Babri Mosque Fi­asco: The Politico-le­gal Bat­tle That Has Tran­scended Cen­turies

Libertatem Magazine - - Contents - by Nada Faruqi

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.

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