Demolition of Babri Masjid
|Destruction of Babri mosque|
|Date||December 6, 1992|
On December 6, 1992, a large crowd of Hindu Karsevaks (volunteers) entirely destroyed the 16th-century Babri mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India, in an attempt to reclaim the land known as Ram Janmabhoomi. The demolition occurred after a religious ceremony turned violent and resulted in several months of intercommunal rioting between India's Hindu and Muslim communities, causing the death of at least 2,000 people.
The city of Ayodhya is regarded by Hindus to be the birthplace of the God-king Rama and is regarded as one of India's most sacred and religious sites. In 1528, after the Mughal invasion, a mosque was built by Mughal general Mir Banki, who reportedly destroyed a pre-existing temple of Rama at the site, and named it after emperor Babur. For several years, the site was used for religious purposes by both Hindus and Muslims. After independence, several title suits were filed by opposing religious groups claiming possession of the site. In September 1990, L. K. Advani, leader of the Hindu political party the Bharatiya Janata Party ("BJP"), started Rath Yatra, a tour of the country to elicit mass support for the Ayodhya struggle.
On 6 December 1992, the BJP and other supporting organizations organized a religious ceremony to symbolically start the building of a temple at the sacred site. About 150,000 karsevaks had assembled to witness the ceremonies, including speeches by BJP leaders L. K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.
On that Sunday morning, LK Advani and others met at Vinay Katiyar's residence. They then proceeded to the disputed structure, the report says. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Katiyar reached the puja platform where symbolic Kar Seva was to be performed, and Advani and Joshi checked arrangements for the next 20 minutes. The two senior leaders then moved 200 metre away to the Ram Katha Kunj. This was a building facing the disputed structure where a dais had been erected for senior leaders.
The Liberhan Commission report notes that at this time Advani, Joshi and Vijay Raje Scindia made "feeble requests to the Kar Sevaks to come down... either in earnest or for the media's benefit". No appeal was made to the Kar Sevaks not to enter the sanctum sanctorum or not to demolish the structure. The report notes: "This selected act of the leaders itself speaks of the hidden intentions of one and all being to accomplish demolition of the disputed structure." The report holds that the "icons of the movement present at the Ram Katha Kunj... could just as easily have... prevented the demolition."
Photographs and video of the event show that an angry crowd soon stormed the site and attacked the structure. At noon, youths were seen at the top of one of the domes, attaching a flag and beating on the structure with a stick, signaling the breaking of the outer cordon. Using only hand implements, the crowd reduced the substantial structure to rubble.
Planned in advance
In a 2005 book former Intelligence Bureau (IB) Joint Director Maloy Krishna Dhar claimed that Babri mosque demolition was planned 10 months in advance by top leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ("RSS"), BJP and VHP and raised questions over the way the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, had handled the issue. Dhar claimed that he was directed to arrange the coverage of a key meeting of the BJP/Sangh Parivar and that the meeting "proved beyond doubt that they (RSS, BJP, VHP) had drawn up the blueprint of the Hindutva assault in the coming months and choreographed the ‘pralaya nritya’ (dance of destruction) at Ayodhya in December 1992. The RSS, BJP, VHP and the Bajrang Dal leaders present in the meeting amply agreed to work in a well-orchestrated manner." Claiming that the tapes of the meeting were personally handed over by him to his boss, he asserts that he has no doubts that his boss had shared the contents with the Prime Minister (Rao) and the Home Minister (S B Chavan). The author claimed that there was silent agreement that Ayodhya offered "a unique opportunity to take the Hindutva wave to the peak for deriving political benefit."
Communal riots and terrorism
The destruction of the Mosque sparked Muslim outrage around the country, provoking several months of intercommunal rioting in which Hindus and Muslims attacked one another, burning and looting homes, shops and places of worship. The ensuing riots which spread to cities like Bombay, Surat, Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Delhi and several others, eventually resulted in 1,500 deaths. The Mumbai Riots alone, which occurred in December 1992 and January 1993, caused the death of around 900 people, and estimated property damage of around 9,000 crore ($3.6 billion). The demolition and the ensuing riots were among the major factors behind the 1993 Mumbai bombings and many successive riots in the coming decade. Banned jihadi outfits like Indian Mujahideen cited demolition of the Babri Mosque as an excuse for terrorist attacks.
On 16 December 1992, the Union home ministry set up the Liberhan Commission to investigate the destruction of the Mosque, headed by retired High Court Judge M S Liberhan. Totalling 399 sittings over the span of sixteen years, the Commission finally submitted its the 1,029-page report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on June 30, 2009. According to the report, the events of December 6, 1992, in Ayodhya were "neither spontaneous nor unplanned".
Allahabad High Court verdict
On 30 September 2010, Allahabad High Court ruled that the 2,400 square feet (220 m2) disputed land in Ayodhya, on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on December 6, 1992, will be divided into three parts: the site of the Ramlala idol to Lord Ram, Sunni Wakf Board gets one third and Nirmohi Akhara gets Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara.
The international reaction in neighbouring Muslim countries criticised the Government of India for failing to stop the demolition and subsequent communal violence, but also included widespread retaliatory attacks on Hindus by Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In Pakistan, the government closed offices and schools on 7 December to protest the demolition of the Babri mosque. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry summoned the Indian ambassador to formally complain, and promised to appeal to the United Nations and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to pressure India to protect the rights of Muslims. Strikes were held across the country while Muslim mobs attacked and destroyed as many as 30 temples in one day by means of fire and bulldozers, and stormed the office of Air India, India's national airline in Lahore. The retaliatory attacks included rhetoric from mobs calling for the destruction of India and of Hinduism. Students from the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad burned an effigy of the then-Prime Minister of India, P.V. Narasimha Rao and called for "holy war" against Hindus. In subsequent years, thousands of Pakistani Hindus visiting India sought longer visas and citizenship of India, citing increased harassment and discrimination in the aftermath of the Babri mosque demolition.
In December 1992, Muslim mobs attacked and burnt down Hindus temples, shops and houses across the country. An India-Bangladesh cricket match was disrupted when a mob of an estimated 5,000 men tried to storm into the Bangabandhu National Stadium in the national capital of Dhaka. The Dhaka office of Air India was stormed and destroyed. 10 people were reportedly killed, with many more Hindu women being raped and hundreds of Hindu temples and homes destroyed. The aftermath of the violence forced the Bangladeshi Hindu community to curtail the celebrations of Durga Puja in 1993 while calling for the destroyed temples to be repaired and investigations be held on the atrocities against Hindus in Bangladesh. Bangladesh cited exemplary manifestation of keeping communal harmony because of its Sufi Islamic values.
The Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khameini condemned the demolition but in milder terms compared to the reactions in Pakistan and Bangladesh. He called upon India to do more to protect Muslims.
In popular culture
In fiction, Lajja, a controversial 1993 novel in Bengali by Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, has a story based in the days after the demolition. After its release, the author received death threats in her home country and has been living in exile ever since.
The events that transpired in aftermath of the demolition and the riots are an important part of the plot of the many films notably, Bombay (1995) set in the Mumbai riots, while Daivanamathil (2005) explores the repercussions of the demolition on Kerala Muslims, both the films won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration at the respective National Film Awards; Naseem (1995), Striker (2010), and also mentioned in Slumdog Millionaire (2008). A metaphor of this incident was framed in the movie Delhi 6 (2009) directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.
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