Hindu Vivek Kendra
A RESOURCE CENTER FOR THE PROMOTION OF HINDUTVA
   
CHAPTER - II
THE RELENTLESS HINDU STRUGGLE FOR RAMAJANMABHOOMI
The Struggle in Three Phases

1.1 The Hindus have been waging unremitting struggle for centuries to repossess the birthplace of Sri Rama. It is indisputably clear that in the year 1528 Babur ordered his commander Mir Baqi to erect a mosque at Ayodhya to make the spot a "place of descent of angels". It is the widely shared belief of Hindus that Mir Baqi established the mosque after demolishing the Temple of Sri Rama situated at the place of his birth known as Ramajanmabhoomi. Whether Mir Baqi did actually demolish the preexisting temple and thereafter constructed the mosque is a matter of evidence which is discussed separately. However, the chronology of Ramajanmabhoomi brings out the unremitting struggle of the Hindus to recapture their holy place. This struggle itself indicated their pre-masjid reverence for the site. The struggle was in three phases.

Firstly, by military expedition and war diplomacy, when barbaric aliens were ruling the country and there was no Rule of Law;

Secondly, by legal means, when the British established their model of Rule of Law (from 1885);

And thirdly, by mass movement from 1984, (alongwith legal steps) when Rule of Law became insensitive to their legitimate plea even under indigenous dispensation.

The ceaseless struggle to re-establish their rights and rebuild the temple at the Janmabhoomi implies their continued and persistent attachment to the site and such an attachment has no other explanation except that it was in continuation of an older tradition, namely a pre-Babar tradition, namely, their devotion to the place where Sri Rama was born. The chronology reveals that the Hindus never ceased claiming the site and brings out their relentless struggle to regain it.
 

The first Phase: military expedition and war diplomacy 

2.1. There is clear and irrefutable historical proof available to establish that the Hindus had repeatedly attempted to recover the Janmabhoomi by military efforts and war diplomacy which were the only means available to fight the lawless alien rulers. There are unrecorded traditions of many military expeditions by the Hindus between 1528 and 1707 for repossessing the Janmabhoomi. For the present purpose the chronology is limited to the recorded history.

Battles for Ramajanmabhoomi in recorded history and war diplomatic efforts

2.2. The recorded history shows that at least from 1735 the Hindus had consistently at tempted to recapture the Janmasthan and re-establish the Rama temple as the following chronology establishes.

2.3. A document enclosed with a letter dated 12th August, 1855 from Wazid Ali Shah, the king of Oudh, to the British Resident Major James Outram, carrying the seal of the Qazi of Faizabad, in the year 1735 A.D., mentioned that a serious clash had taken place over the Masjid "built by the emperor of Delhi" (apparently a conflict of the kind that took place later in 1855) between Hindus and Muslims, during the time of Burhan-ul-Mulk Saadat Ali Khan, the first Nawab of Oudh (1707-1736) over the possession of this mosque (NAI, Foreign, Political Proceedings, 28th December, 1855, No.355, Enclosures No.5). 

2.4. The Maratha documents show that one of the main objectives of Maratha operations and policy in North India was the liberation of the sacred cities of Ayodhya, Kashi and Prayag. In the year 1751, Maratha armies led by Malhar Rao Holkar, at the invitation of Safdarjang, the second Nawab of Oudh, defeated the Pathan forces in Doab. Immediately after his victory Malhar Rao Holkar requested Safdarjang to hand over Ayodhya, Kashi and Prayag to the Peshwa (A.L.Srivastava: The First Two Nawabs of Oudh). 

2.5. Again, when, in 1756, the third Nawab Shujauddaula invited Maratha help against impending Afghan invasion, the Maratha agent at the Court of Oudh demanded the transfer of these three holy places including Ayodhya and the negotiations lingered on for more than a year on this one point. Ultimately, in July 1757, Shujauddaula agreed to transfer the holy cities of Ayodhya and Kashi to the Maratha leader Raghoba. But the transfer could not be implemented as Maratha armies got entangled in the conquest of the Punjab which ultimately led to the tragedy of Panipat (1761 A.D.).

2.6. But Peshwa Balaji Bajirao's eagerness to acquire Ayodhya is reflected in one of his' letters dated 23rd February, 1759 to Dattaji Scindia, his General in the North, wherein the Peshwa reminds Scindia that "Mansur Ali's son (i.e. Shujauddaula) had promised to Dada (i.e. Raghoba) to cede Benares and Ayodhya and instructs him to take hold to those places alongwith Prayag (Cf. J.N. Sarkar: Fall of the Moghul Empire, Vol. II, Calcutta 1934, pp. 231-233).

2.7. Historians, Dr. A.L. Srivastava, Sir J.N. Sarkar, G.S. Sardesai and Dr. Hari Ram Gupta, who have studied this period of history very deeply, have concluded that "Had the Bhau (Sadashiv) emerged successful from Panipat, within a few years Kashi, Prayag and Ayodhya would have been emancipated" (Hari Ram Gupta: Marathas and Panipat, Chandigarh 1961, p.292).

2.8. In 1767, an Austrian Jesuite traveller, Joseph Tieffenthaler, found that in spite of the Mughal kings' efforts to prevent them, the Hindus had re-occupied the courtyard, raised the Rama Chabootra thereon, and were worshipping and celebrating Ramanavami there as well as under the domed structure (History and Geography of India (in French) by Joseph Tieffenthaler P.253-54).

2.9. In 1854, a British scholar, Edward Thornton, recorded in his Gazetteer exactly the same situation as Tieffenthaler had found (Gazetteer of the territories under the Government of East India Company, pp-739-40).

2.10. In 1855, there was a big armed encounter in which nearly 300 Muslims under Shah Ghulam Hussain took possession of the Babri mosque and tried to fix doors on it. On protest from Hindus, armed clashes started. Muslims attacked Hanumangarhi, but were driven back with considerable loss. Then the Hindus counter-attacked, stormed the Janmabhoomi and killed 70 Muslims. Shah Ghulam Hussain jumped over the wall and fled (Hadiqai-Shahada by Mirza Jan, 1856, pp. 4-7). The Gazetteer of Faizabad District shows that the Hindus were in possession of the Ramajanmabhoomi at the time of the fight in 1855. It says: "When the Muslims mounted an attack in 1855, they took possession of the Ramjanmabhoomi and attacked the Hanuman Garhi, but were repulsed. The king's army (Nawab Wajid Ali Shah's army) stood by. The Hindus retook the Ramjanmabhoomi and the structure there." 

2.11. In 1856, the Muazzin of the Babri mosque admitted, in a petition before the British authorities, that the courtyard had been in possession of the Hindus for hundreds of years and that now they were interfering with the domed structure as well (Petition by Muhammed Asghar dated 30.11.1858 in Case No.884 to the British Government). 

2.12. In 1934, serious Hindu-Muslim armed encounter occurred in and around the Babri mosque, occasioned by a cow-slaughter incident. Many people were killed and the structure seriously damaged. The damaged structure was repaired by the British Government which recovered the cost of the repair by a punitive fine on the Hindus (Sri Ramajanmabhoomi Historical and Legal Perspective, by Justice Deokinandan Agarwala: Cited in Ramjanmabhoomi/Babri Masjid: Historical Documents, legal opinions and judgement by The Bar Council of India Trust, pp. 5-6).

2.13. The above chronology establishes a vital truth, namely, that the Hindus have been relentlessly fighting to re-establish and keep their rights over the Janmasthan and that till 1855 they seem to have been in possession of it.

The Second Phase: Legal Battle for Ramajanmabhoomi

Even as military expeditions and war diplomatic efforts were continued by Hindus, not just from Ayodhya but from other parts of the country as well, after the British government and its judicial administration took shape and an element of Rule of Law was introduced in governance, the Hindus tried to invoke the law to re-establish their rights. The first such an effort was in the year 1885.

3.1. On 25th May, 1885 Mahant Raghubardas appealed to the Faizabad District Judge that an order be given for the construction of Temple on the Ramajanmabhoomi. On 18th March, 1886 the District Judge, an Englishman, passed the following order:

"I visited the land in dispute yesterday in the presence of all parties. I found that the Masjid built by Emperor Babar stands on the border of Ayodhya, that is to say, to the west and south. It is clear of habitants. It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to agree with the grievances. All that can be done is to maintain the party in status quo. In such a case as the present one any innovation may cause more harm and derangement of order than any benefit".

It is the only attempt prior to the incident of 1934 to re-possess the Janmabhoomi by legal means, and that failed not because the Hindu case lacked merits but for other extraneous reasons.
 

The Judiciary grants right of worship to the Hindus in the year 1950:

After the idol of Rama had appeared on the night of 22nd and 23rd December, 1949 inside the main building, which had remained locked since 1934, the judicial proceedings for re-possession of Rama Janmasthan recommenced. 

3.2. On 29th December, 1949, the District Magistrate of Faizabad, Shri K.K. Nayar, appointed the then Municipal Chairman as the receiver of the property. Iron rods and doors were fixed around the sanctum sanctorum, but pooja was performed everyday.

