Babri Mosque Fiasco: The Politico-legal Battle That Has Transcended Centuries
By Nada Zaim Faruqi (Aligarh Muslim University) With the number of cases pending in the Supreme Court of India, it would not be an overstatement to assert that the ‘test of time’ is a concept foreign to Indian cases. Indian judiciary has, to its credit, cases stretching across centuries. One such case is that of the Babri Mosque that has had new developments from time to time. It has had politicians, lawyers, activists, academicians, etc.; wrap their heads around the issue for years and base their careers on it. Constructed in 1528 (according to a widely held belief) by Mir Baqi on the orders of the Mughal emperor Babur, the mosque became a bone of contention between the Hindu community that claims that it had been built on the foundations of a temple which was the birthplace of Rama in Ayodhya; and the Muslim community that denies these claims. In 1853, first incident of communal violence was recorded at the disputed site. Thereafter, in the year 1853, British officials erected a fence allowing Muslims to use the inner court while permitting the Hindus to use the outer court. 1885 saw Mahant Raghubir Das seeking permission to build a canopy on Ramchabootra but his plea was rejected by the Faizabad District Court. Even though India attained independence from the British rule in 1947, the internal strife continues to this day and has in fact escalated several times. In 1949, idol of Rama surfaced which, the Muslims claimed, was placed by the Hindus. This led both the parties to file civil suits. The Government declared the area as ‘disputed’ and locked the gates. Amidst the first title suit by Gopal Singh Visharad seeking the right to worship the idols, the State of UP appealing against the injunction order, Ramchandra Paramhans filing another suit and later withdrawing it, Nirmohi Akhara entering the scene and filing the third suit and UP Sunni Central Board of Waqfs moving in to claim possession of the mosque and the adjoining land; all these events stretching across the period of 1950-1961, a new tangent was added to this communally charged politico-legal battle. In 1989, another fresh suit was filed by a former VHP vice-president for the declaration of title and possession followed by VHP laying foundations of Ram Temple on the adjacent land. Following the partial damage to the Mosque done by VHP volunteers, the building was brought down by the volunteers/supporters of BJP, VHP and Shiv Sena on 6 December, 1992 which led to nation-wide communal tension which saw near about 2,000 people die. In October, CBI filed a charge sheet accusing Advani and others of conspiracy. In December 1993, two FIRS were lodged, one against “unknown karsevaks” and the other alleging BJP leaders L. K. Advani, M M Joshi and others for ‘communal’ speeches. In 2001, Special CBI Court dropped proceedings against accused persons L K Advani, M M Joshi, Uma Bharti, Bal Thackeray, etc. After the Allahabad High Court order, CBI moved the Supreme Court against the HCS order. In 2015, the Supreme Court issued notices to L K Advani, M M Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh in response to a plea not to drop criminal conspiracy charges against the accused persons. On 6th April, 2017 the Supreme Court sought time-bound completion of the case and the latest development on 19th April is that the Supreme Court revived the criminal conspiracy charges against the accused persons under Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code. [Timeline courtesy: Indian Express & Livemint] Hatred is counter-intuitive to the idea of true religion. Let India witness peaceful coexistence in the face of whatever the Supreme Court rules in its decision on the Babri Mosque. The pluralistic ethos of India would have its D-day when the sellout elements in either of the religions do not have the upper hand to hijack this situation to further their own petty gains.