BABRI MASJID DEMOLITION : ACCUSED GULIT, RIDDEN

BABRI MASJID DEMOLITION: ACCUSED GULIT, RIDDEN

Construction of mosque and shreds of evidence –

Babri Masjid was situated in Ayodhya, U.P. The mosque was located on a hill known as Ramkot “Rama’s fort”. According to Hindus, Baqi destroyed the pre-existing temple of Rama at the site. The existence of this temple is a matter of controversy.[i] The inscriptions on the Babri Masjid premises found in the 20th-century state that the mosque was built in 935 AH (1528–29) by Mir Baqi under the wishes of Babur.

Nor the chronicle of barber describes any evidence of the existence of the mosque[ii] neither the Ramcharitamanas of Tulsidas(1574) and Ain-Akbari of Abu’l-Fazi ibn Mubarak (1598) made no mention of a mosque[iii].

The earliest record of a mosque at the site traditionally believed by Hindus to be the birthplace of Rama comes from Jai Singh II  – a Rajput noble in the Mughal court who purchased land and established a Jaisinghpura in the area surrounding the mosque in 1717. The documents of Jai Singh preserved in the Kapad-Dwar collection in the City Palace Museum o Jaipur, including a sketch map of the Babri Masjid site.

The map shows an open courtyard and a built structure with three temple spires (sikharas) resembling today’s Babri Masjid with three domes. The courtyard is labeled janmasthan and shows a Ram chabutra. The central bay of the built structure is labeled chhathi, which also denotes birthplace.

The European Jesuit missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler, who lived and worked in India for 38 years (1743–1785) and wrote numerous works about India, visited Ayodhya in 1767. Johann Bernoulli translated his work Descriptio Indiae in Latin into French, published in 1788.

According to this account, Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707) had demolished the Ramkot fortress, including the house that was considered as the birthplace of Rama by Hindus. A mosque with three domes was constructed in its place. However, he also noted, “others say that it was constructed by ‘Babor’. The Hindus continued to offer prayers at a mud platform that marked the birthplace of Rama. 

Tiefenthaler was well-versed in Persian and Sanskrit, having written a Sanskrit–Persian dictionary, and other works in Persian. He did not find an inscription on the walls of the mosque stating that it was constructed under Babur’s orders. He “emphatically attributed it to Aurangzeb, and Babur’s name is carried by a few persons”, states writer Kishore Kuna.

Although there are some historians, who believed that the mosque was built at the time of the Delhi sultanate i.e 13th -15th century and may have been renovated at the time of Babur.

How demolition took place?

In April 1984, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) initiated a campaign to gather public support for Hindu access to the Babri Masjid and other structures that had been allegedly built over Hindu shrines. To raise public awareness, VHP planned nationwide rath yatras (chariot processions), the first of which took place in September–October 1984, from Sitamarhi to Ayodhya.

The campaign was temporarily suspended after the assassination of Indira Gandhi but revived in from 25 places on 23 October 1985. On 25 January 1986, a 28-year-old local lawyer Umesh Chandra Pandey, appealed to a court to remove the restrictions on Hindu worshiping Babri Masjid premises. Subsequently, the Rajiv Gandhi government ordered the locks on the Babri Masjid gates to be removed.

Earlier, the only Hindu ceremony permitted at the site was a Hindu priest performing an annual puja. After the ruling, all Hindus were given access to the site, and the mosque gained some function as a Hindu temple.

Communal tension in the region worsened when the VHP received permission to perform a shilanyas (stone-laying ceremony) at the disputed site before the national election in November 1989. A senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, L K Advani, started a rath yatra, embarking on a 10,000 km journey starting from the south and heading towards Ayodhya.

On 6 December 1992, BJP, VHP, and RSS leaders gathered at the site to offer prayers and perform a symbolic kar seva. At noon, a teenage Kar Sevak (volunteer) was “vaulted” onto the dome and that signaled the breaking of the outer cordon. Soon after, a large number of kar sevaks demolished the mosque.

What happened after demolition?

