In the last day of hearings in the Ayodhya case in Supreme Court, a vigorous debate led to an unseemly situation today while senior advocate Vikas Singh was pleading on behalf of the Hindu Mahasabha. Lawyer of the Muslim side, Rajeev Dhavan tore apart a map presented by Singh into shreds in a fit of rage.
Senior advocate Singh had taken this map from former IPS Kishore Kunal’s book Ayodhya Revisited and presented it in court. The book was published in 2016. The book says that Mir Baqi did not demolish any temple in Ayodhya in 1528. Rather it was razed in 1660 by Aurangzeb’s relative Fidai Khan.
The book says that Babur was a “liberal” ruler and had no role in the construction of the disputed Babri Masjid. It claims further that there was only one piece of evidence in Ayodhya that proved Mir Baqi had broken a temple following instructions to that effect from Babur. The evidence was in the shape of two inscriptions. Kunal’s book says that the story about a temple demolition by Mir Baqi is a lie. If one thought this narrative suited the Muslim party to the dispute, read on.
Ayodhya Revisited claims further that the disputed structure, which was demolished on 6 December 1992, was not the Babri Masjid. According to the book, there is enough evidence that there used to be a Ram temple right here. The book states that, according to Buchanan’s records, temples of Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura were demolished during Aurangzeb’s reign.
According to Kunal, 12 new documents were added to his book for the first time to prove the claim of Ram temple.
On Wednesday, senior advocate Singh of the Hindu Mahasabha tried to present the same book in the court and said that there was no mention of breaking a temple and building the Babri mosque in Baburnama. According to the former IPS, most temples were demolished during Aurangzeb’s time.
Lawyer Singh said that Kunal’s book was accepted as a record in the court. He claimed that there were three maps in the book where the exact birthplace of Lord Rama was inscribed.
Dhavan objected to the citation from the book. He said the other side was making a joke of the court’s proceedings, to which Singh said it was Dhavan who was turning the hearing session into a farce.
Dhavan objected to the map used in Kunal’s book, too. The lawyer for the Muslim side kept raising objections even when Singh cited material evidence from other sources like an unpublished survey by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton. It was during this presentation that Dhavan took the map from the documents submitted in the court and tore it into five pieces.
CJI Gogoi reacted strongly to Dhavan’s behaviour and the tiff between the lawyers of the Hindu and Muslim sides that ensued after Dhavan’s discourteous act. The CJI observed that one of the parties to the case was creating an atmosphere which is not conducive to trial. He said the court could not continue the hearing in this way.
“People are standing up and speaking out of turn. We can stand now and end the proceedings of the case, too,” the CJI threatened after which both Dhavan and Singh settled down.
Hearing concludes after ruckus by Dhavan
The hearing of the case in the Supreme Court has been completed. A five-member constitutional bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi today reserved its decision. The CJI is due to retire on 18 November. The verdict of this historic case may come before that.
The Hindu and Muslim sides made their arguments for 40 days after it was decided that the hearing in the case would be held daily.
Did Sunni Waqf Board propose truce?
In an interesting development today, which several pro-Hindu members of the legal fraternity are interpreting as the Muslim side sensing defeat, the Sunni Waqf Board offered three conditions, which they would abide by if Muslims were to hand over the disputed site in Ayodhya to Hindus.
The board said
- It was ready to give up the claim to the disputed site in Ayodhya, provided
- The Places of Religious Worship Act 1991 is made watertight
- Government takes over the maintenance of around 22 mosques in Ayodhya
- The Supreme Court forms a committee to check into the status of other religious places under ASI’s control.
The last part of the last condition is being seen as a veiled reference to thousands of mosques and other Islamic structures built across the country in the medieval period on razed temples, the most prominent of them being the Gyanvapi Mosque on razed, original Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Shahi Idgah overlooking Lord Krishna’s birthplace in Mathura where stood the Keshavdeva temple. Aurangzeb had ordered the demolition of the original Kashi Vishwanath temple in 1669 and that of the Keshavdeva temple in 1670.
This report by Network 18, however, has been denied by Muslim plaintiff Haji Mehboob who claims no such formula for truce has been proposed by the Sunni Waqf Board.
To know why the Hindu Mahasabha lawyer is challenging the otherwise popular theory in the Hindu community, it must be noted that the Hindu parties to the dispute have never spoken in one voice. While Nirmohi Akhara stakes claim to the temple based on the fact that a person they claim to be of their cult had resumed worship of Lord Rama in the site in the 19th century, the lawyer of Ram Lalla Virajman bases his argument on the Hindu heritage as a whole.
The lawyers for Ram Lalla Virajman are former Attorney General K Parasaran, former Solicitor General Harish Salve, former additional solicitor General CS Vaidyanathan, Advocates PS Narasimha, Ranjit Kumar and Shyam Diwan. But it’s a much larger battery of lawyers including Singh that does teamwork on research. It is not important for the Hindu side legally to establish the theory that is popular in the masses. All that needs to be proved is that a temple existed on the spot before the Babri structure came up right there and stood ground between the 16th century and 6 December 1992. Whether the temple was of Lord Rama or Lord Vishnu is secondary.
While Sirf News has posted articles and reports in the past saying that different kings contributed to the Hindu place of worship in different eras since 1,000 BCE, the history of medieval India is sketchy, as it appeared largely in the Persian script and suffered badly from biases of the Muslim kings who commissioned historians. The haphazard approach to history continued in the nation until the British rulers commissioned some of their officers to standardise Indian history in their own fashion.
Thereafter, in disturbed periods such as the mutiny or India’s first struggle for independence in 1857, even British-written history of India suffered as Muslim scholars needed to translate from Persian to English the histories commissioned by Islamic kings since the beginning of the last millennium either refused to cooperate with the British Empire or the situation of the time was politically too volatile for academic pursuits.
Therefore, first, Baburnama cannot be considered an honest and authentic history of the epoch of Babur. Second, due to the sketchy nature of Indian history of the medieval era, the account of one historian may not match that of another, thus confounding both Hindu and Muslim parties to the Ayodhya dispute. Third, in this scenario, archaeological findings must be considered the most reliable of all pieces of evidence. In that purview, there is no difference between the arguments of lawyers on the Hindu side; they all agree the Babri structure was preceded by a temple on that very spot.