Shia Leadership And Babri Masjid

Kalbe Jawad with Yogi Adityanath
Kalbe Jawad with Yogi Adityanath

The general elections results came on May 23, signaling a robust 300 plus majority to BJP under Narender Modi. As a run-up to the polls, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, now Defense Minister, made a visit to the residence of Ammar Rizvi in Lucknow on April 5, a cog who has had a long career on the Shia political radar in UP. The occasion also found Maulana Agha Roohi, with ‘hands-joined’ in a stand-up position. BJP and Shia leadership romance emanates from the time when Bhartiya Jana Sangh, BJP predecessor, was in fray and Lucknow West was plastered with posters of Ulema-e-Jana Sangh, in 1967 Assembly elections, in which BJS Lalu Sharma had won from what was once a Shia-majority seat.

With the dawn of Modi first government in 2014, the last five years have been a great spurt in banners, posters and billboards, what to say about facebook etc of any ‘Shia claimant of leadership’ and not sporting an alignment for liaison for Ram Temple construction at the site of Babri Masjid. This zest has got further impetus since Yogi assumed power (2017) and his only Muslim minister Mohsin Raza (MLC) has openly declared himself to be a Hindu, another BJP MLC Buqqal Nawab is doing everything to out-do Mohsin, by organising hawans, pujas, yagyas on frequent intervals and has even claimed that his ancestors were Brahmins and disciples of Lord Hanuman. Interestingly, when he was with SP (2012-17) he had left the party red-faced as he had then declared Rs 10 lacs for the Ram Temple construction and a golden crown to Lord Ram.

How Shia leadership has ‘fared and flirted’ with Babri Masjid/Ram Temple issue, in the last three decades, perhaps deserves to be put into frame, when particularly the issue is in its final phase in the SC. Out of my 20 years of writing and reporting on Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid issue, during which I could visit Ayodhya a number of times, on Babri Masjid demolition anniversaries, its excavation by ASI in 2003, observed the case proceedings for years from ‘the last bench’ at the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court, and in its wake also could write around two-dozen articles on the issue in newspapers like Arabnews, The Milligazette. During this period, by virtue of me in the midst, I could become privy to a hitherto quite an un-deliberated aspect which can be categorised as the ‘many shades of grey’ of Shia leadership which no doubt has become circumspect, however, much to its wont.

The recent advances of UP Shia Central Waqf Board, Chairman Waseem Rizvi on the issue of Babri Masjid, Ayodhya, warrants a sine quo non on the stated Shia position on Babri Masjd, particularly so, when the penchant of Modi and Yogi governments for Shia nominees in their ministries as well as at central bodies is all too high. Waseem Rizvi has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on August 8, 2017, hearing the Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid case, and had sought to surrender Babri Masjid to Hindu side for the reason that Mir Baqi-the commander of Emperor Babur who built Babri Masjid in 1528 was a Shia and that Babri Masjid was a Shia mosque. A claim which Shia Waqf Board had already lost in 1946. Waseem Rizvi step no doubt gave a body blow to the Shia-Sunni relations, particularly so, in a world of Post-Sep 11, where the talk hovers around only in Shia-Sunni parables.

When Babri Masjid lay demolished on Dec 6, 1992, Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatullah Khamenei had addressed Iran’s parliament on Islamic wetenschhuang towards Babri Masjid. But, soon the concerns were belied as Iran’s President Rafsanjani on his visit to India in 1994 1 asked Muslims to forget Babri Masjid. Now after three decades of the opening of Babri Masjid locks (Feb 1, 1986), the Shia leadership participation in Babri Masjid campaign and also its opposite corollary- towards BJP, is as curious as of its own kind. Shias make 10% of the overall Muslims in India, with their largest presence in Lucknow-the once capital to a Shia state outside Iran.

Kalbe Abid, the then Vice President of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, represented the most reputable Shia Ulema family, with the largest Shia mass base in India, had gone vociferous, after Feb 1, 1986, and asked Muslims to march towards Ayodhya and not to relent until Babri Masjid was handed over to Muslims. His voice resonating from Daya Nidhan Park is still fresh in Lucknow. He was paramount in his support until he died in a road accident on Dec 12, 1986. Some close family quarters say he was murdered. His funeral had attracted the biggest Shia-Sunni congregation ever in Lucknow, thus Babri Masjid campaign could signal ‘a calm’ for the next two-decades to the otherwise acrimonious Shia-Sunni relations in Lucknow. AIMPLB is the apex body of Muslim representation in India. I had attended his funeral.

