Ramlala’s advent to brutal killing of Karsewaks : In 1949, after India had earned freedom from British rule and Muslims under Jinnah had carved out a separate Islamic state of Pakistan dividing the motherland, large gatherings of Ramayan recitation began in and around the site. On the mid-night of 22nd December 1949, Ram-lala is said to have ‘appeared’ as testified by the Muslim constable on duty that night. This lead to a handful of Hindus gather on the site at night only and install the idols of Ramlala. By the morning of 23rd December 1949, the news of Ram-lala having appeared had reached to every house and thousands of devotees had gathered singing the chaupais of Ram Janm as written the in Ramcharitmanas. Thus, the place was re-consecrated for Ram worship on that day. Since that day, Ram worship has continued without any break at that site.
The Somnath temple of Gujarat was rebuilt at the initiative of the then Home Minister Sardar Patel and by the donations of Hindus. This had prompted Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister to construct a full-fledged Mosque, which was severely damaged during 1934 riots and laid abandoned since then, at the site, but he was blocked by the iron man Sardar Patel. The immediate orders issued by the government to remove the idols from the site were refused to be implemented by the responsible officers of Central Province citing the intense Hindu sentiment and impossibility of implementing the order. It was then when a fresh case was lodged at the Indian Court for the title suit of the disputed site.
Between 1975 and 1980, Archaeological survey was conducted in and around Ayodhya under the guidance of the then Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India Mr. B B Lal. He tells that excavations were performed at 3 spots right around the Babri masjid. Two of them were at the west of the structure and one at the south of it. Our trenches were hardly 2 meters away from the outer wall of the mosque. .. Different levels of depth corresponding to different era of time were to found, the early medieval level, the Gupta level, the Kushan level, the Shung level and further down to 3rd century BC. In the lowest levels in the trench, a material going back to 700 BC was found. The materials recovered from Ayodhya were similar to those recovered from other sites mentioned in the Ramayan, e.g. Shringverpur, Chitrakoot etc. where excavations were performed as well. 14 places were excavated at Ayodhya to ensure not missing the lowest level and similar kind of evidence was found. Below the outer wall of the mosque, a series of pillars’ bases were found. They are oriented along North South and East-West direction. In the mosque, the pillars are also oriented along the same directions. The pillars carry Hindu mortels which are found on the pillars in temples. Stylistically the pillars are datable to a period around 100 AD. There is enough circumstantial evidence to connect the pillars and the bases found in the excavation. A further work in this direction would potentially lead to getting more evidence from underneath the mosque to show the connection between the pillar bases and the pillars, so had said the Director of ASI in an interview in 80s. This factual finding has a startling similarity with the 84 pillars as described about the janmsthaan temple.
The then director of ASI, Mr. B B Lal also cited the example of Kuwat-ul-Islam (meaning the Strength of Islam) mosque of Delhi where the pillars are still standing as it was built by demolishing 27 temples. He says that it was not unusual for the muslim invaders to establish their strength. The presence of Arabic pottery at the layer corresponding to the layer of destruction of the temple. All this circumstantial evidence was documented and submitted by ASI to the government of India and Mr. Lal, in his interview had expressed inability to comment on why no action was taken on his report even 2 years after submitting it.
Eminent Art Historian S P Gupta had said that further excavation right under the structure can only be done only when the mosque is removed from that site. Only then all 84 pillars which are mentioned in the scriptures could be recovered.
On 7th October 1984, a massive gathering of people took place in Ayodhya. A pledge was taken to rebuild the temple at the same site. That was the launching of the movement on the scale of no other since the struggle for Independence. Then came the historical event of 1st February 1986. On that day, the locks put on the gate of the structure way back in 1949, were removed on the orders of the District Judge of Faizabad. The judge accepted the plea that Hindus had an unrestricted access to the site for past 36 years and pooja had been performed since then, and no one had offered namaz there since 50 years.
The next event is of 19th November 1989. On that day, the foundation laying ceremony, the Shilanyaas, of the Ram janmbhoomi mandir was laid. The year 1990 was a year of swift development. The whole issue was engulfed in a spree of litigation and political manipulation. In the mists of all this development, it was declared that on 30th of October, 1990, Karsewa would take place at Ayodhya. Lakhs of people started gathering in and around Ayodhya. The then Uttar Pradesh government under Mulayam Singh Yadav took unprecedented security arrangements to prevent Hindus from reaching Ayodhya, reminding of the orders issued by Babur 460 years back. Nevertheless, lakhs of Hindus still succeeded to gather at Ayodhya and Karsewa commenced as planned and as declared. On 2nd November 1990, humiliated and scared of losing his political ground in his niche area of minority appeasement politics, Mulayam Singh Yadav ordered firing on Sadhus and Karsewaks. A firing without any initial warning resulted in the death of around hundred Karsewaks. The Uttar Pradesh government, however, issued an official death count of six. The residents of Ayodhya became witness to police atrocities against innocent Ram-devotees as their dead bodies were tied with sand-bags and thrown in the Saryu river. The day must have reminded Ayodhya of the time of Aurangzeb.
