Ayodhya yatra: A walk down the memory lane
Published: 26th August 2013 09:19 AM |
With general elections in the horizon, communal politics is rearing its ugly head again. VHP is all set to take out the yatra to push for the cause of building a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Even with UP administration taking its senior leaders Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia into preventive custody ahead of the yatra, there has been no real resistance from the VHP. Besides Singhal and Togadia, the administration has detained 450 activists.
BJP has refrained from raking up the issue, though it supports VHP’s ‘fundamental right to hold the yatra’. The Ram Mandir issue is a main component in the BJP’s national poll campaign.
Acharya Das, Ayodhya's priest who takes care of a makeshift Ram temple, has said the yatra is ‘political, not religious’. Such a Parikrama has never been organized in the past 50 years and is arguably suspect in terms of its timing.
Controversy surrounding the land
The root of Ayodhya land dispute dates back to the 16th century. Historical evidence suggests that the first Mughal emperor, Babur, had built the Babri Masjid on the site.
In 1853, Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu religious denomination, claimed the structure, contending that there had been a temple on the site that was destroyed in Babur’s time. In the subsequent years, the British built a fence allowing the inner court to be used by Muslims and the outer by Hindus.
The first case was filed in 1885 by Mahant Raghubir Das, asking for permission to build a temple. The suit was dismissed the following year.
In 1949, both the parties filed civil suits claiming ownership of the land. The government proclaimed the land as disputed area and locked the gates. Thirty-seven years later, the land was open to public and the temple was consecrated in 1989.
The Black Sunday
On December 6, 1992, kar sevaks (Hindu volunteers) demolished the Babri Masjid structure, in an attempt to reclaim the land known as Ram Janmaboomi (birth place of Ram). The demolition of the structure was carried out in full view of senior RSS, BJP, and VHP leaders including L K Advani.
Following the incident, the Congress government in the Centre dismissed Kalyan Singh government in UP and imposed President’s rule. Widespread communal violence broke out all over the country. More than 2000 people lost their lives and the States that were badly affected in the violence were Maharastra, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
In Pakistan, angry Muslims torched a Hindu temple in Karachi. The Indian High Commission in Dhaka also came under attack from Muslim fundamentalists.
On 16 December, 1992, the Liberhan Commission was setup to investigate the sequence of events leading to the destruction.
Then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao deposed before the Commission and accused the Kalyan Singh government for the demolition. Kalyan Singh asserted that State had done its best and blamed the then Congress government for instigating the violence. L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti also deposed before the commission.
Advani’s role in the demolition was always under the microscope. On July 29, 2007, Uma Bharathi said that she did address a meeting on December 6 when the incident happened and shared the dais with Advani. However, Advani told the Liberhan commission that he did not address the meeting.
“It was the saddest day in my life. If I had any idea of how the day would end, I would not have gone to Ayodhya,” he was quoted as saying to a magazine.
In 2003, Advani was discharged in the case. However in 2005, charges against him were reinstated after a review by High Court.
In 2010, IPS officer Anju Gupta testified that Advani made a fiery speech that ‘electrified’ the kar sevaks. Gupta said she was present on the dais for a substantial part of the six hours it took to raze the ‘disputed structure’ but through this time not once did she see Advani.
Excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1970, 1992 and 2003 indicated a large Hindu complex existed on the site. Its 2003 report on the site mentions ‘distinctive features associated with temples of North India’.
In 2002, VHP set a deadline for the construction of the Ram temple in the disputed area. Hundreds of the kar sevaks thronged Ayodhya and on their return, 58 of them were killed in the Godhra train fire.
On July 2005, 6 terrorists made an attempt to storm the make-shift Ram temple in Ayodhya. They were killed before they could strike at the shrine. The attack left four CRPF personnel, two civilians injured.
After 17 years, the Liberhan Commission submitted its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on June 30 2009. It got 48 extensions and spent more than 8 crores, with the bulk of the amount being spent on staff salaries.
In September 2010, the Allahabad High Court ordered the split of the disputed land into three parts to Ram Lalla represented by Hindu Maha Sabha, Sunni Wakf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara.
Expecting mob trouble after the order, UP government sanctioned Rs 72.5 crores for purchase of lathis!
In May 9, 2011, an SC bench comprising Justice Aftab Alam and Justice R M Lodha termed the division of the land as strange as none of the parties had asked for the division. The Supreme Court also stayed the HC order splitting the site into 3 parts and said the status quo will remain.