The Supreme Court on Tuesday described the Ram Mandir – Ayodhya as a “sensitive” and “sentimental” issue and suggested that it would be best if the contentious issue is settled amicably. The top court’s suggestion comes after BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy sought an urgent hearing on the Ayodhya dispute. It also called upon parties concerned to sit together to arrive at a consensus and asked Swamy to consult the parties and inform it about the decision on March 31.
The issue dates back to 1992, when hundreds of karsevaks demolished the 16th century mosque in Ayodhya amid claims that it was the birthplace of Hindu deity Lord Rama and the mosque was constructed on the holy land of Hindus. It triggered widespread Hindu-Muslim violence. A number of senior BJP leaders, including LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, are accused in the case.
Here is a timeline showcasing the long-standing dispute:
1528: The Babri Masjid, a mosque in Ayodhya, was constructed by Mir Baki on the orders of Mughal emperor Babar. According to the Hindu community, it was built on the foundations of a temple which marked the birthplace of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. This contention lingered on for several years.
1949: Towards the end of December 1949, idols of Lord Ram appeared inside the mosque, allegedly put there by Hindus. It led to widespread protests and both communities filed cases, Hashim Ansari for Muslims and Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das for Hindus. The government declared the site as disputed and locked the gates to it.
1950: Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das, the chief of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, and Gopal Singh Visharad filed suits in Faizabad, seeking permission to pray before the installed idols. The puja was allowed though the inner courtyard gates remain locked.
1959: Nirmohi Akhara, one of the main parties to the dispute, and others filed a case and sought permission again to conduct prayers.
1961: Sunni Central Board of Waqfs in Uttar Pradesh filed a case claiming the mosque, and argued that the surrounding area was a graveyard.
1984: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad constituted a group to continue the movement as BJP leader L K Advani was made the leader of the campaign.
February 1, 1986: Faizabad district judge ordered the gates of the structure be opened for Hindus to offer prayers. Babri Masjid Action Committee was formed soon after this.
1989: The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi allowed shilanyas or a ground-breaking ceremony in an undisputed site close to the structure. The hearing of the case was subsequently shifted to the High Court.
September 25,1990: Advani launched a rath yatra (pilgrimage procession) from Somnath to Ayodhya to galvanise support for the issue countrywide.
November 1990: Advani’s rath was stopped and he was arrested in Samastipur, Bihar. Dissatisfied with the development, the BJP withdrew its support to the VP Singh government, triggering fresh elections. The saffron party made giant strides in the assembly elections by winning a majority.
December 6,1992: The disputed structure was brought down by kar sevaks and a makeshift temple was placed in its place. The PV Narasimha Rao-led Congress government then moved court for status quo.
March 5, 2003: The Allahabad High Court ordered the Archeological Survey of India to excavate the disputed site in order to determine whether a temple existed where the mosque stood.
August 22, 2003: The ASI submitted its report to the Allahabad High Court, saying it had found features of a 10th century temple beneath the site of the masjid
August 31, 2003: All India Muslim Personal Law Board said it would challenge the ASI report.
July 26, 2010: The bench reserved its judgement and advised all parties to solve the issue amicably. But no one was keen.
September 8, 2010: The High Court announced that the verdict would be pronounced on September 24.
September 14, 2010: A writ was filed to defer the judgement but was subsequently rejected by the High Court.
September 23: The plea for an out-of-court settlement reached Supreme Court and the apex body said it would hear it again on September 28.
September 28: The apex court rejected petition for deferment and gives the nod to the Allahabad High court to deliver the judgement. The High Court chose September 30 as verdict day.
September 30: The Allahabad High Court pronounced its verdict on the long-standing Ayodhya Ramjanmabhumi-Babri Masjid issue and ruled for a three-way division of the disputed area, between the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the party for ‘Ram Lalla’.
February 26, 2016: The Supreme Court permitted BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to intervene in the pending matters relating to the Ayodhya dispute with his plea seeking construction of Ram temple at the site of the demolished disputed structure.