By Haider Abbas
August 7, 2019
The final battle to the nation’s most vexed problem Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid title suit, which has bogged the country from the past seven decades, has started from onwards to August 6th, on the basis of a day-to-day hearing, which means i.e. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, in a constitution bench at the Supreme Court of India headed by Chief Justice of India Rajan Gogoi, Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer . This hearing in SC was necessitated after Muslim side and Hindu side, went ahead to challenge the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court judgement of Sep 30, 2010, in which one-third of Babri Masjid site was given to Muslim side and two-third of it to the Hindu sides.
The stage for day-to-day hearing had to be set, after the abysmal result of the mediation-process, which SC had ordered in March under retired SC Justice Khalifullah, Sri Sri Ravishanker and Sriram Panchu, failed to bring any solution, in fact this result was a foregone conclusion when one of the panelist Sri Sri Ravishanker is known to have been playing to the Hindutva gallery since more than a decade, had made it well clear, that was for a Mandir on the site where Babri Masjid stood, even before the mediation could start.
Since, the issue has now reached its historical juncture, and no doubt, it concerns every citizen of the country, whether religious, Hindu, Muslim, Communist or Agnostic, Sikh, Parsi, Dalit or Christian, as the destiny of the country will be carved out as a result of it. The Hindutva organisations (VHP, Bajrang Dal RSS etc) time and again, since decades, have openly declared that they would not abide by the SC judgement if it goes against them and Muslims have always maintained to go by it. The present UP BJP CM Yogi Adityanath, has as yet (August 4) expressed confidence that SC would respect the public (Hindu) sentiments which is nothing but intimidating the highest court to finally adhere to the making of Ram Temple on the demolished site of Babri Masjid.
BJP and its leaders, despite being in the highest of positions have never shied from bringing ignominy towards judicial institutions as who can forget BJP PM AB Vajpayee, famous retort on his visit to Staten Island., USA, in Sep 2000, that he was a Swamsevak (of RSS) first (not the PM) and no one would deny him that right, and only three months later, on demolition of Babri Masjid anniversary, on Dec 6, 2000, he had said that construction of Ram Temple is a ‘national sentiment’, howsoever painful Babri Masjid demolition might be for Muslims. RSS and its affiliates have always celebrated Dec 6 as a victory day (death anniversary of BR Ambedker too). Babri Masjid demolition accused LK Advani, MM Joshi, Vinay Katiyar and 49 others are nowhere even remotely close to be brought to justice, and on the contrary at the crest of power, whereas Muslim, are battered, bruised and down and not as yet out, as for Muslims, Babri Masjid, reclamation on its original site, warranted by the apex-court, is the only last recoup. There is no specific proof from any historical or archaeological, contemporary or near-contemporary source, which might prove, that a temple, much less the grand Ram Temple, or a Vikramaditya temple (1BC), was demolished and Babri Masjid built on it in 1528.
The Hindu side is euphoric as it has a brute majority in UP Assembly as well as in Centre. BJP cardinal promises i.e. to make Ram Temple on where Babri Masjid existed have always been enamoured hard on its every manifesto. Throughout the last five years, BJP and its allies did not let the issue be slipped and successfully kept its constituency engaged with it. Abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir has been done, Uniform Civil Code is now only a few steps behind as Triple Talaq Bill, mandating a Muslim for three years jail in case of utterance of instant triple Talaq has been accented by President Ram Nath Kovind, it can be anybody’s guess that BJP is too close to the fulfilment of its political affirmations, the final culmination of it would be Hindu Rajya (State) and not Hindu Rashtra (Nation) as that is what India has always been. The baton with which the Hindu rightist forces routinely accuse of every misfortune which befell the majority Hindus was for the inclusion of the terms ‘Secular’ and ‘Socialist’ into our Preamble whereas it is juxtaposed for Muslims, for having been wronged routinely and consistently since independence, whether with or without these words.
In these hard times, which have been unabated from at least since three decades, Muslims have picked up the cudgels to take on the Hindutva forces inside the SC. But, ironically, Muslims have not been alone in their strive as Hindus, quite incredibly, contributed to this endeavour too. This is the exact time to let the nation know of it. When Babri Masjid Action Committee was formed on Feb 6, 1986, five-days after the opening of Babri Masjid locks, Ram Shanker Upadhaya, a Saryupari Brahmin, from Basti UP, a staunch Lord Rama devotee, immediately went for Darshan but ended up as a witness from the Muslim side, before the Special Full Bench, hearing the case at High Court Lucknow.
