- Babri Mosque: Reliance on myths
The recent Babri Mosque judgment shows that India’s Supreme Court is the handmaiden of Hindu fanatics. The judges rewarded the party that demolished the mosque. As eyewash, they ordered land for a new mosque to be allotted to the losing party. The judgment is based on uncorroborated myths. The Babri Masjid (Mosque of Babur) was one of the largest mosques at Ayodhya in Faizabad district (Uttar Pradesh). According to the mosque’s inscriptions, it was built in 1528–29 CE (935 AH) by Mir Baqi, on orders of the Mughal emperor Babur (after whom it is named).
There is no evidence about Babur constructing a mosque in Ayodhya after demolishing a temple there. All sources are mute, be it Babur’s memoir Baburnama, Humayunnama by Babur’s daughter Gulbadan Begum, Abul Fazal’s Ain-i-Akbari or Tuzk-e-Jahangiri. The first reference to Babri appears in a travel account by a Jesuit priest, Joseph Tiefenthaler, in 1768.
The inscriptions, inside the mosque, often quoted in books on Ayodhya or Babur, were fake. They were fixed in the mosque 280 years after its supposed construction in 1528.
Babur did visit Gwalior temples. But, neither he, nor his commander Mir Baqi (distinct from Baqi on masjid inscriptions), ever visited Ayodhya. Mir Baqi of the Baburnama was never governor of Ayodhya.
Property or Ram birth at stake?: BJP President L K Advani admitted on September 30, 1990: ‘No one can prove that it was the birthplace of Shri Rama.’ It was a matter of belief. Can this belief receive judicial sanction to the point where it can override the moral and legal rights of others? The court disapproves of the placing of idols forcibly and deceitfully in the mosque on the night of 22-23 December 1949, and its demolition on 6 December 1992.
Conspicuously, even the judges of Indian courts are human beings with natural concerns about the safety of their own lives and those of their kith and kin. The Court ignored the fact that the Muslims have been in current possession of the disputed site since times immemorial. Those fascinated by secular India’s democracy should wake up
In a letter to Prof. Hiren Mukerji, on 5 June 1989, BJP PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee accepted: “It is not possible to pinpoint the exact spot where Ram was born”. The RSS supremo M D Deoras said: “This is not a case in which the judiciary can pass a judgment. What type of evidence are the Hindus expected to produce? That Ram was born and that his birthplace is Ayodhya?” That is why the BJP in its Palampur resolution declared: “Litigation certainly is no answer” (11 June 1989).
The claim that god (Ram) was born there is fictitious. Indian court ignored the fact that the Muslims have been in current possession of the disputed site since times immemorial. No claim by Hindus during Mughal or British Raj was made. Shankaracharya’s Nyas originally owned only one acre of land, the rest of the land (additional 42 acres of so-called undisputed land) was given to it on lease by Kalyan Singh government in 1992 to develop a Ram Katha Kunj (park).
Even Tulsidas does not mention the Janmabhoomi or a mosque built on it. The judgment is a slap on face of secular India.
Hearsay as evidence: The mosque was located on a hill known as Ramkot (‘Rama’s fort’). According to hearsay, Baqi destroyed a pre-existing temple of Rama at the site. No corroborative evidence exists to support this view and the existence of the temple itself is a matter of controversy.
Even the excavations done by the Archaeological Survey of India, under orders of the Allahabad High Court in 2003, failed to support the claims by the Hindu extremists about remains of a temple under the Babri Mosque.
Hindutva Influence on Ayodhya-Case Judges: The Court’s decision on excavation reflected that it disregarded customary law, res judicata principles, and the equity maxim that ‘equity helps the vigilant, not the indolent’.
Pandora’s Box: Determination of title to ownership based on excavation has opened up the Pandora’s Box of further excavations on flimsy grounds. Anyone may any time complain to a court about a temple having been converted into a Masjid hundreds of years ago.
Fate of 5,000 other mosques after Babri: It is unfortunate that even India’s apex-court judges buckled under the influence of a Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (Ram birthplace trust) to investigate the fictitious claim about Ram’s birth.
Now some BJP’s legislators have demanded excavation of 3000 to 5000 mosques, including Delhi’s Grand Mosque. MP Sakshi Maharaj even offered to be hanged if idols were not found underneath the staircase of the Jamia Masjid. He demanded that Modi 2.0 should ‘bring in a law for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya as he did in regard to Somnath Temple before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections’. At a press conference in New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh BJP’s president Vinay Katiyar said, “The court has shown the way. Why should we confine (ourselves) to Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura? Why not talk of 5,000? All sites should be dug up to verify the claims on the pattern of Ram Janmabhoomi”.
Masjid Shahid Ganj versus Babri Masjid: The cases of the two mosques bear a marked contrast. Sikhs and Muslims acrimoniously contested the Shaheed Ganj case (Lahore). Muslims’ claim was rejected for laches (time bar). The Gurudwara Shahidganj stands with aplomb in Lahore as it did before 15 August 1947. Hardly any Sikh visits it now. Yet no Pakistani Muslim ever tried ever to desecrate or demolish it. But the Babri Masjid became a heap of rubble even before India’s Supreme Court declared it to be a temple.
The arguments in the two cases concerning property and longevity of possession were similar, less the myth of birthplace of Indian god Ram. Even LK Advani admitted on 30 September 1990: ‘No one can prove that it was the birth place of Shri Rama.’ India’s secular constitution was no fetter to judges who delved into religious issues. Earlier, a court had declared that a masjid was not essential for the Muslim way of worship.
Conspicuously, even the judges of Indian courts are human beings with natural concerns about the safety of their own lives and those of their kith and kin. The Court ignored the fact that the Muslims have been in current possession of the disputed site since times immemorial. Those fascinated by secular India’s democracy should wake up.
When Jinnah left for Pakistan on 7 August 1947, Patel said, ‘The poison had been removed from body of India’ He added, ‘As for the Muslims they have the roots, their sacred places and their centres here. I do not know what they can possibly do in Pakistan. It will not be long before they return to us’ (ibid.).
Babri case should make one thank ‘poisonous’ Jinnah for his vision and legacy, Pakistan.