Ayodhya Debate

The much awaited announcement by the High Court on the Ayodhya shrine will finally see its denouement on the 24th of September 2010. The Ayodhya debate is a historical, religious and political debate revolving around the issue of the history of the Babri Mosque, whether it was built on the site after the demolition of a Hindu temple believed to be the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama. Thus we come to one of those cases the resulting decision of which could spark off a communal conflict between the Hindus on the one side and the Muslims on the other.

Ayodhya is an ancient and holy city of India, an old capital of Awadh in the Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. According to the Ramacharitamanasa written by the saint Tulsidas, it is said that this city was ruled by the Surya Vanshi kings. The great king Dasaratha, 63rd in the solar line monarchy was the father of Shri Rama who is considered to be the incarnation of the lord Vishnu and was born here. In Atharvaveda this city is described to have been made by the Gods and was tantamount to heaven itself like Mount Olympus was to Greek mythology. According to the 1986th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica,” Rama’s birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Moghul emperor Babar in 1528 on the site of an earlier temple”. The Hindus believe that the temple was destroyed on the orders of Babar himself and the Babri Masjid was  constructed by Mir Baqi  in its place and was named after his master Babar. The Hindus wishing to reclaim the site and erect a temple dedicated to the infant Ram had launched a movement in 1984 by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad party. The masjid was destroyed by Hindu activists in a riot on 6th December 1992. The archaeological survey of India under BB Lal carried out a number of excavations from 12th march to 7th august 2003 and discovered a number of objects such as a statue of Lord Hanuman, coins dating back to early historic times and other historic materials.

This debate over the years has grown along with the revival of Hindu Fundamentalism and Nationalism. The Muslims have been expressing outrage at the destruction of their mosque and on the 5th of July the makeshift Ram temple was on the site of the demolished masjid was attacked by five heavily armed terrorists. The five terrorists, believed to have been from the organization Lashkar-e-Toiba, were killed in the ensuing gunfight and one civilian died in the bomb blast.

The six decade year old title suit will thus see its outcome finally on the 24th of this month by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court. The court will be looking into three main issues. Firstly, if there was in actuality a temple at Ayodhya prior 1538. Secondly, if in 1961 the suit filed by the Muslim committee is barred by limitation and lastly whether the Muslims perfected their title through adverse possession.  The matter being very sensitive, the Uttar Pradesh government has asked for 60,000 men in uniform to be present in the state to handle any situation arising after the order by the High Court. On one hand there is religious sentiment and on the other hand historical pride. So we will have to wait till the 24th to see who will win: Sentiment or Pride.

Madhurima Ganguly

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