Ayodhya is the city situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the northern part of India. It lies on the bank of the river Saryu. It is considered by many Hindus as one of the sacred seven cities, and a place where Lord Ram was born. A city with a rich cultural heritage, where devotion meets serenity. Associated as the birthplace of Lord Ram, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu: the Lord of the universe, the city holds great importance to many Hindus. The city is mentioned in the legends, stories, and including in the Epic poem Ramayana and the city was described as a prosperous city and called, ‘city established by Gods’. Besides Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Islam prospered there and still, we can see the great amount of Influence of these religions on the city. Apart from all these enchantments Ayodhya has a history of India’s longest-running property dispute which caused the major strife in the town over the decades.
History of Dispute:
Ayodhya land dispute was focused on a piece of land which was widely believed by many Hindus that it was the place where Lord Ram was born and popularly called by many ‘Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Janmasthan’ and the place is considered as an abode of God.
In the year 1528, Mir Baqi, the general of first Mughal Emperor Babur built a Mosque and according to widely held beliefs the site on which the mosque was built was originally the temple, and the demolition of the preexisting structure and creation of a mosque over there was a long bone of contention between two major religious communities of India both claiming the site was originally belonged to them and the repercussion of this whole issue of demolition/modification of the site had caused much furor in the State, so much so, that in the year 1857 it caused a major conflagration in the area between Hindus and Muslims in the vicinity of the mosque. In a bid to calm the situation and to establish peace the colonial government erected a six to seven feet structure which divided the premises into the outer courtyard and inner courtyards. The inner courtyard was for the Muslims and outer courtyard for the Hindus where they constructed a platform called Ram Chabutra.
But the bifurcation of the premises did not resolve the issue. There were several attempts from both sides to claim the side of others and this also caused Hindu-Muslims riots in the area. The first attempt was made by Mahant Raghu Bar Das, who filed a suit before sub-judge of the Fakirabad district seeking permission to build a temple in the outer courtyard, claiming himself as a ‘Mahant of Ram Janmasthan’ . The judge dismissed the suit claiming that it can cause the communal riots in the area.
But the attempt did not end, there were several skirmishes around the area.
In 1949, mysteriously the idol of Ram appeared inside the Mosque. A case was filed by the Police and which led to the seizing of the property and locking of the area by the city magistrate. Again, in the year 1959, the Niromhi Akhara filed a suit for possession of the site and claimed they were the original custodians of the disputed site, following this in the year 1961 Sunni Waqf board the umbrella organization of Muslims filed a suit challenging the suit filed by Niromhi Akhara, claiming ownership of the land.
In the year 1986, Rajiv Gandhi government was facing ire of the opposition and various charges of appeasement as they reversed the judgment of Shah Bano in which Supreme Court gave a verdict that Muslim women can get alimony after divorce, in the same year Faizabad court-ordered to the opening of the locks which paved the way for Hindus to access the premises following this order Rajiv Gandhi government showed great alacrity in following the order as the government wanted to pacify the Hindus. This opened the pandora box for then newly formed political party called BJP Bharatiya Janata Party and its leaders like L.K Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee et to make this issue a nationwide issue of ‘Hindu Re-awakening’ so, in September 1990, L.K Advani started the rath yatra from Somnath temple in Gujarat to the Ayodhya seeking to build Ram Temple at the disputed site in this journey thousands of Kar-Sevaks were involved and rallying towards the Ayodhya with a demand to build a grand Temple. 6 December 1992 the day thousands of kar-sevaks gathered around the existing structure in Ayodhya and razed the Mosque which was present there and it led to communal tensions all around India.
The matter was brought to the courts by both of the groups over the subsequent years.
In 2010 the Allahabad High Court gave a verdict that the portion of the disputed land of 2.77 acres should be divided into three parts and given to Niromi Akhara, Hindus and Muslims equally. The petitioners were not happy with this decision of the Allahabad High court so they moved to the supreme court and the Supreme Court stayed the verdict of the Allahabad High Court.
Supreme Court Verdict:
In the year 2019 five-judge bench including Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, justices DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhusan, SA Bobde, S Abdul Nazeer gave a landmark judgment ending the decades of dispute. The Supreme court verdict said that according to various archaeological, literary, and other oral, written sources presented by the Hindu side that there was indeed a Hindu structure on which later Mosque was constructed and the fact that Hindu structure was there cannot be disputed. Supreme Court ordered to give the entire 2.77 acres of the land to the deity Ram Lalla and as a compensation Supreme Court directed Central and state governments to give 5 acres of land to the Muslim parties in prominent place somewhere else. Referring to the demolition of Babri Masjid at the disputed site the apex court said it was the violation of the law, and said the wrong committed must be remedied. Hence ending India’s longest-running property dispute.
Ayodhya was one of the most critical issues that we as a nation faced, it tested our patience, unity, and belief in Indian state and rule of law, while it was held that one party will get ownership of the land it was also held that other party should be compensated, this is the ethos India should proud of where we try to accumulate every one and provide justice to all. The fact that after the verdict of this case there was no communal strife happened in the country it provides us shining proof that we have matured as an individual and our faith in the Indian state, its institutions, and rule of law is unshattered. We as a nation have a long way to go and it will be only possible if we will stand together with each one holding the hand of the other as a companion.