Chief litigant in Babri Masjid case, Mahant Bhaskar Das, dies at 88

Chief of Ayodhya’s Nirmohi Akhada and oldest litigant in Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid case, Mahant Bhaskar Das, passed away on Saturday morning.

Published: 16th September 2017 12:07 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2017 06:41 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes

Express News Service

LUCKNOW: One of the chief litigants in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babari Masjid dispute, Mahant Bhaskar Das died after a prolonged illness in Ayodhya on Saturday. He was the sarpanch mahant, or head preist, of the Nirmohi Akhada, which is party to the main title dispute over the site.
 
The 89-year-old was admitted to a private nursing home in Ayodhya on Wednesday after he had developed breathing problems followed by a stroke last Tuesday. He had been in a critical condition since then.
 
With the demise of Mahant Bhaskar Das, the chief litigants on both sides of the dispute have now passed away. Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant in the case, died at at age 95 in July 2016. Despite being rivals in the case, Ansari and Bhaskar Das enjoyed a cordial relationship outside the court.
 
As head priest of the Nirmohi Akhada, Bhaskar Das was the first one to file a claim for ownership of the Ramjanmboomi-Babri Masjid site in 1959. Apart from being the Nirmohi Akhada sarpanch, Bhaskar Das was also the mahant of the Naka Hanuman Gadhi in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh.
 
As news of Bhaskar Das' demise spread, people in large numbers started thronging the Naka Hanuman Gadhi where his body was kept for people to pay their espects. His body will be cremated at the Tulsi Ghat along river Saryu in Ayodhya.
 
Bhaskar Das was born in Ranideh village in Gorakhpur in 1929. His father was a narrator of the Bhagwad Gita. When he was 16, Bhaskar Das joined the Naka Hanuman Gadhi temple and became a disciple of Mahant Baldev Das of the Nirmohi Akhada. While continuing his Vedic studies, he became the mahant of Hanuman Gadhi in 1986 after the death of Mahant Bajrang Das. In 1993, after the demise of Mahant Ram Swaroop Das, Bhaskar Das was anointed sarpanch of the Nirmohi Akhada also.
 
Initially, the Nirmohi Akhada's Mahant Raghunath Das filed a case claiming the Ram Janmbhoomi site and he was joined by Bhaskar Das, who was in charge of rituals at Ram Chabutra on the premises in 1959.
 
When the Allahabad High Court divided the 2.77 acre disputed land  into three parts, one-third of it was awarded to the Nirmohi  Akhada including the Sita ki Rasoi and Ram Chabutra. Another one-third went to Ram Lala Virajman (where the idol of Rama is installed in a makeshift temple) and another one-third to the Sunni Waqf Board.
 
After the High Court verdict, the Nirmohi Akhada filed a petition in the Supreme Court for ownership of the entire premises. The case is pending in the Supreme Court. Now after Bhaskar Das' demise, his disciple Mahant Ram Das is likely to take over as a litigant on his behalf.

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