Decoding the Ayodhya Judgement- Part 3
In 1934, there was another communal incident in the course of which damage was sustained to the mosque which was subsequently restored. The documentary evidence shows that :
(i) The colonial administration sanctioned the work of repair and renovation of the damaged structure of the mosque;
(ii) A fine was imposed on the Hindus for the damage which was caused to the mosque;
(iii) The work of restoration was entrusted to a Muslim contractor with whom there was an exchange of correspondence over the payment of unpaid bills and for verification of work done;
(iv) This was a claim by the Pesh Imam of the mosque over the payment of the arrears of salary with the Mutawalli; and
(v) Upon the work of repair, the administration permitted arrangements to be made for commencement of namaz.
A series of incidents took place between March and December 1949. On 19 March 1949, a deed was executed by the Panches of Nirmohi Akhara purportedly to reduce into writing the customs of the Akhara. This document included the following provision in regard to ―the temple of Janmabhoomi‖ of which the management was claimed to vest in the Akhara:
“Temple of Janam Bhoomi is situate in Mohalla Ram Ghat of City, Ayodhya which is under the Baithak of this Akhara and its whole management is trust upon to this Akhara. It stands in name of Mahant of Akhara as Mahant and Manager. This is the best well reputed, moorty of worship temple of Ayodhya. Being the birthplace of Lord Rama, it is the main temple of Ayodhya. The deity of Shri Ram Lalaji is installed there and there are other deities also.”
22-23 December 1949
(i) On 12 November 1949, a police picket was posted in the area;
(ii) On 29 November 1949, Kripal Singh who was the Superintendent of Police at Faizabad addressed a letter to K K Nayar, the Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate, Faizabad stating:
“I visited the premises of Babri mosque and the Janm Asthan in Ajodhya this evening. I noticed that several Hawan Kunds have been constructed all around the mosque. Some of them have been built on old constructions already existing there.
… I found bricks and lime also lying near the Janm Asthan. They have a proposal to construct a very big Havan Kund where Kirtan and Yagna on Puranmashi will be performed on a very large scale. Several thousand Hindus, Bairagis and Sadhus from outside will also participate. They also intend to continue the present Kirtan till Puranmashi. The plan appears to be to surround the mosque in such a way that entry for the Muslims will be very difficult and ultimately they might be forced to abandon the mosque. There is a strong rumour, that on puranmashi the Hindus will try to force entry into the mosque with the object of installing a deity.”
(iii) On 10 December 1949, Mohd Ibrahim who was the Waqf Inspector submitted a report to the secretary of the Masjid stating that Muslims were being prevented from offering namaz Isha (the namaz at night) at the mosque, due to the fear of Hindus and Sikhs and there was an apprehension of danger to the mosque:
“On investigation in Faizabad city it was revealed that because of the fear of Hindus and Sikhs no one goes into the Masjid to pray Namaz Isha. If by chance any passenger stays in the Masjid he is being threatened and teased by the Hindus … (sic)….. There are number of Numberdars … (sic)….. if any Muslim into the Masjid, he is harassed and abused.
I made on the spot enquires which reveal that the said allegations are correct. Local people stated that the Masjid is in great danger because of Hindus … (sic)….. Before they try to damage the wall of the Masjid, it seems proper the Deputy Commissioner Faizabad may be accordingly informed , so that no Muslim, going into the Masjid may be teased. The Masjid is a Shahi monument and it should be preserved.”
(iv) On 16 December 1949, K K Nayyar addressed a communication to Govind Narayan who was Home Secretary to the Government of Uttar Pradesh, stating that there was a magnificent temple at the site which had been constructed by Vikramaditya, which was demolished by Babur for the construction of a mosque, known as Babri Masjid.
The letter stated that building material of the temple was used in the construction of the mosque and that a long time had elapsed before Hindus were again restored to the possession of a site therein, at the corner of two walls. The letter recorded a reference to recent happenings and stated:
“Some time this year probably in October or November some grave-mounds were partially destroyed apparently by Bairagis who very keenly resent Muslim associations with this shrine. On 12.11.49 a police picket was posted at this place. The picket still continues in augmented strength. There were since other attempts to destroy grave-mounds. Four persons were caught and cases are proceeding against them but for quite some time now there have been no attempts.
Muslims, mostly of Faizabad have been exaggerating these happenings and giving currency to the report that graves are being demolished systematically on a large scale. This is an entirely false canard inspired apparently by a desire to prevent Hindus from securing in this area possession or rights of a larger character than have so far been enjoyed. Muslim anxiety on this score was heightened by the recent Navami Ramayan Path, a devotional reading of Ramayan by thousands of Hindus for nine days at a stretch.
This period covered a Friday on which Muslims who went to say their prayers at the mosque were escorted to and from safely by the Police. As far as I have been able to understand the situation the Muslims of Ayodhya proper are far from agitated over this issue with the exception of one Anisur Rahman who frequently sends frantic messages giving the impression that the Babri Masjid and graves are in imminent danger of demolition.‖ Nayyar saw no apprehension of danger to the mosque in spite of the letter of the Superintendent of Police which contained specific reference to the plans which were afoot to enter the mosque and install idols within its precincts;
(v) On the night between 22-23 December 1949, Hindu idols were surreptitiously placed inside Babri Masjid by a group of 50-60 persons. An FIR was lodged, complaining of the installation of idols inside the inner courtyard of the disputed site. The FIR, complaining of offences under Sections 147, 295, 448 of the Indian Penal Code was lodged at 7:00 pm on 23 December 1949 by Ram Deo Dubey, Sub-Inspector in charge.
