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Ayodhya dispute timeline: From the time of Goswami Tulsi Das to present day

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Sanatana Dharma Scriptures have accurately described the geographic position of Ayodhya as well as the birth of Shri Rama in this holy city.

sahasradhārāmārabhya yojanaṃ pūrvato diśi ।।
pratīci diśi tathaiva yojanaṃ samatovadhiḥ ।। 64 ।।

dakṣiṇottarabhāge tu sarayūtamasāvadhiḥ ।।
etatkṣetrasya saṃsthānaṃ harerantargṛhaṃ sthitam ।। matsyākṛtiriyaṃ vipra purī viṣṇorudīritā ।। 65 ।।

‘Ayodhya is situated till one yojana to the East of Sahasradharateerth, till one yojana to the West of Samateerth, till one yojana to the South of river Saryu’s banks and till one yojana to the North of Tamasa river. This is the inner abode of Lord Vishnu. This city has been told to have a shape of a fish.’

[64,65 ayodhyāmāhātmya, vaiṣṇavakhaṇḍa, skandapurāṇa] gateṣu pṛthivīśeṣu rājā daśarathastadā।
praviveśa purīṃ śrīmān puraskṛtya dvijottamān।।1.18.5।।

‘After the departure of the rulers, the exalted king Dasaratha preceded by the foremost of
brahmins entered the city (of Ayodhya)’.

tato yajñe samāpte tu ṛtūnāṃ ṣaṭsamatyayu:।
tataśca dvādaśe māse caitre nāvamike tithau।।1.18.8।।

nakṣatre’ditidaivatye svoccasaṃstheṣu pañcasu।
graheṣu karkaṭe lagne vākpatāvindunā saha।।1.18.9।।

prodyamāne jagannāthaṃ sarvalokanamaskṛtam।
kausalyā’janayadrāmaṃ sarvalakṣaṇasaṃyutam।।1.18.10।।

‘Six seasons (one year) passed after the completion of the sacrifice. In the twelfth month of Chaitra on the ninth day (of the bright fortnight), with Aditi as presiding deity when the star Punarvasu was in the ascendent and the five planets Sun, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus, were exalted in their own house in karkata lagna, when Brihaspati was in conjunction with the Moon, Kausalya gave birth to a son: a facet of Visnu, Lord of the entire universe who received obeisance from all the worlds and was adorned with all auspicious signs, the venerable one to perpetuate the Ikshvaku race.’
[sarga 18, bālakāṇḍa, vālmīki rāmāyaṇa]

In 1528, during the reign of Babur, the first Mughal emperor, some have claimed that a Hindu Temple at the Janamsthan of Ramachandra was demolished, and a building was constructed at the same location by Mir Khan. The incident was recorded by eminent authors of the time, of both Sanatana Dharma and Islamic Communities, and it is well established that the temple was destroyed by Babur’s commander Meer Baki. The Archaelogical Survey of India found clinching evidence that the building was constructed over the Vishnu Hari Temple at the site during 2002-2003 excavations, under the observation of and verified by the Allahabad High Court.

In 1853, the first recorded communal clashes occurred over the site. In the first petition made to the British government by the Mutawalli of Babri Masjid on 30th November, 1858, the disputed structure was referred to as the Masjid-e-janmasthan. In 1859, the colonial British administration put a fence around the site, denominating separate areas of worship for Hindus and Muslims. In 1885, Mahant Raghubar Das in a suit (no. 61/280 of 1885) filed in the court of Faizabad sub-judge against the Secretary of State for India prayed for the permission to build a temple on a plinth outside the mosque. His suit was dismissed in 1886. This is how the matter stood till December of 1949, when idols of Sanatana Dharma Deities were placed inside the mosque, and as fate would have it; both sides to the dispute filed civil suits. The government locked the gates, saying the matter was sub-judice and declared the area disputed. The civil suits were filed for ownership of the Plot no 583 of the area.

