Ayodhya Temple Mosque Controversy
Location of Ayodhya in India
The Temple-Mosque Controversy of Ayodhya ( Hindi अयोध्या विवाद Ayōdhyā Vivād , Urdu مسئلۂ ایودھیا Masʾala-ē Ayōdhyā ; "Ayodhya Dispute"; also Mandir-Masjid dispute , from Sanskrit मंदिर mandira ' Hindu temple ', Arabic مسجد Masjid ' mosque ') is a dispute that has been smoldering for decades between Hindus and Muslims over a piece of building land near the city of Ayodhya in the Faizabad district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh . Believing Hindus consider the place to be the birthplace of the god-king Rama . In 1527 a mosque, the Babri Mosque, was builtthere by Muslim conquerors. The destruction of the Babri Mosque by several hundred thousand Hindu pilgrims ( kar sevaks , "volunteers") on December 6, 1992, was aculmination of the disputes that was recognized worldwide. The dispute over Ayodhya has continued to this day.
On November 9, 2019, the Supreme Court of India issued a fundamental judgment on who owns the site of Ayodhya - the Hindus or the Muslims. The court ruled in favor of the Hindus.
Relationship between Hindus and Muslims in India
During British colonial rule, Muslims and Hindus initially often stood together against the British colonial power. A split broke out in the 1930s after leading Muslims, notably Ali Jinnah , demanded a Muslim state of their own. This was to be formed from the provinces of British India, which were mostly inhabited by Muslims. This concept was then also implemented in 1947 when British India was split into a predominantly Muslim state of Pakistan and a predominantly Hindu state of India. Immediately after the declarations of independence, there were riots against the religious minorities in the respective country. Millions of refugees (Hindus towards India, Muslims towards Pakistan) and an estimated more than one million deaths were the result.
Only a few religious minorities still live in Pakistan today, and the state that has declared itself an “ Islamic Republic ” is religiously intolerant. Assaults against religious minorities such as Christians and Hindus are not uncommon. Hindus make up less than 2% of the population. It is different in India, where large Muslim minorities remained after independence. Almost 15% of the Indian population (more than 180 million according to the 2011 census) are Muslim, which makes India the third largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan. The spiritual fathers of the Indian constitution emphasized the secular , i.e. H. religiously neutral character of the Indian state. The first and longtime Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru , was an avowed atheist and socialist. To ensure the loyalty of Indian Muslims, they were given special rights. So z. B. in India in the area of private law (regarding marital status, divorce, inheritance law, custody) for Muslims in India the Sharia . Basically, Muslims are considered to be integrated into Indian society and have access to the highest government offices. Muslim ministers have always been represented in Indian governments since independence. Several Indian presidents were Muslim. In reality, however, Muslims in Indian society disproportionately often belong to the socially disadvantaged strata of the population. Most of them were assigned to the Other Backward Classes , the “other underprivileged sections of the population” who, at least de jure, are entitled to special support. In general, Muslims were less educated, more often illiterate and accordingly exercised low-skilled jobs and were therefore more often affected by poverty and hunger than average. In such circumstances, ignorance and religious prejudice were rampant.
Religious significance of the place Ayodhya
According to Hindu tradition, Ayodhya is the birthplace of the god Rama , who is an avatar of the god Vishnu . Hindu scholars argue about the exact date of Rama's birth year. Rama is said to have ruled as king from Ayodhya for a long time and brought the world a time of happiness, peace and prosperity ( Ram Rajya ). In the much populated pantheon of Hinduism, Rama occupies a prominent position. Rama Navami , the day of his birth, is an important festival day among devout Hindus and falls on the 9th day of the month of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar , which corresponds to a day in the second half of March or the first half of April according to the western calendar . Temples in honor of Rama have been built all over India. According to tradition, there was also a Rama temple in Ayodhya, the Ram Janmabhumi temple (for archaeological and historical-critical evidence see below).
