The Supreme Court which heard the case demanding the transfer of the disputed land to the very criminals  who demolished it in a well-planned crime using the fig-leaf of a cover that it was constructed by demolishing an existing temple, is so much penetrated by the RSS men or terrorized by them that it did not face any difficulty to get it done. Similarly, the Special Court which heard the case against the RSS/BJP leaders who led the RSS hooligans to demolish the more than five century old Babri Masjid acquitted all of them claiming there are no witnesses for a crime committed in day light in front of more than a lakh military to local militia, more civilians of Ayodhya and tens of millions of people who saw it through TV channels. And, as per the Manusmrithi rules, the PM of India along with th RSS Pramukh conducted the Bhoomipuja for the Ram temple being constructed in the disputed land where the Babri Masjid stood, throwing out the secular principles enshrined in India’s Constitution.

All these happened within a year after Modi won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with a bigger majority. All these horrific developments reminds all democratic forces and the affected  people about the barbaric way the Babri Masjid was demolished in a well-planned conspiracy of RSS leaders at the culmination of a bloody campaign with a Rathyathra by L K Advani. If a large number of people died and the Muslim minority was subjected to all forms of suppression and lynching, presently it is open fascist offensive destroying all democratic values in the society. The CPI(ML) Red Star severely condemns the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and the intensifying saffronization of all walks of life subjecting the minority and oppressed dalits and Adivasis to all sorts of attacks, including public lynching and gang rapes and murder of dalit women. It also condemns the Supreme Court order handing over the disputed land entirely to the RSS and the Special Court’s order releasing all the criminal leaders responsible for the planned demolition of Babri Masjid. CPI(ML) Red Star calls for observing 6th December as Black Day, and for further intensifying the ongoing campaign against Manuvadi Hindutva, the theoretical base of RSS neo-fascism.

CPI(ML) Red Star.

Today, the curtain came down on the drama enacted by consecutive governments for the last 28 years after the criminal act of demolition of Babri Masjid on 6th December, 1992, in broad day light with millions of people hearing the extortions of Uma Bharathi, LK Advani and others to the tens of thousands of the hoodlums mobilized by RSS, many of whom were staying at Ayodhya for many days and getting trained how to demolish such an old structure, and thousands of them rushing up to the tombs and start demolishing, with the large numbers of state police, para-miitary and military forces mobilized to implement the assurance given to the Supreme Court by the state and central governments that the babri Masjid shall be protected at any cost, standing like silent witnesses to the barbaric act. The governments at centre, the investigation agencies and the judiciary were engaged in finding out the culprits. Today reading out the 2,000-page order, CBI judge Surendra Kumar Yadav acquitted all 32 accused in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case. The court observed that the demolition was not pre-planned and evidences are not strong. Earlier, the former CJI, Ranjan Gogoi,  reading out the  Supreme Court order handing over the  2.71 acre land where the Babri Masjid stood to the very same criminals of RSS parivar who had committed the criminal act of demolishing the Masjid. Today the honourable judge for the CBI found no body is responsible for the demolition and acquitted all the criminals. This is the way fascism works, and CBIs and Judges works. Decisions are taken in the  office of Modi and everyone will implement it.

 

It is high time we clearly say Down with Manuvadi RSS Neo-Fascism and strengthen our efforts to overthrow it.

 

KN Ramachandran,

General Secretary

CPI(ML) Red Star

 

New Delhi

30th September 2020

In conversation with the noted historian on the history of the land dispute, how the issue was communalised, why he thinks it cannot be said that there was a temple under the Babri Masjid, and more.

Eminent historian Dwijendra Narayan Jha pioneered studies on material culture in early Indian history. In his academic career spanning more than 35 years, he undertook extensive research on society and the economy in ancient India, and probed different dimensions of feudalism in early medieval India. As a professional historian, he actively intervened in contemporary political debates that derived their relevance from historical studies. In the process, he was targeted by multiple Hindutva organisations rather frequently. For instance, when his book The Myth of the Holy Cow brought out historical references about beef eating in sub-continental dietary habits in ancient India, he became the target of all those who disliked his conclusions. He has always valued historical evidence over myths, and at most times been on the wrong side of the powerful. 