In 1961, a case was filed in the Indian courts against forceful occupation of the Babri Mosque and placing of idols within it. Interestingly, it was the Sunni Wakf Board that began a legal claim on this land starting 1961. However, as per Shia Wakf Board, Babur came to Ayodhya for seven days and in such a short time, it was not possible for him to destroy the Vishnu Hari Temple, construct a site for offering namaz and declare himself as a Wakif. That is why the case should have been fought by the Shia Wakf Board and not a Sunni. Also, it was Meer Baki, a Shia Muslim who wanted to construct a site where Shias could offer namaz. Since then, in 1984, the movement to rebuild the Vishnu Hari temple at the site, which Sanatana Dharma adherents claim to be the birthplace of Lord Ram, gathered momentum when various pro-temple groups formed a committee to spearhead the construction of the Vishnu Hari temple at the Ramjanam-bhoomi site.

The most important point to be noted is that, Indian, International as well as Sharia laws consider mosque as a prayer hall to offer namaz. Dr. Subramanian Swamy provides multiple legal citations in ‘Rebuilding Ram temple at Ayodhya’. The Supreme Court constitutional Bench in Faruqi vs Union of India [(1994) 6 SCC 376] has held that a mosque is not an essential part of Islamic religion and that namaz can be performed anywhere.

On page 416 para 80 of the report, the Supreme Court observed,

“It has been contended that a mosque enjoys a particular position In Muslim law and once a mosque is established and prayers are offered in such a mosque, the same remains for all time to come a property of Allah and any person professing Islamic faith can offer prayer in such a mosque, and even if the structure is demolished, the place remains the same where Namaz can be offered.”

In para 82, the Constitution Bench rebutted it stating,

“The correct position may be summarized thus: Under Muslim law applicable in India, the title to a mosque can be lost by adverse possession. A mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz can be offered anywhere, even in the open. Accordingly, its acquisition is not prohibited by the provisions in the Constitution of India.”

In 1986, a district judge ordered the gates of the mosque to be opened after 37 years (see 1949 above) and allowed Sanatana Dharma Adherents to worship inside the “disputed structure.” A Babri Mosque Action Committee was formed as muslims protested the move to allow Sanatana Dharma prayers at the site. The gates were opened in less than an hour after the court decision. In 1989, the clamour for building a Vishnu Hari/Ram temple was growing. In February, VHP proclaimed that a shila or a stone will be established for construction of temple near the area. In November, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad laid foundations of a temple on land adjacent to the “disputed structure” in presence of Home Minister Sh Boota Singh and then Chief Minister Sh ND Tiwari.

There were sporadic clashes in the country such as Bhagalpur in Bihar. In 1990, Sh V P Singh became the Prime Minister of India with support of BJP which had won 58 seats in the election, a massive improvement from its last tally of 2 seats. The then BJP president Lal Krishna Advani took out a cross- country rathyatra to garner support for the move to build a Ram temple at the site. On 23 October, he was arrested in Bihar during the yatra, following which BJP took back its support to the government. Sh Chandrashekhar became the Prime Minister of India with support of the Congress. On October 30, many were gunned down by the police on orders of the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, when they gathered in Ayodhya as participants of the Rath-Yatra; their bodies were thrown in the river Saryu. This was the pre-cursor to the Babri Masjid Demolitions that got the pro-temple groups all riled up.

In 1991, Congress came to power at center after elections in 1991, while BJP became major opposition party in center and came to power in many states such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Kalyan Singh became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. State government acquired 2.77 acre land in the area and gave it on lease to RamJanmBhoomi Nyas Trust. The Allahabad High Court stopped any permanent construction activity in the area. Kalyan Singh publicly supported the movement while Central Government took no action to curb the increasing tensions. In spite of the High Court judgement, the disputed area was leveled.

