The Supreme Court is all set to begin its final hearing in the centuries-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute on Tuesday, December 5. The case, which was back in the news recently after Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar’s mediation, has the history that dates back to the 15th century. Last month, the Shia Waqf Board proposed that Ram Mandir be built in Ayodhya while the mosque can come up in Lucknow.
The mosque originally dates back to 1528. It was built in Ayodhya by Mir Baqi – a commander of Mughal emperor Babur – from where it gets the name Babri Masjid. However, a report by the Archaeological Survey of India suggested the existence of a 10th-century temple at the site.
Here’s a quick look at the top developments in the Ram Janmabhoomi – Babri Masjid Dispute so far in 10 points:
1. The first recorded clash over Ayodhya site took place in 1853, following which the Britishers created a fence to let Hindus and Muslims worship separately in inner and outer courtyards. In 1949, a group of Hindus allegedly sneaked in Lord Ram idol in the mosque, leading to daily offers of prayers to “Ram Lalla”. Muslims stopped offering namaz. The then government declares the premises a disputed area and locks the gates.
2. In the following years, several Hindus filed suits in different courts seeking exclusive rights to offer prayers to “Ram Lalla”. In 1959, Nirmohi Akhara filed suit seeking transfer of disputed site. In 1961, Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqf also sought a suit seeking possession of Babri mosque site.
3. In 1980s, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) launched a campaign to re-open the locks of the Babri Masjid so as to “liberate” the birthplace of Lord Ram and build a grand temple. The temple movement was later backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
4. In September 1990, BJP president LK Advani launched a Rath Yatra from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya for building a Ram Temple on the mosque site. It triggered riots across the country, especially in the North Indian belt. Later that year, Advani was arrested in Samastipur in Bihar, following which the BJP withdrew support to Prime Minister VP Singh leading early parliamentary elections.
5. In 1992, thousands amassed at Ayodhya site to demolish the Babri mosque, which triggered widespread communal riots across the country. A makeshift Ram temple was then hurriedly built and the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao vowing to rebuild the mosque.
6. In 2002, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee sets up an Ayodhya Cell in his office to talk to Hindu and Muslim leaders to resolve the dispute. The same year, the High Court begins hearing in the case to determine who owns the Ayodhya site.
7. In 2003, the Archaeological Survey of India excavates in disputed Ayodhya site on the directions of the Allahabad High Court. In its report, it claims to find evidence of a temple beneath the mosque. Muslims dispute the findings.
8. In September 2010, the three-judge bench of Allahabad High Court delivered a historic judgement. The court ruled that the 2.77 acres of disputed Ayodhya land be divided into 3 parts in the following manner:
•One third of the land was given to Ram Lalla – infant Lord Ram, represented by Hindu Maha Sabha
•One third was entrusted to Nirmohi Akhara
•One third was to be given to Islamic Sunni Waqf Board.
9. In October 2017, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar tried to mediate in the Ayodhya dispute, offering an out-of-court solution. It was rejected by political parties and various religious boards.
10. Last month the Shia Central Waqf Board offered a new proposal to the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi conflict in Ayodhya – a Ram temple in Ayodhya, a mosque in Lucknow. Several Muslim bodies have rejected the Shia Board’s proposal.