New Delhi: There was a “planned” and “surreptitious attack” to put idols inside the Babri masjid at Ayodhya on the intervening night of 22-23 December 1949 and some officials connived with Hindus and refused to remove them, Muslim parties said in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
A 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, hearing the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute on 18th day, was told by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan representing Muslim parties that the then Deputy Commissioner of Faizabad KK Nayar did not allow removal of idols despite a specific direction.
“The appearance of idols of deities inside Babri was not a miracle. It was a planned and surreptitious attack to put them on the intervening night of 22-23 December 1949,” Dhavan told the bench, also comprising justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.
The lawyer, representing Sunni Waqf Board and one of the original litigants, M Siddiq, claimed that he knew the “inside story” and said that Nayar later contested Lok Sabha polls as a candidate of Bharatiya Jan Sangh.
On 16 December 1949, Nair sent a letter to the chief secretary of the state stating that a grand temple constructed by Vikramaditya was existing there before that was demolished by Babur in 1528, Dhavan said, adding, “This was Mr Nayar’s contribution”. He referred to photographs of internal parts of disputed site cited by Hindu parties and alleged that government officers including Nayar had violated the order to maintain ‘status quo’ at the site, which was attached on 5 January 1950 following the placing of idols inside, by allowing capturing of pictures. “They (pictures) had no effects on the merits of the case,” the bench observed.
“Of course, they have. Because they have been used to say that treat it like a temple,” Dhavan said, adding that the photographs allegedly contained sketches of Gods, Goddess, lotus and peacock and have been used by Hindus.
Dhavan said Hindus did not allow Muslims to pray and then said Muslims never offered ‘namaz’ since 1934. “They say that the law of limitation and the doctrine of adverse possession will run against you because we did not allow you to possess and worship,” he said, countering the submissions that Muslims were not in possession and never offered prayers regularly.
“As a matter of fact, was there any action taken by Muslims,” the bench asked. Dhavan said that Muslims had complained to Wakf Inspector about it.
The keys of the site were with the Muslim side and they could not enter to offer prayer because it was locked after the attachment in 1950 and police did not let them in and they were scared.
The bench then asked as to whether the witness, who had alleged that Muslims were not allowed inside, was cross-examined. “We are only on the veracity of the statement of the witness”.
Documents showed the Muslim community had been offering prayers on Fridays in the inner courtyard, Dhavan argued and referred to the sequence of events to highlight that Hindus planned to install idols and the local administration did not act despite the fact that there was a report in March 1949 to this effect that something untoward may happen. He referred to Jerusalem and said that it can be argued that two religious places were existing, but contending that there was no mosque would amount to telling a lie.
Dhavan extensively dealt with the alleged contradictions in the pleadings in two lawsuits filed by Hindu parties, Nirmohi Akahara and deity Ram Lalla. He said ‘Akahara’ opposes the lawsuits of the deity and alleged that the case filed by “Ram Lalla’ was “malicious” and the deity can only file the lawsuit through the shebait (devotee).
Dealing with the submission of ‘Swaymbhu’, he said that if the court accepts this then the entire land, due to the faith and spirit of the Hindu devotees, would assume the character of the divine and Muslims will be out of the suit property and as per Hindus “the janmasthan itself becomes the deity”. He said ‘parikrama’ is one of the forms of worshipping and it can be used to claim entitlement over the property.
The bench said the deity and the ‘Janmsthan’ the (birthplace) have been made separate parties just to delineate the ‘birthplace of Lord Ram.
The bench asked Dhavan whether the claim of deity over the land, besides the central dome, rests on the ‘Swaymbhu’ arguments only. It asked can the deity, which has been granted central dome as its birthplace, can claim ownership over other places inside the site as there were ‘Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi’ also. He said that Akhara was “impatient” and has filed the case to seek management and shebait right only and they are not seeking the title of the property.
The akhara has made government officials as parties in its lawsuit filed 1959 and has alleged that Muslims conspired to get its property attached in 1950.
The Muslim community supports the lawsuit of Akahara to the extent that it opposes the case of the deity, he said, adding that Akahara had alleged that the idols, which were put on ‘Ram Chabutara’ in the outer courtyard, were shifted to the inner courtyard and Muslims support it.
Dhavan would continue his arguments on Wednesday.
Why the Muslim party’s 1949 argument does not wash
As explained in an article on Sirf News published in March this year, the Hindu history of Ayodhya, in general, and the disputed plot, in particular, is much older than 1949. “There were temples — rather than one temple — on the plot, built in different eras of history by different kings,” Narad wrote in the piece, giving examples chronologically of the Ashokan Brahmi inscriptions (1000 – 300 BC), mother goddess, human and animal figurines in terracotta (200 BC); beads, hairpins, pottery, human and animal figurines, remnants of beads, bangle fragments, votive tanks, ceramics with redware and large-sized structures (100 – 300 AD), a copper coin with the legend Sri Chandra (Gupta), and illustrative potsherds of the Gupta period (320 – 600 AD) and a huge structure of almost 50m in north-south orientation (11th-12th centuries).
The article narrates further how the Muslim community had blissfully forgotten the ‘mosque’ until “some ascetics of the Nirmohi Akhara (one of the three parties to the dispute at the court) claimed Hindu ownership of the place and offered prayers inside the structure in 1853”.
The Allahabad High Court, in its judgment of 2010 on four civil lawsuits, had partitioned the 2.77-acre disputed land equally among the three parties Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the Supreme Court against the verdict.