Hindu Vivek Kendra
A RESOURCE CENTER FOR THE PROMOTION OF HINDUTVA
   
CHAPTER - III
THE EVIDENCE AND DIALOGUE ON RAMAJANMABHOOMI

1.1 Besides the position of the Ayodhya movement that the Rama Temple at Ayodhya is a matter of faith, the case of the Temple is strengthened by massive and documented evidence of a preexisting Hindu structure which was disposed of, and again provenly, a mosque was constructed.
 

The initiative taken by Shri Chandrashekhar

1.2. The Chandrashekhar Government took the far-reaching step of getting the two sides the VHP and the AIBMAC, to begin talking to each other and to reduce the dispute to a simple question - was the structure built by demolishing a Hindu temple or structure?
 

The core of the dialogue on evidence

1.3. The core of the dialogue on the Ramajanmabhoomi centred around whether the erstwhile Babri structure stood on the site on which a Hindu structure stood originally.
 

Syed Shahabuddin's authoritative commitment to demolish the mosque if evidence showed a pre-existing temple

1.4. This question is important as it had been authoritatively stated on behalf of the Muslims by Syed Shahabuddin that "if it is proved that the Babri Masjid had been built after demolishing Ramajanmabhoomi Mandir on its place, then a mosque on such a usurped land deserves to be destroyed. No theologian or Alim can give Fatwa to hold namaz on it." What Syed Shahabuddin said was wholly consistent with the classical expositions of Islamic law - the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri, which categorically stated:

"It is not permissible to build a mosque on unlawfully acquired land. There may be many forms of unlawful acquisition. For instance, if some people forcibly take some body's house (or land) and build a mosque or even a Jama Masjid on it, then the namaz in such a mosque will be against the Shariat."

1.5. In consultation with both sides, Shri Chandrashekhar made the issue specific and each side agreed to submit evidence on this specific issue.
 

The evidence from VHP and AIBMAC analysed

2.1. In response to the Government's request, voluminous documentary evidence had been marshalled by the VHP from Hindu literary sources, Muslim history books, archival materials, European accounts, Government Gazetteers, and revenue records, besides art-historical and archeological evidence. This being in January 1991, the subsequent archeological and epigraphic evidence that came up in the year 1992 and at the time of the demolition could not form part of the VHP presentation. The AIBMHC did not rebut even a single piece of evidence tendered by the VHP - in fact, it offered no comments at all on the evidence of VHP, sought time, evaded the dialogue, and finally absented itself. Instead, the AIBMAC gave a large pile of papers labelling them as evidence, but not a single sheet of that compilation would qualify as an acceptable piece of evidence. 

2.2. The compilation submitted by both sides being voluminous, it is difficult to deal with the merits of each item of evidence in detail. But the evidence is in the records of the Government and is available for scrutiny; it has also been published in the form of books and booklets. All that is required is to study and analyse the massive evidence on record. Among the few who studied the voluminous evidence at the time was Shri Arun Shourie. He analysed the relative merits of the evidence tendered by the VHP and the AIBMAC in his syndicated article dated 27-1-91 published in various newspapers. Not a word in this article was rebutted or disputed by anyone.
 

The AIBMAC evidence appalling, and supports in fact the VHP case

2.3. This is what Shri Shourie says on the evidence submitted by the AIBMAC: 

"I was appalled when I saw what the AIBMAC had furnished. It was just a pile of papers. You were expected to wade through them and discover the relevance they had or the inference which flowed from them. I read them dutifully, and was soon convinced that the leaders of the All India Babri Masjid Committee and the intellectuals who had been guiding them had themselves not read them.

"It wasn't just that so much of it was the stuff of cranks: pages from the book of some chap to the effect that Rama was actually a Pharaoh of Egypt; an article by someone based he says on what he had learnt from one dancer in Sri Lanka, and setting out a folk story, knowledge of which he himself says is confined to a small part of a small district in that country, to the effect that Sita was Rama's sister whom he married, etc.,

"It was not just that so much of the rest was as tertiary as can be - articles after articles by sundry journalists which set out no evidence.

"It was that the overwhelming bulk of it was just a pile of court papers - selective court judgements, a decree without the judgement underlying it, some merely the plaints, i.e. the assertions of the parties that happen at the moment to be convenient- and it was that document after document in this lot buttressed the case not of the All India Babri Masjid Committee but of the VHP!

"They show that the mosque had not been in use since 1936.

"They show that it had been in utter neglect: the relevant authority testifying at one point to the person-in-charge being an opium-addict, to his being thoroughly unfit to look after even the structure.

"They show different groups or sects of Muslims righting each other for acquiring the property, with the descendants of Mir Baqi, the Commander who built the structure, maintaining that the lands etc., which were given to them by the British were given not so that they may maintain the structure through the proceeds but so that they may maintain themselves, and that they were given these for the services - political and military - they had rendered to the British.

"It was evident too that it would be difficult to sustain the claim that tile structure was a waqf, as was being maintained now, it was not even listed in the lists of either the Shia or Sunni Waqf Boards, as the law required all waqf properties to be.

"While the Babri Masjid Committee has striven now to rule out of court British gazetteers - as these, after meticulous examination of written and other evidence, record unambiguously that the mosque was built after demolishing the Ramajanmabhoomi temple - the rulings and judgements filed by the AIBMAC rely on, reproduce at length and accept the gazetteers on the very point at issue. Indeed, they explicitly decree that the gazetteers are admissible as evidence!

"They show the Hindus waging an unremitting struggle to regain this place held, the documents say, "most sacred" by them; they show them continuing to worship the ground inspite of the mosque having been super-imposed on it; they show them constructing structures and temples on the peripheral spots when they are debarred from the main one.

"They show the current suit being filed well, well past the time limit allowed by our laws...

"On reading the papers the AIBMAC had filed as "evidence", I could only conclude, therefore, that either its leaders had not read the papers themselves, or that they had no case and had just tried to over-awe or confuse the government etc., by dumping a huge miscellaneous heap."

The VHP evidence is complete and establishes the demolition of a Hindu temple to put up the mosque

2.4. And this is what Shri Shourie says on the evidence marshalled by the VHP: 

"In complete contrast the VHP documents are pertinent to the point, and have not as yet been shown to he deficient in any way.

"They contain the unambiguous statements of Islamic historians, of Muslim narrators - from the grand-daughter of Aurangazeb - to the effect that the mosque was built by demolishing the Rama temple.

"They contain accounts of European travellers as well as official publications of the British period - gazetteers of 1854, of 1877, of 1881, of 1892, of 1905; the Settlement Report of 1880; the Surveyor's Report of 1838; the Archaeological Survey Reports of 1891, of 1934 - all of them reaffirming what the Muslim historians had stated; that the mosque was built by destroying the temple, that portions of the temple - e.g., the pillars - are in the mosque still, that the Hindus continue to revere the spot and struggle unremittingly to reacquire it.

"They contain revenue records of a hundred years and more which list the site as 'Janmasthan' and specify it to be the property of the mahants. They also show how attempts have been made to erase things from these records and superimpose convenient nomenclatures on them - crude and unsuccessful attempts, for while the forgers have been able to get at the records in some offices they have not been able to get at them in all the offices!

"Most important of all, they contain accounts of the archaeological excavations which were conducted at the site from 1975 to 1980. These are conclusive: the pillar-bases, the pillars, the door jamb, the periods of the different layers, the alignment of the bases and the pillars, the stone of which the pillars are made... Everything coheres. And everything answers the issue the government and the two sides had specified in the affirmative, and unambiguously so."

When meetings were called by the government, and the experts and other representatives of the AIBMAC tried to hedge and dodge the discussion on the merits of the evidence on record, was clearly indicative of which side was sure of its facts and its case, and which side was frightened to face the debate.
 

The Marxist experts nominated by AIBMAC fall to turn up at the meeting

2.5. Shri Arun Shourie has also commented on the conduct of the Marxist experts who had been nominated by the AIBMAC to assist the latter in debating the evidence at the meeting of VHP and AIBMAC:

"For a year and a half you keep issuing statements to the press, and writing ostensibly scholarly articles, and holding forth in interviews dot the Babri Mosque was not most definitely not built by demolishing or even on the site of a temple. Documents of the other side are sent to you. You are nominated by the All India Babri Mosque Action Committee as an expert who will give his assessment of them. A meeting is scheduled. Before that you meet the then Director General of Archaeology who had supervised the excavations at the site. The day the meeting is to begin the newspapers carry yet another categorical statement from 'intellectuals', again asserting the line convenient to the AIBMAC. You of course are among them.

"The meeting commences. On point after point, on document after document your response is that you have not studied the evidence, that therefore you require time, that you have never seen the site, that therefore you require time to visit it.