Ram Shanker Upadhaya
I had the privilege to interview him on one of his visits to Lucknow in 2004. He was offered BJP ticket to withdraw his testimony from the HC but he did not budge. He was utterly convinced that Babur did not demolish Ram Temple and argued that Babri Masjid was built in 1528 and the great Hindu scholar Tuslidas wrote his magnum opus Ramcharitramanas in 1631 Samvat. By that standard Babri Masjid was 476 years old while Ramcharitramanas was written 429 years back. Had there been any demolition or even a demolition attempt then Tulsidas would certainly not have forgotten to elaborate, on a matter, which could be construed to be of extreme importance in relation to Lord Rama. He was truly in alignment with Akshay Brahamchari who expounded the cause of Babri Masjid since 1949, whom I had interviewed too.
Brahamchari had narrated to me his eye-witness accounts that he had got Hindus ready to remove the idols of Rama, which had been surreptitiously and stealthily placed inside Babri Masjid on Dec 22/23, 1949, but Faizabad DM KK Nayyer told him that CM Govind Ballabh Pant was not in Lucknow and Chief Secretary ICS Bhagwan Sahay had asked him to let the things remain-the-same until the CM arrives. Brahamchari was secretary-general of Congress in Faizabad and 27 years of age then. He had further told me that after the murder of MK Gandhi, RSS had to submit a Muafinama (apology letter), which had humiliated it, and then RSS devised a yagna near Babri Masjid, at Ganj-e-Shaheeda, (the graveyard of Muslims), adjacent Babri Masjid, and Hindu Mahasabha Digvijay Nath, Bhao Rao Deoras (the then UP in-change of RSS), along with DM connived and idols were put inside in Babri Masjid which was followed by RSS men uprooting Muslim graves and five of them were implicated too. Brahamchari remained true to his commitment to Babri Masjid and met PM Rajiv Gandhi as well as PM Narsimha Rao to relate the concerns of restoration of Babri Masjid to Muslims, until he breathed his last in May 2010 in Lucknow. RS Uphadhaya is also no more.
It may be as interesting to note that Muslim side, as a part of its oral evidence produced 28 witnesses and their testimonies were recorded well into 3343 pages, out of the overall 13,426 pages which ran into 54 volumes and which have now been translated and put before the SC. The number of Hindus who appeared on behalf of the Muslim side are a staggering 10 with one Parsi as Prof Shireen Ratnagar. Prof Ram Sharan Sharma was the founding Chairman of the prestigious Indian Council for Historical Research, and it was in the same office where Zafaryab Jilani, the co-convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee met him along with Mushtaq Ahmed Siddiqui-an eminent lawyer, hailing from Faizabad and one of the key persons of BMAC. RS Sharma testified from the Muslim side in HC. Muhammed Azam Khan is the other co-convenor.
Babri Masjid campaign would never be complete unless the yeoman services of the kind of eminent historians, lawyers and archaeologists like Prof DN Jha, Prof Shireen Moosvi, Prof D Mandal, Prof Suraj Bhan, Prof Supriya Verma, Prof Shireen Ratnagar, Prof Jaya Menon, Prof Sitaram Rai, Prof Suresh Chandra Misra, Prof Susheel Srivastava who also wrote a book on Babri Masjid, are to be emblazoned for their tryst with justice and law. It is also to be put to record that these personalities were given their TA/DA by virtue of an order by Justice UC Srivastava and Justice Haider Abbas passed in 1989 that ‘state shall pay for it’, or otherwise it would have been very hard for the funds-stricken BMAC. The Hindu side could not fathom a single Muslim appear on its behalf! One small time archaeologist KK Muhammed, who suffers from foot-in-mouth disease, duly awarded Padam Shri by Narendra Modi government in 2019, parroted the Hindutva line, of an existing Ram Temple below Babri Masjid, which the Muslim side totally bulldozed as ASI was by itself hell bent to establish the temple-theory, whereas the fact is that below the Babri Masjid site were other mosques facing Mecca.
The BMAC story is just an assimilation of a bunch of lawyers, who forsake everything for Babri Masjid, it was run solely on the inherent sentiment of Muslims to safeguard Babri Masjid, despite what can be called as a cardinal-wrong step to restrict itself only to the litigation side of Babri Masjid and withdraw it as a public campaign. It may be noted that BMAC had only once asked from its district committees to collect Rs 5000 each, so as to look into legal expenses, and 22 districts responded. Abdul Mannan, its counsel of great repute, often would ask Ali Miyan Nadwi, who helped and once would mobilise funds of Rs 25000, and as its result BMAC engaged RK Garg, to file the case on behalf of Sunni Central Waqf Board in 1986. Garg was an eminent lawyer who was to charge 55000 but for Babri Masjid took a very concessional amount. MS Ganesh also provided with his legal acumen without charging anything. The incredible help and advises from Prof Irfan Habib, Prof Athar Ali, both from AMU, also helped cement the Babri Masjid campaign to a great extent. After the demolition of Babri Masjid, all the expenses have been borne by All India Muslim Personal Law Board. Ali Mian was its chairman.