3.3. On 16th January, 1950 Shri Gopal Singh Visharad and Paramahans Ramachandra Das filed two civil suits in the City Civil Court of Faizabad for injunction against removing the idol, and for pooja rights.

3.4. On 19th January, 1950 an interim injunction was granted. By an order dated March 3, 1951 this temporary injunction was confirmed and blanket restraint on order prohibiting the removal of the idol and upholding the Petitioner's right to offer worship before the deity was granted. While confirming the injunction, the Civil Judge of Faizabad recorded: 

"...at least from 1936 onwards the Muslims have neither used the site as a mosque nor offered prayers there and... the Hindus have been performing their pooja etc. on the disputed site."


Allahabad High Court regrets delay and directs in the year 1955 that the cases be decided "forthwith"

3.5. A writ was filed against the above order 3 years later, in the year 1953. On 26th April, 1955 the unrestricted right of the Hindus was upheld by the High Court when disposing the writ petition. Significantly, the High Court stated:

"It is very desirable that a suit of this kind is decided as soon as possible and it is regretted that it remained undecided after four years. The delay appears to be principally due to the fact that the record of the proceedings in the trial court was summoned by this court in the year 1953 on the application of the present appellants; had that not been done, the suit would probably by now have been decided.

"...We however consider it extremely desirable that the suit should be disposed of at once and we accordingly direct that the record of proceedings is to he sent back to the lower court forthwith with a direction to the Learned Civil Judge to expedite the hearing."


And yet the same case is pending even today

3.6. This was in the year 1955. At that time the High Court felt that had the appellants not appealed against the Order and the records had not been brought to the High Court, the matter would have been decided. The High Court could not tolerate the suit remaining undecided even by 1955, yet the very case remains undecided even today - 38 years after the Allahabad High Court had regretted that it was remaining undecided and felt constrained to direct it to be decided forthwith, and 43 years after the original suits were filed in the year 1950. Not only the above-mentioned two suits, but also two more suits which were filed in the year 1959 are still pending.
 

The Sunni Waqf Board enters the scene twelve years later, in 1961, by frivolous litigations

3.7. In December 1961, the U.P. Sunni Central Board of Waqfs filed a suit in the Civil Court of Faizabad. This was the only substantive litigation against the Hindus' case on Ramajanmabhoomi. On this depended the entire chorus of judicial verdict as the solution. This suit was later consolidated with the three suits that had been filed in the year 1959 and were originally pending in the District Court. They were later transferred and all four suits are pending before the High Court. The Waqf Board suit was filed after the limitation period had ended in law after the 1949 event. This suit was from day-one a frivolous litigation whose only object was to delay the judicial determination of the issue.
 

The Mutawalli of the Babri structure, a Shia, wants the structure shifted and the Ramajanmabhoomi given to the Hindus 

3.8. The Waqf Board Suit is void ab initio as, under the law, only Mutawalli of the Masjid is the authorised individual to initiate legal action. The Mutawalli of the Babri structure is a Muslim resident of a village, 10 miles from Ayodhya, and is a descendant of Mir Baqi. But he has declined to join the suit. The hereditary Mutawallis of the Babri Masjid have stated that the mosque was constructed by Mir Baqi and even today, his heir Mir Javvad Hasan is maintaining himself from the 40 acres of land situated in the village where Mir Baqi's Mazaar is situated. They have demanded the transfer of the mosque to that place so that they could offer prayers therein and the Janmabhoomi site could peacefully revert to Hindus. The present Mutawalli is the same Mir Javvad Hasan whose right to Mutawalliship was recognised by the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqfs vide report dated December 10, 1949 and office note dated November 25, 1948 sent by the Board to Mir Javvad Hasan. Being a Shia, Javvad Hasan did not care to reply to the Sunni Waqf Board.
 

Lahore High Court and Privy Council have held such a suit as untenable

3.9. Thus, the Sunni Waqf Board suit is frivolous and unsustainable because, under Islamic law, a mosque is an ordinary property, and not a juristic person as in the case of a Hindu idol. A full Bench decision of the Lahore High Court laid down the rule where a mosque was adversely possessed by non-Muslims. The judgement says:

"When a mosque is adversely possessed by non-Muslims, that is to say Hindus, the Muslims lose all the right in the land and the building, including the right of worship. The building cannot maintain the character of a mosque and no duty is cast upon the persons in possession thereof to maintain its original character or to maintain it even as a building. All the rights of the Muslims being thus extinguished, including their right to pray, the persons in possession commit no wrong, much less a continuing wrong, by not permitting, or refusing the right of the Muslims to pray therein. A suit instituted by a Muslim as a beneficiary for the exercise of his right to pray at a mosque is a suit for the enforcement of an individual right and is not covered by the provisions of Order-I, Rule-8 of the Code of Criminal Procedure" (AIR 1930, Lahore 369).

3.10. This Judgement was appealed against, and the Privy Council confirmed the judgment and added:

"There is no analogy between the possession in law of a building dedicated as a place of prayer for Muslims, and the individual deities of the Hindus. The land and building of a mosque is ordinary property and not a juristic person. A suit could not be brought by or against a mosque in its name. The right of a Muslim worshipper at a particular mosque may be regarded as an individual right. It is not a sort of easement in gross, but an element in the general right of a beneficiary to have the Waqf property recovered by its proper custodians, and applied to its proper purpose. Such an individual may, if he sues in time, procure the ejectment of a trespasser and have the property delivered to the Mutawalli, for the purposes of the Waqf. But if the title conferred by the settler has come to an end by reason, that for the statutory period no one has sued to eject a person possessing adversely to the Waqf, the rights of all the beneficiaries are gone, the land or the place cannot be recovered by or for the Mutawalli and the endowment, or its terms can no longer be enforced. The individual character of the right to go to a mosque for worship matters nothing, when the place is no longer a Waqf and that right is no ground for holding that a person born long after the property has become irrecoverable, can enforce the ancient dedication, if any, or any part of it. The rights of worshippers at a mosque stand or fall with the character of the property being Waqf, and do not continue apart from their right to have the property recovered for the Waqf and applied to its purpose. As the law stands, notice of the rights of individual beneficiaries does not modify the effect under the Limitation Act, of possession adverse, to the Waqf" (AIR 1940 PC 116).

If the rule of the Lahore High Court and Privy Council is applied, the possession of the Hindus in Ayodhya cannot be disturbed, and all the rights of the Muslims in the site stand extinguished.
 

The frivolous suit has been held untenable on another ground 

3.11. Even this frivolous suit of the Sunni Waqf Board has been virtually rendered otiose by the preliminary finding given by the Civil Judge of Faizabad. On 26th April, 1966 on whether the disputed structure was Waqf property, the court held:

"No notification under Section 5(i) of the Muslim Waqf Act No. XIII of 1936 was ever made relating to the specific disputed property of the present suits and the alleged Government Gazetteer notification did not comply with the requirements of the valid notification in the eyes of law and serves no useful purpose of the plaintiff of the leading case."

On the 12th of January, 1990, Parmahans Ramachandradas appealed to the Supreme Court to dismiss the suit of the Waqf Board as time-barred. The Supreme Court suggested that the issue, whether it is time-barred, would be taken up as a preliminary issue and decided. But, contrary to the Supreme Court's advice, the High Court has refused to take up this as a preliminary issue for decision.
 

Ramchandradas withdraws the suit in disgust

Disgusted with the High Court's refusal to hear the preliminary point and because he was eighty years old in 1990 (he was 40 when the suit was filed), Paramhans Ramchandradas withdrew the suit saying that he had left everything to Lord Rama.
 

The judicially indeterminable issues and judicial delay leads to a mass movement by the Hindus - litigation and mass movement go hand-in-hand as two parallel lines of pursuit

3.12. The litigations initiated by the Hindus in 1950 and 10 years later in 1959, and the frivolous Waqf Board suit filed 12 years later in 1961, did not move at all and were pending virtually in a state of suspended animation. The Hindu Sants gradually lost faith in the capacity of the judiciary to decide the Ramajanmabhoomi issue by bipartite litigation procedure. Therefore, the Sants and the VHP formed the Ramajanmabhoomi Muktiyajna Samiti (Ramjanmabhoomi liberation front) in the year 1984 to campaign for the liberation of Ramajanmabhoomi. The details and the growth of the mass movement are discussed separately. As the movement grew in intensity, on 23rd October, 1985 the Ramajanmabhoomi Muktiyajna Samiti held out the threat that the Sants would forcibly open the locks to liberate the Janmabhoomi if the locks were not removed and the place of worship was not thrown open by March 8, 1986 i.e. by Sivaratri Day. This ultimatum was repeated on 19th January, 1986 from Lucknow, by the Sants who declared that if the locks were not removed by 8th March, 1986, the would go there and break open the locks. Thus the unmoving judicial proceedings and the mass movement became two parallel lines of pursuit by the Hindus.
 

Government and the court respond to mass pressure and unlock the gates of the Temple

3.13. It was the mass movement - and not just points of law - which obviously moved the intransigent government through a subterfuge to undo the original wrong - and a legal perversity - of keeping the Sanctum Sanctorum of Ramlala and Ramlala Himself under lock on the pretext of a law and order problem. Till then, no attempt had been made to grant the genuine and legitimate plea of the Hindus for unrestricted worship of the idol. However, once the ultimatum was given, things started moving at lightning speed.