"You are not a field archaeologist you say, and will therefore nominate another person, and he too will naturally require time.... The person happens to be present. You are informed that the person has not only studied the evidence, he has met and discussed the matter with the Director General of Archaeology, and also with the previous Director General, Dr. B.B. Lal, under whose supervision the excavations had been conducted in 1975-80. Others too who are named whom he has met for the purpose. But that was in another capacity, you say, now, he will need time....

"On behalf of the Government the officer present says that the records of the excavation - maps, four types of narrative accounts, photographs - are available, that Dr. Lal has agreed so that they can be inspected the very next day, No... we will need time...

"You are on to a new tack. But why had Dr. Lal not stated a definite conclusion? In fact it turns out that he has; a video-cassette of the Interview he gave to the BBC is produced. Can't see it now as there is no VCP... Will need time....

"'The next day you don't even turn up for the meeting. An expert of the AIBMAC. A Marxist. An intellectual whose name appears invariably in the statement propagandising the AIBMAC point of view. I summarise, but the account applies more or less to the four professional 'experts' who appeared as the AIBMAC's nominees in the meeting on January 24.

"The other 'experts' of the AIBMAC were just its own office-bearers. They went one better. They 'denied' the contents, Indeed it seemed the very existence of books written not just by Islamic historians and authors - the photocopies of the relevant pages from which had all been supplied weeks earlier - they 'denied' the knowledge of even standard works like the Encyclopaedia Brittanica!

"That done, the next day they did not turn up either."

Thus, undisputable evidence tendered was not discussed, and the discussion attempted was hedged, ducked and dodged. Finally, the AIBMAC and its experts sought more time to face the evidence, and at last kept away from the debate.
 

Shifting stand of AIBMAC and its Marxist consultants 

3.1. While this was happening in the forum inside, outside the representative of AIBMAC, and particularly Syed Shahabuddin were shifting their stand on what would constitute an acceptable evidence and proof of the existence of a Hindu structure on the site where the disputed structure stood till December 6, 1992. 

3.2. First, the AIBMAC and Marxist historians asked the VHP to show any documentary evidence of a Hindu structure having been demolished and the mosque erected on the spot.

The VHP marshalled the Gazeteers and revenue records of the British government of the 19th century which proved that a temple existed originally and the mosque was constructed by Babar/Mir Baqi after demolishing the temple.

The Marxist historians and AIBMAC dodged this irrefutable evidence and characterised it as part of the British conspiracy to divide Hindus and Muslims and rule India. The Marxist historians said:

"All historical evidence amassed by the VHP comes from British sources. Indeed historians are unanimous in maintaining that not a single record had been found dating from pre-British times which makes any mention of this dispute" (The Week dated 25-2-90).

3.3. Syed Shahabuddin confidently stated that he would demolish the Babri Masjid with his own hands if VHP could, come up with one original non-British source confirming that a temple was demolished to pave way for a mosque.
 

The challenge of Syed Shahabuddin for an original non-British source was taken up and met by Dr. Harsh Narain

3.4. Koenraad Elst says in his Ram Janmabhoomi vs Babri Masjid: a case study in Hindu Muslim conflict

"The challenge was taken up by Dr. Harsh Narain (formerly a philosophy faculty member of both Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University), in an article tided 'Ram Janmabhoomi; Muslim Testimony.' He rejects Shahabuddin's pious declaration that it is un-Islamic and against the Shariat to forcibly convert a pagan temple into a mosque: 'It is common knowledge that most of the mosques built by the Muslim invaders stand on land grabbed or extorted from the Kafirs. There are a great many well-attested examples of mosques forcibly replacing temples, in India as well as elsewhere, such as the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi.... Is Shahabuddin prepared to keep his words in the case of such mosques?'

"Dr. Harsh Narain argues that the theologico-Juristic rulings to the effect that no mosque can be built on land grabbed or illegitimately acquired, apply to land owned by Muslims, and not to that owned by the infidels. The prophet has made it clear that all land belongs to God and, via His prophet, to the Muslims. Ibn Taymiyyah, the 14th century theologian and jurist, stated that jihad simply restores lands to the Muslims, to whom they rightly belong. The poet Iqbal put the following words into the mouth of Tariq, conqueror of Spain: 'All land belongs to the Muslims, because it belongs to their God.' A Muslim ruler wanting to replace temples with mosques, can easily find scriptural justification, and does not have to break the letter nor the spirit of Islamic law.

"Coming to the specific Babri Masjid issue, Dr. Narain presents four independent Muslim sources, outside the sphere of British influence, that confirm the story of the demolition of a Ram temple to make way for the Babri Masjid. All the four documents are from the 19th century, but at least two of them claim to be based on old records. All four describe as a well known fact that the Masjid is often called Janmasthan (birthplace) Masjid or Sita Ki Rasoi (Ram's wife Sita's kitchen) Masjid, and that the Hindus have for centuries offered puja in the garden of the Masjid; which they would not reasonably have done except in continuation of a pre-Masjid temple cult" (pp. 5-6).


From non-British evidence to pre-British testimony

3.5. This again made Syed Shahabuddin and the Marxist team shift their stand Koenraad Elst says:

"Both Syed Shahabuddin and the JNU history team have replied that these documents don't count because they are from the 19th century, hurriedly replacing their earlier demand for non-British testimony by a demand for pre-19th century testimony" (Ibid., p. 6).

Thus from non-British testimony, now it is pre-19th century testimony.
 

Attempts to suppress the Muslim testimony from public, even while demanding non-British original sources

4.1. Even as the AIBMAC and Marxists were busy asking for non-British testimony the authorities of Islam in India began to hide the evidence testifying to the demolition of the temple to erect the mosque. Dealing with how there were concerted attempts to hide the evidence, Koenraad Elst says:

"It is noteworthy that one of Dr. Narain's sources narrowly escaped oblivion. It is a chapter of the Muraqqahi-Khusrawi by Shaikh Azamat All Kakorawi Nami (1811-93), written in 1869, and till recently existing only in manuscript form. The passage relevant to the Babri Masjid issue appears in a chapter on the struggle between the Muslims, led by Amir Ali Amethawi, and a Hindu order of martial sadhus, over the possession-of another hilltop temple at Ayodhya, the Hanuman Garhi, in 1855-56. Only one manuscript of it is extant... A press copy of it was prepared by Dr. Zaki Kakorawi for publication with the financial assistance of the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Memorial Committee, Lucknow. The committee vetoed the publication of its chapter dealing with the jihad led by Amir Ali Amethawi for recapture of Hanuman Garhi from the Bairagis ('renunciates'), from its funds, on the ground that its publication would not be opportune in view of the prevailing political situation, with the result that Dr. Kakorawi had to publish the book minus that chapter in 1986... he published the chapter separately and independently of any financial or other assistance from the Committee in 1987... It is a pity that, thanks to our thoughtless 'secularism' and waning sense of history, such primary sources of medieval Indian history are presently in danger of suppression...'

"This is not the only instance of interest groups trying to hide documents relevant to the Ram Janmabhoomi/Babri Masjid dispute. Arun Shourie, in his article Hideaway Communalism relates another case. A book about India in Arabic, by Maulana Hakim Sayyid Abdul Hai (died 1923), rector of the famed Islamic academy Nadwatul-Ulama in Lucknow, has been translated and published by that institute in Urdu in 1973, in English in 1977. The foreword is contributed by the author's son, Maulana Abul-Hasan Ali Nadwi, better known as Ali Mian, rector of the same institute since 1961.

"The Urdu version, contains a 17-page chapter on Hindustan ki Masjidein, the mosques of Hindustan. Of seven mosques, the author relates how they had replaced Hindu temples, either by redesigning or by demolition and reconstruction (largely using the same stones). One of these is the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya. Translated into English, it reads like this: 'This mosque was constructed by Babar at Ayodhya which Hindus call the birthplace of Ramchandraji. There is a famous story about his wife Sita. It is said that Sita had a temple here in which she lived and cooked for her husband. On that, very site Babar constructed his mosque in H. 963...' This is really rather harmless to the Babri Masjid cause. 'The writer doesn't claim any other foundation for his story than 'It is said'. He merely reports what was believed in the beginning of this century. Yet, now that the Babri Masjid has become a hot item, Arun Shourie found he had some difficulty in getting a copy of the book. In the libraries of some famous Islamic institutes (Shourie names six of them) where it certainly should have been, it had disappeared: 'Many of the persons whom one would normally have expected to be knowledgeable about such publications were suddenly reluctant to recall this book. I was told, in fact, that copies of the book had been removed, for instance, form the Aligarh Muslim University Library. Some even suggested that a determined effort had been made three or four years ago to get back each and every copy of the book." However, the fundamentalist front is neither solid nor omnipresent, and a few libraries did have copies of the book available.

"In the English version, the one most likely to be read by unbelievers, the tell-tale passages about mosques replacing temples have been censored out. Or substituted; while the Urdu version says that the mosque of Kanauj 'was built on the foundation of some Hindu temple', the English version tells you that it was built on 'the place earlier occupied by an old and decayed fort'.

