Tag Archives: Babri Masjid

The Hindu deity as juristic person – A dangerous path, yet again: Rahul Govind

Guest post by RAHUL GOVIND

Gyan Vyapi Mosque and Kashi Vishwanath  Temple (Image courtesy Indian Express)

The present controversy over several religious sites threatens to tread yet again the path that led to the communal mobilization, riots and destruction of the Babri Masjid. The popular press also repeats several legal arguments without always analysing their import. In the present cases, just like in Ayodhya, a key point that we hear time and again is that when it comes to the Hindu deity’s property, such property is perpetual and therefore even if a temple was destroyed centuries ago, the legality of the Hindu deity’s property remains unimpeded, thereby becoming the basis of a reclamation. It is therefore important to understand the legal concept of the Hindu deity’s juristic personality. Continue reading The Hindu deity as juristic person – A dangerous path, yet again: Rahul Govind

The BabriMasjid/Ayodhya Judgement of 2010 – Some questions for today


Babri Masjid before its demolition. It was still a mosque in 1992 when Hindutva mobs demolished it, and namaz was offered there until 1949 when under growing pressure from Hindutva forces, it was locked and made out of bounds for the public. However, Hindu puja was permitted there once a year.

This post is an analysis of the Allahabad High Court judgement of September 2010, on the BabriMasjid /Ayodhya issue. The final judgment ruled that the disputed land would be divided into three parts, one third going to the Hindu Maha Sabha which represented Ram Lalla, one third to Sunni Waqf Board and the rest to Nirmohi Akhada including Ram Chabutara and Sitaki Rasoi.

This essay was written at the time, and published in Economic and Political Weekly. Two of the key issues of this case arose in two of the recent judgments of the Supreme Court on other matters.

One, the status of ‘Next Friend’, which is central to the Ayodhya case, was brought up in the judgement on the Bhima- Koregaon Five. Regarding  the PIL filed by historian Romila Thapar and four other eminent persons challenging the alleged-unlawful arrest of these five activists,

the court assumed that the writ petition has now been pursued by the accused themselves and was of the opinion that the petition, at the instance of the next friend of the accused for an independent probe or a court-monitored investigation cannot be countenanced, much less as a PIL as the petitioners cannot be heard to ask for the reliefs which otherwise cannot be granted to the accused themselves.

Two, the status of the deity as a person in law came up centrally in the judgement on Sabarimala.

Apologies for posting this long piece, which is not a blog post but an analytical essay closely examining the 2010 judgement by Allahabad High Court. I have not updated it in any way, as that is the judgement that currently stands. The  case is currently in the Supreme Court.

The Ayodhya judgement: what next?

 Published in Economic and Political Weekly Vol 46 No. 31 July 30 – August 05, 2011

Since the Allahabad High Court judgement on the Ayodhya dispute was delivered on September 30, 2010, a substantial body of reflection upon it has emerged. Historians, political commentators, legal scholars and lawyers have all produced serious and engaged critiques of the judgement, pointing out flaws in reasoning and flaws in law. In an engagement with the debate so far, particularly with the critical voices, of which I am one, I hope here to develop a composite picture of the problems with the judgement, currently under appeal in the Supreme Court. And to ask, what are its weakest links?

Continue reading The BabriMasjid/Ayodhya Judgement of 2010 – Some questions for today

What’s in a Name? The Demolition of ‘Babri Masjid’, the Name and the Mosque: Hilal Ahmed

Babri-Masjid – Before the Demolition, image courtesy Tehelka.com

The gradual erasure of the words ‘Babri Masjid’ from our everyday memory actually began in 1986, when the Hindu community was granted the exclusive right to worship there. This happened without any regard ownership disputes the and illegal conversion of this mosque into a temple in 1949.

This story of the dispute itself is disputable. It is imperative to revisit three interesting moments, which no one talks of these days.