In 1992, Kalyan Singh took steps to support the movement such as making entry into area easier, promising no firing on Karsevaks, opposing decision of central government to send Central Police force in the area, etc. In July, several thousand Karsevaks assembled in the area and the work for maintenance of temple started. This activity was stopped after intervention of the prime minister. Meetings started between Babri Masjid Action Committee and VHP leaders in presence of the home minister. On 30 October, Dharam Sansad of VHP proclaimed in Delhi that the talks have failed and Karseva will presume from 6 December.

Central Government was considering the deployment of central police forces in the area and dissolution of state government but in the end decided against it. The case was being heard in the Supreme Court which told that State Government is responsible for ensuring law and order in the area. The government was discussing it in Cabinet Committee meeting and Rashtriya Ekta Parishad. BJP boycotted the Parishad. The Allahabad High Court was hearing the matter of legality of structure of foundation laid in 1989.

On 6th December 1992, the dome of the superstructure known as Babri Masjid was brought down as an outcome of mob violence, with the presence of nearly 200,000 Karsewaks and thus a criminal case was filed in the courts. Communal riots across India followed. On the 16th of December, 1992, ten days after the demolition, the Congress government at the Centre, headed by PV Narasimha Rao, set up a commission of inquiry under Justice Liberhan. In 1993, three months after being constituted, the Liberhan Commission began investigations into who and what led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque.

In 2001, tensions rose on the anniversary of the demolition of the mosque as the VHP reaffirmed its resolve to build a temple at the site. On the 27th of February, 2002, at least 58 people were killed in Godhra, Gujarat, in an attack on a train believed to be carrying Hindu volunteers from Ayodhya by a mob of Muslims. Riots followed in the state and over 2000 people, both Hindus and Muslims, were unofficially reported to have died tragically in these. In 2003, the court ordered a survey to find out whether a temple to Lord Ram existed on the site. In August, the survey presented evidence of a temple under the mosque.

In the Farooqi Constitutional bench judgment of the Supreme Court [page 427-428], the Solicitor General is quoted by the Supreme Court Constitutional Bench as stating on affidavit as follows:
“If a Hindu temple/structure did exist prior to the construction of the demolished [babri] structure, government action will be in support of the wishes of the Hindu community.”

This is also similar to the commitments made in 1991 by Muslim representatives of Babri Masjid Action Committee to the then Government. Prominent Muslim leaders made the following commitment, “…if these assertions were proved, the Muslims will voluntarily hand over the disputed shrine to the Hindus….”

This commitment/assurance is recorded in Government of India’s White Paper in paras 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3.
In the report of the Archeological Survey of India, NW and Oudh in chapter 10, page 67, it is described that “Babri mosque was built in 1528 AD by Mir Khan on the very spot where the old temple of Janmsthan of Ramchandra was standing.”

GPRS excavations carried out under the supervision of Allahabad High Court establish that a large temple existed below where Babri mosque structure stood. The Sunni Wakf board doesn’t accept these findings as of any means or consequences. It doesn’t matter if all this was indeed so or not, since under Section 295 on Indian Penal Code[IPC] it is prescribed that “Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship or any object held sacred by any class of persons, with the intention thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as an insult to their religion, shall be punishable with the imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

In September 2003, the court ruled that seven Hindu leaders, including some prominent BJP leaders, should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque. This had political ramifications, as BJP’s political fortunes were rising in the early nineties among Hindus due to their support for the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, and the opposition left no stone unturned to put a stop to this rise of BJP. In November 2004, an Uttar Pradesh court ruled that an earlier order which exonerated LK Advani for his role in the destruction of the mosque should be reviewed.
In 2007, the Supreme Court refused to admit a review petition on the Ayodhya dispute. In 2009, the Liberhan Commission, which was instituted ten days after the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992, submitted its report on 30 June- almost 17 years after it began its inquiry. Its contents were not made public.