First, an unknown advocate (Umesh Chand Pande) filed an application on 21st January, 1986, within two days after the Sants' ultimatum in the Munsif Court at Faizabad;

Second, on 28th January 1986, the Munsif refused to pass any orders;

Third, an appeal was filed forthwith, in the Court of District Judge, Faizabad,

Fourth, on 1st February 1986 i.e. within three days of the Munsif Court order, the District Court passed an order directing the Government of Uttar Pradesh to open the locks and further directed that they shall not impose any restriction or hurdle in the darshan or pooja of the Hindu community;

Fifth, within hours of passing the above order, the temple was unlocked and even the Doordarshan cameramen were present to cover the occasion which was widely telecast all over India.

3.14. Why did the District Court pass the order to direct unlocking? Simple. The Congress Government told the court through the District Magistrate, Faizabad that there would be no law and order problem if the temple was unlocked. It took the Government 36 years to state the obvious. It is this that had held up the judicial order so long. Thus, it was the threat of direct action by the mass movement, and the deadline that made the Government respond in the manner it did.

3.15. On 12th May, 1986 the Sunni Waqf Board filed another suit for cancellation of the order given by the District Judge on 1st February, 1986. But the Court refused to intervene. 

3.16. On 15th December, 1987 the Uttar Pradesh Government filed an application in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court requesting that all the four suits pending in the District Courts be withdrawn for trial and disposal in the High Court.
 

The Court declare the VHP Vice-President as the next Friend (Guardian) of the deity at Ayodhya

3.17. On 1st July, 1989 Shri Deoki Nandan Agarwala one of the Vice-Presidents of the VHP, filed an application on behalf of the Ramlala before the Civil Judge, asking for declaration that the Ramajanmabhoomi belonged to the Plaintiff deities, and for injunction against defendants from interfering with the construction of the Temple after demolition and removal of the existing buildings. In the second application, on the plea for appointment of a suitable person as the next friend of the deities, the Civil Judge ordered can 1st July, 1989, appointing Shri Deoki Nandan as the next friend of the deities.
 

All suits transferred to the High Court in July, 1989

3.18. On 10th July, 1989 the Allahabad High Court allowed the application of the State Government filed in 1987, for the withdrawal of the four suits pending in the court of Additional Judge and its disposal by the High Court. The fifth suit was also likewise transferred. The Court also observed that the case may be disposed of by the Full Bench of the High Court, and recommended that the papers be placed for the Hon'ble Chief Justice for nominating the third Judge which would complete the constitution of the Full Bench.
 

The High Court observes as early as September 1989 that some questions in the case are not judicially determinable

The leaders of the movement had, in the meanwhile, announced on 1st February, 1989 that the Shilanyas (foundation-stone ceremony) would be held on 10th November 1989. This set off a flurry of activity everywhere, including in the courts. 

3.19. After the constitution of the Full Bench the matter was first posted for hearing on 14th August, 1989. On that date the High Court directed the parties to maintain status quo in respect of the property in question.

3.20. On 7th November, 1989 the High Court passed a clarificatory order, stating that the order of 14th August, 1989 was in respect of the entire property mentioned in the suit, including the plot on which the Shilanyas had been proposed to be conducted on the 9th November, 1989.

3.21. Even as the Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court held that Shilanyas site was subject to status quo, the three judges - R.C. Agarwal, V.C. Srivastava and S.H.A. Raza made a significant statement. The judges said:

"It is doubtful that some of the questions involved in the suit are soluble by judicial process."

The far-reaching effect of this statement was evident. The High Court has virtually admitted that the Ramajanmabhoomi case was outside the purview of judicial scrutiny and decision. This was precisely the stated position of not just the BJP, but of the entire Sangh Parivar. When the Sangh Parivar said precisely this, the pseudo-secular parties heckled them as lawbreakers and outlaws. The Congress and ex-Congress parties and their Marxist allies kept on chanting "judicial verdict", as did the Babri Masjid groups, as the final solution to the Ayodhya issue, when the High Court which had looked into the case was doubtful whether the case could be made amenable to judicial process at all. And yet the Government, the pseudo-secular parties and leaders, the Masjid groups, continued to insist on judicial solution even after 7th November 1989 when the High Court observed that judicial solution may not be possible.

3.22. On 8th November, 1989 the Uttar Pradesh Government declared on the advice given by the Advocate General that the place for Shilanyas was not in the disputed land. This facilitated the Shilanyas to be conducted on the 10th of November, 1989. But, on the very next day i.e. 11th of November, 1989 the Kar Seva was stopped by an order of the District Magistrate. The movement leaders decided not to begin an agitation in view of the impending elections in the country.

3.23. By the year 1989, the Ayodhya movement had become a powerful expression of the disapproval of the post-independence distortion of national politics. In June 1989, the BJP adopted a resolution to support the movement and also made an electoral commitment to build the Rama Temple at Ayodhya. Along with the Bofors issue, the Ayodhya movement made all the difference to the electoral scene in the parliamentary elections in November, 1989. The Rajiv Gandhi Government which was put in office in 1984 with an astounding majority of nearly 4:1 in Lok Sabha, was voted out, and the Janata Dal with 143 seats, followed by the BJP with 86 seats, dominated the political scene in 1989. The Ayodhya issue soon became the central issue in national politics and set the political agenda of the nation in the years that followed.
 

The V.P. Singh Government in Delhi avid the Mulayam Singh Government in UP confrontation over Ayodhya - the firing on Karsevaks on November 21, 1990 - the judiciary, a mute spectator

3.24. The confrontationist attitude of the Janata Dal Governments in Delhi and in Lucknow, during the Kar Seva in October/November 1990, completely exposed the secular pretensions of all political parties in India. The Rathyatra of Shri L.K. Advani acted as the barometer for the popularity of the movement. The judiciary, which would play an active role later in the years 1991 and 1992, was a mute spectator of the events of October/November 1990. In fact, no one, neither the Government nor the parties to the judicial cases, thought it fit to approach the judiciary to stop the Kar Seva. The judiciary as an instrument for thwarting the Kar Seva was a Congress (I) Government's discovery, which was fully exploited during 1991 and 1992 to hide the lack of political will of the ruling party.
 

The BJP-led Uttar Pradesh Government's efforts to solve the Ayodhya issue by legislative measures - thwarted by judicial proceedings 

3.25. The Ayodhya tornado that followed the firing on the Karsevaks at Ayodhya swept the BJP into power in Uttar Pradesh in July 1991, and Shri Kalyan. Singh became the Chief Minister. The BJP, having made an electoral pledge and won the public mandate to build the Temple at Ayodhya, adopted legislative means to solve the issue. 

3.26. The Kalyan Singh Government decided to delink the decision on the disputed structure from the commencement of the construction of the Temple - treating the former as a long term issue and the latter an immediate one. The approach of the BJP was fortified by its political will to solve the problem, and its efforts were justified by the observation of the High Court two- years earlier, namely that some aspects of the Ayodhya problem might not be amenable to judicial solution, thereby legitimising legislative solution as an inevitable step to commence the construction.

3.27. Consequently, as part of the fulfillment of its electoral pledge to remove the obstacles in the way of construction of the Temple at Ramajanmabhoomi, the Uttar Pradesh Government acquired 2.77 acres of land adjacent to the Babri structure by a notification under the Land Acquisition Act "for providing amenities to pilgrims and facility and for development of tourism" on 7-10 October, 1991. The acquisition, the UP Government later told the court, was to facilitate the construction of the Temple. 

3.28. The acquisition was challenged in a Writ Petition, and on 25th October, 1991, the High Court passed an order allowing the Government to take possession of the notified land, and make arrangement for the purposes notified, but directed that no structure of any nature shall be put up, although structure of temporary nature may be put up. The High Court further directed that the possession should be subject to the further orders of the Court and the land shall not be alienated. The judicial injunction set at naught the well-meaning move of the Kalyan Singh Government to deal with the issue.
 

The Supreme Court expected the High Court to decide the writ against acquisition by December, 1991

3.29. Another Writ Petition challenging the acquisition was filed in the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court by order dated November 15, 1991, ordered the Writ Petition filed before it to be transferred to Allahabad High Court, and while so transferring, made the following observation:

"We are of the view that when the High Court has part entertained the matter, made an interim order, and as stated at the Bar, is taking the case for final disposal some time in December of this year, it may not be necessary and justifiable to transfer the writ petitions pending before the High Court to this Court."

Later in August, 1992 and on 28th November, 1992, the Supreme Court requested the High Court to expedite the case, and deliver the judgement. But the final disposal of the case which the Supreme Court expected in December, 1991 came a year later i.e. on December 16, 1992, and this is perhaps the most proximate reason for what happened on the 6th of December, 1992. This aspect is dealt with in another place.
 