The 1949 moment

On the night of 23 December 1949, a group of local Hindus entered the mosque and installed the idols of Lord Ram inside it. Although the police filed an FIR in which the building is clearly defined as a functional mosque, the local administration took charge of the building, and without removing the idols from the mosque space, declared it a legally “disputed site”. Read the full article here


De-recognize the BJP!

The BJP has been clamouring for the de-recognition of AAP for its ‘anarchism’ and its lack of faith in institutions put in place by the Constitution, but faced with the sting by Cobrapost on its own responsibility for the Babri Masjid demolition, its only response is that  the Election Commission should stop its broadcast in view of the elections. In its characteristic fashion, the BJP leaders went on to accuse the sting operation of being ‘Congress sponsored’ – looks like this party has even lost the capacity to make a reasonable argument about anything. Meanwhile, all of yesterday the major channels were  dancing tango with the BJP in expressing suspicion about the ‘timing’ of the release. Not one of the channels had anything to say about the content of the sting.

Who is setting the terms of ‘debate’ here?

And why does the BJP want the EC to stop the broadcast? Because now it is clear that even as top BJP leaders and the Kalyan Singh government gave their commitment to the Supreme Court of India that nothing would happen to the mosque, the leaders were planning its demolition. That is what the sting operation shows. It shows, in the words of the actual dramatis personae, how the young recruits were trained by retired military personnel, without  being told what their mission was. The training was conducted in strict secrecy and with the full knowledge of at least some of the BJP bigwigs, the RSS and the Shiv Sena. Continue reading De-recognize the BJP!

उन्नाव का सोना और विश्वास के आगे समर्पण

अभी ज्यादा समय नहीं बीता जब एक दिन यह ज्ञात हुआ के नई दिल्ली में स्थित तथाकथित अग्रसेन की बावली को अगरवाल समाज के हवाले कर दिया गया है क्योंकि उन्होंने ए एस आई से यह कहा था के इस बावली का निर्माण महाराजा अग्रसेन ने किया था जो अगरवाल समाज के संस्थापक थे. उनका कहना था कि इसलिए अगरवाल समाज बावली की देखभाल करना चाहता है – आखिर बावली उनके संस्थापक की यादगार जो है. ए एस आई ने विधिवत ढंग से एक एम ओ यू (इकरारनामा) तैयार किया दोनों पक्षों ने उस पर हस्ताक्षर किये और बावली अग्रवाल समाज के हवाले कर दी गयी.

अग्रवाल समाज को शायद उस शिलालेख से भी ऐतराज़ था जो बावली के बाहर ए एस आई ने लगाया हुआ था और ऐतराज़ वाजिब भी था अग्रवाल समाज का “विश्वास” है के बावली महाराज अग्रसेन की बनवाई हुई थी और शिलालेख पर, जहाँ तक हमें याद है, यह लिखा हुआ था के ‘उग्रसेन की बावली के नाम से मशहूर इस बावली का निर्माण सल्तनत काल की वास्तुकला का एक सुन्दर नमूना है’. इस तरह की बात ज़ाहिर है अस्वीकार्य थी और फ़ौरी तौर पर भूल सुधार की आवश्यकता थी. लिहाज़ा भूल सुधार दी गयी. अब जो नया शिलालेख वहां लगाया गया है उस पर साफ़ साफ़ लिखा है के “इस बावली का निर्माण अग्रवाल समुदाय के पूर्वज, राजा उग्रसेन, द्वारा किया गया था.” यह अलग बात है के शिलालेख पर अंग्रेजी में इस बात को ज़रा अलग ढंग से इस तरह कहा गया है “ कहा जाता है के इस बावली का निर्माण अग्रवाल समुदाय के पूर्वज, राजा उग्रसेन, द्वारा किया गया था.” (यह भी दिलचस्प बात है कि राजा का नाम कहीं ‘उग्रसेन’ तो कहीं ‘अग्रसेन’ लिखा जाता आया है.) Continue reading उन्नाव का सोना और विश्वास के आगे समर्पण