Abid’s younger brother Kalbe Sadiq succeeded him in AIMPLB but much to its dismay gave a shocker! In 1990 when 48 districts in UP were under curfew, in the wake of UP CM Mulayam Singh ordering ‘fire’ on Karsevaks who had gathered in Ayodhya to damage Babri Masjid, Sadiq had come to Zafaryab Jilani, the convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee, and had angrily asked him to surrender Babri Masjid. Jilani had contended to Sadiq that if religious scholars were to make such a consensus through AIMPLB he would comply. Sadiq had come in a sarkari (government official) car with UP state minister Mukhtar Anis. Mulayam Singh sometime later enquired Jilani if there was any rumbling to surrender the mosque. The plot had got connected. Sadiq and Mukhtar were acting on their own! Zafaryab Jilani recounted to me the same in as many words.

After the demolition, BMAC restricted itself to pursue only the legal case of Babri Masjid at the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court under AIMPLB stewardship, which on Sep 30, 2010 decided that Babri Masjid site belongs to Lord Ram, as per the Hindu side belief that Lord Ram was born at the same spot 9,00,000 years back. Two-third of the site was given to Hindus ( to
Bhagwan Shri Ram Lala Virajman and Nirmohi Akhara) and one-third to Muslims. During the course of trial, the Muslim side could put up three Shia witnesses. Chaudhry Sibte Muhammed 2 , History Professor Shirin Moosvi of AMU and Kalbe Jawad-the son of Kalbe Abid. All the three testified that the mosque is only a mosque and not a Shia or a Sunni mosque. Professor Moosvi, a historian, maintained in her testimony, that Mir Baqi, was not a Shia, which impliedly meant that he was a Sunni. I gathered this after surfing through her testimony recorded as a document. Sadiq was also to appear as a witness at HC but had refused for over the same. He was later put in a 11-member sub-committee set up by AIMPLB to look after Babri Masjid case from which too he had gleefully resigned, in order to forge an out of court deal with Kamyakoti Shankaracharya Jayender Saraswati, in 2003, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM. Eminent Shia journalist Saeed Naqvi was on the same page with Sadiq. The deal of course was to surrender Babri Masjid along with Kashi and Mathura disputed sites too. AIMPLB rejected Shankararharya proposal and also did not accept Sadiq resignation. Sadiq refusal to appear as witness was related to me by Chaudhry Sibte Muhammed.

Jawad all the while was winning accolades for his unequivocal support to Babri Majid but in 2009 he celebrated his daughter’s marriage on Dec 6, which left Muslims stunned. The very next year came the Sep 30, 2010 verdict and no wonder Muslims in hordes (both Shias and Sunnis) came up with their unsolicited advices to not to challenge the order in the SC. Shamil Shamsie, who runs Husaini Tigers, a cousin of Jawad, offered Rs 15 lakhs for Ram Mandir construction. Jawad very artfully took to a trip to Iraq just a day before the judgement, and his uncle Sadiq, held closed-door talks, at his residence in Lucknow, with Congress politician Digvijay Singh, and suggested that he had a solution to Babri Masjid problem which he would divulge later (it was then widely construed that the verdict would favour the Muslim side). Sadiq then would retreat from his suggestion. Syed Nizamuddin-the Amir of Sharia of Bihar had very severely objected to Sadiq’s move, informed a source inside AIMPLB . Mulayam Singh, however said that the verdict had ‘cheated’ Muslims and is facing a contempt of court notice.