He was a part of a team of independent historians who scrutinised historical and archaeological evidence to dismiss the notion in its report that there was a Hindu temple underneath the Babri mosque. In this detailed interview to The Wire by Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta, he trashes the theory that the Babri mosque in Ayodhya was built by demolishing a Hindu temple. He also speaks of how Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) shifted its stand on the issue and, thus helped the Sangh parivar foment a Hindu-Muslim conflict around the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue.  

The Supreme Court will be giving its verdict on Allahabad high court judgment soon. Thus, the dispute has become topical again. How, as a professional historian, do you look at it?

The Ayodhya dispute has been hanging fire for a long time now. Hindus and Muslims have been fighting over the control of the disputed site. As I have said in my earlier interviews to the media, I see it as a battle between faith and rationality. For it is impossible to prove that Ram was born within the limits of 2.77 acre of the disputed land in Ayodhya. I don’t see any logic in this faith. And as a professional historian I think history cannot be written on the basis of faith; whatever is written or spoken about on its basis is only fantasy.

You were a part of  the team of historians that wrote “Ramjanmabhumi-Baburi Masjid: A Historians’ Report to the Nation”. What were your main findings? 

First, I would like to clarify that the four historians – Suraj Bhan, Athar Ali, R.S. Sharma and I – who authored the report were independent of the government and of the two contending parties to the dispute. This effectively meant lack of cooperation from them. 

But despite this, we were able to produce the report. We examined all the textual and archaeological evidence and came to the conclusion that there was no Hindu temple beneath the mosque.

How do you assess the role of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in fomenting the conflict? The ASI report built its theory that the masjid was built on a Hindu temple on the basis of “pillar bases” that it supposedly found. What is your take? 

The ASI and the Hindu party have argued for the existence of the temple on the basis of “pillar bases”. But there are some points to be clarified about them. First the attitude of B.B. Lal, the former director-general of the ASI, who first excavated at Ayodhya, has been shifting his stand about them. In his first report, he does not mention the pillar bases. In 1988, Lal presented a paper at the ICHR (Indian Council of Historical Research) seminar which also is totally silent about the pillar bases; and when he delivered a lecture on the historicity of the Ramayana he made no reference to the pillar bases.

But soon after the shilanyas in November 1989, Lal underwent a metamorphosis and in October 1990, in a paper published in an RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) publication, he referred to a pillared structure adjacent to the mosque; this was nearly 15 years after he excavated at Ayodhya. Scholars grow all the time and they may modify their opinion from time to time. But Lal grew at a frenetic pace and this makes his finding of pillar bases suspect. 

Second, the 14 black stone pillars with non-Islamic motifs, which we found embedded at the arched entrances of the mosque were decorative pieces and not load bearing. The four historians wanted to examine the issue further but the ASI did not give them the site notebook.

Has the ASI made its report available to historians and archaeologists for assessment? 

I have not seen the final report on the excavations carried under the court orders but those archaeologists and historians who have read it have trashed it. First, the ASI archaeologists who carried out the excavation did not observe the scientific norms which should have been observed in  such an exercise. Second, the excavation was carried out with preconceived ideas about the presence of the temple. Third, the report suppresses evidence. For example, animal bones, gazed ware and glazed tiles, which have been found at the various levels, do not find any mention in the report.

You have been of the view that faith has superseded history/historical fact in the way a majority of Indians, and even the courts, have come to understand the demolition of Babri Masjid. Why do you think so?

In my view, it is only faith of the Hindu parties that was the overriding consideration for the Allahabad high court. The historical evidence was totally relegated to the background; it was trashed.

How did the notion that Babri Masjid was built at the site of Ram Janmabhoomi become popular? What are the textual and other references of Ram temples in Indian history?

The first known Sanskrit text to place Lord Rama’s birth place in a locality of Ayodhya is the Skanda Puråna. It has several versions, and is full of interpolations. The Ayodhyamahtmya itself (which forms part of Skanda Purana) is probably an interpolation of the late 18th or early 19th century. 

