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The Ram Janam Bhoomi - Babari Masjid Dispute and Its Ramifications

Article by Aatish Palekar

Ram Janam Bhoomi-babri Masjid dispute is a dispute for 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 idols in it. The middle room is used by the Poojari of the Temple. He lives in it, and also acts as the Chowkidar. It is also he who recites hymns and Bhajans at fixed times on the platform, which is supposed to be the exact spot where Lord Ram 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. Thedispute was referred to the U.P. High Court, but the suit remains lying there with so many other “dead suits” which are “dead” as no one cares to peruse them.

Then suddenly one night idols of Lord Ram and Sita appeared in the temple room and the whole dispute was activated. The high Court ordered that the doors of the temple-room 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 the existing structure till the suit was finally decided. The Muslims re-acted sharply by claiming the entire structure as their own. A Babri-Masjid Committee was formed to pressure the matter and secures the structure for the Muslims as it rightfully belonged to them.

Passions continued to rise and there were communal riots in different parts of the country. Communal frenzy seemed to have gripped the people of both communities. With the blessing of the four Shankracharyas, purification ceremony of bricks through ‘havan’ was performed in different parts of the country. Then these purified and consecrated bricks were carried in “Rathams” toAyodhya from the four corners of the country. Large procession of devotees followed each “Ratham” shouting slogans. Communal frenzy reached its peak and for sometime it seemed that the country was on the verge of the blood bath. Lakhs of consecrated bricks were thus dumped in Ayodha and the stage was thus set for the construction of the Lord Rama Temple.

The government did its best to persuade Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other like minded Hindu parties to postpone the “Silaniyas” or the foundation stone laying ceremony till the Court delivered its judgment. Alternatively it was suggested that the leaders of the Babri-Masjid Committee and the Hindu leaders should sit together and work out a compromise formula. Various ways were suggested but to no avail. The Hindus said that the birth place of a person cannot be changed and so Lord Rama Temple must be constructed on the exact spot of the Lord’s birth. Muslims were given the option of a plot of land away from the disputed territory and the government agreed to provide the necessary fiancés. If they so desired, the structure could removed physically to another place of their choice. This too was not acceptable. The “Silaniyas” was duly performed at a distance from the disputed territory with a clear and 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 “Silaniyas” was performed, but the date on which the construction of the temple 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 reachingAyodhya well before 30 th October, 1990. The position of the three parties to the dispute at present is (1) the government is firm that either a compromise solution be reached or the judgment of the High Court would be enforced at all cost, (2) the Muslims claim the entire structure as their own but are willing to abide by Court-judgment, and (3) VHP and other members of the ‘Sangh Parivar’ remained adamant on beginning construction of the temple on 30th October, without waiting for the Court verdict.

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