The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice Dipak Misra while hearing Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case on February 8, observed that for the court it was a land dispute and would be decided by evidence on record. The court apparently dismissed the emotive factor attached to the case since it started when Ram Lala idol was surreptitiously installed in the historic Babari Mosque at Ayodhya in Faizabad district in 1948. The dispute did not erupt in that year. The conflict for the first time had arisen between Hindus and Muslims during the British regime, when the former claimed that an Army general of the emperor Akbar demolished a Ram Mandir and constructed a mosque there. The Muslims vehemently denied the claim and said ‘Akbar the great’ respected all religions equally and his general did not dare commit such a wrongdoing to invite the wrath of the emperor. The British rulers could have settled the issue with much ease, but instead they allowed it to linger in accordance with their policy of divide and rule. After independence, it was an attempt on the part of certain Hindus to revive their claim. The installation of Ram Lala idol at the dead of the night was a clear law and order matter, but the district administration was religiously biased and believed the claim of the mischief-makers that it was not a human activity but the idols appeared miraculously. Muslims’ pleas stating otherwise were rejected and the mosque was locked.
This is the origin of the present case that had been pending since then. No Muslim organization came forward to speed up the case to open the door of the mosque. No Hindu, individually or collectively claimed that Ram Mandir should be built at that place decades together. The controversy raised its ugly head when a district court in late eighties, ordered to open the door of the mosque for the darshan of the Ram Lala. It was a godsend opportunity for the BJP to exploit the issue. The prominent BJP leader L K Advani caught the issue to broaden the party base among Hindus by playing with their religious sentiments. He succeeded in his strategy and raised the BJP tally from 2 to 87 in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections. Then afterwards the BJP fought every election with a promise to pave the way for the construction of Ram temple. The matter neither attracted the attention of the Supreme Court nor did the election commission object to the open exploitation of the religious feelings during elections. Now in recent past, the Supreme Court ordered that no political party can conduct poll campaign in the name of religion.
Meanwhile the karsevaks demolished the historic mosque during the Narsimha Rao regime in 1992. The irony of the circumstances is that while the mosque was demolished, the government allowed building a temporary Ram temple in that place. Against this backdrop, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court after hearing long arguments of the parties gave a verdict apparently to please the majority in the dispute. The court divided the disputed land measuring a little over 2 acre into three parts and gave one portion to Ram Lala, one to Nirmohi Akhara and one to Sunni Wakf Board. Both the Hindus and the Muslims approached the Supreme Court. The questions that arise are pertinent. Why the Mandir demand was not raised for decades when the case was pending in the court? If it is a matter of faith, why was there such a long silence by Hindus on Mandir demand? Why the successive governments at the centre, the election commissions and the Supreme Court played spectators when the BJP, in a blatant violation of the constitutional norms, exploited the religious issue for its political gains?
Now the Supreme Court observation that the matter is limited and restricted to the land dispute only should be welcomed by all those who respect the secular constitution of this country.