Whose Land Is It Anyway? -The Long Awaited Ayodhya Verdict Approaches

The conflict surrounding Ram Janmabhoomi is an almost 150-year long debate that has often led to violence between Hindu and Muslim communities. This may finally come to a close as the Supreme Court is set to pass a Judgment before November 17th and the retirement of CJI Ranjan Gogoi. As of October 17th, both sides have presented their final arguments and the hearings have come to a close. 

Image source- The Indian Express

The Origins of the Conflict
It is reported that a general of Babur, named Mir Baqi built the Babri Masjid under the orders of Babur himself in 1528 AD. Other reports suggest that Aurangzeb was the one who built the mosque around the 1700s. However, since both these mosques were built under the Mughal rule, any form of dissent from Hindus got silently crushed. The first reports of violence come during the 1850s under the British Colonial rule. However, their demands went largely unheard as the colonial government was more concerned with maintaining power rather than sorting out the issue.
Post-Independence, an offshoot of the Hindu Mahasabha started an agitation to build a temple at the site once more. When this did not get the traction they needed, they sought to use underhanded methods. In December 1949, some activists broke into the mosque and placed idols of Ram and Sita. This flared up in a controversy as Politicians, Bureaucrats, and officers were divided into the two sides. Eventually, both sides approached the courts and the land was claimed under dispute and was locked down.
This incident would be the spark needed for the RSS to create the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which would go on to become the Bharatiya Janata Party. Is it any surprise that the Modi government has kept this issue in their manifesto when it is so closely tied to the very soul of the party?
The strain between Hindus and Muslims reached a height not seen since the days of Partition. It started off with the Supreme Court passing its judgment on the Shah Bano case in 1985. The Indian National Congress had won a landslide victory after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. However, Congress leaders were sceptical about the upcoming elections as they believed they would lose their majority. So, in order to retain the Muslim vote bank, they decided to overturn the Supreme Court verdict in favour of Muslim personal law. 
This caused huge controversy as the Hindus felt resentment due to the fact that Muslims were being given exceptions to laws that were meant for all. The judgment from a district judge on the 1949 case became the way to vent or Hindus. The judge asked the gates to be opened and permit worship inside in 1986. This led to BJP leaders like L.K. Advani to organize Rath Yatras to Ayodhya. This would lead to many controversies for the next 6 years until December 1992.
Demolition and Aftermath
On the 6th of December 1992, 150,000 Vishwa Hindu Parishad and BJP Kar sevaks gathered near the mosque. After speeches by Murli Manohar Joshi, L.K. Advani and Uma Bharti, the mob grew more and more energetic. Eventually, this mob became violent and overpowered the police protection around the area and attacked the mosque. Within a span of hours, the entire structure was demolished and brought down by hand. This led to a violent counter-reaction from Muslims. The riots spread all over the country in cities like Surat, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kanpur and Bhopal. Although unconfirmed, it is estimated almost 2000 people were killed during these riots.
The riots were not just limited to India either.  Temples in Pakistan were demolished and destroyed almost overnight. Pakistani Hindus started seeking asylum citing increased harassment and discrimination. Bangladesh also saw riots across the country. Mobs also tried to attack a cricket match between India and Bangladesh. 
This would also go on to plant seeds for further riots and violence like the Godhra Train burnings, Mumbai Bombings, and many more incidents.
The Word of Law
After the district court judgment in 1986, the case was moved up to the Allahabad High Court. After a long judicial process, the Allahabad High court passed a judgment in September 2010. The land was proposed to be divided into 3 parts with one part each going to the Sunni Wakf Board, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Nirmohi Akhara. Both the Hindu Mahasabha and the Sunni Wakf Board appealed to the Supreme Court in regards to some parts of the High Court judgment in December 2010. 
The final hearings started in August 2019 and have been put on a priority basis. As on October 17th, all arguments have been presented and put forth. Now what remains to be seen is the wording of the Supreme Court Judgment and its impact. This is an important milestone but the entire Ayodhya story is far from over.
- Written by Nachiket Bhushan Kondhalkar

- Edited by Maitreyi Mehndiratta

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Whose Land Is It Anyway? -The Long Awaited Ayodhya Verdict Approaches Whose Land Is It Anyway? -The Long Awaited Ayodhya Verdict Approaches Reviewed by EMN on October 22, 2019 Rating: 5

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