From the 7th century AD India came into contact with Islam. First attempts at the Islamic conquest of India under the Umayyads failed in the 7th and 8th centuries, so that for a time the border between the Islamic and Hindu world ran roughly along the Indus . In the following centuries Islam gradually penetrated north India into the Punjab and the plains of the Ganges and various Islamic states established themselves, the most important of which was the Sultanate of Delhi . In the years 1525 to 1526 and after the momentous Battle of Panipat (1526), the Sultanate of Delhi was conquered by the Central Asian prince Babur , who founded the Mughal dynasty in India. Babur's general Mir Baqi had a mosque built in Ayodhya, the so-called Babri mosque after Babur, whereby according to tradition he destroyed the Hindu temples previously located there. The religious significance of the place for Hindus was not lost, and the mosque was also known among Muslims as Masjid-i-Janmasthan ("Mosque of the place of birth").
The dispute over Ayodhya
Conflicts between Hindus and Muslims over Ayodhya have been documented as early as the time of British India. In 1856 the British East India Company annexed the princely state of Avadh and the area of Ayodhya came under direct British control. In 1859 the British colonial administration erected a cordon in Ayodhya to separate the Hindu pilgrims from the Muslims. The actual mosque should only be accessible to the Muslims, while the surrounding area was reserved for the religious ceremonies of the Hindus. The dispute over Ayodhya was not given any special importance, since the Indian subcontinent under British rule was often plagued by various more or less extensive religious-ethnic motivated regional conflicts and unrest that were suppressed by the colonial power. As British colonial rule neared its end and tensions between Hindus and Muslims increased in the face of the impending partition of India, the Hindu nationalist Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABRM) launched a local campaign for ownership of the Ayodhya land in 1946. On December 22, 1949, Hindu activists broke into the Babri Mosque and installed pictures and statues of the god Rama there. The rumor quickly spread among Hindus that these images had appeared there without human intervention and that the god Rama had reappeared at his birthplace. A large crowd then asked for entry into the mosque. However, this had since been cordoned off by the police. The local district leader KKK Nayar blocked access to the mosque for the general public (Hindus and Muslims), but did not have the pictures removed and allowed a committee of respected Hindus on the night of 22/23. December every year the entrance to the pictures to hold religious ceremonies there. The mosque was de facto transformed into a Hindu temple.
For the Muslims, the action represented a religious desecration because of the ban on images . The Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru ordered the removal of the images without any action being taken . The reluctant district chief Nayar was eventually fired, making him an idol of Hindu nationalists. Both Hindu and Muslim organizations filed lawsuits for ownership of the land, with the result that the land on which the Babri Mosque stood was declared "disputed possession". The mosque, together with the Rama pictures and statues still in it, was permanently locked on December 23, 1949, placed under police protection and this situation continued for the next few decades.
The Somnath example
As an example of the successful reconstruction of a Hindu temple after it was destroyed by Muslim conquerors, the Hindu nationalists considered the reconstruction of the temple in Somnath . This temple, dedicated to God Shiva , on the west coast of today's Gujarat state , had been destroyed many times by Muslim rulers or conquerors in the previous centuries, but was repeatedly rebuilt. After the partition of India, the local Nawab of Junagadh tried to attach his predominantly Hindu country to Pakistan, whereupon Indian army units occupied the princely state of Junagadh and this was attached to India. The Indian Minister of the Interior Vallabhbhai "Sardar" Patel then visited Somnath on November 12, 1947, the Diwali festival, and announced the rebuilding of the temple of Somnath in a well-received speech:
“On this auspicious new year day, we decided that the temple of Somnath should be rebuilt. You, the people of Saurashtra, should do your best for it. This is a sacred task in which everyone should participate. "
Even if Patel was applauded by the Hindu nationalists, he clearly advocated a peaceful solution to the Ayodhya conflict and rejected Hindu extremism. Sardar Patel died in 1950 and the reconstruction of Somnath was then implemented under his successors from 1951.
