Demolition of the Babri Mosque Revisited


Sajjad Shaukat

In the pretext of lack of evidence and ignoring the facts, an Indian court on September 30, this year  acquitted all the Hindu nationalist leaders, including former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani, in the Babri Masjid [Mosque] demolition case.

In its biased verdict, the court even neglected the authenticity of audio and video evidence submitted in the case.

During the trial, Central Bureau (CBI) produced 351 witnesses and 600 documents as evidence. Initially, the court had framed charges against 49 accused, however, 17 accused have since died.

Advani, who was then BJP chief, was among 32 people accused of criminal conspiracy and inciting a mob to tear down the mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya in 1992.

In the faulty verdict, the court pinned the blame on miscreants mingled among the crowd instead, adding that leaders such as Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, another former cabinet minister, had tried to keep the mob from turning violent.

Jai Bhagwan Goyal, a defendant who was acquitted, said: “We had done nothing wrong. The whole of India is happy. Lord Ram’s temple is coming up in Ayodhya city.”

Zafaryab Jilani, a counsel for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board stated that the court had ignored all the evidence, adding that it planned to appeal to the high court against the decision.

On the same day, the judgement was announced, Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez, in a statement, strongly condemned shameful acquittal of those responsible for demolishing the historic Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

The Spokesperson elaborated: “the Hindutva-inspired [Hindu nationalism] Indian judiciary miserably failed to deliver the justice again…if there was a semblance of justice in the so-called largest democracy, the individuals, who had boasted of the criminal act publicly, could not have been set free…this is yet another manifestation of the pliant judiciary under the extremist BJP-RSS regime in which extremist Hindutva’ ideology takes precedence over all principles of justice and international norms.

Indicating various anti-Muslim moves, he further stated: “these reprehensible developments with state complicity, coupled with RSS-BJP’s deep-rooted hatred against minorities, particularly Muslims, point to India’s fast descent into a Hindu Rashtra, where minorities have been relegated as second-class citizens…wilful targeting of Muslims is rampant in today’s India…the BJP-RSS anti-Muslim agenda is most visible in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) which remains under continued military siege and the BJP continues to implement its sinister policies to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory…the RSS-BJP regime and the Sangh Parivar are responsible for the continued desecration and demolition of mosques in India in an organised manner as they did during the Gujarat massacre of 2002 and Delhi programme in 2020…the attacks by Hindu zealots on places of worship of Muslims have continued even during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

However, 28 years ago, Indian Constitution which claims India to be a secular state was torn into pieces when on December 6, 1992, a large crowd of Hindu Karsevaks (Volunteers) entirely demolished the 16th-century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Utter Pradesh in a preplanned attempt to reclaim the land known as RAM Janmabhoomi–birthplace of the god.

The demolition of the Babri Masjid sparked Muslim outrage around the country, provoking several months of inter-communal rioting between Hindu and Muslim communities, causing the death of at least 2,000 people, majority of whom were Muslims. The governments of several neighboring countries, including those of the Islamic World condemned the Indian government for failing to stop the destruction of the historical mosque.

In a 2005 book, India’s former Intelligence Bureau (IB) Joint Director Maloy Krishna Dhar wrote that “Babri mosque demolition was planned 10 months in advance by top leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), BJP BJP/Sangh Parivar, VHP, Shiv Sena, the Bajrang Dal and the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Raow. Dhar explained, “He had drawn up the blueprint of the Hindutva assault at Ayodhya in December 1992.”

A 2009 report of the inquiry commission, authored by retired of High Court Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, found 68 people to be responsible for the destruction of the Babri Masjid, mostly leaders from the BJP. But no action was taken against them.

By showing prejudice in favour of Hindus, on September 30, 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled that the 2,400 square feet (220 m2) disputed plot of land, on which the Babri Masjid had stood would be divided into three parts. The site at which the idol of Rama had been placed was granted to Hindus in general, the Sunni Wakf Board got one third of the plot, and the Hindu sect Nirmohi Akhara got the remaining third. The excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India were heavily used as evidence by the court to support its so-called finding that the original structure at the site was a massive Hindu religious building.

It is mentionable that anti-Muslim prejudiced approach could be judged from the last year’s verdict of the Supreme Court of India. While announcing its judgment on the disputed land regarding the Babri mosque, the court ruled in favour of the Hindus and said that a temple-Ram Mandir will be constructed on the Ayodhya land. The court noted that the demolition of 460-year-old Babri mosque in 1992 was a violation of law and ordered that five-acre alternative land in a suitable, prominent place be provided to Muslims for a mosque. The land for the mosque will be acquired by the government.

Notably, fanatic Hindus had been continuously propagated that their god, Ram, was born there and claimed Emperor Zaheerud Din Babur built a mosque on top of a temple at the site.

Nevertheless, encouraged by the flawed Ayodhya decision of the court, Hindu zealots supported by their RSS-patrons in power, are now seeking removal of the Shahi Idgah Masjid located next to Krishna Temple in Mathura as well as to give ownership of the entire 13.37 acres of land to the Krishna Temple complex.

In fact, Indian extremist Prime Minister Narendra Modi-the leader of the ruling party BJP has continued anti-Muslim Chauvinism in India by leading Hindu terrorism against the religious minorities especially Muslims.

In this regard, on August 5, 2019, Indian extremist government revoked articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK). Thus, New Delhi unilaterally annexed the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) with the Indian Federation to turn Muslim majority into minority.

In this respect, 5th of August was the first anniversary of India’s revocation of the special status of the IIOJK. On this very day, Kashmiris living on both sides of the LoC and their brethren in Pakistan, including rest of the world celebrated this day as the Black Day for several days, while, Pakistan also observed August 5 as ‘Youm-e-Istehsal-e-Kashmir’ (Day of Exploitation in occupied Kashmir).

Modi’s anti-Muslim chauvinism took a dangerous turn on August 5, this year when he laid the foundation stone for the Hindu Ram temple at bhoomi pujan ceremony at the site of the demolished Babri mosque in Ayodhya.

Nonetheless, apart from other frenzy events, the demolition of the Babri mosque will remain a major scar on Indian so-called secularism, as on that very day (6th December); Indian fundamentalist leaders broke all the records of Hindutva terror by deliberately hurting the feelings of the Muslims. The atrocities and tyranny let loose on that day in Ayodhya continues unabated against the Muslims in one form or the other, under the Modi regime.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations