The fate of the 60-year-old civil case for the title of the disputed 16th century Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, will be likely to be decided on September 24, 2010. The Hindu claims the site to be exact birth spot of Lord Ram and call it as Ramjanmabhoomi, the Muslim claim that it is Babri Masjid, which was built in 16th century by the General of Emperor Babur. The disputed property belongs to Muslim Wakaf Board.
A three-judge special bench of the Allahabad High Court comprising Justice S.U. Khan, Justice D.V. Sharma and Justice Sudhir Agarwal would pronounce the judgment of this long pending case that has caught the imagination of the entire nation creating bad blood and animosity among the two principle community of the country.
The bench has concluded the hearing of the case in July 2010 after a decade long painstaking process and reserved the verdict to be delivered before September 30, 2010. This was because one of the judges is scheduled to retire on that day. An order to this effect was issued by the court that the date of the judgement is fixed for September 24, 2010.
The judgement has to answer three fundamental questions. 1) Is the disputed spot in Ayodhya the exact birthplace of Lord Rama? 2) Was the Babri Masjid built after the demolition of a Ram temple? 3) Was the Babri Masjid built in accordance with the tenets of Islam?
Lets discuss each question one by one. Is the disputed spot in Ayodhya the exact birthplace of Lord Rama? How can a court prove this? What will be the methodology used by the court to decide the birth spot of a god. How will the court negotiate this question? In order to do so, the first thing the court has to do is to establish the veracity of Lord Ram as a living human being. The second point it has to establish is the exact date, day and year of birth of Lord Ram. The third point is to establish that Lord Ram was born at the exact spot from where the Babari Masjid stood.
One wonders are the honourable judges competent enough to answer the questions as complex as these and provide “clinching evidences" of the existence of a human being, lost in time and space and provide not only the exact spot of the birth but also the date and the time. If the honourable judges do so, they should be instantly by the entire nation as there cannot be a better service to the people of this country who have been fighting over this issue for a long time and have shed their blood for this purpose.
The second question is; was the Babri Masjid built after the demolition of a Ram temple? This question can be handled first by the establishing the period in which Lord Ram lived. Then the excavation details of that period have to be looked into and then establish the existence of the Ram temple. The judges have to rely on the excavation details to establish the fact the demolished structure was a "Ram temple" and the Babari masjid was not built on any other structure.
Every one knows that the indo gangetic plain is graveyard of civilisation. Every layer below the ground has a period of history buried beneath. The question then may arise was the Hindu temple before Babari Masjid was actually a Ram temple or a Buddhist vihara or monastery a temple. All these questions and many more has to be answered before agreeing to any conclusion on this issue. It is a foregone conclusion that the loosing party may challenge any judgement on this issue.
The third question is; was the Babri Masjid built in accordance with the tenets of Islam? The answer to the second question may lead to the answer of the third. If the first and the second questions are satisfactorily answered, Muslims should immediately forfeit the right of their claim over Babari Masjid. However, at the same time if the credible answer is lacking they should never give up their claim and appeal in the higher court.
The big question is what will be the reaction of the Hindu community, if all the answers go against them. The court comes up with a judgement that it is unable to decide the disputed site in Ayodhya is the exact birthplace of Lord Rama. It may also say that it cannot conclusively prove that Babari Masjid was constructed after demolition of a Ram temple. The judgement may site the historical records, and produce the copy of the sale deed executed by Mir Baki the General of Babur to purchase the land and construct the Masjid and built it according to the tenets of Islam.
If the judgement comes on these lines, then what will the reaction of the Hindu community? Will the disputed structure handed over to the Muslims. Will the idol that was placed after the demolition of the Babari Masjid be removed? Will the Babari Masjid be rebuilt? On the other hand, will the Hindu community again resort to mobocracy and resist any such scenario being developed?
The general guess is the judgement is going to go against the Muslims. In all likelihood, it may read that the Masjid was constructed after demolition of old temple and thus not a place of Muslim worship as goes against the tenets of Islam. Even though the Muslims may challenge this verdict but to counter this, they have to prove documentary evidence to establish their claim.
The first civil case on the ownership of the site was filed in 1950 by Gopal Singh Visharad to start pooja (worship) of Lord Ram at the shrine. In the same year, Paramhans Ramchandra Das seeking removal of restriction to conduct religious ceremonies at the shrine also filed another case at the Faizabad civil court.
Nine years later, members of a religious sect, Nirmohi Akhara, filed a civil suit at the Faizabad court in 1959, demanding directions to hand over the charge of the disputed shrine from the receiver to the sect.
Within two years, in 1961, the UP Sunni Central Board of Waqfs also filed a case in the local court, claiming possession of the disputed shrine.
Devki Nandan Aggarwal, who was then an important functionary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Uttar Pradesh, filed the fifth and last suit in 1989.
Rival claims by Hindu and Muslim groups to the disputed site led to the demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid by Hindu mobs on Dec 6, 1992, triggering widespread communal violence across the country.
The issue polarised politics between those for and against the mosque at the site and left a legacy of distrust between the country’s majority Hindu community and Muslims, the country’s largest minority community.
It is likely that the fall out of the judgement may attract adverse religious and political reaction at several quarters. Its keeping this fact in mind, both the state and the central governments are apprehensive that the court’s decision might create law and order problem not only in Uttar Pradesh but also in other parts of the country.
Keeping this in mind the Uttar Pradesh government has already deployed 35 companies of paramilitary and armed state police units to monitor the fluid situation in Ayodhya and elsewhere in the sensitive places of the state where security arrangement is being beefed up.
It remains to be seen how the judgement is going to be received by the fellow citizens. Every one hopes that the judgement does not spark any more communal riots, any tension emerging out of this be immediately controlled, and both the groups restrain from taking to the streets.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com