Development 1984 to 1992
In 1984 the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), the self-proclaimed "World Hindu Council" founded in Bombay in 1964 , began a campaign with the aim of removing the Ayodhya mosque and building a Hindu temple for God on the site To establish Rama. The VHP cleverly used the powerful image of the god Rama trapped in the mosque, who had to be released from his prison. The VHP's reasoning was based on the claim that before the mosque was built, there was a Hindu temple on the same site that was destroyed by the Muslim conquerors. With the rebuilding, historical injustice will be made good. Two other important Hindu temples, both of which were destroyed at the instigation of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (ruled from 1658 to 1707) and mosques were built in their place, were also to be rebuilt, the Keshava Deo Temple in Krishna's birthplace in Mathura and the Kashi-Vishwanath Temple in place of the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi . The demand was supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was founded in 1980 and which, not least because of the weakness of the previously politically dominant congress party, found itself in a continuous strong upswing.
On February 1, 1986, the district judge of Faizabad decided, at the request of a lawyer from Faizabad, that the Babri Mosque, which had been closed since 1949, should be reopened so that Hindus would again have direct access to the Rama images and statues inside the mosque. The opening of the mosque, which was now in fact a Hindu temple, provoked protests from Muslims and brought the unresolved dispute back to the public. India was in the midst of a wave of communalist unrest at the time. In Punjab , the Sikhs rebelled against the Indian central government and this conflict led to the murder of Indira Gandhi in 1984, after which the violence escalated. In Assam and Jammu and Kashmir there had been persistent ethnic-religious unrest in which the Hindu-Muslim antagonism played a central role. In addition, there was a court ruling by the Supreme Court of India in the case of Shah Bano in 1985, which ultimately concerned the continued validity of Islamic personal law as opposed to the introduction of the same civil law in India for everyone. The verdict, in favor of the latter variant, heated tempers across India. Mainly for electoral reasons, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi decided in favor of the Orthodox Muslims, which further enraged the Hindu extremists who rallied around the opposition BJP.
From September 1989 the VHP intensified its activities and called for bricks ( "bricks of Lord Ram" , Ram shila ) to be brought in processions from all over India to Ayodhya, which were then to be used in the construction of temples. Hundreds of people were killed in the associated violent clashes with Muslims, particularly in the area around Bhagalpur (Bihar).
In August 1990, the leadership of the BJP under Lal Krishna Advani decided to conduct a pilgrimage, Ram Rath Yatra (a “procession”, yatra , with a “chariot”, rath , to “Rama”) across India in order to raise awareness for the The aim of building a temple in Ayodhya to advertise. The pilgrimage was to begin in Somnath in Gujarat and pass through ten states and the Union Territory of Delhi and finally end in Ayodhya. The BJP supporters and Hindu nationalists began their pilgrimage in Somnath on September 25th. With every kilometer they got closer to their destination, the tension increased. Finally, at the instigation of the Chief Minister of Bihar , Lalu Prasad Yadav ( Janata Dal ), Advani was arrested for some time under the National Security Act on October 23, 1990, one week before reaching his destination in Samastipur in Bihar, in order to continue his journey to Ayodhya prevent. However, Advani's followers largely continued their pilgrimage without him. On October 30, 1990, in front of Ayodhya, they were confronted with the local police who, after unsuccessful attempts to stop the march of tens of thousands , opened fire on the instructions of the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh , Mulayam Singh Yadav ( Samajwadi Party ) and 12 who killed kar sevaks ("volunteers") and injured several hundred. The demonstration then broke up in all directions. Through their decisive action, both chief ministers won the approval of the Muslims in their states, which is important for them and their parties. One serious consequence, however, was that the BJP withdrew its trust in the Janata Dal-led government, VP Singh , which it had previously supported, which ultimately led to early elections in 1991 .
After the 1991 election, a minority government of the Congress Party was formed under Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao . The BJP had meanwhile risen to become the strongest opposition party and had made the topic of temple reconstruction such an election campaign topic that the 1991 election was remembered as the Mandal Mandir election (the other main topic of the election campaign was the discussions about the implementation of the Recommendations of the Mandal Commission ). The BJP was also successful in the parliamentary election in Uttar Pradesh in 1991, which took place parallel to the all-India election, winning 221 of 425 constituencies. She then provided with Kalyan Singh the chief minister and the government of the state.