The legal battle frustrates the Hindus and highlights the truth admitted by the judiciary itself, that the issue is beyond judicial domain 

3.30. Thus, the judicial and legislative efforts of the Hindus to re-possess Ramajanmabhumi, which had commenced as early as 1885, which was pursued vigorously from 1950 onwards, and which was expedited through land acquisition by the BJP Government to build the Temple as a part of its electoral mandate, could not proceed beyond adjournment, and interim injunctions, and stay orders. The chronology of the legal battle over Ayodhya clearly brings out the fact that the judiciary applied bipartite legal jurisprudence to a mass religio-political issue, and exposed the truth, admitted by the judiciary itself, that the Ayodhya issue was incapable of resolution by the judiciary. Despite this admission, the Rajiv, Singh and Rao governments kept on insisting that the issue must be judicially resolved even as the Court, the very Court that was asked to resolve it, had said that it was not judicially soluble. The Congress Government, as did the V.P. Singh Government, sustained the false impression, by false propaganda, that the issue should be judicially adjudicated, when they knew that it was beyond the domain of the judiciary. The Rao Government went one step further it used Courts not just as a defence, but as a weapon against the Ayodhya movement. The impact of this political strategy of involving the judiciary, and an unwilling judiciary at that, has been discussed in detail in the chapter on the circumstances leading to the suspension of Kar Seva and to events on December 6, 1992, as also in the chapter on the role of the judiciary.
 

The Third Phase: Mass movement for Rama Temple at Ayodhya - the continuation of history and the result of intransigent Government and insensitive judiciary 

4.1. The people of India, under the leadership of Sants and Sadhus, have launched the biggest mass movement in the history of India to regain the Ramajanmabhoomi and to construct the Temple. The mass movement was the logical sequence and consequence of the unsuccessful and partially successful military and war diplomatic efforts, the intransigent government and insensitive legal procedures, and the consequent delay, with no hope of any decision explicit or implicit in the judicial proceedings.

4.2. Thus the Hindus failed to secure permanently the Rama Janmasthan by military efforts and war diplomacy, and were later forced into a maze of frivolous legal disputes, under a system that can only resolve bipartite disputes, and has no second rule to decide issues of mass emotive interest. The cases could not proceed even to trial stage and were frozen in interlocutory orders. This compelled the Hindu society to mobilise itself for creating favourable public opinion for the construction of the Rama Mandir at Ayodhya. The potency of Sri Rama, the provocative structure built by the invaders, and the mindless, and vote-inspired defence of that structure by the pseudo-secular political parties and leaders, (who had a diametrically opposite rule to apply to the Muslims), transformed the movement into an unprecedented one in scale and emotive depth.
 

The genesis of the movement for opening the locks - the movement takes shape 

4.3. The Ayodhya movement was conceived, in the year 1983, when, in a meeting at Muzaffarnagar, attended among others by the former Union Home Minister Gulzarilal Nanda and Professor Rajendra Singh of the RSS, the question of liberation of Ramajanmabhoomi was raised by Shri Daudayal Khanna, who was formerly a Minister in Uttar Pradesh. Thereafter the mass movement took shape as under:

4.4. On 7-8 April, 1984 over 530 Sants and Sadhus took part in the first Dharma Sansad in Delhi and unanimously resolved for the liberation of the birthplace of Rama. 

4.5. On 18th June, 1984 at the meetings of Sants held in Ayodhya, Shri Daudayal Khanna was declared as the Convener of the Ramajanmabhoomi Muktiyajna Samiti (Ramajanmabhoomi liberation front).

4.6. At a meeting held again at Ayodhya on 1st July, 1984, Mahant Avaidyanath was declared as President, Shri Daudayal Khanna as General Secretary, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and Paramahans Ramachandradas as Vice-Presidents, and Onkar Bhave, Mahesh Narayan Singh and Dinesh Tyagi as secretaries of the Samiti unanimously.

4.7. On 25th September, 1984 Srirama-Janaki Rathyatra was started from Sitamarhi in Bihar to create awareness amongst people about the movement. 

4.8. On 7th October, 1984 thousands of people assembled on the banks of the Sarayu in Ayodhya and took a vow for the liberation of the birthplace of Rama. They also demanded opening of the locks of the temple.

4.9. On 14th October, 1984 an unprecedented reception was given for Srirama-Janaki Rathyatra in Lucknow, and a representative of the Samiti held talks with Shri Narayan Dutt Tiwari regarding the liberation of the Ramajanmabhoomi.

4.10. On 31st October, 1984, on the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi, the Rama-Janaki Rathyatra programme was suspended in Ghaziabad.

4.11. On 26th March, 1985 the Samiti decided to enroll 50 lakh devotees of Rama for liberating the Janmabhoomi.

4.12. On 18th April, 1985 it was declared by Paramahans Ramachandradas, that if the locks were not opened before the Ramanavami in 1986, he would immolate himself.

4.13. On 23rd October, 1985 the Rama-Janaki Rathayatra was re-started on the Vijayadasami day.

4.14. On 31st October, 1985 the second Dharma Sansad meeting was held at Udipi, and 851 Sants participated and planned for the liberation struggle.

4.15. On 19th December, 1985, on a call given by the Bajrang Dal, the State of Uttar Pradesh observed total Bandh in support of the demand for opening the locks of the Temple. 

4.16. On 19th January, 1986, in a conference of Sants held at Lucknow, it was decided to commence the struggle on 8th March, 1986 (Sivaratri Day) and break open the locks, if the locks were not opened by that time.

4.17. It was thereafter that the Government gave in and the judiciary too, responded with lightning speed - an application to open the locks was filed within two days, i.e. on 21.1.1986; it was rejected on 28.1.1986; an appeal was filed and an order in appeal for unlocking the-doors of the structure was made within three days, i.e. on 1.2.1986; the order was implemented within hours with full-scale publicity by Doordarshan. Would anyone believe that it was the very courts, and the very Government, that were handling the issue since at least 1949 - were acting in 1986?
 

The Brokers of Muslim vote-banks react - the Babri Masjid Committees are formed 

4.18. On opening of the locks by the judiciary the communal elements began to organise the Muslims against the Temple.

4.19. On 14th February, 1986 the Muslims observed a black day in order to express their resentment against the opening of the locks. Many temples were destroyed in Kashmir and there was violence throughout the country.

4.20. On 15th February, 1986 the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) was constituted.

4.21. On 21-22 December, 1986 the BMAC decided on a series of agitational measures, including boycott of Republic Day, all-India Bandh on February 1, 1987, massive rally at the Boat Club on March 30, 1987, and a Muslim March to Ayodhya.

4.22. In January 1987, the, BMAC called for the boycott of the Republic Day.

4.23. On 16th January, 1987, the BMAC withdrew the Republic Day boycott.

4.24. On 1st February, 1987, partial Bandh was observed in response to the call by the Masjid group.

4.25. On 30th March, 1987, a large rally organised by the BMAC was held at the Boat Club in Delhi, and in which highly provocative speeches were made by sonic leaders, particularly the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid in Delhi.
 

The Rajiv Government constitutes a Group of Ministers under Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao to find a solution

4.26. On 27th April, 1987, the Ramajanmabhoomi issue was considered by the Cabinet Committee of Political Affairs, which decided to set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao, to suggest steps for resolving the controversy. 

4.27. On 8th May, 1987, the Home Minister, Shri Buta Singh, wrote to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, requesting him to work out the steps to be taken with a firmly laid-out timetable to resolve the issue.

4.28. On 21st May, 1987, the GoM met under the chairmanship of Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao, and decided that it would be better to leave the matter to be settled at the local level by local initiatives.

4.29. On 8th October, 1987, the GoM met again, and was also attended by the Chief, Minister of Uttar Pradesh. It was decided that efforts should be made to insulate local opinion from the impact of the controversy, and prepare it to accept judicial verdict. It was thought proper to await the judicial verdict. A statement was to be prepared, setting out the stand taken by the various groups, in order to determine a common ground and come to an agreed settlement.

4.30. On 31st March, 1988, the Home Minister held discussions with the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, to prepare different alternatives for resolving the issue.

4.31. On 22nd May, 1988, the Masjid groups decided to go on a mini-march to Ayodhya on August 12, 1988, and then a long march to Ayodhya on October 14, 1988.

4.32. On 4th July, 1988, it was decided by the Sants at Haridwar to oppose the agitational programme of the Masjid groups.
 

The Rajiv Government begins behind-the-scene conclaves, with particularly the Masjid groups and Muslim leaders

4.33. On 14th July, 1988, the Home Minister holds meeting with a group of intellectuals led by Col. B.S. Zaidi.

4.34. On 30th July, 1988, the Home Minister held review meetings with the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The meeting was attended by Shri Kurshid Alam Khan and Syed Shahabuddin.

4.35. On 8th August, 1988, the Babri Masjid groups decided to postpone the march to Ayodhya slated for August 12, 1988, in response to the call of the Home Minister for negotiated settlement or legal solution.

4.36. On 17th August, 1988, the Home Minister held meetings with Muslim MPs of the Congress (I). Important points made at this meeting were:

a. all parties should be involved in the resolution of this issue;

b. if a solution is not possible through talks, the judicial process should be expedited, preferably by the creation of a Special Bench in the High Court;

c. the judicial proceedings should be held in camera; and

d. a cut-off date in respect of ownership of religious places should be fixed. 