The role of SS Ray deserves special mention, as after the opening of locks of Babri Masjid, he was in Delhi and Governor Punjab, amid Punjab militancy, and met Abdul Manna and Zafaryab Jilani, and offered his legal services to the Babri Masjid cause at no fee. He asked to place him anywhere on his visits to Lucknow and stayed in Clarks Avadh hotel, his sense of belonging for Babri Masjid kept him going and he visited last in 2009 and did not even take travelling expenses too. After the disastrous Sep 30, 2010 judgement, he wanted it be contested lock stock barrel and Zafaryab Jilani went to Kolkata with the draft of appeal to which he gave his valuable suggestions. Also worthy of him is to contend that he had offered to resign from his ambassador rank in Washington, in the wake of demolition of Babri Masjid to which Zayaryab Jilani had advised him otherwise on phone. The commendable role played by senior counsel Rajeev Dhawan, who was a Law Professor in England, and was advised by CJI Venkatchaliah to come back to India, fought the Babri Masjid case in Ismail Farooqui Vs Union of India (1994) case without charging fee. Soli Sohrabjee was also to charge a very concessional fee of Rs 7500 from BMAC and Kapil Sibal had got it conveyed through Huzaifa Ahmadi to contest from Babri Masjid side without charging anything. Huzaifa is from the family of former CJI AM Ahmadi.
The presence of such luminaries, who arguably are institutions unto themselves, with Hindu denominations, are million times better than those hordes of Muslims who were advising BMAC not to challenge the Sep 30, 2010 order and have campaigned for Ram Temple since then. I am not a religious authority but can vouch that such people have usurped the cause of Prophet Muhammed and have betrayed the basic tenets of Islam and are always to be condemned by it. It may also be specifically pointed out that Congress PM Rajiv Gandhi who is credited to have got organised Shilanyas (foundation laying ceremony) for Ram Temple, apart from getting the locks of Babri Masjid opened up, for which Congress tally came down to 197 after losing 217 seats in 1989 parliament, had afterthoughts by 1990, and had got it conveyed through SS Ray that he wanted to meet BMAC.
BMAC made it clear that unless Home Minister Buta Singh would be there the meeting would be fruitless and Rajiv Gandhi acceded. During the meeting Rajiv Gandhi expressed displeasure that he was grossly misled by his cousin (Arun Nehru on Ayodhya issue) and called Fotedar to bring in his letter. He read it and got inserted the word ‘living’ before Ram Temple that whether it was demolished to bring up Babri Masjid on it, and which was to be founded by five sitting SC judges. The bench was to be constituted based on a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Parsi judges. He would say to Zafaryab Jilani that both of them knew that the finding won’t get against Muslims and all he wanted was BMAC not oppose his letter which he intended to leak to press. BMAC approved. The bench could not be constituted as the then CJI Ranganath Misra could not spare five SC judges for the bench.
Ironically, it is now a five judges bench hearing the final of this case, but under the extreme communal cauldron around in the country, where Muslims are being lynched on streets for not uttering Jai Shri Ram, their beards snatched, their women veils burnt and Hindu mobs raiding Muslim inhabitations with open threats to go to Pakistan (under state patronage), perhaps, despite the worst of the riots in India, never such a hard time has befallen on Muslims, yet Muslims are with their die-hard trust in the judiciary of the nation which is the only hope despite hoping against hope.
The words of CJI Rajan Gogoi are no doubt incredibly assuring when he in his recently written piece in The Indian Express contended that the need of the hour is for judiciary to stand to the populist regimes (https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/cji-ranjan-gogoi-need-to-equip-judiciary-to-deal-with-forces-of-populism-5789192/). CJI is to retire on November 7.
Hindutva forces want Muslims to be revenged upon for what the Muslim rule did over India for centuries and want to extract with vengeance the partition of India which is reality was only the partition of Muslim majority states i.e. Punjab and Bengal, then why Muslims spread across whole of India are getting smoked out in chambers which were invisible yesterday (since 1947) and have now only become visible and over board.
Haider Abbas has written extensively on Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid issue, is a lawyer, journalist and former UP State Information Commissioner.
Source: The Countercurrent