Babri Masjid Demotion 1992: Tracing The History Of ‘Secular’ India’s Darkest Moment

It has been 25 years since the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, and the horrific communal riots that followed in Islamic nations in the neighborhood, along the Gulf and even in Britain.

The scene of kar sevaks with pickaxes and bright yellow headbands, as chants of “Ek dhakka aur do / Babri Masjid tod do” filled the air, comes back to haunt the country every year on the sixth day of December.

Nearly-two lakh kar sevaks- the volunteers of right wing faction VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) stormed the gates and climbed up the domes of the Babri Masjid. With pickaxes and hammers in hand, “sir pe kafan baandh ke” this “Bajrangi ki fauj” reduced the Babri Masjid to ruins.

After news of the Babri Masjid demolition broke, riots erupted all across the country. Muslim houses were torched in Ayodhya, while Hindus were slaughtered in Bangladesh. Months of riots left cities trying to crawl back to normalcy. Bombay saw one of the worst incidents of communal violence in the history of modern India.

The 2002 Gujarat riots can also be traced back to the burning of the Sabarmati Express near the Godhra railway station which caused the deaths of 58 Hindu karsevaks returning from Ayodhya.

From what happened on December 6, 1992, in Ayodhya to the ongoing hearing of the case against BJP leaders L.K Advani and Uma Bharti among others accused of inciting violence at Supreme Court. We trace the history and the political controversy surrounding the 16th- century Babri mosque

  • 1528: Babri Masjid is built on a site claimed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram by few Hindus
  • 1949:
    • Lord Ram’s idols appear inside the mosque, allegedly placed by Hindu groups
    • Muslims groups protest against the act
    • Both  file civil suits
    • Government locks the property, marks it a disputed area

  • 1984: Vishwa Hindu Parishad(VHP) forms a committee for building the temple, led by L.K Advani
  • 1986: Rajiv Gandhi and Arun Nehru persuade UP chief minister Bir Bahadur Singh to open the lock and allow religious rites to take place inside the mosque.
    • triggering a mass movement by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) launching an agitation to break free the idols of Lord Rama and Sita from “captivity”.
  • 1986: Muslims set up Babri Mosque Action Committee in protest
  • 1989: VHP lays the foundation of a Ram temple adjacent to Babri mosque
  • 1990: Kar Sevaks (VHP volunteers) partially damaged the mosque
  • 1991: BJP comes to power in Uttar Pradesh
  • 1992: Babri Masjid brought down by Kar Sevaks, Shiv Sena, and BJP volunteers
    • Riots break out across India, leading to 2,000 deaths

  • 1998: BJP forms a coalition government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
  • 2001: VHP pledges to build a Hindu temple at the site
  • Feb 2002: VHP confirms 15 March as deadline to begin construction
    • Hundreds of volunteers converge on site
    • Train carrying Hindu activists from Ayodhya attacked in Godhra
    • 58 people allegedly killed

  • Mar 2002: Riots break out in Gujarat
    • Between 1,000-2,000 people, mostly Muslims die
  • Apr 2002: Three High Court judges begin hearings on Ram-Janmabhoomi issue
  • Jan 2003: Court orders archaeological survey of the site
  • Aug 2003: Survey claims to find evidence of a temple beneath the mosque
    • Muslims dispute the findings
  • Sept 2003: Court orders trials against 7 Hindu leaders for inciting destruction of Babri Masjid
    • No trial ordered against deputy prime minister Advani, who was at the site in 1992

  • Nov 2004: UP court rules that earlier order which reprieved Mr. Advani for his role in the destruction of the mosque, should be reviewed
  • June 2009:  Liberhan commission investigates events leading up to the mosque’s demolition, submits report
  • Nov 2009:  Report blames leading politicians from BJP for their role
  • Sept 2010: Allahabad High Court rules for site to be divided
    • Muslims, Hindus and Nirmohi Akhara given control of a third each
    • Control of the main section where mosque was torn down, given to Hindus
  • May 2011: Supreme Court suspends HC ruling
  • February 26, 2016: Supreme Court permits BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to intervene in the dispute’s pending matters
    • Swamy seeks construction of Ram temple at the disputed site

  • March 6, 2017: A SC bench refuses CBI plea invoking conspiracy charges against top politicians
  • December 5, 2017: Special bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer begin hearings on the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid demolition case at the Supreme Court
  • December 6, 2017: Supreme Court defers the Ayodhya dispute matter to February 8, 2018

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