Judging by its internal evidence, it is not earlier than 1600 (C.E). Of more than 30 sacred sites it mentions it names one as janmasthana. Interestingly, the compilers of the text devote eight verses to the janmasthana but 100 verses to the place whence he is supposed to have gone to heaven. The place is called the svargadwara. So the text on which the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) and other groups are relying attaches greater importance to his passing away than to his birth!

The death of Rama was more important for the compilers of the text than the place of his birth. Also, the svargadwara is on the bank of the river Saryu, far away from the mosque site which is claimed to be the birthplace.

The French Jesuit priest Tifenthaller visited Ayodhya perhaps before 1765 and he for the first time referred to the destruction of the temple for the construction of the mosque. But it took time to become popular.

Was Ayodhya always regarded as a pilgrimage centre in historical texts? What does Tulsi Das’s Ramcharitmanas say about Ayodhya? 

There is no evidence to show that Ayodhya was a Hindu pilgrimage centre in ancient times. And it had not emerged as one even as late as the 18th century. Tulsidas, the celebrated author of the Ramcharitmanas does not mention Ayodhya as a pilgrim centre. He suggests that it was not Ayodhya but Prayag that was to him the principal place of pilgrimage.   

Is there a possibility that Ayodhya could have been a centre of other religions too, say Buddhism or Jainism?

There is evidence that Ayodhya was an important Buddhist centre in the early medieval period. Huen Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim who came to India in the seventh century, during the time of Harshvardhana, referred to Buddhist presence here. He recorded that there were 100 Buddhist monasteries but only ten abodes of devas [Brahmanical gods] at this place. 

Ayodhya is also known as Saket which occurs in Buddhist as well as Jain scriptures. Moreover, Jains claim that it was the place of birth of Rishabnath, their earliest tirthankar. And Abu Fazl, mentions the tradition that two Jewish prophets lie buried at Ayodhya.  So the town was of sacred importance for several religions.

How and when did the whole Ayodhya dispute take a communal turn, in your view? In fact, the Hindutva groups now claim that not just Babur but several other so-called Muslim rulers, including Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan, destroyed many Hindu temples. 

There is no doubt that the Muslim rulers destroyed Hindu temples. But we should remember that Hindus are more notorious in destroying the temples or places of worship. It can be proved that they destroyed innumerable religious establishments of Jains and Buddhists. Certainly it is a matter to be researched – who destroyed how many temples in the country.

There is not much evidence of communal conflict in medieval India. But at Ayodhya, the Hindu-Muslim clash took place in 1855, though the issue between the Hindus and Muslims was sorted out by the officers of the Nawab of Awadh. His officers settled the issue by allowing  the idols being placed outside the mosque on what came to be known as Sita Ki Rasoi; a trust (Waqf) was also created. The property  issue was finally settled in 1885 when the sub-judge of Faizabad and the Judicial Commissioner of Awadh decided that the Muslims continue their possession of the mosque and transferred Sita Ki Rasoi to the Hindus.

The matter should have remained settled but the situation changed with the rise of communalism in the 1930s.

A milestone in the communalisation of the dispute is  December 1949 when the idol of Rama was surreptitiously put inside the mosque. The communalisation of the dispute received an unprecedented boost in 1984 when the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) was formed, with the slogan of building a Ram Temple at the site of the Babri Masjid.  

In pre-independence India, were there scholars who studied the temple destruction theory? I remember you saying that a Scottish physician, Francis Buchanan, who worked with the Bengal Medical Service, visited Ayodhya in 1810 and rubbished this theory. 

Of course, (H.M) Eliot and (John) Dawson wrote about the destruction of temples by Muslim rulers (in 1871) but did not study the problem as such. They, however, referred to the fact of destruction. The prominent historian to have made references to the destruction/desecration of Hindu temples was (historian) Jadunath Sarkar.

Do you think the courts should have involved historians and archaeologists in the whole adjudication process following the demolition?

Certainly. The historians should have been consulted in the adjudication process. I think a panel of international experts should have been entrusted the task of deciding whether there existed a temple under the mosque; judiciary alone is not equipped to pass judgment on a historical fact. But what can one expect from the judiciary which dismisses the report of historians and archaeologists as mere opinion?