"It may be of interest that the editor of these translations is not only rector of a famed Islamic college, but also chairman of the Muslim Personal Law Board and founding member of the Raabta Alam-e-Islami (Arabic; Rabita al-Alam al-Islam, 'World Council of Islam'), a pan-Islamic body with headquarters in Mecca. involved in financing Muslim organizations all over the world.

"To my knowledge, these attempts to conceal inconvenient testimony have not been publicly denied by the people concerned, nor by Syed Shahabuddin (in his numerous replies to the relevant articles in Indian Express and other papers) or other Muslim campaigners" (Ibid., pp. 7-9).

4.2. Thus while the leaders of the Babri Masjid movement were asking for evidence of pre-existing Hindu temple as a "theological necessity" to enable them to decide whether the mosque was fit for worship or not, and not as a matter of gesture, there were efforts to suppress the very evidence of which they were in possession.
 

How the change of demand from "non-British" to "pre-19th century" evidence too was met

4.3. Thus having shifted the position from "show us documentary evidence", to a "non-British testimony", the AIBMAC and their Marxist colleagues changed their demand to "pre-19th Century testimony."

4.4. What happened later and how this demand too was met, is again stated by Konraad Elst:

"Even the joint challenge by fundamentalist Muslims and secularist historians that their opponents produce some pre-19th century evidence has not been able to save them. For, such evidence exists. Mr. A.K. Chatterjee presents in full detail the report by a European traveller, Tieffenthaler, who visited Ayodhya in 1767: He wrote about the Hindu worship regularly conducted on the Masjid premises and mentioned the tradition of a temple having been destroyed to make way for the existing mosque. Syed Shahabuddin has sent in a reply criticizing Chatterjee's conclusions, and has at once raised his demands: now, even pre-19th cart" accounts will not suffice, only pre-1528 accounts are accepted" (Ibid., p. 9).

Thus all demands of the Masjid groups - the new and changing ones - were met by independent scholars. And yet the Masjid groups were unrelenting.
 

Evidence establishes that the Masjid was built after demolishing a temple, that the Hindus possessed it from 1528 to 1850s, and that after 1857 the British gave it to the Muslims

4.5. Summing up the evidence on whether a temple at Ramajanmasthan was replaced by a mosque, Koenraad Elst says:

"From these four documents, Dr. Harsh Narain derives the following conclusions: 1) In their zeal to hit Hinduism and spread Islam, the Muslim rulers had the knack of desecrating or demolishing Hindu temples and erecting mosques etc., in their place. 2) There did exist a temple called Ram Janmasthan in Ayodhya, where Ram was believed to have incarnated, and of which the Janmasthan Sita Rasoi may have been a part 3) In the footsteps of the Muslim rulers who desecrated Mathura, Vrindavan, Varanasi, Nalanda etc., Babar chose Ayodhya for the spread of Islam and the replacement of temples by mosques, because of its importance as a holy place for Hindus, and had the Babri Masjid erected in 1528 in replacement of the Janmabhoomi temple. 4) The Babri mosque was also called 'masjid-i Janmasthan' or 'masjid-i Sita ki Rasoi' from long before 1855. 5) The Hindus had been carrying on worship at the Ram Janmabhoomi even after the replacement of the temple by the mosque. 6) These facts are yielded by authentic Muslim records and have not been fabricated by the much-maligned British to 'divide and rule'.

"Dr. Narain admits: It is true that no old enough Hindu record of the Rama temple demolition has come to light so far. But that would only be an important fact if the Hindus normally did record such events. The fact is that they didn't. More than 90% of the Muslim atrocities and acts of destruction are known to us through Muslim sources. So Dr. Narain continues: 'But this is no ground for rejection of the temple demolition story. There is no old Hindu record of the invasion of Alexander the Great. Does it mean that his invasion did not take place?' To tell the truth, the Hindus of old were bad at history...

"One of the JNU historians, K.S. Chaudhry, has also condescended to send in a short reply. He contends that Dr. Narain's evidence actually reinforces the JNU historians' claim that there are no texts from before the 19th century stating that die Babri Masjid was built on a Hindu place of worship. Well, if he chooses to ignore what Dr. Narain has stressed, viz. that these 19th century texts explicitly claim older texts as their source, it will he no use for me to repeat that observation. Let its rather take a look at an undisputedly older textual testimony. Abhas Kumar Chatterjee has presented some paragraphs from a travelogue by Joseph Tieffenthaler, an Austrian Jesuit who toured the Awadh region extensively between 1766 and 1771. His Latin account was published in French translation in 1786, as Description Historique et Geographique de l'Inde. This account is totally independent of British sources and much older than the first British account of the Janmabhoomi by Montgomery Martin in 1838.

"Some excerpts: The emperor Aurangazeb destroyed the fortress called Ramkot, and built at the same place a Mohammedan temple with three domes. Others say that it has been built by Babar... On the left one can see a square box elevated five inches above ground level covered with limestone... The Hindus call it Bedi which means a crib. This is because here existed a house in which Vishnu was born in the form of Rama. Subsequently Aurangzeb, or according to some other people Babar, destroyed the place in order to prevent the heathens from practising their superstition. But they have continued to practise their religious ceremonies in both places, knowing this to have hem the birthplace of Rama, by going around it three times and prostrating on the ground. On the 24th of the month of Chait (i.e. the Ram Navami festival), a great gathering of people takes place here to celebrate the birthday of Rama and this fair is famous all over India.'

"This is incontrovertibly a pre-British record claiming the Babri Masjid to have been built on the Ramajanmabhoomi, and testifying that the Hindus conducted worship there in the 18th century. What is more, just like the novelist Surur quoted by Dr. Narain, Tieffenthaler has written that the Hindus practised puja 'in both places', in the courtyard and in the Masjid itself.

"Mr. A.K. Chatterjee concludes: 'The position we come to is this. The holy Ramjanmabhoomi temple, which once stood in Ramkot, disappears. Pillars of a destroyed Hindu temple are used to construct a mosque under Babar's orders in Ramkot at a spot surrounded by scores of other shrines associated with Ram. Hindus claim all along that this was the site of the temple. In spite of the efforts of Moghul rulers to keep them out they reoccupy the site and continue to offer worship there. Great gatherings of people continue to he held here to celebrate Ram Navami. They defend the shrine against Muslim attacks in violent clashes as in 1853, when 70 Muslims making a bid to recapture the temple, are killed and are buried in the nearby 'ganj-i-shahidan'.'

"This position takes the discussion an important step further. Now, the claim is not just that the Babri Masjid has replaced a Hindu place of worship in 1528. After an interruption starting in 1528, it was again a Hindu place of worship until the 1850's. The religious policy of the Nawabs, who ruled Awadh from 1722 till 1856 (when Awadh was annexed by the British East India Company), was rather tolerant and apparently does not exclude such a course of events. It was the British who, imposing their government after annexing Awadh in 1856 and defeating the uprising of 1857, gave the Babri Masjid to the Muslims" (Ibid., pp. 72-75).


Shri Arun Shourie on the shifting stand of the Masjid groups

4.6. In his summary of how the AIBMAC and their Marxist consultants shifted their stand on evidence, Shri Arun Shourie says:

"But where in all this is the contemporary account of the temple being destroyed?

"At first it was, 'Show us any document.' When the gazetteers were produced, it was, 'But the British wrote only to divide and rule (why then do you keep producing judgements of British Magistrates, pray?). Show us some non-British document, some pre-British document.' Now that these too are at hand, the demand is for a contemporary account. This when it is well-known that in the contemporary account of the period Babar's own memoir - the pages from the time he reaches Ayodhya, 2 April 1528, to 18 September 1528, are missing - lost it is hypothesised by the historian in a storm or in the vicissitudes which Humayun's library suffered during his exile.

"It is not just that this latest demand is an afterthought. It is that in the face of what exists at the site to this day - the pillars etc., - and in the face of the archaeological findings, and what has been the universal practice as well as the fundamental faith of Islamic evangelists and conquerors such accounts are not necessary.

"But there is an even more conclusive consideration. Today a contemporary account is being demanded in the case of the Babri Mosque. Are those who make this demand prepared to accept this as the criterion - that if a contemporary account exists of the destruction of a temple for constructing a mosque the case is made?

'This is what the entry for 2 September, 1669 for instance is in as contemporary an account as any one can ask for: 'News came to Court that in accordance with the Emperor's command his officers had demolished the temple of Vishwanath at Banaras...' The entry for January 1670 sets out the facts for the great temple at Mathura: 'In this month of Ramzan, the religious-minded Emperor ordered the demolition of the temple at Mathura... In a short time by the great exertions of his officers the destruction of this strong centre of infidelity was accomplished... A grand mosque was built on its site at a vast expenditure... The idols, large and small, set with costly jewels which had been set up in the temple were brought to Agra and buried under the steps of the Mosque of the Begum Sahib in order to be continually trodden upon. The name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad...'

