Babri masjid : Hindutva influence on judges?

India’s Supreme Court ordered settlement of Ayodhya dispute through `mediation’ despite ennui by Ramjanambhoomi nyas (Ram birth-place trust). This decision is a sequel to the court’s first error to open Pandora’s Box by allowing excavation of Babri mosque site. On December 6, 1992, a mob under Shankaracharya’s nyas (trust) razed the mosque. They claimed that the mosque was a ‘temple built over an 11th-century temple that marked the birthplace, 900,000 years ago of the god-king Ram’. The Frontline dates July 4-17, 1998 called it `Ram drama’. In their over-ebullience, the India media forgot that British colonial rulers had annexed the mosque site and created separate Muslim and Hindu places of worship in 1859. The trust originally owned only one acre of land, the rest of the land (additional 42 acres of so-called undisputed land) was given to it on lease by then chief minister Kalyan Singh in 1992 to develop a Ram Katha Kunj (park)!.

It is unfortunate that even India’s apex-court judges buckled under influence of a Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas(Ram birth-place trust) to investigate fictitious claim about Ram’s birth. The court’s orders about excavation and subsequent `mediation’ are porous. The Muslims owned the disputed site since times immemorial. There is no evidence that Babur ever constructed a mosque at Ayodhya after demolishing a temple. Why there is no mention of Babri Masjid in Babur’s memoir Baburnama, Humayunnama by Babur’s daughter Gulbadan Begum, Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazal, or Tuzk-e-Jahangiri? The first reference to Babri masjid appears in a travel account by Jesuit priest Joseph Tiefenthaler in 1768. The inscriptions, inside the mosque, were fixed in the mosque 280 years after its supposed construction in 1528. Babur did visit Gwalior temples. But, neither he nor his commander Mir Baqi (distinct from Baqi on masjid inscriptions), ever visited Ayodhya. Mir Baqi of the Baburnama was never governor of Ayodhya. Why Hindus did not raise the issue during Moghal or British Raj? Now some BJP‘s legislators have demanded excavation of 3000to 5000 mosques including Delhi’s Grand Mosque. MP Sakshi Maharaj even offered to be hanged if idols were not found underneath the staircase of Jamia Masjid. He demanded that Modi 2.0 should `bring in a law for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya as he did in regard to Somnath Temple before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections’. No chronicle mentions Babur ever constructed a mosque at Ayodhya after demolishing a temple (Babur’s memoir Baburnama, Humayunnama by Babur’s daughter Gulbadan Begum, Abul Fazal’s Ain-i-Akbari or Tuzk-e-Jahangiri. The first reference to Babri appears in a travel account by Jesuit priest Joseph Tiefenthaler in 1768. The inscriptions, inside the mosque, were fixed in the mosque 280 years after its supposed construction in 1528. Babur did visit Gwalior temples. But, neither he nor his commander Mir Baqi (distinct from Baqi on masjid inscriptions), ever visited Ayodhya. Mir Baqi of the Baburnama was never governor of Ayodhya. The dispute is about the property. The claim that god (Ram) was born there is fictitious. The Muslims owned the disputed site since times immemorial. No claim by Hindus during Moghal or British raj? Shankaracharya’s Nyas originally owned only one acre of land, the rest of the land (additional 42 acres of so-called undisputed land) was given to it on lease by Kalyan Singh government in 1992 to develop a Ram Katha Kunj (park). Another pernicious demand is that Indian Muslims should be pushed into Pakistan. Or, at best, they should live there as `aliens’. It is said that population exchange was integral to the Partition plan. India’s Constitution drafter R Ambedkar (1941) and India’s president Dr. Rajendra Prasad (India Divided, 1946, Stern Reckoning) also supported exchange idea,

BJP’s MP Sakshi Maharaj even offered to be hanged if idols were not found underneath the staircase of Jamia Masjid. He demanded that Modi 2.0 should `bring in a law for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya as he did in regard to Somnath Temple. Earlier, Uttar Pradesh BJP’s president Vinay Katiyar had warned the Muslims that if they failed to take the initiative to facilitate the construction of a temple at the disputed Ayodhya site, the Hindus may stake their claim on 5,000 sites in courts. At a press conference in New Delhi, Katiyar said, “The court has shown the way. Why should we confine (ourselves) to Ayodhya, Kashi, and Mathura? Why not talk of 5,000. All sites should be dug up to verify the claims on the pattern of Ramjanam Bhoomi’’.

