The History and Legacy of the Ram Janambhoomi Movement

The 6th of December, 1992 could be regarded as the most important event in the history of independent India. The date has assumed such enormous significance that the entire political history of India since independence can be divided into pre-06/12/92 and post it. Of course, mere words cannot impress upon people the importance of the events of that day when the Babri Masjid fell and our politics, to this day, continues to be affected by the events that transpired during that epoch.

The Ayodhya dispute is not merely a disagreement marked by a cataclysmic event, it is an indictment. It is an indictment of the institutions of our state, it is an indictment of our Judiciary that has failed to reach a decisive verdict thus far, it is an indictment of our legislature that has failed to respect the religious sentiments of a long-oppressed people, it is an indictment of the political landscape of our country that has little respect for our civilizational memory.

Indeed, the Ayodhya dispute is the harshest indictment of our Judiciary. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court did pronounce a verdict in the matter where the disputed land was to be divided into equal portions between three entities: Lord Rama represented by the Hindu Mahasabha, Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara. But only a couple of months later, an appeal was filed against the verdict in the Supreme Court and it has been languishing in the highest court of the country ever since. It reflects poorly on the Judiciary of independent India that a dispute on such a critical matter has been languishing in the courts since 1949 when civil suits were first filed in independent India for ownership of the plot. Indeed, it is the longest running civil dispute in the country and dates back to 1885.

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“I visited the land in dispute yesterday in the presence of all parties. I found that the Masjid built by Emperor Babur stands on the border of Ayodhya, that is to say, to the west and south it is clear of habitations. It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to agree with the grievances.” These are the words that were uttered by the District Judge, Faizabad in 1886 when Mahant Raghubar Das moved the Courts to seek permission to build a Ram Mandir outside the Babri premises. We were not an independent country then but we are now and the righting of a historical wrong committed on its people is the duty and a true test of sovereignty for any newly independent nation.

Hindus have been struggling hard for a Mandir at Janambhoomi in the Courts for decades. And it could be argued that Judges during the early years of independent India were respectful of Hindu sentiments and made several concessions. On the 16th of January, 1950, a civil suit was filed by a certain Gopal Singh Visharad in the Faizabad Court requesting that he be allowed to offer prayers to worship Shri Rama at His birthplace and a permanent injunction against the removal of Idols from the Masjid. It is pertinent to mention that Hindus in 1949 had managed smuggle Idols of Rama and other Deities inside the Masjid.

Modifying his earlier judgment on the 19th of January, 1950, the Judge ruled, “The parties are hereby restrained by means of the temporary injunction to refrain from removing the idols in question from the site of dispute and from interfering with the puja, etc, as at present carried on.” The Judge again confirmed his interim order a year later on the 3rd of March. “The undisputed fact remains that on the date of this suit the idols of Shri Bhagwan Ram Chandra and others did exist on the site and that worship was being performed…though under some restrictions put by the executives.”

One of the most momentous events was perhaps the opening of the gates of the Masjid to Hindu devotees following a court order in 1986. The foundations for the construction of the Mandir were perhaps laid down at that opportune moment. Arif Mohammad Khan, a senior politician who is claimed to have been involved in the thick of events, has stated that the gates of the Babri were opened to Hindus as part of a deal between Muslim leaders and the Congress party. According to him, it was a balancing act to ameliorate the sentiments of Hindus after Rajiv Gandhi succumbed to the Muslim fundamentalists and reversed the Supreme Court judgment on the Shah Bano case. “The announcement to reverse the SC judgement (Shah Bano case) and the removal of the locks happened within a span of two weeks. This to most people appeared as a balancing act and they hoped that now both the agitating parties would feel satisfied,” Khan told IANS in an interview. Khan had previously parted ways with Rajiv Gandhi following the latter’s capitulation to the Muslim clergy.

The facts on the matter, however, are abundantly clear although it is disputed by Marxist historians and certain Muslim bodies. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) confirmed in 2003 after an excavation that structures under the Babri had “distinctive features associated with temples of north India”. Dr Meenakshi Jain, PhD from Delhi University who specializes in cultural studies, eloquently puts forth the mounting body of archaeological and historical evidence of a Temple that was destroyed at the site in a talk for the Srijan Foundation.

Apart from the archaeological evidence, there is also a great deal of evidence which suggests that the site has been sacred for Hindus for centuries and Shri Rama’s association with it. There are multiple accounts from the 16th, 17th and the 18th centuries which mention Hindus offering prayers at what they believed was the birthplace of the King of Ayodhya. Even according to official records from the past, the Babri Masjid was called Masjid-i-Janmasthan. According to British sources as well, Hindus offered prayers at the site in the 19th century.