"The entry for 1 January 1705 says: 'The Emperor, summoning Muhammed Khalid and Khidmat Rai, the Darogha of Hatchetmen... ordered them to demolish the temple at Pandharpur, and to take the butchers of the camp there and slaughter cows in the temple... It was done.'

"If the fact that a contemporary account of the temple at Ayodhya is not available leaves the matter unsettled, does the fact that contemporary accounts are available for the temples at Kashi, Mathura. Pandharpur and a host of other places settle the matter?

"One has only to ask the question to know that the 'experts' and 'intellectuals' will immediately ask for something else"

This is how the debate on evidence drifted. The idea was not to find or promote a solution, but how to delay and thwart one.
 

Case lost in debate on evidence-judicial verdict as the escape route 

4.7. The debate on evidence (albeit drifting) having irreversibly gone against the protoganists of Babri Masjid, they began to insist that only by a judicial verdict the issue could be solved, and that they would accept the verdict of the judiciary.

This is how Shri Shahabuddin slipped from his commitment to demolish the mosque to judicial reference:

"In a letter dated 29th November 1990, written by Shri Syed Shahabuddin to the Prime Minister, it has been stated in reference to the Babri Masjid that no existing place of worship can be demolished on the ground that it had been built after demolishing an earlier place of worship. However, he has added that in the Shariat of Islam, a mosque can only be built on a lawfully acquired site. Conversely, the structure built on an unlawfully acquired site cannot be built as a mosque. He has added that as a one time exception, in the larger interests of social harmony and communal peace, the BMMCC would be prepared to consider a reference to the Supreme Court on the question of the fact whether a standing Ram Mandir was demolished in 1528 AD to build Babri Masjid subject to the conditions that: a Central Law is enacted to protect the status of all places of worship as on 15th August 1947, the VHP and associated bodies agree to suspend their agitation, and both sides agree to abide by the opinion of the Supreme Court. However, the title suits pending in the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court should be expedited and the final verdict should be binding on both sides subject only to the opinion of the Supreme Court"

This extract is from the summary of the Home Ministry presented to the Special Cell set up by Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1992 under Shri Naresh Chandra. This is not a concession or gesture by the leaders of the Babri Movement, but a position into which they had been cornered after having lost their case on evidence and their Marxist consultants leading them up the garden path. However, the acceptance of judicial verdict is not a theological necessity, nor a judicially determinable issue. It is again a play to gain time more the delay, more the pressure on the leaders of the Ayodhya movement from the masses. Again, the trust reposed in the judiciary is to be viewed from the fact that from 1949 to 1991 and even today the Ramajanmabhoomi case has stood precisely where it was when it was filed.
 

The new archeological and epigraphic evidence settle the issue: 

5.1. The fresh excavations at the Ramajanmabhoomi site made in June/July 1992 and the artifacts and epigraphic references found in the debris recovered after the demolition of the Babri structure irrefutably established the fact that a pre-existing Hindu structure was brought down to raise the mosque.
 

The evidence from June-July 1992 excavations - proof of 11th century temple under and inside the Babri structure

5.2. The evidence obtained in the fresh excavations in June and July 1992 as analysed and reported by Historians' Forum is as under:

"On the 18th of June 1992, when the ground near the Ramajanma Bhumi was being levelled, a most startling archeological discovery was made at Ayodhya. At a depth of about 12 feet from the ground level near the Ramjanma Bhumi temple, towards the south and beyond the fencing, a big hoard of beautifully carved buff sandstone pieces was located in a large pit, dug down below the old top level.

"A careful study by a group of eight eminent archaeologists and historians found that all these objects are architectural members of a Hindu temple complex of the 11th century A.D. The group comprised Dr. Y.D. Sharma, former Deputy Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, Dr. K.M. Srivastava, former Director, Archaeological Survey of India, Dr. S.P. Gupta, former Director, Allahabad Museum, Prof. K.P. Nautiyal, Vice-Chancellor, Avadh University and former Head of the Ancient History and Archaeology Department, Garhwal University, Prof. B.R. Grover, former Director, Indian Council of Historical Research, Shri Devendra Swarup Agrawal and Dr. Sardindu Mukherji of the Delhi University and Dr. (Mrs) Sudha Malayya of Bhopal.

"The Temple: The experts, who visited the site on behalf of the academic organisation, 'The Historians' Forum', on the 2nd and 3rd of July 1992, are unanimously of the view that the temple, to which these fragments belong, is of the developed Nagara style of ancient temple architecture which was current in northern India during the later part of the early medieval period i.e. the period after 900 A.D. and before 1200 A.D. The temples of this style are characterised by a distinctly imposing shikhara, which is a tall and tapering spire over the garbha-griha or sanctum sanctorum, which houses the main deity.

"Huge Brick Walls: On the 22nd and 23rd of July Dr. K.M. Srivastava and Dr. S.P. Gupta went to Ayodhya and scraped the section facing cast and also dug at least two feet still deeper in a small area along this section. They discovered a huge burnt-brick wall of more than a dozen courses running along the section and beyond it. Below this, after a little break, the remains of another brick-wall have been found. At two different pre-Islamic levels, there are the remains of brick-laid floors.

"Mass Destruction: There are clear-cut marks of massive destruction of the huge wall mentioned above since brick-debris and large pits have been located here. Further, there are two hard rammed floors of chunam and kankar, laid one above the other with a significant break in between but over the level of the brick-wall.

"There is, therefore, enough new archaeological material which conclusively proves what Prof. B.B. Lal, the previous excavator of this site, has been repeatedly saying that here at the Ramjanma Bhumi there was an impressive structure of 11th-12th century built on pillars standing on a series of parallel burnt-brick bases which was destroyed in the early 16th century; in all likelihood the bases carried on them the same temple-pillars which are fixed in the 'mosque'.

"These new archaeological findings also confirm the views expressed earlier in 1990 by Dr. S.P. Gupta that the 16 black stone pillars and one piece of door-jamb with carvings of gods and goddesses existing in the so-called 'Babri Mosque' structure and also the adjoining areas, belong to a 11th century Hindu temple, possibly Vaishnavite."


Demolition provides the ultimate proof - the debris of the Babri structure reveals unimpeachable archaeological and epigraphic evidence that a pre-11th century temple -- a Vaishnavite temple - existed at the site 

5.3. Ironically only by demolition of the disputed structure the most unimpeachable pieces of evidence which remained buried inside the disputed structure could be recovered from the debris of the demolished structure. Not merely artifacts testifying to the existence of the temple were recovered, but epigraphic references which settled beyond doubt the fact that the temple was dedicated to Sri Rama were also recovered. The reports to this effect appeared in all newspapers, and those which appeared in The Hindu are reproduced below.
 

Report in "The Hindu" dated 14th December 1992

"Archaeological objects recovered from the debris of the demolished Babri structure here are likely to be the new focal point of propaganda by organisations in the thick of the Ram temple movement to claim that Mirbaqi, the commander of Babar's Army, had constructed a mosque after demolishing an eleventh century temple. The objects are claimed to be of pro-Babar period and the Delhi based Historians Forum in a letter written to the Prime Minister, Mr. P.V. Narsimha Rao, yesterday demanded that these be protected suitably as they would throw new light on the temple-mosque controversy.

"Dr S.P. Gupta, a member of the forum, and a former Director of the Allahabad Museum, today visited Ayodhya to have a first look at the objects, including stone inscriptions, some idols and pieces of pillars and carvings. He said the remains were of tremendous historical value and would help experts to arrive at the conclusion as to who had constructed the old temple ultimately demolished by Mirbaqi.

"Prime reliance to prove the claim has been placed on two stone inscriptions found on one of the walls of the Babri structure. The style of the script, according to Dr. Gupta, proved that is was Nagri script prevalent in this part of North India during the 11th century. The language is Sanskrit. The letters are so prominent that experts would be able to decipher them completely, though it would need special effort to read everything correctly. 

"In Chandrawati village near Varanasi had been found some inscriptions of the 11th century, according to which King Chandradeo of the Gaharwal dynasty had come to the confluence of Sarayu and Ghaghra and constructed three temples. One of these, Chandrahari temple, had been founded at the birth place of Lord Ram. The two inscriptions found now, supplement the earlier inscriptions and showed that the temples destroyed by Mirbaqi might have been constructed by King Chandradeo. The bigger of the two inscriptions on sandstone is about four feet long and has 20 lines on it, some of which are incomplete. The inscription starts with prayers to Lakshmi and Vishnu and gives the genealogy of the king who put it to commemorate the foundation of a temple. The second inscription has 10 lines in two parts and begins with a prayer to Mahalakshmi.