Destruction of the mosque
On December 6, 1992, the VHP and the BJP organized a new mass rally in Ayodhya at which the symbolic foundation stone for a new temple was to be laid. The organizers of the rally had promised the government that this symbolic action would remain and that the mosque would remain untouched. On the other hand, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh made no effort to protect the mosque's grounds with a sufficiently strong police force. About 150,000 kar sevaks had gathered to listen to the speeches by Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and other BJP and VHP leaders. Some demonstrators broke through the thin police barriers and entered the mosque grounds. Encouraged by this, thousands more followed, who then went to work with sledge hammers and other improvised tools and bare hands to demolish the mosque. Journalists and TV reporters present were threatened by the kar sevaks , assaulted and temporarily detained. The organizers tried to calm the angry crowd with appeals, whereby the journalists present got the impression that these efforts were only half-heartedly made. After a few hours there was only a pile of stones left of the Babri Mosque. The statues and images of the god Rama were brought to safety beforehand. During the action, 4 kar sevaks were also killed by falling stones and masonry and more than 100 were injured.
The destruction of the mosque caused a shock not only across India, but the world was reported about the event. Outrage was particularly great in the Islamic world. In the neighboring states of Pakistan (especially in the province of Sindh ) and Bangladesh there were riots against Hindu minorities. An oil embargo against India by the Islamic world seemed a real possibility. Sharp diplomatic criticism came from Turkey and Iran . Talks were held in Delhi with most of the 109 diplomatic representatives in order to limit the damage. India's relationship to the Islamic-Arab world cooled down significantly as a result of the event.
As a result of the event, the BJP-led regional governments and parliaments in the states of Uttar Pradesh , Rajasthan , Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh were suspended at the instigation of Prime Minister Rao and the states concerned were suspended under president's rule , i.e. H. direct government of the central government. Riots broke out across India, killing more than 2,000 Muslims and Hindus. The worst hit was Bombay, where a series of coordinated car bomb explosions on March 12, 1993 killed more than 250 bystanders.
Three radical Hindu organizations - VHP and its youth organization Bajrang Dal , as well as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - and two Muslim organizations - Islamic Sevak Sangh (in Kerala ) and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) - were temporarily banned (at JIH the ban was justified not with religious extremism, but with separatism in Jammu and Kashmir ).
Liberhan Commission and Report
On December 16, 1992, the Indian government set up a commission under the Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court , Manmohan Singh Liberhan , to investigate the Ayodhya events. The Commission was originally supposed to finalize its report within 3 months. In the end it became 17 years, probably mainly because the commission consisted only of Liberhan. Liberhan himself blamed "the uncooperative attitude of some people" for the long delay. After hearing over 100 witnesses, including most of the politicians involved at the time, Liberhan presented the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with the more than 900-page final report on June 30, 2009 . In his report, Liberhan came to the conclusion that the event on December 6, 1992 was not a random and unpredictable outbreak of uncontrollable violence, but on the contrary had been planned downright meticulously:
"The entire event was being choreographed exclusively by the RSS and VHP along with their associates."
"The entire incidents were planned and staged exclusively by the RSS , the VHP and their associates."
