COPYRIGHT THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD A photograph of the Babri Masjid from the early 1900s

The Muslims of India are fighting the case of Babri Masjid as their last line of defense. The odds are heavily against. A very hostile Hindu populace, with BJP striding to power in most of the states in India as well as at Center, nearly one-sided executive/police and a bitter neighbour (Hindu) on practically every turn of an alley, hence, the issue of Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid, Ayodhya, Faizabad, UP, is what can be construed to be a challenge to the very survival of Muslims in India. The story of Babri Masjid as yet has been that of despair, usurpation, betrayal and demolition and almost a legitimisation of demolition (Sep 30, 2010) and now it is only the Apex Court which stands in-between Muslims and the ultimate political agenda of BJP for making the Ram Temple at the site where Babri Masjid existed before it was demolished on Dec 6, 1992.

It is also true that when Babri Masjid was demolished the world abhorred it. The world stood by Muslims who were wronged in broad daylight, when Hindu mobs ran amok, ransacking and setting ablaze Muslim households all across India, after Dec 6, 1992 which found thousands killed, mostly Muslims, and thousands rendered homeless. This Ram Temple politics brought unprecedented misfortunes and mayhem to Muslim lives but Muslims braved it. Ironically, when the Babri Masjid locks were opened-up on Feb 1, 1986, since Dec 22/23 1949 when Babri Masjid was locked after Ram idols were surreptitiously and stealthily kept inside, Muslims made it an issue of secularism and an onslaught on Constitution of India and not as against Islam. It is also true that Hindus from all hues i.e. socialists, secularists, communists, lawyers, politicians, diplomats, journalists, human right activists etc supported Muslims but were too abysmal even when all put together to the huge mammoth of Hindu communalists who were frenzied to the hilt, sharpened by RSS, for the balance of history, as once suggested by a Hindu communalist noble laureate VS Naipaul. They as well as Muslims could not save Babri Masjid to the deceit of BJP Ex CM of UP Kalyan Singh, who had sworn on affidavit to SC, that he would safeguard Babri Masjid from any harm while Congress PM Narsimha Rao slept in Delhi. Kalyan Singh, the convict went to a one-day symbolic jail for it. All the demolition accused are right now at the zenith of power today, amid the BJP ministers now garlanding those accused of Muslim lynching and murders. No wonder, Narendra Modi’s ‘New India’ is now to prosper on the death pyre of Muslims. It may also be reiterated here that the Gujarat 2002 Muslim holocaust when its then CM Modi was at helm, was also an extension of the Ayodhya issue, as Hindu mobs were returning from Ayodhya to Ahmedabad, on Sabarmati Express, all on the way beating, rioting and looting shops at various stations, when on Feb 28, 2002 the train caught fire at Godhra, in which 58 Hindus were burnt, and in its reaction, ensued the Gujarat riots where thousands of Muslims lost their lives. It is also true that Justice UC Banerjee report (2006) had said it clearly that the train had caught fire from inside but the report was set aside.

The last 30 years have been ruinous for Muslims, ever since the opening of locks of Babri Masjid, there is a general sense of loss and despair enveloping the Muslims at large, with every passing day Muslims have been made to be relegated to the wall and Hindus on aggression with marching on orders . No wonder this has now reached its pinnacle as democracy is now to be celebrated at the altar of fascism. This Babri Masjid issue, hence, is to touch every citizen of India, a conformist to Hinduvta politics or otherwise, and if the judgement goes against Muslims, it will result not only in the making of Ram Temple, but actually, will lead to a situation, where thousands and thousands of mosques, imambaras, khanqas and thousands of waqfs, will be forcibly taken over, with no law agencies coming to the rescue of Muslims. There is already a list of 40,000 mosques to be converted into temples, apart from Kashi and Mathura sites. I am not being ominous or isolationist but the world is certainly going to be a witness to the history of Spain being re-enacted by means of democracy and not theocracy. This is not to discount the perpetual and permanent feature of riots since independence, but actually, after 1986, a sense of bewilderment of ‘lawlessness in the name of law’ has pervaded as a creeping element inside the Muslims at large.

