Row that goes back 2 centuries | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Row that goes back 2 centuries

The first recorded clash between Hindus and Muslims over the Babri Masjid took place in 1853, when Wajid Ali Shah was still the Nawab of Awadh. Not many details are available except that he succeeded in settling the dispute without any loss of lives.

delhi Updated: Sep 21, 2010 22:58 IST
Sunita Aron

It’s a dispute that pre-dates the First Battle of Independence in India.

The first recorded clash between Hindus and Muslims over the Babri Masjid took place in 1853, when Wajid Ali Shah was still the Nawab of Awadh. Not many details are available except that he succeeded in settling the dispute without any loss of lives.

More than three decades later, in 1885, one Raghubar Das, claiming to be the mahant of janmasthan, demanded permission to build a temple on the ram chabootra.

The final order was delivered by the district judge, Faizabad the following March. “ I found that the masjid, built by Emperor Babar, stands on the border of Ayodhya. It is most unfortunate that a masjid should have been built on the land specially held sacred by Hindus. But as that occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to remedy the grievance. All that can be done is to maintain the status quo,” the court ruled.

Das filed an appeal before the judicial commissioner of Oudh (as Awadh was then called) W. Young, who also turned down his plea.

Thus, the first set of judicial orders favoured the retention of the mosque where it stood.

The matter then lay dormant and the status quo remained intact for the next six decades.

Then, on the intervening night of December 21-22, 1949, deities of Ram mysteriously appeared in the mosque.

The then prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, wanted the idols be removed, but the then district magistrate K.K. Nayar, citing possible law and order disruptions, expressed his inability to do so. He later resigned.

In 1950, a local resident, Gopal Singh Visharad, filed a petition before the civil judge demanding a direction allowing him to offer prayers inside the mosque, where the idols had been installed.

Thus, began the second round of litigation that is still continuing. The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court is scheduled to deliver its verdict on the dispute that has been pending in one form or the other in various courts since the early days of Independence.

But what are the main issues on which it will pronounce its verdict? HT takes a look:

Was the disputed building a mosque? Was it constructed on the site of a temple after demolishing the same?

Was any portion of the property used as a place of worship by Hindus immediately prior to the construction of the mosque in 1528?

Is the property the site of Lord Ram’s birthplace?

Have Hindus been worshipping the disputed shrine as Shree Ram Janma Bhumi and treating it as a sacred place of pilgrimage since time immemorial?

Was the Muslim community in the possession of the property up to 1949 and were they dispossessed from the same? Have Muslims been offering prayers at the shrine since time immemorial?

Were the idols of Lord Ram placed inside the building in the intervening night of December 22 and 23, 1949 or were they in existence from before?

Have Hindus developed the right to offer prayers at the site by adverse and continuous possession?