The Rao government accused Liberhan of not having taken measures against the brewing disaster in good time and of having placed Uttar Pradesh under president's rule earlier . The BJP government of Uttar Pradesh under Kalyan Singh, on the other hand, actively pushed for the destruction of the mosque:
“In 1992, the Central Government has been blinded and handicapped - by the inaction of its own agent in the state and by the unfathomable trust, the Supreme Court placed in the paper declaractions of the Sangh Parivar. […] The State Government of Uttar Pradesh in 1992 […] proceeded with the planning for the destruction of the disputed structure. [...] The year 1992 was witness to deliberate subversion of the safeguards by a recalcitrant state regime. "
“The central government was misled and hampered in 1992 by the inaction of its own representative in the state [Uttar Pradesh] and by the incomprehensible trust the Supreme Court placed in the Sangh Parivar's paper statements . […] The government of Uttar Pradesh continued in 1992 […] its plans for the destruction of the disputed structure. [...] The year 1992 witnessed the deliberate destruction of the constitutional securities by an insubordinate state government. "
Liberhan also sharply criticized the political instrumentalization of religion:
“There is no dispute that until 1980s the dispute with respect to disputed structure remained confined to individuals of Ayodhya. Further, the issue remained confined as a religious issue. [...] BJP managed to channel the frustration of illiterate or semiliterate persons into a destructive direction and tried to increase its political impact for which purpose it stoked mass hysteria. […] BJP and Shiv Sena […] joined the movement for the construction of the temple. Religion was used as a strategic tool to infiltrate into the governance of the State. […] The issue of Ayodya was converted into a political issue as a means for acquiring power. Religious matters were hyped up as a part of the political campaign. "
“It is undisputed that the dispute over the structure in question was limited to individual individuals in Ayodhya until the 1980s. In addition, the dispute was of a religious nature. [...] The BJP was able to channel the frustrations of uneducated or semi-educated people in a destructive direction and tried to increase its political weight by creating mass hysteria. […] BJP and Shiv Sena […] joined the temple building movement. Religion was used as a strategic tool to infiltrate the government apparatus in this way. […] The dispute over Ayodhya was turned into a political problem in order to gain power. Religious matters were exaggerated as part of a political campaign. "
When the first excerpts from the report became known, angry reactions from various BJP politicians followed. A spokesman asked why the report took 17 years and accused the Congress party of only trying to distract from the country's really important issues. The report was forwarded by the government of Manmohan Singh to the Indian Federal Police Department (CBI) on September 24, 2009 with the task of examining whether the report contained criminally relevant material. The CBI stated on May 23, 2011 that the report did not provide any new evidence and therefore would not lead to any new charges in the Ayodhya case.
Archaeological research in Ayodhya
The first excavations in Ayodhya were carried out as early as the time of British India in the 19th century. Alexander Cunningham undertook excavations in 1862-63 with the aim of finding the remains of early Buddhist places of worship. Alois Anton Führer undertook excavations in 1889-91 with which he wanted to prove that the Rajputs were present in Ayodhya in the 11th and 12th centuries. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) carried out excavations in Ayodhya in 1969–70, 1976–77 and 1979–80. In a report published on August 25, 2003, it concluded that there was clear evidence of the remains of an extensive 10th century Hindu temple on the site of Ayodhya. The conclusions of the ASI, however, have been criticized by various historians as not compelling or incorrect.
Legal proceedings and judgments in the Ayodhya case
|Case, place of
|Hundreds of thousands of unknown Kar Sevaks||Destruction of the Babri Mosque (robbery, attempted murder, endangerment of public order, obstruction of the security forces, sedition)|
LK Advani , Ashok Singhal (VHP), Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Vinay Katiyar, Giriraj Kashore, Uma Bharti , Murli Manohar Joshi , Sadhvi Ritambhara
|Incitement to hatred and prejudice to the detriment of national unity|
Criminal proceedings for the destruction of the mosque
After the destruction of the Babri Mosque, the CBI investigated 49 people, including LK Advani, Kalyan Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi. In 1998 the responsible special court in Lucknow declared that it had collected enough evidence to be able to bring charges. However, for formal procedural reasons, the actual bringing of charges was delayed further and further. On May 4, 2001, investigations into 22 suspects, including Advani, Kalyan Singh and Joshi, were closed for procedural reasons.
On April 19, 2017, the Supreme Court ordered the reopening of criminal proceedings for “criminal conspiracy” against leading BJP politicians, including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti . Ex-Chief Minister Kalyan Singh was exempted from the charges, but only for the period in which he enjoyed immunity as the incumbent governor of Rajasthan . In addition, rules have been adopted to speed up the process. In the proceedings negotiated in Lucknow, 195 witnesses had been heard by 2017, but another 800 were pending. In the trial in Raebareli the numbers were 57 and 105. The court ordered that the two trials in Raebareli and Lucknow should be merged into one. "Daily negotiations" should ensure that the legal process would be completed within 2 years. The presiding judge Nariman described the previous trial period of 25 years as an “ evasion of justice ”.
