Ram Janmbhumi Ayodhya and the demolition of Babri Masjid
Ram Janmbhumi Ayodhya is the place of birth of Sri Ram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Ayodhya is situated at the banks of Saryu River in the district of Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh. Hindu claims it to be the birth place of Lord Rama. Archeologists have also supported the theory in a great extent. According to the theory, the Mughals demolished a Hindu Temple and constructed a mosque in its place. As it was made by Babar, it was named as Babri Masjid. Some people had opposed this theory state that such claims sprang up only in the 18th century, and that there is no evidence for the site to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. The political, historical and socio-religious debate over the history and location of the Babri Mosque and whether a previous temple was demolished or modified to create it, is known as the Ayodhya dispute or Babri Mosque dispute. On December 6th, 1992, the demolition of Babri Masjid by Hindu nationalists triggered widespread Hindu-Muslim violence. Since then, the archaeological excavations have indicated the presence of a temple beneath the mosque rubble, but whether structure was a a Lord Rama temple is still a subject of judiciary. However the oldest epic poetry Ramayan suggests Ayodhya as the birth place of Rama.
Hindu nationalists believe that either Aurangazeb or Babur had demolished the Ramkot fortress, including the house that was considered as the birthplace of Lord Rama. The earliest information about the account of the mosque's connection to the birthplace of Rama comes from the European Jesuit missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler, who visited the site during 1766-1771. Johann Bernoulli translated his account from French, and included it in his 1788 work. He states that a mosque was constructed in its place, but the Hindus continued to offer prayers at a mud platform that marked it as the birthplace of Lord Rama. In 1810, Francis Buchanan visited the site, and stated that the structure destroyed was a temple dedicated to Lord Rama, not a house or mosque. Many subsequent sources state that the mosque was constructed after demolishing a temple. Other noted historians including H.R. Neville wrote that the Ram Janmasthan temple "was destroyed by Babur and replaced by a mosque." He also wrote "The Janmasthan was in Ramkot and marked the birthplace of Rama. He further stated that in 1528 A.D. Babur came to Ayodhya and halted here for a week. He destroyed the ancient temple intetionally to extend the Islam in India and on its site built a mosque, still known as Babur's mosque (Babri Masjid). The materials of the old structure (the temple) were largely employed, and many of the columns were still in good preservation
Most of the Hindus believed that the Ayodhya dispute was started around 1990, but it was started a long back. In 1853, a group of armed Hindu ascetics belonging to the Nirmohi Akhara occupied the Babri Masjid site, and claimed ownership of the structure. Subsequently, the civil administration stepped in, and in 1855, divided the mosque premises into two parts: one for Hindus, and the other for Muslims. In 1883, the Hindus launched an effort to construct a temple on the platform. When the administration denied them the permission to do this, they took the matter to court. In 1885, the Hindu Sub Judge Pandit Hari Kishan Singh dismissed the lawsuit. Subsequently, the higher courts also dismissed the lawsuit in 1886, in favour of status quo. In December 1949, some Hindus placed idols of Rama and Sita in the mosque, and claimed that they had miraculously appeared there in the form of Ram Lala. As thousands of Hindu devotees started visiting the place, the Government declared the mosque a disputed area and locked its gates. Subsequently, multiple lawsuits from Hindus, asking for permission to convert the site into a place of worship.
In the 1980s, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other Hindu nationalist groups like Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) and political parties launched a campaign to construct the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir ("Rama birthplace temple"). The Rajiv Gandhi government allowed Hindus to access the site for prayers. On 6 December 1992, Hindu nationalists demolished the mosque, resulting in communal riots which had an impact for very long at a very wide level. These riots after demolishing the Babri Masjid caused casualties at a very higher level, around 2000 persons were dead.
In 2003, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conducted excavations of the site on court orders. The report of ASI indicated the presence of a 10th century temple under the mosque and gave a clear picture that the ancient Hindu Temple was demolished and a mosque was constructed. For obvious reasons, Muslim groups and some historians supporting them disputed these findings, and dismissed them as politically motivated. The Allahabad High Court, however, upheld the ASI's findings. In 2010, Court ruled that the 2.77 acres (around 1.12 ha) of Ayodhya land should be divided into 3 parts, with 1/3 going to the Ram Lala or Infant Lord Rama represented by the Hindu Maha Sabha for the construction of the Lord Ram temple. The other 1/3 going to the Islamic Sunni Waqf Board and the remaining 1/3 to a Hindu religious denomination Nirmohi Akhara. The excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India were heavily used as evidence by the court that the predating structure was a massive Hindu religious building.
The Ayodhya dispute is a political, historical and socio-religious debate and a biggest dispute in recent years in India. Many BJP leaders have tried contributing towards Ram Janmbhoomi movement which ultimately was the cause of Babri Masjid Demolition. Mr. Lal Krishna Advani (Former Vice Prime Minister of India), Ms. Uma Bharti (Current Cabinet Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in the Union Government of India), Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi (Former HRD Minister and Former President of BJP) with some other Hindu nationalists were some of the few members in the movement which has been very succesful under their leadership. But this has caused a great agitation amongst Muslims and a high level of riots happened due to this aggression between Hindu and Muslims all over India on 6th December, 1992 and later. Becuase of this, Allahabad High Court and recently Supreme Court of India has found these members guilty of provoking the mass for Ram Janmbhoomi movement. A case is held pending against all these distinguished members.
However, newly elected Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Sri Yogi Adityanath ji who is also known as a pro Hindu and associated with a world's largest political party - BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party) is willing to make Ram Mandir in Ayodhya a reality. Sri Narendra Modi ji, Prime Minister of India who is again a pro hindu facet is also ambitious towards Ram Janmbhoomi. In a recent progress, Yogi Adityanath ji has permitted importing stones to Uttar Pradesh for Ram Janmbhoomi and crafting stones for the temple walls and pillars. If all goes well, we will see a magnificient Ram Mandir in Ayodhya in very near future.