok Bhushan and S. A. Nazeer is expected to release its judgment. 

Here’s a quick look at the chronology of the case: 

  • A section of Hindus has always claimed that the disputed land in Ayodhya is actually the birthplace of Hindu God Rama where a mosque was built in 1528–29 CE by Mir Baqi, commander of Mughal Emperor, Babur. They claim that a temple stood on the site which is known as ‘Babri Masjid’, owing to it being constructed during Babur’s reign. Their belief is that the mosque was actually constructed on its ruins. 
  • The dispute also has some roots in colonial India as in 1885 CE, Mahant Raghubir Das filed, what is the first plea, concerning this piece of land in Faizabad district court seeking permission to build a canopy outside the structure, however, only to face rejection. This was followed by communal violence at the site which ended in the colonial government assigning the inner court to Muslims and the outer court to the Hindus. 
  • In 1949, for the first time, an idol of Rama in his childhood avatar (Ram Lalla), was placed under a central dome inside the disputed construction. The Muslim community protested against the same, following which, the Centre proclaimed the premises as a disputed area and locked its gates up. 
  • In 1950, Gopal Simla Visharad filed suit in Faizabad district court for rights to worship the idol of Ram Lalla. 
  • In 1959, the Nirmohi Akhara filed a case seeking consent to construct a Rama temple in the area adjacent to the structure, in what is called the ‘Rama Chabutra’. The plea was rejected by the sub-judge owing to its potential to become a “threat” to public order. 
  • In 1961, UP Sunni Central Waqf Board challenged the three suits filed by the Hindus' side, declaring Babri Masjid as its property. A few other Muslims filed cases through separate pleas. Following this, all the lawsuits were transferred to the Allahabad High Court for adjudication.
  • On 1 February, 1986, local courts ordered the government to open the site for Hindu worshippers.
  • Following a period of status quo, the fateful day of 6 December, 1992, arrived when Babri Masjid was demolished by ‘karsevaks’, thus sparking widespread communal violence.
  • In 1993, the ‘Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act’ was passed for the acquisition of land by Centre in the disputed area. Following large-scale debates on religion, the pertinence of the mosque as an institution to Islam, and secularism, the Supreme Court ordered that no religious activity of any nature be allowed at the land.
  • In 2010, the Allahabad High Court in a 2:1 majority decided on a three-way division of disputed area among Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. 

The case then reached the Supreme Court. 

  • Amid several ensuing debates and attempts at settlements was a suggestion for an out-of-court settlement put forward by Justice J. S. Khehar. 
  • Following several deferrals and what could be called some of the most trailblazing attempts in India at analyzing theology and political secularism, the 5-judge Constitution bench was formed. 

The Ayodhya verdict is definitely going to create massive ripples. In the end, we should hope for justice to prevail and hope that India stays strong enough to not get submerged in the high-tide.

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