Ayodhya property dispute
On September 30, 2010, the Allahabad High Court , the three judge supreme court of Uttar Pradesh, passed a ruling on the property situation in Ayodhya, 60 years after the dispute was first brought before the courts. According to this, the 220 m² of the disputed area on which the Babri Mosque had stood should be divided into three equal parts. The place where the portrait of Rama had stood was awarded to the Hindus, the Sunni Waqf Council received a third of the property, and the Hindu sect Nirmohi Akhara received the remaining third. In the grounds of the judgment, the court also referred to the archaeological evidence found by the ASI that a Hindu temple used to stand on the site. Before the verdict was announced, security forces in the states of Maharashtra , Gujarat , Madhya Pradesh , Jammu and Kashmir , Karnataka and Kerala had been called on to be more vigilant due to feared unrest. All the parties to the dispute were disappointed with the verdict and it met with little approval. Both the Muslim and the Hindu applicants submitted appeals a. The Waqf Council argued that there was insufficient evidence for the existence of a Hindu temple on the site of the Babri Mosque and that the judgment was based on incorrect assumptions. Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha tried to enforce the minority vote of a judge at Allahabad High Court that the entire site should be turned over to the Hindus. The High Court's verdict was suspended on May 9, 2011 by the Supreme Court , India's highest court. In the grounds of the aforementioned Supreme Court judgment of Allahabad "strange and surprising" ( strange and surprising ) because none of the parties want a partition of the country. The division of the country would result in an endless avalanche of litigation ( “opened a litany of litigation” ). Ultimately, the Supreme Court took the case and the daily hearings began on August 6, 2019.
Supreme Court ruling on November 9, 2019
On November 9, 2019, the Supreme Court issued its verdict on the dispute over the property in Ayodhya. Although the court ruled the destruction of the mosque in 1992 as unlawful, it awarded the entire location to the Hindus. As a justification, the court stated that the investigations of the Archaeological Survey of India had shown that a “non-Islamic” building had previously stood on the site on which the Babri Mosque stood. The court also ordered the Indian central government to provide the Muslim Waqf Council with another site of the same size for the construction of a mosque within three months. The verdict was welcomed by Hindu nationalist organizations such as the RSS and the Vishva Hindu Parishad, as well as by leading BJP politicians, and regretted or criticized by Muslim organizations.
Construction of a Hindu temple from 2020
On August 5, 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi symbolically laid a silver foundation stone at the site of the sanctuary of the newly built Hindu temple. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was held on a relatively small scale but was broadcast on large screens throughout the city.
The position of the BJP
The BJP has always campaigned for the rebuilding of the Ram Janmabhumi Temple in Ayodhya. While this topic had strongly influenced the election campaign in the elections in 1989 and 1991, it has since taken a back seat. The BJP has so far provided the Prime Minister of India twice. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister at the head of a multi-party coalition between 1998 and 2004, and Narendra Modi has been Prime Minister since the 2014 election , in which the BJP won an absolute majority in parliamentary seats. Even during the reign of Vajpayee, who, like Modi, was counted as part of the moderate, less ideological wing of the BJP, the topic was not a priority and no major activities were undertaken in this direction. The interest of the Indian electorate in this has clearly decreased. In the 42-page election manifesto 2014 of the BJP, this was only addressed with a single sentence:
“BJP reiterates its stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the constitution to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.”
"The BJP reaffirms its position that all constitutional possibilities should be exhausted to enable the construction of the Rama Temple in Ayodhya."
After the final ruling by the Supreme Court in November 2019, however, the efforts on the part of the BJP, which at that time were both the Indian government and the government of the state of Uttar Pradesh, intensified with regard to the construction of the temple.
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