"Another important object recovered is an idol of Ram which is of some later age but earlier than 16th century when the Babri mosque had been built."


Report in "The Hindu" dated 25th December 1992:

"The demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya has resulted in the discovery of some unimpeachable archaeological evidence from the site pointing to the existence of a Vaishnava temple dating back to the 11th century. Dr. Ajay Mitra Shastri, professor and head of the department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, told newsmen here on Thursday.

"He and his colleague, Dr. K. Ismail, said they had received pictures of some inscriptions, architectural fragments, sculptures and a huge gold plated bell found in the debris.

"Dr. Shastri, convener of the inscriptions committee of the Indian Council of Historical Research and recipient of the highest honour this year from the Epigraphical Society of India, however, would not disclose who sent him the photographs. He also denied that he was in any way connected with the banned RSS, VHP and allied organisations.

"Dr. Shastri said the most important piece of evidence was a 20-line inscription in Sanskrit engraved on sandstone. Though the entire text was yet to be finally deciphered, line 15 mentioned that a temple of Vishnuhari with a golden spire and of unparalleled beauty, was built there. Lines 7 and 11 mentioned about a powerful king, Sallakshana, who could be King Sallakshana Verma of the Chandella Dynasty already known to history. He ruled at the end of 11th and the beginning of 12th century. But he could also be another king hitherto unknown to history.

"Dr. Shastri urged the Union Government to let the Archaeological Survey of India do further excavation at the site - PTI."
 

Existence of Rama Temple established

5.4. Shri T.P. Verma of Banaras Hindu University also issued a press statement in respect of the archaeological and epigraphic evidences found in the debris of the demolished structure at Ayodhya
 

THE GAHADAVALA INSCRIPTION FROM AYODHYA

"The antiquities found during the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya on 6th December 1992 have got wide publicity. Beside an idol of Kodanda Rama, about 3 feet long, carved in white marble and painted in black by oil colour, one sculpture of Ganesh and a head of Bhairava are worth mention. But the most important antiquity found there were three Sanskrit inscriptions written in Nagari script of 11th-12th century A.D. Among these two were engraved on stone pillar; one in 8 lines and the other in 2 lines. But unfortunately the pillar had cracked vertically; consequently some portions in the beginning and the end of every line have been lost. And, therefore, it is not possible to make out any sense from the extant portions. The eight line pillar inscription preserves the names of three persons. The name of one Karnaditya occurs twice. Beside this the names of Ratnapala and his younger brother Tejapala also occur. We are not sure who these persons were. The two line inscription at the lower portion of the pillar gives no sense at all.

"But the largest inscription is neatly engraved on a stone tablet of 4.25 ft. long and 2.25 ft. wide. It was injured and broken at the right corner obliquely influencing almost all the lines. Behind this the lower middle portion of the stone has been chipped off effacing the middle of the last two lines. It is written in 20 lines out of which only a few letters of the first line are preserved. It is still being deciphered but whatever I have been able to read gives revealing informations. In this work, my student Dr. A.K. Singh of Gwalior University has been of much help to me.

"My studies reveal that this is a Gahadavala inscription. The Gahadavalas ruled over Kashi, Kanyakubja, Uttara Koshala (Ayodhya) and Indrasthanika (Delhi) area during 11th and 12th centuries. The inscription contains the name of Govindachandra, the Gahadavala king, in the 13th line. In the 19th and 29th lines he has been compared with Vishnu who, in Vamana avatara humbled Baliraja and in Rama avatam killed the wicked Ravana. Showing the valour of his arms he repelled the danger coming from the West (the Muslim invasions) more than ten times. The Sarnath inscription of his queen Kumara Devi says that 'Hari, who had been commissioned by Hara in order to protect Varanasi from the wicked Turushka warrior, as the only one able to protect the earth, was again born from him, his name being renowned as Govindachandra'. Thus in the Ayodhya and the Sarnath, both the inscriptions Govindachandra has been equated with 'Hari or Vishnu', and in the former it is said that he repelled the Muslim invasions more than ten times. He ruled from 1114 to 1154 as a king and more than ten years before it as a crown prince. During this period also he had to fight the Muslim armies because, perhaps his father was kept as a hostage by the Muslims. During his yuvaraja period he had protected Kirtivarman, the Chandella king, and the father of Sallakshanavarman. This Ayodhya inscription contains the name of Sallakshana at least twice. On this account Prof. Ajaya Mitra Shastri of Nagpur University has surmised that this Ayodhya inscription may be a Chandella inscription. But now, with the decipherment of the name of Govindachandra, the above theory stands cancelled. There are at least two reasons for this. Firstly, the Chandellas had no sway over Ayodhya at any time of the known history. Secondly, the palaeography of this inscription is entirely different from those of the Chandella inscriptions.

"This inscription in the 4th line speaks of Janmabhoomi and a devakula (temple). The fifteenth line tells us that this great temple of Vishnu-Hari was built with stones like a high mountain, and it was so wonderful that no earlier king could build such a temple before. Line 17 informs us that it was built in Ayodhya, which is full with high and lofty temples, situated in the district (mandala) of Saketa.

"This inscription sets at rest the debate whether there was a temple at the Rama Janmabhoomi site before the construction of the mosque by Mir Baqi in 1528. This is the foundation stone with a Prashasti, eulogy, of the king who built this temple."

This study establishes beyond any doubt that a temple of Sri Rama existed at the site in Ayodhya known as Janmabhoomi. This inscription is today available as a standing testimony to the belief of the Hindus.

5.5. Thus, the demolition has settled once and for all the basic issue whether an existing temple was brought down to erect the mosque. The truth that has tumbled out of the demolition is that, as in the case of Varanasi and Mathura where positive and unimpeachable proof of demolition of Hindu structures raising of the present mosques exists, the Ayodhya mosque was also raised on the debris of a temple that was brought down by Babar. Such a mosque as the one that stands on a destroyed temple cannot be a sacred place for Muslims and, in the words of Syed Shahabuddin, under Islamic theological principles too, such a mosque does not deserve to exist.
 

The Narasimha Rao Government had all the evidence in its possession and yet refused to act on it

6.1. By the efforts of the Special Cell headed by Shri Naresh Chandra, the Government of India had collected from July 1992 to November 1992 all the evidence that was available save that which resulted from demolition. Thus the Government was aware that the mosque had been constructed on the, debris of a temple. Again the committee had also collected the precedents of shifting of mosques in different Islamic countries. And yet the Prime Minister and his Government kept on saying that the Temple should be constructed without disturbing the mosque. This has been discussed in detail in Chapter VI on the circumstances leading to the events on December 6, 1992 as a result of the design of the Government to prolong the issue by talks instead of solving it on the basis of evidence.
 

The summary of the VHP/AIBMAC dialogue in the year 1990-91 as made by the Government itself

6.2. The record of the proceedings of the dialogue between the VHP and the Masjid groups in the year 1990-91 as summarised by the Special Cell and made available to the Prime Minister Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao, and which in fact formed the background paper to the dialogue in October 1992, brings out many interesting facts. To the extent relevant, the summary of the minutes and notes of the Government is extracted and reproduced below.

6.3 Minutes of the meeting of VHP/Masjid groups held on December 4, 1990 

An extract from the minutes reads:

"At this stage Shri Sharad Pawar asked whether there was any mention in the official gazette or not (about the demolition of the temple and the building of the mosque) Mr. Jilani admitted that in British official Gazettes it has been mentioned. Shri Shekhawat suggested that official Gazettes were based on facts. But Shri Azam Khan claimed that this problem was the creation of the Britishers to divide the country.

"Then Shri Shekhawat asked when it was mentioned in the official gazettes that the mosque was constructed after demolishing a temple at the very site where Lord Rama was born; did anyone dispute the assertion of the British records. It was replied in the negative."

6.4 The minutes then proceed to set the schedule for furnishing evidence and its examination:

"Then Shri Shekhawat suggested that the evidences of both sides should be exchanged and examined by experts. But Mr. Jilani was of the opinion that first the members of both committees should first examine the evidences and then the experts' help should be taken.

"Mr. Pingale suggested that all these should be done within a time-frame.

"Shri Sharad Pawar suggested that a definite date should be fixed for the submission of the evidences and their exchange.

"Mr. Kaushal Kishore told that historical and archaeological evidences were ready but it would take a fortnight to prepare legal documents. So with the consultation of all including the three Chief Ministers and the Minister of State for Home affairs, the following decisions were taken:

a. Both sides should furnish evidences to the minister of State for Home Affairs by 22.12.90

b. The MOS(H) will make photocopies of evidences to all concerned by 25.12.1990 and

c. After reviewing the evidences both parties will meet in the Maharashtra Sadan on 10.1.1991 at 10.00 AM."


