RAM JANAM BHOOMI
Ram Janam Bhoomi or Babri Masjid is a dispute of long standing. It revolves round a building in Ayodhya in the Babri Style of architecture. It consists of three rooms and a platform (Chabutra) in front of one of the rooms which was considered to be a Ram Temple, but which had no idol in it. The middle room is used by the Pujari of the Temple. It is he who recites hymns and bhajans at fixed times on the platform which is supposed to be the exact spot where Lord Rama was born. As regards the third room, it is used as a mosque but it was only rarely that anybody offered Namaz in it. Both Hindus and Muslims claim the entire structure as their own. The dispute was referred to the U.P. High Court.
Then one-night idols of Lord Rama and Sita appeared in the temple and the whole dispute was activated. The High Court ordered that the door of the temple be opened to all those who want to offer prayers there. The status quo was to be maintained i.e. there was to be no new construction or alteration of existing structure till the suit was finally decided. The Muslims reacted sharply by claiming the entire structure as their own. A Babri Masjid Committee was formed to pursue the matter and secure the structure for Muslims as it rightfully belonged to them.
The Government had always done its best to persuade Vishwa Hindu Parishad to postpone the Shilanyas or the foundation stone lying ceremony till the court delivered its judgment. Alternatively it was suggested that the leaders of Babri Masjid Committee and VHP sit together to work out a compromise formula. Various ways suggested but to no avail. The Shilanyas was duly performed at a distance from the disputed territory with a clear and a firm declaration that Shri Ram Temple when constructed would cover the disputed territory and structure also.
However good sense prevailed at the eleventh hour. The Shilanayas was performed, but the date on which the construction would begin was changed to 30th October 1990. It was decided that it would be constructed through Kar Seva and Jathas of volunteers for the purpose would begin reaching Ayodhya well before 30th October 1990.
After prolonged conflict and tensions and the assurance of P.V. Narsimha Rao the then Prime Minister of the country, the different parries returned to negotiating table. The negotiations continued peacefully and suddenly without any rational cause the VHP withdrew from the negotiations and announced the Kar Seva would commence on 6th December 1992 and the temple would be constructed on the 2.77 acres of land, which had already been acquired by the B.J.P. Government of UP. However on December 6 instead of doing some construction work the Kar Sewaks demolished entire disputed structure quickly.
The position of the three parties to the dispute at present is:
- The Government is firm that either a compromising solution be reached or the judgement of the High Court would be enforced at all cost.
- Muslims claim the entire structure as their own and it should be handed over to them.
(3) The V.H.P. and other members of Sang Parivar remain adamant
on beginning construction of the temple any time without waiting for the court verdict
Those who are seeking to put up a temple at what they consider to be Lord Rama’s birth place and those who are seeking to restore the old dilapidated structure should just pause to consider whether their respective stands are so irreconcilable or contrary as is popularly assumed why can’t we have both the temple and the mosque back to back in spirit of accommodation and harmony.
How can there be a fight over the right to worship to God? After all those who pray to Allah the Merciful and those who worship to Rama as the incarnation of God are addressing themselves to the same God. They could have a code of conduct under which the prayer and the pooja will be in silence and not accompanied by loud musical instruments nor broadcast by loud speakers and so none would disturb the concentration of other paying homage to God.
Those who worship Rama should not mind the cry of Allah-O-Akbar, which only means God, is great. Similarly those who are performing prayer at the mosques should not take exception to others in the neighbourhood worshipping Ram.
Once this is realized there will be no quarrel at all. The Hindus and Muslims would rather join together and build a composite house of worship of universal faith, which will be open not only to Muslims and Hindus, but others also, come to pray. That will indeed be the fulfillments of King Akbar’s dream of a Common House of God or Vivekanand’s dream of an India that combines an Islamic classless society with vedantic soul.
There is really no ground for any conflict or difference of opinion if we rightly think of it.
Excavation of Disputed Site
Twenty-six men lined up at the gate of the Ram Janam Bhoomi Complex in Ayodhya on the morning of Wednesday, March 12, 2003 carrying shovels, knives, identity cards and slightly confused expressions. For a team apparently on the verge of uncovering history, they looked fairly innocuous and could easily have been labourers answering the roll call at the construction site next door.
Yet their work conditions in Ayodhya were anything but every day. A contingent of the Central Reserve Police force frisked them and inspected their cards. Onlookers and assorted media people gawked at them. What this; humble group was about to embark on could potentially define the future of Indian politics. They were part of the 52-foot soldiers contracted by the Archaeological survey of India to excavate the Ram Janam bhoomi Babrij Masjid area.
The three-domed disputed structure was, of course, demolished on December 6, 1992, and in its place sits a “makeshift temple”, from behind a barricade. The devout can worship the idol of Ram Lalla. The area immediately adjacent to the makeshift temple is covered by a bright shamiana. On the morning of March 12, behind the curtain, waiting for the ASFs hired workers was B. R. Mani, superintending archaeologist.
Mani heads a team of 14 including to consultants from Toja Vikas, the firm behind the radar survey that provides the road map, for the excavation. On March 12 morning, the ASI team met the parties contesting the Mandir Masjid title suit before the Allahabad High Court, surveyed the 5,000 odd sq. ft. to be excavated in essence, satisfied all concerned of the ASFs bona fides. At 1.30 p.m., the earth began to be scraped off, bit-by-bit, particle by particle. Mani’s monumental mission was under way.
The excavation had been ordered by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High court on March 5. The court sought the answer to a seemingly simple question: was the Babri Masjid built on the remains of an earlier Hindu temple, structure. The ASI was asked to report back ‘within a m6nth’.
The full findings may take some time. They will also invariably be subjected to semantic hair-splitting. However, indications are that the eminent historians who have so far dismissed all existing evidence as either motivated or fabricated may have to eat crow. Ayodhya may still remain a burning issue but at least there will be fewer falsehoods to confront.
More pertinent is the legal value of ‘evidence’ that may be unearthed. There are four title suits — two filled by individual Hindus, one by the Nirrnohi Akhada and one by the Sunni Central Wakf Board that have been bunched together by the high court in 1989. A set of 22 issues was framed on the basis of points raised by the various litigants to help the court understand their respective claims. The digging that has now commenced will establish the nature of the structures and their antiquity but it will be a slow process.
Meanwhile, what is really needed is to bridge the gulf that is widening every day between various communities and here all the political parties, of one shade or the other, must search their hearts and find an amicable way out.