The FIR recorded that on information received from Mata Prasad, Constable No. 7, the complainant had arrived at the disputed site at 7:00 am and learned that a crowd of 50 or 60 persons had broken the locks placed on the compound of the mosque and had placed the idols inside, besides inscribing the names of Hindu deities on the walls. Thereafter, 5000 people had gathered to perform Kirtan. It was alleged that Abhay Ram Das, Ram Shukul Das, Sheo Darshan Dass and about 50 or 60 persons had committed an act of trespass by entering the mosque and installing idols, thereby desecrating the mosque.
On 23 December 1949, the crowd was controlled by allowing two or three persons to offer bhog;
(vi) K K Nayyar opposed the direction of the state government to remove the idols, fearing a loss of life.
On 25 December 1949, K K Nayar recorded that puja and bhog was offered as usual. In spite of the directions to remove the idols, K K Nayar declined to do so stating that “if Government still insisted that removal should be carried out in the face of these facts, I would request to replace me by another officer”;
(vii) K K Nayar addressed two letters on 26 and 27 December 1949 to Bhagwan Sahai, Chief Secretary, Government of U.P. stating that the incident that took place on 23 December 1949 was “unpredictable and irreversible” on the basis of the above narration of incidents.
Proceedings under Section 145
On 29 December 1949, a preliminary order was issued under Section 145 of the CrPC 1898 by the Additional City Magistrate, Faizabad cum Ayodhya. Simultaneously, treating the situation as involving an emergency, an order of attachment was issued and the disputed site was directed to be entrusted to Sri Priya Datt Ram who was the Chairman of the Municipal Board. The order dated 29 December 1949 is extracted below:
“Whereas I, Markendeya Singh, Magistrate First Class and Additional City Magistrate, Faizabad-cum-Ayodhya, am fully satisfied from information received from Police sources and from other credible sources that a dispute between Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya over the question of rights of proprietorship and worship in the building claimed variously as Babari Masjid and Janam Bhoomi Mandir, situate at Mohalla Ram Kot within the local limits of my jurisdiction, is likely to lead to a breach of the peace. I hereby direct the parties described below namely:
(1) Muslims who are bona fide residents of Ayodhya or who claim rights of proprietorship or worship in the property in dispute;
(2) Hindus who are bona fide residents of Ahodhya or who claim rights of proprietorship or worship in the property in dispute; to appear before me on 17th day of January at 11 A.M. at Ayodhya Police Station in person or by pleader and put in written statements of their respective claims with regard to the fact of actual possession of the subject of dispute. And the case being one of the emergency I hereby attach the said buildings pending decision.
The attachment shall be carried out immediately by Station Officer, Ayodhya Police Station, who shall then put the attached properties in the charge of Sri Priya Datt Ram, Chairman Municipal Board, Faizabad-cum-Ayodhya who shall thereafter be the receiver thereof and shall arrange for the care of the property in dispute.
The receiver shall submit for approval a scheme for management of the property in dispute during attachment, and the cost of management shall be defrayed by the parties to this dispute in such proportions as may be fixed from time to time.”
The receiver took charge on 5 January 1950 and made an inventory of the properties which had been attached. The last namaz which was offered in the mosque was on 16 December 1949.
In the course of the proceedings of the civil suit before the Trial Court at Faizabad, the pleader, Shiv Shankar Lal, was appointed as a Commissioner to prepare a site plan of the locality and building. The Commissioner submitted a report on 25 May 1950, annexing two site plans which were numbered as Plan nos 1 and 2.
The salient features noticed in the Commissioner‘s report are:
(i) The existence of two entry gates to the disputed site, described as Hanumat Dwar and Singh Dwar;
(ii) The presence of two black Kasauti stone pillars at the entry point of Hanumat Dwar containing engraved images of Jai and Vijai;
(iii) The images of a Garud flanked by lions on either side above Singh Dwar;
(iv) An engraved stone image of a boar (varah) on the outer wall, to the south of Hanumat Dwar;
(v) Ramchabutra admeasuring 17 X 21 feet containing a small temple with idols of Lord Ram and Janki;
(vi) On the south-eastern corner, a semi-circular platform attached to the neem-pipal tree containing idols of Panchmukhi Mahadev, Parvati, Ganesh and Nandi;
(vii) The platform called Sita Rasoi containing the foot prints of Lord Ram, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughan;
(viii) The railing separating the inner and outer courtyards;
(ix) The presence of twelve black Kasauti stone pillars supporting the three arches of the mosque which contained carvings of:
(a) Lotus flowers; (b) Tandava nritya; (c) Lord Hanuman; and (d) Lord Krishna. (Carvings on the other pillars had been obliterated); (x) The idol of infant Lord Ram placed on a platform with two steps in the central portion of the domed structure; (xi) A parikrama around the disputed structure; and (xii) The existence of structures surrounding the disputed site including huts of sadhus/bairagis and the wall called “sita-koop”.
Edited Excerpt from the Judgment ‘M Siddiq (D) Lrs v. Mahant Suresh Das & Ors. (2019)