4.37. On 19th August, 1988, the Home Minister held meeting with important leaders of the Coordinating Committee of Babri Masjid Movement (CCBMM). The representatives of the Masjid groups made the following points:

a. the idols should be taken out of the mosque;

b. a solution was not possible through negotiations, as the hardliners among the Hindus will not budge an inch from their known stand; 

c. the Administration at the local level is to be built up, so that it became impartial; 

d. the Muslims detained under NSA should be released;
e. the Government should take steps to expedite the legal process, if the issue is not resolved peacefully.

4.38. On 1st September, 1988, the Home Minister met important members of Ramajanma-bhoomi Muktiyajna Samiti. In this meeting the representatives of the Samiti made the following points:

a. The question of negotiation of Ayodhya does not arise, as it is one of the three most sacred places of Hindus;

b. Hindu scriptures and available historical evidence, establish, that the premises had been a temple and used as such for a hundred years;

c. The elements necessary for a mosque, such as minarets, are not seen in the premises; and Hindu religious signs are found to be engraved on the walls of the structure;

d. Islam does not permit sharing of mosques for observance of the practices of other religions.

4.39. On 7th September, 1988, the Home Minister again met Muslim Members of Parliament belonging to Congress (I). The views expressed in this meeting included:

a. all party meeting should be convened so that the respective standpoints of different parties on this issue become clear;

b. an appeal should go from Muslim Members of Parliament to contending parties to give up confrontationist stance.

4.40. On 1st October, 1988, the Home Minister held informal talks with Syed Shahabuddin, Sulaiman Sait and Khurshid Alam Khan. At this meeting, Shahabuddin made the following points:

a. Legal process should be expedited, as it was very unlikely that a common ground would emerge in view of the stand of the Dharma Sansad of the Ramajanmabhoomi movement.

b. There will not be any compromise on the issue of Babri Masjid/Ramajanmabhoomi;

c. The efforts for solution of the problem through talks and judicial process must go hand-in-hand.

4.41. On 8th October, 1988, the Home Minister again held meetings with the representatives of the Masjid groups. It was also attended by the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. At this meeting the points stressed earlier by Syed Shahabuddin at the previous meeting were reiterated. The only new point made by him was with regard to historical/legal documents furnished to the Ministry by Ramajanmabhoomi Muktiyajna Samiti. Shahbuddin said that the document did not substantiate the two points, namely, that a temple existed on the spot where the masjid stood today, and that Babar visited. Ayodhya and destroyed the Temple. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh said that the situation was tense, and that riots had broken out in Ajmer and Muzaffarnagar. He expressed apprehension that if the proposed long march by Muslims was held on 14th October, 1988, it would further aggravate the situation. 

4.42. On 8th October, 1988, the Bajrang Dal sponsored Bandh in educational institutions in Uttar Pradesh, to protest against the long march of the Babri Masjid groups, was total. 

4.43. On 12th October, 1988, the Home Minister held meetings with the members of the Masjid groups, and impressed upon them to call off their long march slated for October 14, 1988. The Masjid groups wanted a re-assurance that the Government would expedite the hearing of the title suit after the festival season was over. In view of the assurance given, they agreed to postpone the long march.

4.44. On 13th October, 1988, all Babri groups, other than Syed Shahabuddin, withdrew the proposed long march.

4.45. On 14th October, 1988, complete Bandh was observed in Uttar Pradesh in opposition to the long march.

4.46. On 26-27th November, 1988, All India Babri Masjid Action Committee (AIBMAC) was launched with Shri Sultan Owaissi as Chairman.

4.47. On 7-13th December, 1988, the VHP organised Rama-Janaki Rathayatra in Bhopal, to create Hindu awareness on the Ramajanmabhoomi issue.

4.48. On 25th December, 1988, the Home Minister met the representatives of the Ramajanmabhoomi Muktiyajna Samiti.

4.49. On 31st January, 1989, the AIBMAC decides to form 'Hifajati Dastas' to prevent VHP's move to construct the Temple.
 

The VHP decides on Shilanyas

4.50. On 1st February, 1989, over one lakh Sants assembled on the occasion of Kumbha Mela, and made a declaration that the foundation stone for construction of Rama Temple would be laid, on November 10, 1989. It was also decided that Ramashilas (bricks for construction) would be brought from lakhs of villages.

4.51. On 29th March, 1989, the Home Minister held a meeting with senior leaders of the opposition parties on this issue. The meeting was attended by P.V. Narasimha Rao. H.K.L. Bhagat, Shivshankar and Smt. Sheela Dikshit on behalf of the Congress. The BJP could not attend the meeting because of communication gap. The representatives of the opposition parties were required to spell out their stand on in this issue in the overall interest of communal peace and harmony.

4.52. On 15-16th May, 1989, the Home Minister held meetings with the leaders of the opposition parties on the subject of communalism. The Babri Masjid issue also figured in the discussion. There was general consensus on the point that talks should be started with concerned parties, and this could go side by side with the court proceedings.

4.53. On 27-28th May, 1989, in a meeting of Sants, the decisions on the Shilanyas taken on 1st February, 1989 were confirmed.
 

A turning-point in the Ayodhya movement - the BJP decides to support the Temple construction efforts

4.54. The decision of the BJP to support the Ayodhya movement was a turning-point in the course of the movement. This decision was taken at the National Executive meeting of the Party in Palampur in June, 1989. The chronology of the Ayodhya movement from 1984 to 1989 reveals how the movement had already become a sensitive political issue. The rally organised by the Masjid groups on March 31, 1987 at which threats of violence were held out, and the covert and overt confabulations of the Congress Government with the Muslim League, Masjid groups and fundamentalist Muslim MPs like Syed Shahabuddin and Sulaiman Sait had already made the issue a deeply political one. In fact, the Political Affairs Committee of the Cabinet had been dealing with the Ayodhya issue since 1987 and even a Group of Ministers under Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao had been asked to find a solution to the problem. Bandhs and rallies were being resorted to by the Masjid groups and the Temple movement leaders, as the movement had assumed mass dimensions. By the middle of 1989, the Ayodhya movement had reached a state and status in Indian public life when it was no more possible to ignore its effect in politics, including electoral politics. As part of its permanent avocation of appeasing the Muslim leaders, and using the Ayodhya issue, the Congress Party had also launched a campaign against the VHP and also the BJP, accusing them of defying the judicial determination of the Ayodhya issue. At that point, it became inevitable for the BJP to take a clear and formal position on the Ayodhya issue and also to educate the public on how the Congress was taking an anti-Hindu stance again under the veneer of secularism in order to appease the communal Muslim leadership. Surveying the Ayodhya issue and assessing the Congress Government's response to it as another instance of its allergy to the Hindu sentiments, the National Executive of the BJP proclaimed:

"The National Executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party regards the current debate on the Ram Janma Bhoomi issue as one which has dramatically highlighted the callous unconcern which the Congress Party in particular, and the other political parties in general, betray towards the sentiments of the overwhelming majority in this country - the Hindus.

"... Though efforts have been continuing to persuade Muslims to respect the feelings of the Hindus and abandon their claim to the site, this site has also been subject matter of prolonged litigation.

"Lately, the Congress Government has unleashed a virulent campaign against the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which has been representing the Hindu point of view in the negotiations with Government, alleging that while other sections of opinion have accepted reference of the dispute to the Allahabad High Court, the BJP and the VHP are unwilling to abide by a judicial verdict in this case. This propaganda is slanderous, and is based on a total misrepresentation of facts.

"The BJP holds that the nature of this controversy is such that it just cannot be sorted out by a court of law. A court of law can settle issues of title, trespass, possession etc. But it cannot adjudicate as to whether Babar did actually invade Ayodhya, destroyed a temple and built a mosque in its place. Even where a court does pronounce on such facts, it cannot suggest remedies to undo the vandalism of history. As far back as in 1885 a British Judge Col. F.E.A. Chamier disposing off a civil appeal relating to the site observed in a-helpless vein: 'It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that occurred 356 years ago it is too late to remedy the grievance...' (Dated 18th March, 1886, Civil Appeal No.27 of 1885, District Court, Faizabad).

"In this context, it should not be forgotten that the present turmoil itself stems from two court decisions, one of 1951 and the second of 1986. "On March 3, 1951, in Gopal Singh Visharad versus Zabur Ahmad and others, the Civil Judge, Faizabad observed, inter alia, that '...at beast from 1936 onwards the Muslims have neither used the site as a mosque nor offered prayers there, and that the Hindus have been performing their Pooja etc. on the disputed site.' 

"Then on 1st February, 1986, District Judge Faizabad referred to this 1951 order and directed that as "for the last 35 years Hindus have (had) an unrestricted right of worship" at the place, the locks put on two gates in 1951 on grounds of law and order should be removed. (Civil Appeal No. 6/1986).

"The 1951 order had provoked little reaction. Till then, secularism had not yet become a euphemism for Hindu-baiting, as it has become today. It is noteworthy that around this very time the Government of India, under the leadership of Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel, and with the blessings of Gandhiji, had itself decided to undo a similar act of vandalism and to restore the great Somnath Temple at Prabhas Patan (Gujarat).

"When the Jyotirling was formally installed at Somnath, the country's Rashtrapati, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, participated in the ceremony.