On 30th September, 2010, the Allahabad High Court pronounces its verdict on four title suits relating to the Ayodhya dispute and divided the Ramjanam-bhoomi land into three parts and providing the claim to Hindu Mahasabha, Nirmohi Akhada and Sunni Wakf Board. But immediately in December 2010, the Akhil Bharatiye Hindu Mahasabha and Sunni Wakf Board challenged part of Allahabad High court’s decision in Supreme Court. Supreme Court accepted it on 9th May 2011 giving a stay on High Court’s orders splitting the disputed site in three parts and said that status quo will remain. The two-judge bench of Supreme Court remarked that the High Court ruling was surprising as no party wanted a split of the site.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy had requested a day-to-day hearing in the court but the court said it couldn’t be done. In the trial on Ram Mandir on 5th December in the Supreme court, a three-judge bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Abdul Nazeer have deferred the hearing till 8th February 2018 after the petitioners asked for reasonable time to get the documents ready.

In pursuance of the apex court’s earlier direction, the Yogi Adityanath government has submitted English translation of exhibits and documents likely to be relied upon, as these were in eight different languages. The apex court said that this would be the last opportunity to get papers ready and no further details would be entertained.

The Sunni Waqf Board, arguing for a postponement in the hearing till after 2019 general election, says the proceedings in the Ayodhya Temple case would span over the entire next year. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal appeared as a lawyer of Sunni Wakf Board and advocated their stand. The Supreme Court, however, says when original suit was finished in 90 days by the Allahabad High Court, why should it take longer here? Sunni Wakf Board also wanted the case to be heard by a five-judge or seven-judge Constitution bench. The Supreme Court questioned why a title dispute should be heard by a seven-judge bench. On 6th April ‘2018, the Supreme Court of India rules against immediate constitution of a larger bench to hear the case. The bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Abdul Nazeer will pronounce the verdict, which had reserved it on 20th July ‘2018. The current Chief Justice is retiring in October, 2018 so even he would probably want to settle the most burning case of India by today, the 27th of September 2018.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UP government, had said this dispute has been awaiting final adjudication for “almost a century”.

Where Sunni Wakf board is fighting for the possession of land, Dr. Subramanian Swamy is fighting for the fundamental right to worship which makes his case stronger. Shia Wakf board had accepted that they are in favour of leaving the RamJanam-bhoomi land and build a mosque someplace else.

The special bench of the apex court is seized of a total of 14 appeals filed against a high court judgement delivered in four civil suits.

  • The special bench will decide whether or not the Ayodhya case will go to a larger constitutional bench.
  • The Muslim Litigants are contesting the 1994 judgement that says that the Mosque is not essential to Islam for offering namaz.
  • UP government is saying that the Muslim Parties didn’t question the legality of the 1994 judgement till the appeal against the 2010 HC judgement.

Ayodhya Mandir Verdict in, Hearings Start as on October 29th, 2018. The case won’t be referred again to a constitutional bench of five judges, the 1994 judgement stands that a mosque is not essential to the practice of Islam.

Razing of the Ramjanam-bhoomi temple as described by Gosvami Tulsidas

The following excerpts have been taken from the book ‘Doha Shatak’ of Gosvami Tulsidas. It has been referred to by Jagadguru Rambhadracharya in Allahabad High Court and recorded on page 783 of the verdict.

maṃtra upaniṣada brāhmanahum̐ bahu purāna itihāsa । javana jarāye roṣa bhari kari tulasī parihāsa ॥85॥

Goswami Tulsidas Ji says that infuriated Yavans (barbarians /Mohammedans) burnt many texts/scriptures containing incantations, Upanishads, treatises like Brahmans (part of Veda- s), Puranas, Itihas (Valmiki Ramayana, Mahabharat) after ridiculing them.

sikhā sūtra te hīna kari bala te hindū loga।
bhamari bhagāye deśa te tulasī kaṭhina kujoga ॥ 86 ॥

Goswami Tulsidas says that in hard and inappropriate times, forcible attempts are being made by Muslims to expel the followers of Hinduism from their own native place (country), forcibly divesting them of their Shikha (lock of hair on the crown of head) and ‘Yagyopaveet’ (sacrificial thread).

bābara barbara āike kara līnhe karavāla ।
hane pacāri pacāri jana tulasī kāla karāla ॥ 87 ॥