Secularists’ lies and demolition of the abandoned structure : Meanwhile, the brigade of JNU Professors, champions of leftist Marxist ideology and notorious for their anti-Hindu viewpoints, had started a slander campaign. Until 1989 there had been no dispute about it: “Ram’s birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Moghul emperor Babar in 1528 on the site of an earlier temple”, according to the 1989 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, entry “Ayodhya”. But in 1989, all the existing evidence was brushed aside in a statement, The Political Abuse of History, by 25 so-called “eminent historians” from JNU. They denounced the history of Islamic iconoclasm in Ayodhya as a myth but didn’t offer any new found data to overthrow the consensus. Yet, the sympathy of the Indian and international media for their purported motive of “upholding secularism” assured the immediate adoption worldwide of the new party-line: the demolished Rama temple had merely been a malicious invention of the ugly Hindu nationalists. Under the prevailing power equation, they expected to get away with a plain denial of history.
In December 1990, the government of Chandra Shekhar invited the two lobby groups involved, the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Babri Masjid Action Committee, to discuss the historical truth of the matter. Misled by the media into believing that the Hindu claims were pure fantasy, the BMAC office-bearers arrived ill-prepared. They were speechless when the VHP team presented dozens of documents supporting its case. When more temple remains were found in 1992, a cry went up among the Marxist academics that the sculptures had been stolen from museums and planted at the site. During the scholars’ debate in 1990-91, the VHP-mandated team had discovered 4 documents on which references to the “birthplace temple” had been altered or removed (and those were only the ones where the foul play was discovered; who knows how many times the tampering succeeded?). Here the secularists had their great chance to expose those who had planted false evidence, yet, the minister in charge, Arjun Singh forewent the opportunity to have the sculptures investigated by international experts to certify the allegation of forgery. Once more, it was sheer bluff and the secularists didn’t want it subjected to scrutiny.
In October 1992, the central government of Narasimha Rao (Congress) tried to revive the scholars’ discussion. This time, the BMAC team quite reasonably protested that there was no point in talking unless the VHP called off its announced demonstration in Ayodhya scheduled for December 6. The VHP was adamant that Hindu society’s right to the site could not be made dependent on mundane factors such as judicial verdicts and academic disputes.
So, activism replaced argument on December 6, 1992. Once again Lakhs of devotees had gathered to perform Karwea. The official leadership represented in Ayodhya by L.K. Advani, had wanted to keep the affair purely ceremonial, singing some hymns to Ram as a sufficient act of confirming the Hindu claim to the site. But an elusive leadership within the crowd had other plans and once they broke ranks from the official ceremony to methodically pull down the mosque, much of the crowd joined in. Hindu movement officials tried to stop them, even when the police withdrew from the scene, but to no avail. Within hours, the disputed structure, which was once seen as the “symbol of slavery” had been pulled down.
The BJP state government resigned at once, but the central government refrained from physically intervening until the next morning, when the activists had cleared the debris and consecrated a little tent with the three statues as the provisional new Ram temple. Swayed by getting the advantage of consolidating minority votes, the then Congress government promised to rebuild the Babari ‘mosque’ and the term ‘Shaheed’ was prefixed to the disputed structure. This stance of the government immediately led to wide-spread Hindu Muslim riots. The muslims of the country were not told that local Muslims of Ayodhya had abandoned that mosque more than half a century ago.
During the demolition, an inscription tentatively dated to AD 1140 on a pillar came to light. It detailed how it was part of a temple to “Vishnu, slayer of Bali and of the ten-headed one”. This evidence too was locked away and strictly ignored by the secularists until 2003, when People’s Democracy, the paper of the CPM alleged foul play. It alleged that the Lucknow State Museum mentioned in its catalogue a 20-line inscription dedicated to Vishnu, satisfying the description of the piece discovered during the demolition, and missing since the late 1980s. However, museum director Jitendra Kumar declared that the piece had never left the museum, even though it had not been on display, and he showed it at a press conference for all to see (Hindustan Times, 8 May 2003). In spite of many similarities, it differed from the Ayodhya find in shape, colour and text contents. So, the only allegation of fraud against the archaeologists or against the Hindu nationalists proved to be false.
To be continued in