"However, by the time the second court order of 1986,came, secularism had come to be equated with an allergy to Hinduism and a synonym for minority appeasement. The Muslim League lobby in the country had acquired a new militancy and aggressiveness. The campaign launched by this lobby against the Supreme Court's judgement in the Shah Bano Case in 1985 had brought it rich dividends. A panic-stricken Government had amended the criminal law; the Supreme Court judgement was legislatively annulled. Having thus tasted blood, this lobby set up the Babri Masjid Action Committee, and mounted a vicious assault on the decisions of the Faizabad Court, and went to the length of boycotting Republic Day celebrations in protest against these orders. A rally organised by this lobby in front of Parliament House actually held out threats of violence unless these orders were reversed. It is significant that most of the members of the Babri Action Committee belonged to the Congress (I).

"Against the above background, the reference made to the High Court is just an expedient device to sweep issues beneath the carpet. The move satisfied the Muslim League lobby, and so is electorally convenient. It certainly does not reveal any earnest desire on the pan of Government to solve the problem.

"The BJP believes that theocracy is alien to our history and tradition. It is, therefore, that in 1947 even though India was partitioned on religious grounds and even though Pakistan declared itself an Islamic state, India opted for the present Constitution, and guaranteed equality to all citizens irrespective of their religion.

"Secularism, according to our Constitution-makers, meant Sarva-Dharma-Sama-Bhava. It did not cannote an irreligious state. It certainly did not mean rejection of our history and cultural heritage.

"The National Executive records its appreciation of the attempts made by some Shia leaders to persuade the community that it was contrary to the tenets of Islam to have a mosque built upon a place of worship of another religion, and that, therefore, the site in dispute should be handed over to the Hindus and a mosque built at some other suitable place. The BJP calls upon the Rajiv Government to adopt the same positive approach in respect of Ayodhya that the Nehru Government did with regard to Somnath. The sentiments of the people must be respected, and Rama Janmasthan handed over to the Hindus - if possible through a negotiated settlement, or else, by legislation. Litigation certainly is no answer."

Thus, from the day one the BJP regarded the Ayodhya sentiments as a continuation of the Somnath spirit - and clearly and unequivocally declared that the Temple issue was incapable of judicial determination.

4.55. From 17 to 22nd September, 1989, Indraprastha Dharma Yatra took place and 1850 Sants participated. The Sants started from Delhi, and travelled 20 to 25 kms, a day, to various places to spread the message of Ramajanmabhoomi.

4.56. On 22nd September, 1989, in a meeting at the Boat Club in New Delhi, the leading Sants of the nation gave a warning that they would launch a bitter struggle if impediments were placed on the Shilanyas programme.
 

All non-BJP parties oppose the Shilanyas

4.57. On 13th October, 1989, a resolution was passed in the Lok Sabha with the unanimous consent of all non-BJP parties, that the Government would not permit the Shilanyas and that Vishwa Hindu Parishad be asked to cancel the programme.
 

The Supreme Court refuses to stop Shilapooja Yatras

4.58. On 15th October, 1989, Shri V.M. Tarkunde submitted a Writ Petition before the Supreme Court praying that the Shila Poojan, wherever organised by the VHP, should be banned.

4.59. On 17th October, 1989, the representatives of the VHP met Home Minister Buta Singh, and confirmed that there would not be any postponement of the Shilanyas programme.

4.60. On 27th October, 1989, the Supreme Court held on Shri V.M. Tarakunde's petition, that taking out religious processions was a fundamental right, and hence the bringing of the idol of Rama and Ramashilas to Ayodhya, could not be stopped.
 

Government and Court fail to thwart the Shilanyas - a Harijan lays the first brick for Rama Temple

The leaders of the Ayodhya movement successfully conducted and performed the Shilanyas on 10th November, 1989.

4.61. On 2nd November, 1989, the place for performance of Shilanyas was chosen. On that evening a flag was hoisted at the site.

4.62. From 5th November, 1989 onwards, Sants, priests and raths bearing idols of Rama started in thousands for Ayodhya.

4.63. On 6th November, 1989, the Congress leaders met Pujya Devaraha Baba and requested for the change of the place of Shilanyas, but the Baba turned down the request. 

4.64. Despite the Allahabad High Court ruling on 14th August, 1989, and 7th November, 1989, declaring status quo on the disputed site, the Uttar Pradesh Government and the Central Government caved in under mass pressure and could not stop the Shilanyas. At the appointed time on 10th November, 1989, a Harijan, Kameshwar Chopal of Bihar, placed the first brick in the midst of the sound of conches, and other musical instruments for the foundation of the Rama Temple. Later, the Shilanyas programme was completed by the Sants and the devotees placing 200 bricks. 

4.65. At a meeting on the same day, the Margadarshak Mandal of the VHP decided that the natural culmination of the Shilanyas programme was the construction of the Temple, and for that purpose Sants would go for Kar Seva on 11th November, 1989. It was also decided that if the Kar Seva was stopped, the Sants would not resist, in view of the forthcoming elections in the country.

4.66. On 11th November, 1989 over 7000 Sants and devotees went from the banks of Sarayu for Kar Seva. But they were stopped by the order of the District Magistrate and the Sants decided not to resist in view of the impending general elections.

4.67. The Sants and the VHP decided to oppose those parties who opposed the construction of the Rama Temple.

4.68. In the general elections to the Lok Sabha held in November, 1989, the Congress Party was defeated, and the Janata Dal supported by the BJP and the Left parties came to power in December, 1989.
 

Sants decide to resume Kar Seva in February, 1990

4.69. At a conference of the Sants at Prayag held on 27-28th January, 1990, it was decided to commence Temple construction work on 14th February, 1990; but doors were kept open for talks till 6th February, 1990.
 

V.P. Singh, the new Prime Minister, asks for time

4.70. On 6th February, 1990 Prime Minister V.P. Singh called the leaders of the Ayodhya Movement for talks, and after the talks, he asked for some time to discuss the matter with his colleagues.

4.71. On 8th February, 1990, on the invitation of the Prime Minister, the leaders of the Ayodhya movement present in Delhi met him. He expressed the confidence that the problem would be solved in four months and asked for that much time.

4.72. On 9th February, 1990, in a meeting of the Ayodhya movement leaders held in Delhi, the appeal of the Prime Minister for 4 months time was accepted.

4.73. In March, April and May, 1990, leaders of the Ayodhya movement went to the Prime Minister's residence to remind him about the lapse of time. 

4.74. On 5th April, 1990, a Committee of Ministers consisting of S/Shri Madhu Dandavate, George Fernandes and Muktyar Anis called on the leaders of the Temple movement. When asked what had been done by the Government during the two out of the four months time given to the Government, the Ministers were silent.
 

As the Prime Minister does nothing for four months, the leaders of the movement set October 30, 1990 as the date for Kar Seva 

4.75. On 23-24th June, 1990, the Sants having waited for four months to no purpose, met at Haridwar and decided that Kar Seva for construction of the Temple would start from Devotthan Ekadasi Day on 30th October, 1990. It was also decided that the date and the plan of construction would remain unchanged.
 

Advani warns of the "greatest mass movement of the country"

4.76. On 28th June, 1990, in an interview carried in Panchajanya, a Hindi Fortnightly, the BJP President, Shri L.K. Advani, openly committed his party's full support to the VHP's decision to start construction of Sri Rama's Temple at Ayodhya on October 30, 1990. He said that the BJP would participate in strength in any agitation for the purpose. He also cautioned the V.P. Singh Government that any attempt to scuttle the VHP's plan would snowball into "the greatest mass movement" the country had ever witnessed. 

4.77. On 1st August, 1990 the Sants pledged to devote their tana, mana and dhana (body, mind and wealth) to overcome the challenges to the construction of the Temple. 

4.78. From 1st August to 31st August, 1990, for mobilising Karsevaks at Ayodhya from all over the country. Sri Rama Kar Seva Samitis were constituted.
 

Advani's offer to persuade the VHP to drop Mathura and Varanasi if Ayodhya is voluntarily given, evokes no response from Muslim leaders 

4.79. On 13th August, 1990, while releasing a book on Ayodhya by a Belgian author, Shri L.K. Advani made an offer to the Muslim leaders that he would intercede with the VHP to drop their plans for construction of temples on the sacred sites in Mathura and Varanasi if the Muslim leaders voluntarily withdrew their claims over the Ramajanmabhoomi and allowed the construction of the Temple. The offer was rejected outright by Muslim leaders. 

4.80. On 15th August, 1990, saffron flags were hoisted and conches were sounded all over the country.

4.81. From 21st August, 1990 to 15th September, 1990, various Dharma Yatras were conducted all over the country, and Rama Sankeertana Samitis were constituted.

On 31st August 1990, stone-carving for construction of Sri Rama Mandir was commenced at Ayodhya.

On 1st September 1990, Sri Rama Jyoti was lit by the sacred Arni Manthan.
 

Shri Advani's Rathyatra - Shri V.P. Singh issues Ordinance after efforts to isolate the VHP/BJP fail

4.82 Shri V.P. Singh began the devious game of splitting the Ayodhya movement, and worked for a Sant-Moulvi solution, minus the VHP and BJP. As explained in Chapter IV, this move did not take off.