From 2010 onwards there has been a hara-kiri as Jawad became embroiled in the worst ever mud-slinging match with his ‘once protege and now turned bete noir’ Waseem Rizvi. Both are accused of serious corruption of Waqf properties and are racing with each other to anyhow placate BJP. Jawad in 2014 openly lauded Modi becoming PM. Hameedul Hasan and his compatriot Sadiq, for all their savant, had earlier invited RSS chief KS Sudarshan to their offices, in Lucknow, in 2009 3 & 2011, Sadiq hugged LK Advani on Eid Milan( in Delhi) the same year-a rarity those days! But Sadiq had always been hobnobbing with such persons as even during the height of Gujarat 2002 riots he sat across the dining table with Pravin Togadia. When I had sought a reply from him Sadiq would answer that he cared a damn for Muslim opinion. When Sadiq was denied US entry in 2005, Muslims across the board rallied for him, but on his return he went to give thanks to Vinay Katiyar, an accused of Babri Masjid demolition. Ali Muhammed, a Shia religious ideologue from the same family and Kalbe Jawad, are right now engaged with their assorted tasks in AMU on the courtesies of Ex. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Finally, what Sadiq had withheld in 2010 has now come out as he has called upon Muslims to forsake Babri Masjid even if they win the case 4 . Jawad ‘off and on’ rushes to Ayodhya for Mahant Janmejaya Maharaj as his new resort 5 . Other Shia leaders like Hameedul Hasan, Maulana Zahid Ahmed, Maulana Yasoob Abbas have long been openly associated with BJP. Javed Mutruza (son of Justice Murtuza of High Court) who ran the organisation Ali Congress, had organised a congregation for the martyrs of riots after Babri Masjid demolition. He also brought a booklet Ram aur Islam, which was excerpted from BR Ambedkar book Riddles of Hindusim. The book was confiscated by the state. Senior journalists like Husain Afsar ( Inquilab, Mumbai ) , Ali Yasa ( IRNA, Iran), Alim Naqvi ( Inquilab, Mumbai) are the other few exceptions to Shia leadership who stood by the Babri Masjid.

It may be here recollected that the Shia proponents to surrender Babri Masjid are not all that new. When Bhagwan Shri Ram Lala Virajman, through his next friend Justice DN Agarwal, filed a case in the court of Civil Judge, Faizabad, on July 1, 1989, in that suit, Agarwal had impleaded several Shia parties, which included Shia Political Conference, Jawad Husain-who was the last surviving Mutawalli (trustee) of Babri Masjid since 1945, Prince Anjum Qadr 6 -from the family of the last king of Avadh, and Shia Waqf Board. The entire exercise was based on the tacit understanding between the then Union Home Minister Buta Singh 7 and Anjum Qadr to ultimately surrender Babri Masjid, but all of them, in their filing of written statements, admitted that Babri Masjid was built during the regime of Babur and denied that there was a temple on that site prior to the construction of Babri Majid on it. Shia Waqf Board, had then, did not file any written statement. The Shia parties, in fact in their filing of statements could not dare to the Muslim sentiments prevalent in the country then.

Shia Waqf Board clearly missed the bus in 1989. It could have put into ‘its stake’ even after the Sep 30, 2010 judgement, but it let the 90-days deadline pass, now Waseem Rizvi wants to put the clock into reverse. It may be known that no affidavit can be a substitute of pleading or evidence which is filed in the trial court, hence, Waseem Rizvi’s affidavit does not account for any legal sanctity. His overtures are nonetheless not novel as the older likes of Asghar Abbas 8 and Captain Sikander Rizvi 9 , had also tried their lot to surrender Babri Majid in 2004, when NDA was at the helm, and which could cut no ice. What however, is interestingly, is now even UP Sunni Central Waqf Board Chairman Zafar Farooqui 10 has suggested that Babri Masjid can be shifted-much to the glee of Hindu side. He was a part of a delegation led by Salman Nadvi which met Sri Sri Ravi Shanker on Feb 8, 2018.

The Shia leadership report card on Babri Masjid paints a dismal picture. Waseem Rizvi has also outdone his utility as after firing all salvos, placating the Hindutva forces, from August 8, 2017 onwards, he did not represent on Feb 26, 2019 in the Supreme Court, which finally has ordered a ‘mediation’ between Hindu and Muslim parties on March 8, 2019. Shia Waqf Board is not an invitee in the mediation. Waseem Rizvi however announced that he would commit suicide at the gates of Ram Temple in Ayodhya if Modi was not voted to power, something which he later had to withdraw. He however, also produced a film Ram Janambhumi, toeing the Hindu line but the film turned to be a super flop.

The real Shia position, however, on ground seem to be very grave as Hasanna Haider 11 , a Shia member of BJP from Ayodhya, was the first to be burnt by the Karsevaks on Dec 6, 1992, along with 18 other Muslims.

Ayodhya’s 23 mosques were also burnt. No FIR was lodged.

Haider Abbas has written extensively on Babri Masjid issue, is a lawyer, journalist and former UP State Information Commissioner.


  4. Give Babri land away and win hearts: AIMPLB Vice-President, The Times of India, August 13, 2017
  6. He was from Kolkata, West Bengal.
  7. See Again –


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