Describing the barbaric attack of Babur, Goswami Tulsidas says that he indulged in gruesome genocide of the natives of that place (followers of Hinduism) using sword after repeatedly calling out to them.

saṃvata sara vasu bāna nabha grīṣma ṛtu anumāni ।
tulasī avadhahiṃ jaḏ javana anaratha kiya anakhāni ॥ 88 ॥

Gowami Tulsi Das Ji says that countless atrocities were committed by foolish ‘Yavans’ (Mohammedans) in Awadh (Ayodhya) in and around the summer of Samvat 1585, that is, 1528 AD (Samvat 1585- 57=1528 AD).

rāma janama mahiṃ maṃdirahiṃ tori masīta banāya ।
javahiṃ bahuta hinduna hate tulasī kīnhī hāya ॥ 89 ॥

Describing the attack made by Yavans on Shri Ramjanambhumi temple, Goswami Tulsidas says that after a number of Hindus were mercilessly killed, Shri Ram Janmbhumi temple was broken and converted to a mosque. Looking at the ruthless killing of Hindus, Goswami Tulsidas says that his heart felt aggrieved, that is, it began to weep, and on account of the incident it continues to writhe in pain.

dalyo mīrabākī avadha mandira rāmasamāja ।
tulasī rovata hṛdaya hati trāhi trāhi raghurāja ॥ 90 ॥

Mir Baqi destroyed the temple in Ayodhya along with the idols of Ram, Sita, Bharata, Lakshmana, Shatrughna and Hanuman. Goswami Tulsidas says that he cries, beating his chest, “O the best amongst scions of Raghu dynasty! Save us!”

rāma janama maṃdira jahām̐ lasata avadha ke bīca ।
tulasīracīmasītataham̐ mīrabām̐kikhalanīca॥91॥

Goswami Tulsidas says that the mosque was constructed by the wicked Mir Baqi after demolishing Sri Ram Janmbhumi temple, situated in the middle of Ayodhya.

rāmāyana ghari ghanṭa jaham̐ śruti purāna upakhāna ।
tulasī javana ajāna taham̐ kiyo kurāna ajāna ॥ 92 ॥

Tulsi Das Ji says that the Quran as well as Azaan call is heard from the holy place of Shri Ram Janam Bhumi, which once reverberated with discourses from Shrutis, Vedas, Puranas, Upnishads etc. and the sweet sound of temple bells.
Facts about a temple’s presence on RamJanam-bhoomi.

In the tenth chapter of Report of Archeological Survey of India, North-West and Oudh(1889), page 67 mentions that Babri mosque “was built in AD 1528 by Mir Khan on the very spot where the old temple of Janmsthan of Ramchandra was standing.”

GPRS excavations done under Allahabad High Court monitoring and verification in 2002-03 established that a large temple of Vishnu Hari, who according to Hindu beliefs had killed

demon king Dashanan, used to exist below the structure that came to be known as Babri mosque. Ain-i-Akbari [III:334, 316-17] records Ayodhya as the birthplace of Shri Ram.

Mughal authorities issued a sanad in July, 1723 and the writer of the sanad stated in Persian that he was writing it from ‘maulud i.e. birthplace of Rama.’

In the first petition made to the British government by the Mutawalli of Babri Masjid on 30th November, 1858, the disputed structure was referred as Masjid-e-janmasthan. On 21st January 1870, the structure was referred as Masjid Baburi Waqia Janmsthan.

Maulana Hakim Sayyid Abd al-Hayy in his work titled Jannah al-Mashriq wa Matla’an Nur al- Mashriq recorded mosque being built by Babur on the site where Shri Ram was born and a magnificent temple once stood here.
Foreign works of Urdu, Persian, Austria have recorded the same incident of the temple being razed and the subsequent erection of a structure by Babur.

After the British takeover of the city, all official records have unanimously declared that the Babri structure occupied the RamJanam-bhoomi land.

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