4.83. On 12th September, 1990, Shri L.K. Advani announced his plan for a 10,000 km. Rathyatra from Somnath to Ayodhya starting on September 25, 1990, and reaching Ayodhya on October 30, to join the Kar Seva. This announcement was consistent with his warning on 28th June, 1990, that if the V.P. Singh Government tried to scuttle the plans for Rama Temple, the country would witness the greatest mass movement of the century. And on 25th September, 1990 Shri L.K. Advani started on the Rathyatra from Somnath to Ayodhya to participate in the Kar Seva on October 30, 1990. The Rathyatra received tumultuous response everywhere and completely turned the national debate on the scope and content of secularism that had been practised since independence.

4.84. On Vijayadasami Day, 28th September, 1990, Sants went on Yatras in different parts of the country. 

4.85. From 28th September to 10th October, 1990, devotional hymns were sung in front of the Sri Rama Jyotis installed in the temples, in lakhs of villages.

4.86. On Deepavali day, 18th October, 1990, lamps were lit from the Sri Rama Jyotis in houses all over the country.

4.87. On 19th October, 1990, the President issued an Ordinance to acquire the disputed structure and land at Ayodhya. This was the result of Shri V.P. Singh's failure to split the Ayodhya movement and to isolate the VHP/BJP, and so failing, he had resorted to political negotiations through persons connected with the RSS/VHP. The Ordinance was the outcome of this political move.
 

The confrontation with the movement - the Karsevaks overcome the challenge of V.P. Singh and Mulayam Singh

4.88. Within two days of its issue, the Central Government decided to withdraw the take-over Ordinance. The circumstances leading to the issue of the Ordinance, and its withdrawal are discussed separately in Chapter IV.

4.89. On 23rd October, 1990, Shri L.K. Advani was arrested in Samastipur, and the Rathyatra was stopped. The whole country reacted with spontaneous bandhs on two days and indignation swept across the nation. The BJP withdrew its support to the Janata Dal Government led by Shri V.P. Singh. Many leaders of the Ayodhya movement were arrested. They included Prof. Rajendra Singh, V.H. Dalmia, Gumanmal Lodha, Mahant Avaidyanath and Swami Chinmayanand. Shri A.B. Vajpayee who was leading Karsevaks to Ayodhya was also arrested.

4.90. On 28th October, 1990, the Secretary General of VHP, Shri Ashok Singhal, reached Ayodhya, in spite of the heaviest security arrangement to prevent even "a bird from flying into Ayodhya" as Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav the U.P. Chief Minister had pledged and similarly, thousands of Karsevaks managed to reach Ayodhya.

4.91. On 30th October, 1990, the Karsevaks who had assembled in lakhs, ascended the domes of the disputed structure, and hoisted saffron flags.

4.92. On 2nd November, 1990, the peaceful unarmed Karsevaks, who were approaching the Ramajanmabhoomi, were subjected to ruthless firing in which over 50 Karsevaks died and hundreds were injured. The entire nation reacted with unprecedented indignation.
 

Shri V.P. Singh goes; efforts of Shri Chandrashekhar, the new Prime Minister, to solve the problem; Karsevaks on satyagraha 

Meanwhile, the Janata Dal government led by Shri V.P. Singh was voted out in Parliament and Shri Chandrashekhar became the Prime Minister.

4.93. On 1st December, 1990, the Chandrashekhar Government arranged meetings between the VHP and the Babri Masjid groups, to evolve an agreed solution to the problem.

4.94. On 6th December, 1990, Karsevaks started satyagraha at Ayodhya, and lakhs of them took part in the satyagraha which lasted till 14th January 1991.

4.95. On 23rd December, 1990, the VHP and the AIBMAC produced evidence for the debate initiated by the Government.

4.96. It was decided that Government will make documents of each side available to the other by 26 December, and that each side will submit its rejoinder by 6 January, 1991. The documents were duly exchanged. The VHP filed its rejoinder. The AIBMAC filed no rejoinder; instead it furnished another pile of miscellaneous papers. 

4.97. On 10th January, 1991, a meeting was held in Gujarat Bhavan of the two sides with Government representatives and some experts. It was decided that each side will nominate experts and that they will meet on 24 and 25 January to assess the evidence. 

4.98. On 24th January, 1991, the experts of both sides met. The discussion was to continue on the 25th, but on that day the experts nominated by the Masjid groups failed to turn up at the meeting. The VHP experts waited along with the Government officials for over three hours and then came away.

On 6th February took place what was to turn out to be the last meeting. It was decided that the Government would have the documents presented by each side authenticated at the earliest. If some explanation was deemed necessary after authentication, the Government would obtain it from each side, and each side will furnish comprehensive and final statement of its case as early as possible.

On 24 February, 1991, the VHP presented a statement of its case. The AIBMAC did not do so.
 

Fall of the Chandrashekhar Government, elections, and the new Government under Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao in office at New Delhi

The Chandrashekhar Government fell in March 1991, and fresh elections to Lok Sabha were announced.

4.99. On 31st March and 1st April, 1991, the meeting of the Kendriya Margadarshak Mandal of the VHP was held in New Delhi.

4.100. On 2nd and 3rd April, 1991, the Dharma Sansad met in Delhi. On 4th April, 1991 lakhs of devotees of Rama, from various part of the country, participated in a Vishal Hindu Sammelan in Delhi at the Boat Club. The rally received unprecedented response and was the biggest ever held in Delhi.

4.101. In its election Manifesto, the BJP committed itself to building a Temple for Sri Rama at the Ramajanmabhoomi in Ayodhya, after relocating the mosque, and to the concept of Rama Rajya.

4.102. During the period from April to July 1991, far-reaching changes took place in the country. Shri Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. The general elections which were halfway through were deferred and held in June. The BJP captured power in UP, and Shri Kalyan Singh became the Chief Minister. The Congress Party formed a minority Government with Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao as Prime Minister.
 

The efforts to overcome the obstacles to Temple construction 

4.103. On 28-29th September, 1991, a meeting of the Sants was held in Rishikesh. In the meeting, it was decided to commence the temple construction work on a date to be specified later.

4.104. On 7th and 10th October, 1991, the U.P. Government acquired 2.77 acres of land adjoining the structure for temple construction. The Government had devised a construction plan delinked from the long term issue of the disputed structure, and the acquisition was intended for that purpose. But the acquisition became the subject matter of legal disputes, and the High Court and Supreme Court ordered status quo on the acquired land, and prohibited any permanent construction.

4.105. On 30th October, 1991, Martyrs Memorial Day was observed by the VHP and the Sants.

4.106. In January, 1992, the leaders of the Ayodhya movement met, and decided to have a meeting with the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Kalyan Singh, and discuss the matter of Temple construction. The first meeting of the Sants with the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister was held in January, 1992. Their second meeting was held at Tirupati. 

4.107. On 20th March, 1992, the U.P. Government handed over 48 acres of land to Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas.

4.108. On 4th April, 1992, the Sants, who had gathered at Haridwar, expressed their pro-found anguish to the team of MPs, who were sent to investigate the actions taken by the BJP Government in UP to remove the impediments in the construction of the Temple. Earlier Shri S.B. Chavan, the Union Home Minister, had threatened to invoke Article 356 against the Uttar Pradesh Government.

4.109. On 6th April, 1992, the Central Government decided to send a team of Members of Parliament, and Members of the National Integration Council to inspect the reported digging and construction work in Ayodhya. The members of the team worshipped Ramlala at the disputed structure, and got prasad. Later, the BJP also sent separately a team of its parliamentary members.
 

The Sants decide on Kar Seva in July, 1992, and seek a meeting with the Prime Minister 

4.110. At a meeting of the Sants held in Ujjain in the first week of May 1992, it was decided to resume the Kar Seva on July 9, 1992. On 9th May, 1992, Swami Vamadev, Paramahans Ramchandradas, Mahant Avaidyanath, Yugpurush Paramanand and Swami Chinmayananda sought a meeting, and met the Prime Minister P.V. Narsimha Rao, regarding the construction of the Temple and informed him about the proposed Kar Seva in July 1992.
 

The Prime Minister does nothing and Kar Seva starts on 9th July, 1992

4.111. On the 6th, 7th and 8th July, 1992, a meeting of the Margadarshak Mandal was held in Ayodhya in which Sants expressed their disappointment towards the Government, and decided to re-start the Kar Seva on 9th July 1992. 

4.112. On 9th July, 1992, rituals were performed in the premises of Ramajanmabhoomi. After performing the pooja, the Karsevaks re-commenced Kar Seva for the construction of the Temple. There was widespread agitation, and there was commotion in the Lok Sabha during the next few days.
 

The Prime Minister calls the Sants and asks for 4 months time - Kar Seva suspended 

4.113. On 23rd July, 1992, Prime Minister called the Sants to Delhi to discuss the matter. He said that he expected the problem to be solved within four months. On the assurance given by the Prime Minister, the Sants decided to stop the Kar Seva for three months.