Masjid groups could not dispute the fact of demolition recorded by Aurangazeb's grand daughter, or the finding that Babur's will (which says he was secular) was a forged document

6.5 The minutes of the meeting of 1st January 1991, contains the presentation made by Prof. B.R. Grover. The points made by Prof. Grover which were not rebutted at the meeting by anyone are summarised below:

"It is very unscientific and unjust to label this belief of Ram Janmabhoomi as of recent origin. A vast mass of historical and archaeological evidences is there to prove that the Hindus have regarded it as the birth-place of Lord Ram for centuries. It is a different matter whether these writings have been labelled either imperial or partisan.

"Whether Ram was a historical figure or a myth is not a relevant question. The moot question is whether there was a temple at the disputed site prior to the construction of the mosque or not.

"I have examined relevant revenue records for two months and found that there has been a tampering with the revenue records. He gave some instances. He claimed that even the tamperings can be detected by proper scrutiny.

"We have classified evidences into four categories (a) historical (b) archaeological (c) revenue and (d) legal. Then he went on citing documentary evidences from the evidences submitted earlier. He told that the earliest reference is in Abul Fazl's book, Ain-e-Akbari. He called Abul Fazl a secular scholar.

"Oudh is the name of both province and the town. The first reference of Babri Masjid is that of 1855. In 1861, Ayodhya was outside Ram Kot.

"Babar went to Ayodhya twice. There is one direct reference when he says that he visited Oudh and was to go for Shikar. But immediately thereafter the pages are missing since the time of Babar. Another visit is inferred from the reference of Buxar.

"I don't claim that Babar went to Ayodhya to demolish the temple. But certainly he had dialogue with local people.

"I have examined and found that the place is called Ram Janmabhoomi after 1949. Earlier it was called Janmasthan; prior to that it was known Sita Ki Rasoi the temple which was demolished and the mosque was constructed.

"Then he gave the testimony of Aurangazeb's grand daughter. She was scholarly. She was the daughter of Bahadur Shah I. Bahadur Shah was 62 years old when Aurangzeb died. So the age of Bahadur Shah's daughter can be well assessed. She made it clear the offering of the namaz in the recently converted mosques including those at Mathura, Kashi and Ayodhya was sacred. She writes this temple [was] Sita Ki Rasoi temple. This was known by the name at the time.

"Then he read some other testimonies from the evidences already submitted. He cited the Imam's accounts. How Muhammad Asghar, Muazzan of the Babri Masjid filed a representation in 1858 in which he alleged that the Hindus had temporarily occupied the mosque and how they have been struggling for occupying the Janmasthan which was having a mosque built over it. Then he cited the Kazi's verdict, his peshkar's version and Wazid Ali Shah's decision. Then he cited Muslim writers testimonies and made it clear that they are based on numerous writings of earlier period and hence they are to be relied upon.

"Then he narrated how there has been a deliberate attempt to suppress the testimonies of Muslim writers. Four such instances have been given in the main evidence submitted earlier. Many more can be added. Then he gave the account of Joseph Tieffenthaler which makes it abundantly clear that the Ram Janmasthan temple was different from the birth place of Lord Ram. It was the place where the mosque was constructed and the Hindus had not forgotten this site. He further said that there was no road before the 20th century separating the present structure from the present Janmasthan temple. The entire area was one complex known as Ram Kot.

"The architectural style of the mosque is Jaunpuri. There is no minar in the mosque.

"In 1934 Bairagis threw [away] the main plaque during the riot. This plaque was earlier in the mimbar; but now it is not fixed at the old place. In the riot of 1855 also, the Hindus tried to capture the mosque. He suggested that Babar Kalandar was different from Babar, the Mughal Emperor. He further said that the so-called Babar's will has been found to be a forged document.

"Then he dealt with revenue records at length. He said that when khasra, khata, khatauni records are scrutinized and maps of all the four bandobasts are examined, it is clear the proprietary rights are in the names of the Bairagis and their disciples. Though many of these records have already been tampered, no further tampering should take place. The question of this land belonging to the waqf arose from 1935 onwards. Earlier it was not the waqf property. The grant had been given to an individual by the Britishers for helping them. The testimony of Md. Asraf proves this point."

No one disputed the points presented by Prof. Grover, except that in regard to tampering which also was not denied.
 

The minutes admits that the Masjid groups' experts did not turn up for dialogue on 24 / 25th January, 1991

6.6 The minutes of the next meetings 24.1.91 and 25.1.91 shows that two sub-committees were set up. The conduct of the Masjid group at the sub-committee is relevant. The extract of the minutes in this regard is given below:

Sub-committee of Historians and Archaeologists

Historians and archaeologists formed one group to discuss the historical and archaeological evidences. This sub-group consisted of the following experts:

i. Prof. R.S. Sharma
ii. Prof. Athar Ali
iii. Prof. Suraj Bhan
iv. Prof. D.N. Jha
v. Shri Jawed Habeeb
vi. Prof. B.P. Sinha
vii. Shri S.P. Gupta
viii. Shri Harsh Narain
ix. Prof. K.S. Lal
x. Prof. Devendra Swaroop
xi. Shri B.R. Grover

Prof. B.P. Sinha left for Patna in the middle of the session because of the death of his mother.

This sub-group discussed the matter in a very cordial manner. But on the question of the time-frame there was a difference of opinion between the two groups of historians. 'The historians representing the A.I.B.M.A.C. gave it in writing that they required at least six weeks time to examine the evidences and visit Ayodhya. Prof. M. Athar Ali, Prof. D.N. Jha, Prof. R.S. Sharma and Shri Jawed Habeed submitted a note. The group representing the V.H.P observed in a written note- "The experts nominated by the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee expressed their inability to give their opinion because they had not come prepared for it and had not examined the evidence earlier. We are ready for further discussion, while they want considerable time, which may lead to inordinate delay in the submission of the Report."

It was further agreed upon that Prof. Suraj Bhan and Shri S.P. Gupta would meet on the next day i.e. Friday 25-01-1991 in Gujarat Bhawan and then would visit Archaeological Survey of India and see the documents on the dispute, if arrangements are made for the same.

Shri S.P. Gupta turned up in Gujarat Bhawan but Prof. Suraj Bhan did not come. So the meeting could not take place. There is no information why Shri Suraj Bhan did not come - he might have some urgent work or might have talked to the Director General, Archaeological Survey of India and then changed his programme. But he did not inform. 

Sub Committee on Legal matters

Another sub-group consisting of the following experts discussed the revenue records and legal documents:

i. Justice Ghuman Mal Lodha
ii. Justice Deowki Nandan Aggrawal
iii. Justice D.V. Sehgal
iv. Shri V.K.S. Chaudhary
v. Shri Zafaryab Jilani
vi. Shri M.A. Siddiqui
vii. Shri S.A. Syed
viii. Shri Zafar Ali Siddiqui

They tried to find points of agreements and disagreements in the entire evidence submitted by both parties. But on the A Group of evidences submitted by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, it took the stand that they are beyond the purview of discussion because many contained derogatory remarks against Lord Ram. Ultimately it was agreed upon that Shri Z.A. Siddiqui would read all the evidences belonging to A group and if he felt that any set of writing was derogatory or irrelevant, he would withdraw that. Both parties were to talk to each other at night on the same day.

But on account of some communication gap, they could not exchange their views. On 25-01-1991 the following experts representing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad came to Gujarat Bhawan to attend the meeting:

i. Justice G. Lodha
ii. Justice Deowki Nandan Aggrawal
iii. Shri V.K.S. Chaudhary
iv. Shri B.R. Grover
v. Shri Devendra Swaroop
vi. Prof. Harsh Narain
vii. Dr. S.P. Gupta

Shri Z.A. Siddiqui reported on telephone that All India Babri Masjid Action Committee would not withdraw any evidence of Group A. When it was communicated to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad experts whether they would like to continue discussion, they replied that they had come for discussion and would welcome the Babri Masjid Action Committee experts, if they came. This was communicated to Shri Z.A. Siddiqui who informed that some members had gone out. However, he assured that he would try his best to bring them by 12-00 hrs. The experts of Vishwa Hindu Parishad waited till 12-30 hrs and then dictated a note and left at 1.00 P.M.

At 2.30 P.M. Mr. Z. Jilani, the convener of All India Babri Masjid Action Committee informed on telephone that since the Vishwa Hindu Parishad did not contact on the previous night, the A.I.B.M.A.C. experts did not turn up. He thereafter sent a letter to the Minister narrating the circumstances leading to the deadlock in the dialogue with the following observation - "It would therefore be in the fitness of things that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders be asked to clarify their stand on the aforesaid point at the earliest so that further continuance of the talks may not be hampered. We hope that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders and its nominees would mend their ways and will participate in further talks without any reservations for which the A.I.B.M.A.C. nominees will remain available at any reasonable time, they are called for."