Your team submitted your report to the government of India. How was its response?

We submitted our report to the government of India through Mr V.K. Dhall, in-charge of the Ayodhya cell in the PMO. But (we) never heard from him or anybody else from the government.

Finally, how does a lay person form an opinion on the matter amidst contrasting viewpoints of history? The proponents of a Ram temple in Ayodhya claim that only the so-called Marxist historians believe that there was no Hindu temple there.

The lay person has to be educated, and they should be convinced of a rational point of view. How one does it is a big problem. I have no ready answer for this. But make no mistake. The Marxists are not responsible for propagating the absence of the temple. The Hindutva groups are only raising a bogey of Marxism because they are unable to argue their case. n

A study of the 1045 page long verdict of Supreme Court on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhumi disputed land shows that instead of relying on the historical and archeological facts, the SC has relied on faith, that it was the Hindu forces hold the record for comparatively more consistent period of faith that it was Ram Janmabhumi where the Masjid was constructed! The Babri Mosque was constructed in 1528-29. Till it was closed down in 1949 following the forcible insertion of Ram idols by the Hindu Mahasabha goons and the state administration refusing to get them removed, it was a mosque where namaz was taking place continuously. And in its orders the SC itself accepts that the 1949 insertion of idols and demolition of it in 1992 were illegal acts. So what are the historical facts:

1) The Babri Masjid was constructed during 1528-29. During 1856-58, when the British colonialists tried to annex Avadh, the forces of Begum Hazrath Mahal, with the support of Hindus and Muslims defeated them causing great damages. Realizing that without breaking the Hindu-Muslim unity Avadh cannot be conquered, based on a booklet published by a British army captain alleging Babri Masjid was constructed after demolishing the Ram temple existing there, a hate campaign against Muslims was provoked using fanatical Brahmanical forces recruited by them. It was these fanatical forces who damaged the Babri domes in 1856 as a part of their campaign. After weakening the Hindu-Muslim unity in this manner, the British attacked Avadh again, defeated it and hanged Hazarat Mahal.

(2) Though the allegation was repeated by the Hindutva forces occasionally, it was during the communally surcharged period before 1947 partition and following it, this question was ignited again by the Hindu Mahasabha. In 1949, its goons with the backing of K K Nayyar, then Faizabad district magistrate (who became a leader of Jan Sangh after retirement), stealthily inserted Ram idols inside the Masjid. Though the central government ordered their removal, it was not implemented by the UP government led by Congress chief minister, Govind Ballab Pant. Instead, it closed down the Masjid and used it for appeasement of Hindu voters to win the by-election to Faizabad Lok Sabha seat taking place then.

(3) Following the SC verdict on Shahbano case in 1985, when the Rajiv Gandhi government amended the Constitution for appeasement of Muslim clergy, the RSS Parivar intensified the campaign demanding the opening of the Babri Masjid for Shilanyaz, for worshipping the bricks brought from different parts for the construction of the Ram mandir at the disputed site. In 1986 the locks were opened and the RSS parivar started worships and later went ahead with the Shilanyaz. Though, RSS had hatched plans and its parivar was openly calling for demolition of Babri Masjid and construction of Ram mandir at the same place called disputed land by that time , the courts were sleeping over the cases related to it and the governments at centre and in UP compromising with the RSS.

(4) As the campaign for Ram mandir intensified, especially after the mandal Commission Report was released by V P Singh government in 1989 and introduction of neoliberal regime by Manmohan Singh, the finance minister of Narasimha Rao government in 1991, acting upon many petitions the SC had got assurance from the Congress government at cente and the BJP government in UP that they will take all necessary actions to protect Babri Masjid. But, violating the SC orders the BJP govt in UP allowed mobilization of Hindutva goons in large numbers at Ayodhya and even their training for the demolition. In spite of intelligence reports, the central govt did not act against the state govt’s actions. And when the karsevaks led by L.K.Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharathi and scores of other leaders went ahead with the demolition on 6th December, instead of protecting the Masjid, the goons were allowed to complete the demolition and to disperse. That is, the huge security force from police to military deployed by state and central govts, instead of protecting the Masjid as the SC had ordered, were in effect giving protection to the goons to complete their demolition. Following this, instead of arresting the criminal forces who did it, they were allowed to start worshipping the Ram idols there, while violating the rights of the Muslims to worship there. These are historical facts. Instead of basing on these, the SC Bench led by the CJI Ranjan Gogoi depended on secondary or tertiary evidences like myths, stories and travelogues to show that Hindus had a longer record of believing that it is where Ram was born! It refused to look in to the findings of the archeological investigations also. The demolition had led to many archeological investigations to find the truth. But, except finding few remnants of some old structures, none of them could establish that these were remnants of a Ram temple.