4.114. On 26th July, 1992, the Karsevaks were asked to stop the Kar Seva with great reluctance, and after great persuasion by the leaden. The VHP General Secretary told the Karsevaks that the Kar Seva would be resumed in November 1992, and the Karsevaks discontinued the work.

The circumstances leading to the Kar Seva in July, and its suspension are explained in Chapter V.

4.115. On 20th September, 1992, some Muslim organisations proposed that the Babri Masjid should be moved 10 km. away from the place where it was situated.
 

The Prime Minister does nothing from July to September 1992 

4.116. On 23rd September, 1992, the leaders of the RSS met the Prime Minister Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao, and expressed their view that the action taken to solve the Ayodhya issue was very slow.

4.117. On 24th September, 1992, the VHP decided that the period of three months given to the Prime Minister would not be extended further.

4.118. On 3rd October, 1992, the VHP had direct talks with Muslim leaders spearheading the Babri movement.

4.119. On 16th October, 1992, the VHP and the Masjid groups agreed to continue the talks, but the talks had become purposeless.
 

The stage set for confrontation - the Government tucks under Courts and abdicates 

4.120. At the VHP/Masjid group meeting on 29th October 1992, the talks virtually collapsed, but S/Shri Sharad Pawar, and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat decided not to announce the failure and proposed another meeting again on 8th November 1992. 

4.121. On 29th and 30th October, 1992, it was decided in the 5th Dharma Sansad Organised at Delhi that the Kar Seva should be started again from 6th December, 1992. This decision followed the collapse of the VHP/Masjid group talks on 29th October 1992

4.122. On 8th November, 1992, talks between the VHP/Masjid groups formally collapsed. 

By this time the Narasimha Rao Government had launched a virulent anti-Temple campaign in the Press and on the Doordarshan. The Government had a contingency plan to confront the Karsevaks, although it was overtly carrying on talks with the leaders of the movement. It began to use the Courts as a shield for itself and as a weapon against the movement. The details of how the Government behaved from July 1992 onwards, is explained in Chapter VI.

4.123 On 23rd November 1992, a meeting on the Ayodhya issues was held by the National Integration Council. It was decided to support any action to stop Kar Seva, and the Prime Minister was authorised to take such actions as needed to stop the Kar Seva.

4.124. By 26th November 1992, the Central Government had sent 135 companies of central security forces to Ayodhya and Faizabad, in spite of the Uttar Pradesh Government's protests.

4.125. On 27th November, 1992, the Supreme Court ordered the Uttar Pradesh Government to give an undertaking regarding Kar Seva in compliance with court orders. 

4.126. On 28th November, 1992, the Supreme Court gave permission for symbolic Kar Seva, on the assurance given by the Uttar Pradesh Government, and the letter sent by Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia and Swami Chimayananda stating that the Kar Seva would be symbolic. A judicial observer was also appointed by the Supreme Court in Ayodhya. 

4.127. On 29th November, 1992, Shri L.K. Advani and Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi declared that they would respectively proceed from Varanasi and Mathura to Ayodhya, to mobilize Karsevaks and participate in the Kar Seva.

4.128. By 3rd December 1992, over 25,000 armed policemen were stationed in Ayodhya and over 1,25,000 Karsevaks had assembled.

4.129. On 4th December, 1992, the Rama Temple Restoration Programme Committee of the Ayodhya movement consented to whatever decision is taken on the nature of Kar Seva by, the Dharma Sansad.

4.130. On 5th December, 1992, the Margadarshak Mandal of the VHP expressed its consent to Kar Seva, as decided by the Dharma Sansad. The Dharma Sansad decided to have symbolic Kar Seva from December 6 to December 10, and possibly to commence construction from December 11, after the High Court judgement was delivered. 

4.131. On 6th December, 1992, in a sudden development the disputed structure was demolished by the Karsevaks, and Ramlala was re-installed in the very place where it had been originally installed. Shri Kalyan Singh, owning moral responsibility for the demolition, resigned at 5 p.m. A few hours later, the Uttar Pradesh Government was dismissed by the Central Government, and the assembly dissolved. There was tension all over the country. The Prime Minister announced over Doordarshan that "the mosque" at Ayodhya had been demolished.
 

The post-demolition period - arrest of the Ayodhya movement leaders, ban on RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal - the Ayodhya movement takes a multidimensional shape 

4.132. On 7th December 1992, the Central Government decided to ban communal organisations and the Prime Minister announced the decision to re-establish the demolished structure. In Ayodhya, the Rama Temple construction work started. Five feet high walls were raised on all four sides of the Temple. In Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Indian embassies, and Hindu and Sikh places of worship were attacked. Riots began in different parts of India too. All this happened because the Prime Minister himself said, contrary to admitted facts, that a mosque had been demolished. Later, the Government of India told the parliament that as many as 248 Hindu temples and cultural centres were damaged or Demolished in Pakistan, 350 in Bangladesh, 4 in Afghanistan and 18 in the United Kingdom. And yet not a single party other than the BJP condemned these wanton acts of destruction. 

4.133. On 8th December, 1992, the Central Reserve Police took charge of the Ramajanmabhoomi area, and evicted the Karsevaks in a pre-dawn operation. On the same day Shri L.K. Advani, Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi, Shri Ashok Singhal, Shri Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Shri Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Uma Shri Bharati were arrested. 

4.134. On 9th December, 1992, the Ramajanmabhoomi was encircled on all sides by barbed wire fences, and 26 injured Karsevaks were arrested in the hospital. 

4.135. On 10th December, 1992, the Supreme Court refused to approve of the plea for direction of reconstruction of the domes.

4.136. On 11th December, 1992, the Allahabad High Court finally gave its decision, holding that the acquisition of 2.77 acres of land by the State Government was unlawful. 

4.137. On 13th December, 1992, the investigation into the happenings in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. 

4.138. On 15th December, 1992, the BJP Governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh were dismissed, and President's Rule was imposed. 

4.139. On 24th December, 1992, it was decided in the BJP National Executive meeting, that the Rama Temple would be constructed at the Garbhagriha, and a massive public contact, and signature campaign in support of the construction was launched.

4.140. On 25th December, 1992, the Jail Bharo Movement for Darshan of Ramlala was started by the Sants.

4.141. On 28th December, 1992, the Central Government expressed its intention to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court, relating to the acquisition of the entire disputed area. 

4.142. On 31st December, 1992, the march of some Muslim organisations for offering Namaz at Ramajanmabhoomi was prevented.

4.143. On 1st January, 1993, the Allahabad High Court permitted the Darshan of Ramlala.

4.144. On 5th January, 1993, all injured Karsevaks, arrested from Hospitals, were released on bail with the finding that there was no case made out against anyone of them under Section 153-A of IPC and also that a raising of slogan 'Jai Sri Rama' did not amount to an offence by the special Judicial Magistrate of CBI. 

4.145. On the 6th January, 1993, fresh archaeological evidence, including an amalaka, was found by the PWD as it was laying the barricades around the Ramajanmabhhoomi.

4.146. On 8th January, 1993, the Central Government issued an Ordinance, and acquired 67.7. acres of the land in and around the disputed area.

4.147. On 10th January, 1993, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lalitpur, ordered that Sarva Shri L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi, Ashok Singhal, V.H. Dalmia, Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Uma Shri Bharati be set free "honourably and unconditionally."

4.148. By the post-demolition developments the Ayodhya movement has taken a multi-dimensional turn; with the decision of the BJP to organise a massive rally at Boat Club in New Delhi, and to help the Ramajanmabhoomi Nyas undertake an unprecedented signature campaign throughout the country in support of the construction of the Rama Temple. The decision of the BJP to have a massive rally at the Boat Club, was interfered with by the Government, which banned the rally that was to be held on 25th February, 1992. Lakhs of BJP workers were arrested all over the country, train movements were stopped, buses were prevented from plying to Delhi, and the entire border of Delhi with adjacent states was sealed. Over one lakh of policemen were marshalled to foil the BJP rally, in a manner unknown even during wartime and emergency. Unprecedented and harsh measures were taken against the rallyists, which resulted in serious injuries to many leaders including Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi, Dr. J.K. Jain, Shri T.N. Chaturvedi, Dr. Naunihal Singh and others. Shri Gopinath Munde, leader of opposition in Maharashtra, and scores of others were badly injured. Some of them lost their eyes fingers and other organs of body. The BJP responded by boycotting the annual Presidential Address to Parliament, and also the Railway Budget and the Union Budget presented on 26th February 1992. Thus, the mass movement for the Temple is escalating into an even larger battle with the Government, and with all political parties which oppose the Ayodhya movement.

4.149. The Ayodhya struggle now has spilled beyond the demand for construction of Rama Temple at Ayodhya, and encompasses a wide area of national politics - the constitutionality of the dismissal of the BJP Governments, the delay in holding elections, the ban on the organisations supporting and sponsoring the Ayodhya movement, democratic polity, civil liberties, vindictive -arrests, and curtailment of the rights of those who oppose the present Government. The struggle has also extended to the areas of the economic policy of the present Government, which has mortgaged national interest to the IMF and World Bank for short term gains. Thus, the struggle for Ayodhya has become a multi-dimensional ideological clash between the Congress party and its allies on the one hand, and the BJP and the Sangh Parivar on the other.


 
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