The muezzin’s last call at Babri Masjid: Krishna Jha and Dhirendra K Jha

This guest post by KRISHNA JHA and DHIRENDRA K JHA is an excerpt from their book, Ayodhya: The Dark Night, about the original Ayodhya conspiracy of 22 December 1949

Published December 2011 by HarperCollins India;Rs 499; Pages 232
Published December 2011 by HarperCollins India; Rs 499; Pages 232

The sound of a thud reverberated through the medieval precincts of the Babri Masjid like that of a powerful drum and jolted Muhammad Ismael, the muezzin, out of his deep slumber. He sat up, confused and scared, since the course of events outside the mosque for the last couple of weeks had not been very reassuring. For a few moments, the muezzin waited, standing still in a dark corner of the mosque, studying the shadows the way a child stares at the box-front illustration of a jigsaw puzzle before trying to join the pieces together. Continue reading The muezzin’s last call at Babri Masjid: Krishna Jha and Dhirendra K Jha

Ayodhya for Buddhists: All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations


Neither Hindus nor Muslims are entitled to the disputed land at Ayodhya. SLP filed in Supreme Court claming the title for the Buddhists.

New Delhi, 7th January, 2011

Dr. Udit Raj, Chairman of Buddha Education Foundation and the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, told the press that Special Leave Petition (SLP) no. DC 466/2011 has been filed in the Supreme Court against the judgment of Allahabad High Court, Lucknow Bench in the much disputed matter of Ayodhya.

Continue reading Ayodhya for Buddhists: All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations

City in Terror: Dilip D’Souza

Guest post by DILIP D’SOUZA

Starting today eighteen years ago, for much of December and January (and then March 12), Indian killed Indian on the streets of my city. Terror at its most elemental: I felt it then. I saw it then. Others told me about it then.

Some memories of those weeks, in no particular order but they all still make my hair stand on end.

This Chhath Puja, Ram ke naam: Mahtab Alam

Guest post by MAHTAB ALAM

Last week, after a gap of almost 12 years, when I was asked by my family members to accompany them to see Chhatth Puja, an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to Surya, the Sun God, I could not resist myself and readily agreed to join them. As a school going boy, I had always enjoyed watching the festival and devotees performing the rituals observed for the Puja in my hometown Supaul, a district of Bihar, which borders the Tarai region of Nepal. In the last 12 years, I couldn’t get a chance to do so due to the mobile nature of work I am involved in. The Puja, most elaborately observed in Bihar, Jharkhand and the Terai regions of Nepal in modern times, and those areas where migrants from these regions have a presence. Chhath, usually observed six days after Diwali, was observed on 12 November this year. Continue reading This Chhath Puja, Ram ke naam: Mahtab Alam

Ayodhya Verdict: Does it provide closure?


I was a child when the Babri Masjid was desecrated. After the news of the demolition spread across Uttar Pradesh, we were huddled in buses and packed off home from our boarding school. We were happy that the school had announced the winter break earlier than usual. That apart, we didn’t think much of the episode. In fact, I think that we were oblivious, almost entirely, to the gravity of the incident.

Much later, when I read the Sri Krishna Committee Report on the Bombay riots of 1992-93, and about thousands who had lost their life in the aftermath of the demolition, memories of 1992 returned. I remembered whispers. I remembered the fear in the eyes of our teachers accompanying us home. I remembered the instructions to the bus driver not to stop the bus if we were mobbed. I remembered leaving school at three in the morning. And, I remembered being asked not to tell my real name if we were stopped. Continue reading Ayodhya Verdict: Does it provide closure?