Here it is to be decided whether the Government is supposed to take such clarification from the V.H.P. or not, particularly in view of the fact that it is a bipartite talk and the Government is playing the role of a co-ordinator only.

Similarly the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, too, has sent a letter narrating the details of the non-participation of the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee experts and seeking some certification. Despite these letters both V.H.P. and A.I.B.M.A.C. have confirmed on telephone that they would be participating in the meeting scheduled on 5-2-1991. However, both parties have got certain internal problems, apart from the stands taken by them in their letters. It is reliably learnt that there was a difference of opinion amongst the members of the A.I.B.M.A.C. over the question of continuing the dialogue, despite the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's unilateral declaration of its future programmes and intransigent postures. Shri Ahmed Bukhari, Naib-Imam of Jama Masjid and Shri Afzal, M.P. were against any dialogue in future. So the A.I.B.M.A.C. is trying to rind excuses to discontinue the dialogue. Similarly, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is under tremendous pressure from its hardliners to put an end to the negotiation after February 5, 1991. However, the leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad are meeting at Udaipur from 25th January to 27th January, 1991 to discuss the situation and decide the future course of action.

6.7. The Narasimha Rao Government's summary of the evidence presented by VHP and AIBMAC

The summary of the evidence prepared by the officials of the Government is extremely relevant because it clinches the case in favour of the VHP. The relevant extracts of the summary are given below:

The summary of the VHP case ran as under:

A summary of the evidence (of VHP) is now presented. The relevant paras of the main note and the annexures have been suitably referred. For example (P.3.5, A-VI) indicates reference para 3.5 of the Main Note and Annexure VI.

Muslim Testimony:

Extract from Ain-i-Akbari of Abul Fazal (late 16th century) has been given (P 3.1; A-I) to show that Awadh was associated with the residential place of Sri Ram Chandra of Treta age. The Holiness of Ayodhya and the celebration of Ram Navmi festival in a big way are also supported by the writings of Abul Fazal.

Excerpts from Safiha Chahal Nasaih Bahadur Shahi, written by the daughter of Bahadur Shah Ibn Alamgir during the 17th 118th Century have been given (A-II) to show that "the place of the birth of Kanhaiya, the place of Rasoi Sita, the place of Hanuman..... were all demolished on the strength of Islam, and at all these places mosques have been constructed."

The following excerpt has been quoted from Hadiqa-i-Shahada by Mirza Jan (1856): "... the temple of Janmasthan was the original birth place of Ram, adjacent to which is Sita Ki Rasoi, Sita being the name of his wife. Hence at this site, a lofty mosque has been built by Babar Badshah under the guidance of Mir Ashikan......." (P 3.4; A-III)

Several other references dating from early nineteenth century have also been quoted to support the same point, i.e., the Babri Mosque was constructed after demolishing the existing temple/private apartments of Raja Ram Chander/Sita Ki Rasoi in paras 3.5 to 3.11 of the main note and Annexures V to X.

A petition from one Muhammad Asghar (1858), Muazzin of Babri Masjid, against Hindu Bairagis who had occupied the mosque, constructed an earthen mound therein and started puja has also been mentioned. The petition mentions that Hindus had been worshipping a Janmasthan lying desolate in the outer space of the constructed Babri Masjid for hundreds of years (P 3.4; A-IV). Mention of Bairagis offering worship in Babri Mosque and their struggle to recapture the places of worship including Babri mosque, is found in other documents also (P 3.5, 3.7; A-V).

The summary, particularly the emphasised lines, contain the appreciation of VHP's evidence by the Narasimha Rao Government officials.

European Accounts:

William Finch, a European traveller who visited Ayodhya in 1608-11 has confirmed the existence of the ruins of Ramkot, die castle of Ram. (P 4.1; A-XI). A more detailed account is, however, found in 'History and Geography of India' by Joseph Tieffenthaler, an Austrian Jesuit priest, who stayed in Ayodhya in 1766-71. The following extracts are particularly relevant (P.4.2; A-XII):

"The Emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the fortress called Ramkot and built at the same place a Mohammedan temple with three domes. Others say it has been built by Babar. One can see 14 columns made of black stones 5 spans in height which occupy the site of the fortress. 12 of these columns now support the inside arcade of the mosque.

"The reason is that here existed formerly a house in which Beschan (Vishnu) took birth in the form of Rama and where it is said his three brothers were also born. Subsequently Aurangzeb and some say Babar destroyed the place in order to prevent the heathens from practising their ceremonies. However, they have continued to practice their religious ceremonies in both the places knowing this to have been the birth place of Rama by going around it three times and prostrating on the ground."

The following documents also support that the Babri Masjid was believed to have been constructed after demolition of apartments of Ram or a Ram temple and that the Hindus had continued to offer worship there:

i. Report by Montgomery Martin, British Surveyor (1838) (P.4.3; A-XIII).
ii. East India Company Gazetteer, by Edmond Thornton (1854) (P.4.4 ; A-XIV). In this an explicit mention of Ram Chabootra is found.
iii. Encyclopaedia of India by Surgeon General Edward Balfour (1858) (P. 4.5; A-XV).
iv. Historical Sketch of Faizabad by P. Carnegy (1870) (P.4.6; A-XVI).
v. Gazetteer of the Province Oudh (1877) (P.4.7); A-XVII).
vi. Faizabad settlement report (1880) (P 4.8).
vii. Imperial Gazetteer of Faizabad (1881) (P 4.9; A-XVIII).
viii. Archaeological Survey of India (1891) (P 4.11 ; A XX).
ix. Barabanki District Gazetteer (1902) (P 4.12.; A-XXI).
x. Faizabad District Gazetteer (1905) (P 4.13 ; A-XXII).

The main note of VHP also mentions a court verdict by Col. F.E.A. Chamier, District Judge, Faizabad (1886) in which he has observed: "It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to remedy the grievance." A copy of the judgement has been attached. (p 4.10, A-XIX).

Some of the recent documents that have been mentioned by VHP in support of its case are:

i. Babar Nama in English by Annette Beveridge (1920) (P 4.14; A-XXIII). 
ii. Archaeological Survey of India (1934) (P 4.15).
iii. Revised Faizabad District Gazetteer (1960) (P 4.16 ; A-XXIV).
iv. Encyclopaedia Brittanica (1978) (P 4.17; A-XXV).

VHP then quote two books by foreign scholars viz. "Ayodhya" by Hans Bakker (1984) and "Ram Janmabhoomi Vs. Babri Masjid" by Koenraad Elst (1990), both of whom have come to the conclusion, after examining the evidence, that the Babri Mosque has been built after demolishing a Hindu temple. (Paras 4.18 and 4.19 of the main note of VHP). Evidence from Revenue Records

The revenue records show that Kot Ram Chandra was a separate village (mauza) from the time of the earliest settlement in 1861 A.D. The term Janmasthan has been used for a large complex situated in Kot Ram Chandra of which Sita Ki Rasoi forms a part.

Archaeological Evidence

The Babri Masjid structure contains 14 pillars of black stone (Kasauti) on which Hindu motifs are carved. Art historical evidence identifies these pillars as belonging to a Hindu temple structure dating back to 11th century A.D. Excavations conducted by Archaeological Survey of India from 1975 to 1980 have revealed the existence of a series of burnt brick pillar-bases at regular intervals in the vicinity of the RJB-BM site. These are found arranged in the directional alignment of the black stone pillars used on the RJB-BM structure (P 1.3: A-XXVIII & A-XXIX).

Two pillars of black stone, similar to the ones found in the RJB-BM structure, are found buried up-side down by the side of the grave of one Muslim saint, Fazal Abbas alias Musa Ashikan who has been mentioned in the documents (some of them referred above) as having motivated the destruction of the temple and construction of the mosque.

Other archaeological evidence, as mentioned in the report of Dr. S.P. Gupta, (A-XXVIII) establishes that Ayodhya was inhabited at least as far back as 7th Century B.C and there had been continuous habitation upto 3rd century A.D. The pillar bases mentioned above also date back to 11th century A.D.

Here too the emphasised part of the extract constitute the way the Narasimha Rao Government has appreciated the value of the evidence of VHP.

Dealing with objections

The VHP's main note discusses the alternative hypothesis that a temple known as Janmasthan to the north of the Babri structure is itself the original Janmasthan shrine and declares it to be untenable because this is a new structure which is not more than 250 years old.

Historical evidence is stated to be available to show that it was started in 1704 A.D. by a sadhu called Ram Dasji. Moreover if this were the original shrine, one would be at a loss to explain why a controversy has continued about the Babri structure for hundreds of years (P. 7.1).

The VHP note lists various attempts made by Hindus to claim back the shrine (P. 7.2) to show that the Hindus never reconciled themselves to the loss of their shrine. The note gives instances where Muslim testimony, some of which has been mentioned above, has been suppressed in subsequent editions. For example the reference to demolition of the temple has been suppressed in the second edition of Gumgashte Halat-i-Ayodhya Awadh (P 7.3).