Hence, it was never to be in the wildest of dream of Muslims that the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court, headed by Justice Sudhir Agarwal, Justice DV Sharma and Justice SU Khan would decide ( Sep 30, 2010) that Lord Rama was born just below the central dome of Babri Masjid 9,00,000 years back and that the site of Babri Masjid be divided into three parts, two-third of it going to Hindu side and the remaining to the Muslim side, and it is the same order which all the contesting parties challenged in the Supreme Court, where a Constitution bench is hearing the final-stage of this case headed by Justice Rajan Gogoi, Justice SA Bodbe, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, on a day-to-day basis from August 5 onwards. Muslims today have nothing by their side, except for evidence and history. Hindu side is euphoric, for its brute majority in parliament, and RSS and its affiliates have never shied from saying that they would not abide by the SC order if it goes the Muslim way and every now and then voices intimidating SC to honour the majority community sentiments have been in the offing.

The first chance to forward the arguments was given to the Hindu side which arguably have been based on aastha (belief) lacks scientific corroboration, and that Lord Rama idols appeared swambhoo (on their own as a miracle), and now the Muslim side is going with their set of arguments, where a stalwart Rajeev Dhawan is arguing on behalf of M. Siddique, but the things appearing in press as regards the submissions made by Dhawan, sometime do indicate that the things as reported are not correct. It seems sometime what has been said by the Hindu side and is questioned by Dhawan is attributed as if it is said by Dhawan. As regards the contention that Dhawan himself has said that after 1934 no five-time prayers were offered by Muslims in Babri Masjid is absolutely incorrect.

It may be known that the 1934 dispute had arisen after a cow slaughter at Shahjehanpur, 3 kms from Ayodhya towards Faizabad, and Hindus as revenge had damaged Babri Masjid along with certain houses of Muslims. A penal tax was imposed on Hindus of Ayodhya by Britishers to compensate for the said loss, Tahawwur Khan contractor of PWD department was given the contract for repair of mosque and houses. All the certified copies of the documents regarding the same have been submitted before the court. Zorawar Sharma was the engineer supervising Tahawwur Khan. Beside this, a suit 95 of 1941 was also filed by a pujari of Nirmohi Akhara temple and the plaint of the said suit contains the site plan where Babri Masjid is writ large and as regards the description of the property of Babri Masjid and qabristan ( graveyard), on all the three sides, finds place. This suit was against the officials of Nirmohi Akhara spread all over India and in the same suit, a written-statement was filed by the said official, in which the factum of existence of the mosque and graveyard were not at all denied. Thereafter, a compromise was filed which also shows that the details of the property are given and the description of mosque does finds place which has been incorporated in the decree of the court. Thus, the saying that after 1934 five-times prayers were not offered is false, as not only normal five-times daily prayers and Friday prayers , but in the holy month of ramzan, a recital of Quran by Hafiz Abdul Rehman, who had recited the Quran, in tarawi prayers, had appeared in the witness box before the High Court at Lucknow and had stated that he had presided over the tarawi prayers in the years 1944, 45, and 46, and no one from the Hindu side could contradict his claim. The expenses incurred on Babri Masjid such as payment of salary to Imam and Muezzin, up till 1948 are on record, even a sum of two-Aanas which was spent is there, duly audited by auditor of Waqf Board, this was before the dispute arose ( Dec 22/23, 1949), have been submitted in court. . All this is a proof enough to indicate that five-time/Friday prayers beside tarawi in Ramzan was a regular feature at Babri Masjid. A document showing an agreement executed by M. Zaki, the mutawalli ( trustee) in favour of Imam Abdul Ghaffar for payment of salary is also submitted in the court.