The Babri site became disputed over the period 1949 to 2005’ owing to Hindutva fanatics. The court ignored the maxim that `possession is nine-point ownership in law’. For centuries, Muslims’ possession of Babri Masjid remained undisputed. Possession of property for a prescribed period makes the non-entitled `stranger’ an `owner by reason of prescriptive ownership’. Legal decisions abound concerning immovable-property owners who lost their titles to trespassers or adverse claimants because of lawful owners cavalier attitude in protecting his property. Halsbury (Fourth Edition, Volume 39) explains, when owner of an immovable property has been out of possession, and a stranger has been in possession, for a period sufficient to bar the owner’s right to re-enter or, recover possession by action, the owner’s title is extinguished and, the stranger acquires a title which holds good, even against the former owner.

The statutory provisions contained in Article 64 and 65 of the Indian Limitation Act, 1963 further elucidate this point. Article 64 Ibid. provides for a suit for possession of the immovable property, based on previous possession and not on title, when the Plaintiff, while in possession of the property, has been dispossessed. Here, it would be pertinent to refer to the provision, contained in Section 28 of the Limitation Act, which deals with the extinguishment of the right to property. This says that, at the determination of the prescribed period for any person, to institute a suit for possession of any property, his right to such property, itself, shall be extinguished. The Court ignored proven possession of the disputed site by Muslims. The court ignored the maxim that `possession is nine-point ownership in law’. For centuries, Muslims’ possession of Babri Masjid remained undisputed. Possession of property for a prescribed period makes the non-entitled `stranger’ an `owner by reason of prescriptive ownership’. Legal decisions abound concerning immovable-property owners who lost their titles to trespassers or adverse claimants because of lawful owners cavalier attitude in protecting his property.

When Jinnah left for Pakistan on August 7, 1947, Patel said, ‘The poison had been removed from the body of India’ (HM Seervai, Partition of India: Legend and Reality, 1990, p. 134). He added, `As for the Muslims they have the roots, their sacred places and their centres here. I do not know what they can possibly do in Pakistan. It will not be long before they return to us’ (ibid.).

The anti-Muslim flamboyant statements by BJP’s legislators are capable of triggering anti-Muslim riots. In the year 1809, bloody anti-Muslim riots took place at Benares on quasi-Babri-Masjid issue _ allegation that Aurangzeb, during his tenure, had built a mosque atop a temple.

The Muslim minority in India fears that riots are convenient to massacre the Muslim. In the wake of Godhra train-bogey fire-incident, thousands of Muslims were killed. Later, investigations revealed that the fired was caused by a stove inside the bogey. No person from outside intruded into the compartment.

Besides killing Muslims en masse, the fanatics Hindus use the anti-Muslim riots in India as an opportunity to dispossess the affluent Muslims of their hard-earned belongings (movable and immovable). In the wake of post-Godhra carnage, ‘more than 15,000 Muslim families across Gujarat are still not being allowed to return to their native villages. Many of them have been forced to sell their property at throw-away prices’ (Tribune dated June 17, 2005). Let us hope that history does not repeat itself.

It is not facts but fiction that is being debated about Babri Masjid to make Muslim lives more miserable. Indian Muslims are a gagged voice. All the nine Muslim candidates nominated by BJP were `mysteriously’ defeated.The current wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in Modi 2.0 la-la land caricatures his slogan sab ka vishwas (everybody’s trust), and Nehruvian and Patel’s secularism.