The objection that Babar's memoirs do not mention this mosque has been answered by pointing out (P.1.2) that the relevant pages of Babar's diary are missing.

Another objection that the entire controversy was created by the British as another instance of their divide and rule policy has been addressed by VHP in the concluding part of Para 7.4 of its main note. The following extract is relevant:

"A simple test whether the anti-Mandir hypothesis deserves any consideration at all, is the element for which the evidence should be the most easy to find: the British concoction hypothesis. In the plentiful and well kept archives which the British have left us, it should not be too difficult for genuine historians to find some piece of evidence. But, so far, no proof whatsoever has been given either for such an actual course of events or even for similar British tactics at another time and place. If the anti-Mandir polemists cannot even come up with that, their whole hypothesis stands exposed as a highly implausible and purely theoretical construction."
 

Rejoinder of VHP to evidence given by BMAC

VHP has dismissed the material given by BMAC by saying that it does not contain evidence on the germane issues. A lot of documents have been given by BMAC to show that Ram was not a historical but mythical character. But this, according to VHP, is not the issue. The newspaper articles given by BMAC to challenge the archaeological and historical evidence of VHP contain nothing but vituperative personal attacks without going into the issues or presenting alternate evidence. The court documents prove nothing but continuous possession of Muslims which, again, is not in dispute.

The lines in emphasis again indicate how the VHP's evidence has been appreciated and evaluated by the Special Group headed by Shri Naresh Chandra.

6.8. The summary of the case of VHP as made by the Government from the evidence given was as under:

It is proved by scriptural and inscriptional evidence that worship of Shri Ram is an ancient tradition.

It is also proved, particularly by Ayodhya Mahatmya, that Ayodhya was identified as a holy city and birth place of Shri Ram as far back as 12 century A.D.

The Ain-i-Akbari of Abul Fazal established that the identification of Ayodhya, the legendary birth place of Shri Ram, as the present day Ayodhya, a part of Awadh province, is at least as old as late 16th century.

'The accounts of Tieffenthaler and contemporary Muslim authors prove that the belief of Babri Masjid having been built after demolition of Hindu structures associated with Shri Ram is at least as old as 1771 (Tieffenthaler stayed in Ayodhya from 1766 to 1771). Tieffanthaler's account also proves that Hindus continued to venerate this site despite the presence of the mosque.

Subsequent writings of Muslims and Europeans alike confirm the continuity of the belief about demolition of a Hindu Temple to construct Babri Masjid and the continued attachment of Hindus to this site.

It is not possible to explain why the Hindus should have continued to be drawn to this site, thereby incurring the wrath of Muslim rulers, except on account of a deep and abiding faith. 

'The fourteen black stone pillars used in Babri Masjid are proved to be from a Hindu temple constructed in 11th Century A.D. The most plausible explanation is that this temple stood on this very site. Two such pillars are also buried by the side of the grave of Musa Ashikan, who according to Muslim historians was instrumental in motivating the destruction of the temple and the construction of the mosque. 

Archaeological excavations conducted in 1975-80 reveal a series of pillar bases, also dating back to 11th century A.D., that are in the same directional alignment as the pillars used in the mosque.

'The VHP evidence, thus, presents a coherent and self-consistent picture. The burden of proving any alternate hypothesis is on the other side. The BMAC evidence, on the other hand, does not address the specific issues and is nothing but a disjointed collection of wild hypothesis, conjectures and personal attacks without any solid evidence.

6.9. The summary of the Muslim case as made by the Government shows that their case is not clear

The summary of the Government on Muslim case reads as under: 

No consolidated presentation of the Muslim case is available in the records. A comprehensive collection of documents had been submitted by the AIBMAC during the negotiations held in December 1990-February 1992. These documents also are not accompanied by a resume of the Muslim case, although in the case of some documents there are annotations indicating the relevance of the documents to the Muslim case. Therefore, in the case of most documents, it is possible only to draw an inference regarding support for the Muslim case. These documents had been submitted in two stages, and the corresponding lists are at Appendices I & II. In addition, four historians (who had at one stage participated in the above negotiations as part of the AIBMAC team) had also submitted a report. Further, there is a letter dated 6 October 1988 written by Shri Syed Shahabuddin to the Home Minister giving his response to a set of 13 documents sent to him by the Home Ministry. From all the documents mentioned above, as well as other sources where a definite stand on the Muslim side had come to notice, an attempt has been made to cull out the Muslim case in respect of the RJB-BM dispute.

Very briefly, the Muslim case seems to be that the Ramayana is a mythological epic and not a historical account of events; the present day Ayodhya is not the Ayodhya of the Ramayana because of discrepancies in the age and geographical location of Rama's Ayodhya; the Babri Masjid was never built by destroying any temple or other construction and, in fact, there is no evidence of a Ram Temple having existed at that site; and the Muslims have been in continuous possession of the Babri Masjid right until 1949 when the idols were placed.

The lines in emphasis shows the way the evidence of AIBMAC has been evaluated by the Narasimha Rao Government officials led by Shri Naresh Chandra. The contrast is obvious - while the VHP evidence is complete to support its case, in the case of AIBMAC, difficult to understand as to what its case is.

6.10. Negotiating position taken by the Muslim side as summarised by the Rao Government shows that the Muslims would be ready for shifting or demolition, if temple had existed whether demolished or not

The summary states:

It is understood that at the start of the negotiations in December 1990 - February 1991, the AIBMAC had taken the position that if it was proved that a temple had been destroyed for the construction of the Babri Masjid, the Muslims would agree to its demolition/shifting. Subsequently, however, this was modified to state that only if a Ram Temple had been destroyed, would they so agree.

On the other hand, the Shahi Imam had expressed himself against any reference to the Supreme Court on the ground that such questions should be decided amicably through negotiations in the interest of long term harmony between the communities.

The Muslim side had also objected to the Land Acquisition Ordinance promulgated by the Centre in October 1990 on the grounds, inter aria, that this had extinguished the Court cases in which the Muslims had sought to establish their rights. They had also reiterated the stand of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board that mosques, places of worship and mausolea should be kept outside the purview of the acquisition law. The English translation of the memorandum submitted by the Muslim religious leaders on 21.10.1990 is at Appendix-III.

In the last few days, there have been reports that a section of the Ulema is of the view that if any temple had existed at the site (whether or not it had been demolished for the construction of the Babri Masjid) the Muslim side would be prepared for the demolition/shifting of the Masjid. There are further reports that a section of the Muslims might accept the position that since Hindu worship has been going on in the disputed structure, it may not he regarded as a Masjid at all (thereby facilitating Muslim consent for the demolition/shifting of the Masjid).

The summary of the Special Cell also sets out the Government's view that the Muslims might consent to the demolition/shifting of the mosque.
 

The Special Cell held the VHP evidence overwhelming and also had irrefutable evidence that under Islamic practices mosques can be shifted and are being shifted in other countries

6.11. This compilation and summary by the Government was made at the re-start of the negotiations in October 1992. Further evidence that came to light as the result of new excavations in June and July 1992 does not form part of this compilation and summary. However, the Special Cell headed by Shri Naresh Chandra did not limit its investigation to the facts and evidence presented by VHP and AIBMAC. It extended its search further to collect evidence on the Islamic practices regarding demolition and removal of mosques. But the assessment of the core group about the relative worth of the evidence of VHP and AIBMAC and the material collected by them about Islamic practices on removal of mosques, have been held back from the public by the Government. The situation would have been entirely different if the Government had been candid enough to confront the AIBMAC with their assessment of evidence and material collected on Islamic practices on shifting of mosques, or if the Government had chosen to take the public into confidence. The Government did neither. But it is not that no one was aware of the inside story. The Special Cell had come to three conclusions.

* First, the evidence regarding the existence of the temple was "overwhelming".

* Second, the abandonment, demolition and removal of mosques was in accordance with several schools of the Shariat.

* Third, the abandonment, demolition and removal of mosques was a frequent occurence in several Islamic countries.

The Special Cell had expressed these views to many eminent persons who had met the officials.
 

The officials stop talking, even in private

6.12. A report in the Indian Express, from Delhi published on 3.10.1992 indicated that the AIBMAC had taken note of the statements made by the Special Cell and protested. The report reads:

"In their meeting with the Prime Minister, the AIBMAC also expressed misgivings about the statements made by some officials of the cell set up by the Prime Minister."

The AIBMAC had given sufficient indication as to what the Government was not to do - it asked the Government not to disclose its view in the matter. And the Government did not disclose it, not even in private.

Thus, evidence that could solve the issue which was collected and which was available for decision making, was not used, as the Narasimha Rao Government lacked the will to govern by truth, and instead pursued the line of appeasement and electoral designs in dealing with the Ayodhya issue.


 
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