It is interesting that though there are mentions of the search for the birth place of Ram based on myths and puranas, the historical search for what happened in India stops at what happened to Somnath temple in the 14th century, But the SC Bench should have gone back at least up to 8th century, when under the aggressive Brahmanical offensive of Adi Sankara, the ancestors of the Hindutva goons who demolished the Babri Masjid, burnt down or vandalized or destroyed Charvak, Lokayat institutions and thousands of Budhist centers and seminaris, if they wanted to know what really happened in Indian history.

Once the SC verdict came out, why the CJI was in such a hurry to complete the hearing and to announce the order before he retires became crystal clear. He and others in the Bench with him were acting like a group with a contract from RSS to bring out a verdict handing over the disputed 2.77 acres, where Babri Masjid stood till 1992, to the very same forces who illegally interfered twice and finally demolished it. This order based on a travesty of facts will help only the RSS which wants to make India a Hindurashtra very fast. It will only help the majoritarian Hindutva forces, while it terrifies the Muslims, dalits, Adivasis, women and all other oppressed classes and sections in our society. If the SC Bench really wanted to use Article 142 to deliver ultimate justice, it could have reinforced the composite character of the site and the plural traditions of the country by asking the trust to build a public place like a centre of knowledge, a university or a hospital, while punishing those responsible for the demolition. The present verdict will only help the divisive forces. It will not help the rule of rights. So, it should be reviewed and justice should be given to the affected in the spirit of our Constitution and based on facts and evidences, not faith.

K N Ramachandran
General Secretary
CPI (ML) Redstar

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(ML) Red Star discussed the final unanimous verdict of the Supreme Court on the fractious Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhumi disputed land issue and has issued the following statement:

From the time attempts were made by communal forces and vested interests to communalize the issue and to divide the people, leading to tragic consequences for a long time, we have called for a negotiated settlement or judicial resolution to put an end to this dispute and establish peace so that the people can concentrate on the joint struggles for the settlement of their cardinal issues. So, in the context of today’s unanimous SC’s order, we appeal to all sections of people not to be misled by vested interests and strive for mutual understanding and unity.

At the same time, the affected people have the right to continue discussions on this order to prevent recurrence of such disputes, especially using this order as a pretext to rake up similar other issues.

By this order the Court has handed over the 2.77 acre disputed land to the Hindu side for the construction of a temple through a trust. An alternate plot of five acres is allotted to the Sunni Wakf Board in Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque. It is an attempt to issue an apparently balanced order.

But, it is contradicting the SC’s own observations that the insertion of Ramlala idol inside the Masjid in 1949 was illegal, and demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 was a criminal act. The SC also accepts Muslim ownership of this land for five centuries. It also did not agree with the argument that remnants of the structure found below Babri Masjid are of a temple. In spite of these, handing over the entire disputed site to Hindu side does not look like a fare decision. Especially when the SC has so far refused to act on the petitions challenging the scrapping of Article 370 by central government on 5th August, it is natural that apprehensions are raised about the fairness of this decision.

In this context, it is imperative on the part of the SC and the administration to ensure that no further disputes on religious places take place utilizing this order as a precedent.. The 1991 Places of Religious Worship Act should be strictly followed, and the administration and concerned courts should take up the long pending cases pertaining to 1949 and 1992 illegal acts speedily in the same manner followed by the SC to issue this order.


KN Ramachandran,
General Secretary
CPI(ML) Red Star.

New Delhi
9th November 2019

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.