Reading Ayodhya Judgement II: Biswajit Roy

Guest post by BISWAJIT ROY

In my earlier piece, I had noted Justice Khan’s pluralist-nationalist sentiments and his anguished pleas to Muslims to ‘avail the opportunity to impress others with the message’ of ‘peace-friend ship- tolerance’ by accommodating Hindu faith-based claims to the area under the central dome of the demolished mosque as Ram Janamsthan. But I failed to find similar sentiments or espousal of the need of inter-community reconciliation on equal footing in the ‘bulky’ exposition of Justice Agarwal, despite his concurrence to Khan’s order for three-way partition of the disputed land, as well as justice Verma’s judgment that had awarded entire place to Hindus.

Continue reading Reading Ayodhya Judgement II: Biswajit Roy

The Second Demolition: Ayodhya Judgement September 30, 2010

December 6, 1992

A shameful and shocking judgement.

I am shattered by what it does, by its implications for democracy, and by the statement it makes about what we can expect for the future.

My rage is growing with every statesman-like pronouncement from one pompous man after the other in the media, gravely holding forth on the maturity of the compromise that has been reached.

Continue reading The Second Demolition: Ayodhya Judgement September 30, 2010

How to Not Read the Ayodhya Judgement: Hilal Ahmed

Guest post by HILAL AHMED

There are three areas which I think we need to underline.

A. Technical problem: The question of applied principles

I ask a very fundamental question: How could a modern secular judiciary- technically an institutionalized ‘interpreter’ of the Constitution- determine the legal disputes related to religious places of worship on the grounds of ‘faith-based’ evidences?

All the three judges seem to recognize the fact that the Hindu beliefs should be (must be) taken as legal facts. Interestingly, these beliefs are supported by archeological report of 2003 to form an argument of judicial nature.

However, and quite astonishingly, the Sunni Wakf Board’s (SWB) case was dismissed on legal-technical grounds following a very mechanical interpretation of the Limitation Act.

But for Nirmohi Akhara and VHP case (referred as Ram Lalla virajman) the principle of faith was given primacy and in order to substantiate it further ASI report which is full of contradictions, is expanded to arrive on a conclusion.

Continue reading How to Not Read the Ayodhya Judgement: Hilal Ahmed

Opening Pandora’s box

Source: NDTV.com

The Ayodhya judgement is out; Pandora’s box has been opened and I suppose the hope fairy is fluttering amidst us all. That there haven’t been riots is being seen as a sign that “the country has moved on”.  My personal sense is that the absence of riots simply proves that riots are rarely spontaneous: adequate security has ensured an uneasy calm.

It’s still too early (at least for me) to make sense of this verdict, so I thought we could kick off the debate on Kafila by posting a list of links and resources and perhaps take the conversation forward as more and more information comes in.

To start off, the Judgements can be accessed at http://rjbm.nic.in/ . The top half of the page contains the gist of the judgments while your can find the entire judgement below the fold.

Continue reading Opening Pandora’s box

‘Bal Thackeray’s Big Heart’ : Bombay Riot Victims Pe Mat Ro

It is difficult to say how many journos or politicos managed to have a look at the recent meeting between Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, Chief Minister of Maharashtra ; his deputy Mr R.R. Patil, who also handles the home ministry and Bal Thackeray, the octogenarian leader of the Shiv Sena, at Matoshree, the house of the Thackerays. It was reported that the Congress high command had specifically asked Mr Deshmukh to visit the Sena Supremo to thank him for his support to Ms Pratibha Patil in the Presidential election.As was expected the meeting went well. While the two sides formally maintained that not much should be read into their convergence of views over the Marathi Manushi’s candidature for the august post, it was evident that a new chemistry was unfolding itself between the long time adversaries. At least one could gather it from the exchanges they had or the body language of the leaders. “You have a big heart.” Vilasrao Deshmukh is learnt to have told Balasaheb Thackeray. The Sena chief’s prompt reply was worth noting: ” I have a big heart indeed, but people fail to understand this.”( Indian Express, July 19, 2007) Continue reading ‘Bal Thackeray’s Big Heart’ : Bombay Riot Victims Pe Mat Ro