After the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, two separate cases were filed at Ram janma-Bhoomi police station in Faizabad. The first was filed at 5.15 pm by the station house officer (SHO), priyamvada Nath Shukla against unknown kar sevaks this was under IPC 395, 397, 332, 337, 338,295, 297, 153A. Police also invoked section 7 of the criminal law amendment act. 

The second FRI was filled 10 minutes later by sub-inspector Ganga Prashad Tiwari in charge of ramjanmabhoomi Police outpost, against eight persons including senior BJP leaders L.K Advani, Murli Manhor Joshi, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Vinay katiyar, Uma Bharti, and Sadhvi Ritambhara under IPC section 153 A, 153 B and 505.

Between December 6 and 21 Police registered 47 more FRI’s mostly related to assault and looting of media persons during the demolition. 

 The stepping of CBI

The state government initially assigned the case against unidentified kar sevkas to the crime branch criminal investigation department. On December 12, 1992, the state sent a recommendation to the Centre for the transfer of investigation to CBI. Which lodged an FIR  and began an investigation on that day itself.

The other case in which Advani and others were named was investigated by local police and thereafter the CB- CID. On December 16 the state government consultation with the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court issues a notification setting up a special court of a judicial magistrate in Lalitpur U.P for this particular case.

After getting Sanction the CB-CID filed a charge sheet against Advani and seven others in the court on February 27, 1993.

On July 8, 1993, the state government in consultation with the High Court issued another notification that stated transfer of the place of sitting of the court to Rae Bareli from Lalitpur. 

In the year 1993, the state government sent a recommendation for a CBI probe into earlier filed 48 FIRs. The case was handed over all the concerned cases.

On that year in September, the state government in consultation with the high court issued another notification related to consulting a special court in Lucknow for the cases involving demolition.

CBI moved to Rae Bareli court for investigating further in the case against Advani and others. 

Based on the CBI’s charge sheet against 40 persons in the Lucknow court, the state government on October 8 of 1993 issued a notification that the case against Advani and others would be heard in Lucknow. 

In January 1994 the Rae Bareli Court transferred records on the demolition case to the Lucknow Court.

In 1996 the CBI filed a supplementary charge sheet against 4 other persons 

In September 1997 the Lucknow court took cognizance of the CBI charge sheet and ordered charges to be framed against the accused. Summonses were issued. The CBI also claimed that it has evidence that demolition was the fallout of a larger conspiracy and charges under section 120 B of IPC were added. 

In February 2001, 33 of the accused filed a petition in the High Court challenging summons issued by Lucknow Court. They also challenged the trial of the case against Advani and others in Lucknow Court. 

The ground of challenge was that the state-issued transfer notification without consulting the High court. After which CBI requested the Court to issue a fresh notification; the government didn’t.

On February 12, 2001, the High Court passed an order finding no illegality in a joint single charge sheet for all the FRIs on the ground that the evidence of all was the same and offenses were committed in the course of the same transaction to accomplish conspiracy.

On May 4, 2001, based order of the High Court, the Lucknow trial Court dropped the proceedings against all. 

On march 21 2017, after several of negotiations and transfer of case to CBI by A Supreme Court Bench of Justices PC Ghose and Rohinton Nariman, CJI suggested advises peace negotiations instead of a pitched court battle, even offering help to settle the fight amicably.

In May 2017, the Lucknow Court ordered the framing of charges against Advani, Joshi, and Katiyar, and Bharti. Fresh charges were made against the 13 whom proceedings were dropped.

In August 2017, Supreme Court decided to hear title dispute on December 5, 2017, the eve of the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the 15th century mosque.

In December 2017 Supreme Court defers to commencement of final hearing on February 8 2018

Pronouncement of verdict

On 30 September 2020 Wednesday, the special Court acquitted all 32 surviving accused in the Babri Masjid Case. In the order of 2,300 pages, CBI special judge Surendra Kumar Yadav rejected evidence from photos, videos, and speeches of the accused.

