The history of the struggle for the reclamation of Ram Janmabhoomi in Independent India begins on a fateful night in 1949. Murtis of Shri Rama and Sita Mata ‘miraculously appeared’ within the premises of the Babri Masjid. However, as such things often are, it was less a miracle and more a tale of human ingenuity and the devotion that people bear towards their Gods.
An FIR was registered on the 23rd of December, 1949 by Ram Dubey, officer-in-charge of the police station in the area recorded the following FIR: At about 7 AM I reached Janam Bhoomi, I came to know from the constable Mata Pershad who was on duty, that in the night 50 to 60 persons had entered in the mosque by breaking lock, scaled the walls , established the idols of Shri Ram Lalla, written with geru and yellow colours on the wall ‘Shri Ram’. Constable Hans Raj who was present on duty at that time told them not to act in that manner but they failed to listen to him. The PAC force which was posted there was called but by the time it reached there, they had already entered the mosque.”
The Central and State governments were not pleased with what happened. There are certain indications that the governments wanted the Murtis removed in order to maintain communal harmony in the country. However, there was one man who cautioned against such a move and warned that removing the Murtis could prove to be catastrophic. It was the District Magistrate of Faizabad, K.K. Nayar, whose will ultimately prevailed and the Murtis remained within the premises even though the compound was locked.
As it so happened, the Murtis were placed inside the Masjid by Baba Abhayram Das who is believed to have been from the Nirmohi Akhada. Nayar, during his communications with the governments, maintained that there was no credible forewarning about the event. The rumours that were circulating about Baba Abhayram Das’ intentions of installing the Murtis there were not deemed credible because of his obscurity.
Nayar further argued with reference to Kashi and Mathura that the Murtis could be removed in a discreet fashion but it would have administrative consequences and raise questions about administrative bankruptcy and tyranny. He further argued that removal of the Murtis in such a manner would tantamount to interference with his administrative and judicially justifiable order. He also suggested that a solution that did not involve the removal of the Murtis could be found.
The District Magistrate also asserted that there would be a threat to public peace if the idols were to be removed. He further said that there was a unity of belief among Hindus that the Murtis should not be removed regardless of what they thought about how they were installed. He also said that no one was available to remove the idols in accordance with Hindu rituals. Nayar, at the same time, agreed that the act of the installation of the Murtis was in itself illegal. Most importantly, he said that he would rather be relieved of his duties than further aggravate the already situation.
The situation then was ‘pregnant with the possibility of future riots’, Nayar said and he suggested an amicable settlement between the two communities. He informed the government that thousands of licensed firearms owners had promised support against the Police should the Murtis be removed. Nayar also said that there was a popular demand to unlock the gates of the Temple. He also appeared distressed that a slogan had become popular among the people which went “Nayar anyay karna chhod do, Nayar Bhagwan ka phatak khol do”.
The end result of it all was that the idols were not removed and they stayed where they were. Later, on the 19th of January, 1950, an injunction was issued restraining the government from removing them which was then affirmed five years later by the High Court. Permission to conduct worship was also granted but the inner courtyard was locked. And thus, the struggle for Ram Janmabhoomi became dormant for the next three decades.
There were numerous unanswered questions about what happened on that fateful night. Since then, some answers have surfaced. And as it would appear, Nayar was not merely a District Magistrate who refused to remove the Murtis despite instructions. He was an intrinsic part of the plan to install the Murtis in the first place.
In their book, Ayodhya: The Dark Night, Krishna Jha and Dhirendra K Jha wrote, “The idea that eventually changed the politics of India, though much later than its originators had anticipated, emerged for the first time among three friends—Maharaja Pateshwari Prasad Singh, head of the princely state of Balrampur, Mahant Digvijai Nath, and KK Nayar”. Baba Abhayram Das only carried out the plan that was hatched by these individuals in the first place.
Not too long after the fateful night, Nayar was accused of ‘dereliction of his duty’ and was forced to quit the service. Mahant Digvijay Nath mentioned here is none other than the then Mahant of Gorakhnath Muth, whose spiritual descendant is Yogi Adityanath. As it so often happens with such events, it cannot be said conclusively whether these individuals were indeed involved in the planning and execution of the installation of the Murtis. But there appears to be some indications about their involvement.
As per reports, after the Supreme Court verdict paving the way for the construction of a Bhavya Ram Mandir at Ram Janmabhoomi was announced, VHP’s International General Secretary, visited Yogi Adityanath’s house and told him that the Ram Temple was ‘the fruit of labour’ of the two generation of Gurus of the Chief Minister, Mahant Avaidyanath and Mahant Digvijay Nath of Gorakhnath Muth, and it was fitting that the temple would be built during his tenure as Chief Minister.
The only event of note that happened during the lifetime of Mahant Digvijay Nath was the installation of the Murtis. It is also said that he was the chief architect of the plan. It is also said that Mahant Digvijay Nath was the first to realize that the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement had the potential to unite Hindus under a single banner. As it were, the Murtis were installed after a nine-day recitation of Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas which was organized by the Mahant himself.
KK Nayar went on to contest elections on a Jan Sangh ticket and was elected to the Lok Sabha as their representative. According to a report on the Wall Street Journal, a disciple of Baba Abhayram Das told the journalist that he was told by his Guru that K.K. Nayar and Guru Dutt Singh, who was also fired from service, worked with his Guru on how the Murtis may be installed within the Masjid. It is also said both, Singh (the Faizabad city magistrate at the time) and Nayar were aware how furious the Nehru government would be and had made up their minds that they would rather resign than remove the Murtis.
The story that began that night culminated eventually with the verdict on the 9th of November, 2019. Over the centuries, a countless number of individuals have fought for Ram Janmabhoomi. In Independent India, the struggle was rekindled by these individuals. The spark that was lit on the fateful night of Winter, 1949 would eventually alter the future of the entire country. It could verily be argued that the rise of Hindutva from a fringe ideology in the corridors of power at the time of independence to becoming the greatest political force in the country began on the 23rd of December, 1949.
Sources: The Liberhan Commission Report, media reports