25 years ago, on 6th December 1992, Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya city of Uttar Pradesh on the grounds that the property was the birthplace of Lord Ram. The incident not only opened gates to the biggest and perhaps the ugliest religious conflicts in Indian history but it also challenged the secularity of the nation.
The entire incident was about Babri mosque in UP which is claimed by some Hindus to be the birthplace of Lord Rama where a previous Hindu temple was demolished to construct the Babri Masjid in 1528. However, it’s a mystery which hasn’t been solved yet.
It’s been 25 years since the demolition of the mosque took place but there hasn’t been any clear-cut verdict in all these years. Until 1885, it was worshipped by both Hindus and Muslims but a petition by the head of Nirmohi Akhara changed everything when he asked for the permission to worship Lord Rama inside the mosque.
This created an utterly unfortunate situation in the country leading to several riots, mass killings, and affected the harmony of the citizens in the years that followed. Here is a timeline of events to give you a crux of the entire incident-
The first recorded violent incident on the property took place in 1853 and in the year 1859 British administration built a fence, allowing the inner court to Muslims while the outer one was for the Hindus.
In 1885, as mentioned above, the head of Nirmohi Akhara asked to perform prayers inside the mosque. This was followed by a verdict in 1886 by the district judge of Faizabad court stating that it was “too late now to remedy the grievance”.
In 1949, idols of Lord Ram were allegedly placed inside the mosque by the Hindus which infuriated the Muslims. This led to protests and eventually both parties filed civil suits. The area was declared disputed and was locked up.
In 1984, a committee led by Vishwa Hindu Parishad was formed and decided to build a temple for Lord Ram. BJP Leader Lal Krishna Advani headed the campaign.
District judge ordered for the doors of the disputed area to be opened for Hindus in 1886 which led to Muslims setting up Babri Mosque Action Committee in response.
VHP laid the foundation of a temple for Lord Ram adjacent to the mosque in 1989.
In 1990, VHP volunteers partially damage the mosque but the then PM Chandra Shekhar failed to resolve the issue through negotiations.
BJP came to power in UP in 1991 and in the next year 1992, the Masjid was torn down by a group consisting of VHP, Shiv Sena and BJP leading to riots killing 2,000 people.
A coalition government was formed by BJP in 1998 under PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
In 2001, VHP again pledged to build the temple at the site on the anniversary of the demolition incident.
In Feb 2002, BJP backed out from the construction of temple while VHP declared 15th March as the deadline to start the construction. Volunteers gathered on the site and a train carrying Hindu activists was attacked in Godhra, killing 58 people.
In March 2002, around 2,000 people were killed in Gujarat riots. In April 2002, three High Court judges began hearings to decide the actual owner of the site.
A survey in August 2003 suggested that evidence of temple was found beneath the mosque but Muslims didn’t agree to the findings. In September, in the same year, a court ruled that 7 Hindu leaders should stand trial for the demolition of the mosque, however, Lal Krishna Advani wasn’t charged despite his presence.
In October 2004, Mr. Advani said that the party was still committed to building the temple and in November, the court demands the earlier order exonerating Advani to be reviewed.
Suspected Islamic militants attacked the disputed site and blew a hole in the wall of the complex in July 2005.
In June 2009, the Liberhan commission submitted its report on the investigation of the demolition incident and in November 2009, there was an uproar in the parliament as leading Hindu nationalists from BJP were blamed for the incident.
In September 2010, the site was divided by Allahabad High Court into three sections for Muslims, Nirmohi Akhara, and Hindus. The main disputed section was allotted to Hindus which didn’t go down well with the Muslim community.
In May 2011, Supreme Court suspended High Court ruling.
In Feb 2016, Supreme Court permitted BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy to intervene with the Ayodhya dispute seeking construction of the temple.
In March 2017, the apex court heard CBI’s plea to invoke conspiracy charges against top politicians.
December 5th, 2017 was the latest hearing of the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid case at the Supreme Court. However, the current atmosphere was cited unsuitable for the matter and another date for the next hearing on February 8, 2018, was given.