The dispute exposes the Marxist ecosystem which conspired to deny Hindus the right to worship Shri Rama at His birthplace. Dr K.K. Mohammed, former Regional Director (North) of the ASI, says in his autobiography that Leftist historians prevented an amicable settlement of the Ayodhya dispute. He claimed that an excavation at the site in 1978 by a team of archaeologists he was a member of found evidence of a Hindu Temple. The team was headed by Professor B.B. Lal, then director general of ASI. “The Babri issue would have been settled long ago if the Muslim intelligentsia had not fallen prey to the brainwashing by the Leftist historians. A set of historians including Romila Thapar, Bipin Chandra and S Gopal argued that there was no mention of the dismantling of the temple before the 19th century and Ayodhya is Bhudhist-Jain centre. They were supported by historians Irfan Habib, RS Sharma, DN Jha, Suraj Ben and Akthar Ali,” he told Firstpost.

Thus, we see a Judiciary that hasn’t been able to deliver a final verdict on the Ayodhya dispute for decades. We see a political climate where regular concessions are made to Hindus to ensure that political parties don’t suffer electorally. We see an academia that actively pursues the subversion of history to deny Hindus their right. India was partitioned in 1947 and the entire swathe of land was converted to an Islamic country where the lives of Hindus became hell and continues to be hell and yet after all these years, Hindus do not even have the Bhavya Ram Mandir they so desperately seek.

We can all agree with the fact that what happened during the Ram Janambhoomi movement and the subsequent demolition was by no means an ordinary sequence of events. Kameshwar Chaupal is a Dalit Karyakarta who was awarded the honour of laying the first brick for the foundations of the Mandir at Ram Janambhoomi. He told a magazine, “I can tell you that no one could have stopped that tide. I don’t know what happened. There were walls that kar sevaks brought down with their bare shoulders. We would shout and say, ‘Runaway, the wall will fall on you,’ but nobody listened. They were under some sort of spell.” Chaupal compared the Ram Janambhoomi movement to a War. Chaupal says, “In a battle, only Gods are invoked. We don’t say, ‘Gandhiji ki jai, Nehru ki jai’. We say, ‘Jai Bhavani, Har Har Mahadev’.”

The entire country was catapulted into a different trajectory that day. The rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party can be attributed to the days of the Ram Janambhoomi Movement and the Hindu consolidation that it ignited. The BJP has come a long way since then and yet, there appears to be no certainty with regards to the Temple. However, there is plenty to be optimistic about regarding the future. Hindu issues have gathered momentum and there is a conscious awareness among Hindus about the need to preserve our identity and the imminent dangers that it is faced with. The rise of Narendra Modi has also felicitated and inspired many to render their service for the cause of the Hindu civilization.

The results of the Ram Janambhoomi movement also highlights the limited scope of success for activism about Hindu issues. Hindu intellectuals appear to be of the opinion that the reason the Left is so successful is that they are more effective at activism than Hindus. That, if Hindus take to the streets to highlight the injustices they suffer, their concerns will be taken seriously and they might achieve their goal. In reality, the matter is slightly more complicated. The Ram Janambhoomi movement was by far more potent than any march or rally the Left has been able to organize in India ever. And yet, the Left has achieved success in almost every case it focuses its activism on but even after almost three decades after the Babri demolition, there isn’t any certainty regarding a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.

Thus, it demonstrates that the reason the Left has achieved so much success is not their activism. The real reason the Left has succeeded, it appears, is because they have managed to indoctrinate the elites of our country about the superiority of their ideas. And as a consequence, their ideas have come to dominate the corridors of power where decisions on important policies that govern the country are made. And unless and until Hindus can occupy the corridors of power themselves, their activism will not bear fruit. The actual purpose of activism is merely to demonstrate that the policies that the Left wants to impose, and probably will impose anyway regardless of public opinion, have popular support.

There is certain vibrancy among political Hindus these days and an urgency is felt to establish a political climate and an academia that respects Hindu concerns and pays homage to the ancient history of our nation. It will, of course, take time for such endeavours to yield fruits. They will falter and fall and rise again over a long period of time before they taste success. It is easy to lose confidence and quit but patience is the key. They have indeed been granted a great boon when Narendra Modi emerged on the national scene. His immense popularity grants them the space they need to learn from their mistakes so that they can succeed in the future. Amidst all these developments, we should remember all that we are witnessing today in Indian politics is a consequence of the Ram Janambhoomi movement.

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