The Plaint of Raghubar Das in Urdu in 1885, in court

The site plan in Raghubar Das plaint clearly showing Babri Masjid in 1885, submitted in court

The first stake from Hindu side for a Ram Temple at the Babri Masjid came in 1885 when Nirmohi Akhara Raghubar Das, filed a case, claiming in Urdu, Arzi Dawa Muqadamma No 61/280 of 1885. Ba Adalat Janab Sub-Judge Sahab Bahadur Faizabad, Mahant Raghubar Das Banam Sahab Secretary of State. It would be interesting to know as to what he had sought for? Mudai Mustadai hai ki degree banane mandir ooper chabutra Janamsthan, Waqa-e- Ajudhya, Purab 21 ft, Dakhin 17 ft, Paschim 21 ft, Uttar 17 ft. (Mahant Raghubar Das, Mahant Janamsthan Waqa-e- Ajudhya) It is very starkly clear that he had not staked any claim to inside the Babri Masjid domes, its inner courtyard, but only towards a chabutra ( raised platform), on which the wooden Lord Rama idol was kept, on the outer courtyard of Babri Masjid. Pandit Hari Kishan, Sub-Judge allowed his prayer, which was challenged by Muslims, and which later set aside by District Judge Faizabad Chamier. A Gopal Sahai commission was also constituted which also filed its site map, in which Babri Masjid with Allah written on its outer wall is clearly visible. The findings of Chamier were upheld by Judicial Commissioner W Young which was equal to the status of High Court. The Hindu side Nirmohi Akhara did not pursue it to Privy Council.

Gopal Sahai site map, clearly shows Allah written on our wall of Babri Masjid

Interesting, the said Judicial Commissioner judgement had elaborately considered and had laid down that even on the outer gate of Babri Majid the word Allah is inscribed, nothing inside, can be said to be a Hindu temple or its part, and the decree was passed, against the Hindus, concerning the chabutra too, and it no doubt for the slackness of Muslims, that the said decree was not the part of execution. For this Muslims can only lament, but as a matter of fact the saying about aastha has no purported basis at all even on the basis of Hindu jurisprudence.

It may be hereby also pointed that even after Dec 22/23 1949 when the movement was started, it was only for the permission to raise the temple on that chabutra and in this regard the correspondence between Deputy Collector Faizabad KK Naiyyer and Chief Secretary to the government Bhagwan Sahai, is not only illustrative but decisive. In earlier three letters there is a mention of raising a building of temple at the Chabutra, however, the last letter reads for the claim towards Babri Masjid and as such the aastha in no circumstance can be said to be earlier than this date.

As and what has appeared in newspapers ( Sep 7, 2019) that Rajeev Dhawan has conceded Nirmohi Akhara’s claim for shebait rights but not its tall claims about it being there centuries ago, it is time to hone the shebait context to the whole issue, as it may be known that in the temples there are pujaris whose status is that of a servant and the status of shebait is that of a manager and in Hindu endowments the status of manager partakes to the nature of owner itself and a Mahant is usually the shebait , whereas, he may perform the puja also, and as such, occupy the two offices-Pujari and shebait . Mahant Raghubar Das who filed the suit in 1885, appears to occupy both the offices and it appears that with regards to Nirmohi Akhara and the wooden temple, placed at Ram Chabutra, the pujari was occupying the two positions and there being no income for payment of salaries etc hence the Mahant /shebait himself was performing Puja.

As regards to status of Lord Rama, no doubt, in north India, it has of its own, as even the very Ram Janamsthan Temple, which is said to have been built after Babri Masjid, has got properties beyond UP and Bihar, and this temple (Ram Temple), which is said to have been of that of world level, there is not a single biswa or biswansi of land to have been donated by anybody. The Ram Janamsthan Temple is situated in north of the Babri Masjid and has quite an imposing and flourishing structure.

With bated breath Muslims are waiting along with the whole nation for the verdict. It is judiciary as the last vestige which can anchor for the rule of law in the country.

The writer has written extensively on Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid issue. He is a lawyer, journalist and former UP State Information Commissioner.


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One Comment

  1. Thanks to Haider Abbas for penning this well-researched piece based on historical documents. It is important to note that this mosque became controversial in 1885 when the British masters had developed their divide-n-rule policy in the aftermath of great war of liberation of 1857. The way Hindus-Muslims-Sikhs fought together in 1857 was a warning to the rulers that if this unity is not broken Indian colony would be lost. Ayodhya was witness to the united sacrifices of Maulana Amir Ali, Baba Ramcharan Dass Mahant of Hanuman Gadhi, Shambhu Prasad Shukla and Achchan Khan against the British army. This could be undone only by making Ayodhya an issue of fight between Hindus and Muslims.