Ravish Ratnam speaks with J. Sai Deepak, lawyer of the Indic Collective Trust (ICT), about the history of and latest developments in the Ayodhya Ram Temple case, perhaps the most high-profile and politically consequential case being heard by the Supreme Court of India.
The Indic Collective Samvad is an attempt to bridge the gap between the court rooms and the world at large through conversations about the proceedings of the various legal cases that the Indic Collective Trust is fighting. We will try to minimize legalese and convey a clear understanding of the cases through regular conversations with the members of ICT.
Ravish Ratnam speaks with J. Sai Deepak, lawyer of the Indic Collective Trust to get a sense of the progress in the case of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya. The focal point of the case is the site where the Babri Masjid was built by Mir Baqi, a general in the army of Babar, the founder of the Mughal empire, and was later demolished on 6th December 1992, at the peak of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement. Hindus believed that this site was the birthplace of Bhagwan Ram, a venerated figure in Hindu history, and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Hindus claim that a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Ram stood at the site before it was broken by Babar, who build a mosque over it. For anyone exploring the Ram Janmabhoomi case in detail, it is important to go deep into the history of this disputed site.
Unlike the colloquial portrayal of the Ram Janmabhoomi case being a very recent, post-independence, political phenomena, the significance of the site goes back much much earlier in time. The earliest recorded historical record is the one given by the Austrian Jesuit, Tieffenthaler, who had toured the Awadh region of present-day Uttar Pradesh between 1766 and 1771. He had noted Hindus worshipping a religious structure in the form of a ‘vedi’ (cradle) in the premises of the Babri Masjid. He had also seen a large gathering of Hindus near the structure during the occasion of Ram Navami.
In August 1855, Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh, had sent a letter to Major Outram, a British resident - the letter, among other things, stated that an altercation over the Babri Masjid had arisen between Hindus and Muslims somewhere between 1722 to 1739, during the reign of the first Nawab of Awadh.
These are some of the many pieces of evidence collected by eminent historians which show the reverence that the Hindus had for the Janmabhoomi site, and the fact that Hindus had fought against the presence of the Babri Masjid in a variety of ways for a very long period of time, even much before India’s independence from British Rule.
After India’s independence, the first formal attempt for the construction of the temple came in the year 1949 as an application by the Hindu community to the UP Government for the construction of a Rama Temple near the mosque. Since then, a number of battles have been fought inside and outside the courts of India, with the BJP’s Ram Janmabhoomi Movement being the most well known among them. Currently, the case rests in the Supreme Court, with a lot of individuals and organizations eagerly waiting for the final verdict by the Court.
Now we won’t go into the debate of whether the Ram Mandir must be built, or how many people actually support its cause. However, we do realize that many people in India are interested in the case. We also realize that most of us are not familiar with the all legal processes and related terms associated with such cases.