Justice Yadav also raised the question on the conclusion of prosecution and referred to the involvement of Pakistani agencies and anti- social elements and terrorists disguised as kar sevaks who had entered the site. The Court also order that there was no evidence that the accused has met inside the room to plan the razing of the mosque. The judging ruling stated that videos of the demolition were not sent to forensic examination and negatives of the pictures taken on that day were not produced and hence couldn’t be relied upon. 

Justice Yadav also remarked that ‘all the documents presented were verified and analyzed but the crime against the accused could not be established’. The order also stated that no witnesses produced against the accused clearly stated that it was through the accused that the disputed structure was demolished.

Almost the witnesses have said that the kar sevaks had a handful of sand and water and they were performing kar seva. The witnesses present at the place of the puja said that there was a lot of noise and aarti was being performed peacefully. No witness so far has testified that any of the accused was engaged in the demolition of the disputed structure. 

The court rejected the prosecution’s case in 4 aspects:

  1. Criminal conspiracy
  2. Speeches
  3. Photos and
  4. Videos

The Liberhan commission

The Liberhan Commission, set up in 1992 to probe the Babri Masjid demolition, had, in its report submitted in 2009, pointed to the involvement of senior RSS and BJP leaders, including L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, and Uma Bharti, and connivance of the then Uttar Pradesh government. “They either actively or passively supported the demolition;

The Commission reported that the mobilization of kar sevaks was neither spontaneous nor voluntary but planned. The report named over 60 people – including senior BJP leaders Advani, Joshi, Bharti, and A B Vajpayee, RSS and VHP leaders, bureaucrats – as “culpable” for “leading the country to the brink of communal discord”.

Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan refused to comment on the court verdict but said “I found it was a civil conspiracy, I still believe in it. From all the evidence produced before me, it was clear that the Babri Masjid demolition was meticulously planned. I remember Uma Bharti categorically took responsibility for it. It was not an unseen force that demolished the mosque, human beings did it. [1]

My findings were correct, right, honest, and free from fear or any other bias, Justice Liberhan said. For posterity, it is a report that will provide an honest account of what took place and how. It will be part of history says justice Liberhan (sources The Indian Express)

 

-Shreya Patel 

(Member, The Legal State)

 

ALSO READ : Joseph Shine V. Union Of India – Adultery

References

Newspaper references

  • The Indian express, E- explained p.6, Wednesday, September 30, 2020
  • The Indian Express, p. 1 and 2, Thursday, August 1,2020
  • Times of India E-newspaper, Thursday, August 1, 2020

[1] Justice Liberhan told the Indian Express on Wednesday

  1. Udayakumar, S.P. (August 1997). “Historicizing Myth and Mythologizing History: The ‘Ram Temple’ Drama”. Social Scientist. 25 (7): 11–26. doi:2307/3517601JSTOR 3517601.
  2. . Elst (1995). “The Ayodhya Debate”. In Gilbert Pollet (ed.). Indian Epic Values: Rāmāyaṇa and Its Impact. Peeters Publishers. pp. 28–29. ISBN9789068317015.
  3. Narain, The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute 1993, p. 17.and ^ Jain, Rama and Ayodhya 2013, pp. 165–166.
  4. Udayakumar, S.P. (August 1997). “Historicizing Myth and Mythologizing History: The ‘Ram Temple’ Drama”. Social Scientist. 25 (7): 11–26. doi:10.2307/3517601. JSTOR 3517601.
  5. Elst (1995). “The Ayodhya Debate”. In Gilbert Pollet (ed.). Indian Epic Values: Rāmāyaṇa and Its Impact. Peeters Publishers. pp. 28–29. ISBN 9789068317015.
  6. Narain, The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute 1993, p. 17.and ^ Jain, Rama and Ayodhya 2013, pp. 165–166.
  7. Sarvepalli Gopal (1993). Anatomy of a Confrontation: Ayodhya and the Rise of Communal Politics in India. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 64–77. ISBN 9781856490504.
  8. *Jaffrelot, Christophe (1996), The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, p. 417, ISBN 978-1850653011
  9. “What If Rajiv Hadn’t Unlocked Babri Masjid?”. Outlook. Retrieved 20 June 2012.

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