Countering claims by Muslim parties over the disputed Babri Masjid-Ram Janam Bhoomi site in Ayodhya, a lawyer for Ram Lalla Virajman,an organisation that claims to represent the infant deity Ram, argued before the Supreme Court on Friday that just because Muslims may have offered prayers once at the disputed location does not give them the right to lay claim over it.
‘Just as prayers are being offered on a street (by Muslims) doesn’t mean a claim of ownership over it can be made. This place was never considered a mosque. People may have gone and offered prayers but faith was not there,’ senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan told a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court.
Relying on an April 1950 report by the commissioner of Faizabad, which neighbours Ayodhya, Vaidyanathan, submitted that ‘this report provides a detailed description of the disputed structure in April 1950. And it is clear that there are so many structures and images of human beings and animals which discount the claim that it is a mosque and also shows that this place has been worshipped by Hindus.’
Basing his argument on the photographs of the disputed site taken in 1990, the lawyer said photos of pillars, motifs, inscriptions at the disputed site show that the structure was primarily Hindu.
‘The pictures discount the submission that this was a mosque in which worship was made. Temple was there and prayers were continuously being offered here despite the fact that a dome was there on the top. No mosque will ordinarily contain pillars like this. The images (inside the Babri structure) are contrary to Islamic belief — Islam does not have images in their place of worship, whether of a human being or animals,’ said Vaidyanathan
The five-judge bench omprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and justices S A Bobde, Ashok Bhushan, D Y Chandrachud and S Abdul Nazeer is conducting day-to-day hearings on the contentious Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case that was filed in 2010.
Vaidyanathan also took the five judge bench through the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI’s) 2003 report asserting that ‘this land on which mosque has come up was not vacant or agricultural land but there stood a massive structure.’
ASI had carried out excavations at the disputed site on the orders of the Allahabad high court. Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against a 2010 judgment by the high court, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla Virajman.
‘Construction of that structure had started as farback as 2 century BC and over the centuries there have been additions it measures around 50 mts x 30 mts with huge number of pillars. Providing access to public and such a structure along with other elements that have been found during excavations it shows that it was a temple; however, there is nothing which may show directly that it was of Lord Rama. But keeping the faith and belief of people in mind and preponderance of probability the place was a temple. It was by demolishing this structure or on the ruins of this structure a mosque has been built,’ submitted Vaidyanathan.
Hindus claim that the 16th century Babri mosque was constructed during Mughal rule on the ruins of a Ram temple at a spot in Ayodhya that marks the birthplace of the warrior-god. Muslim parties dispute this narrative, The mosque was demolished in December 1992 by Hindu activists participating in a campaign for replacing the structure with a grand Ram temple.