Accounts of foreign travellers and historians have established beyond doubt the location of the Ramjanmabhoomi, and that the temple there was demolished to make way for the Babri Masjid, senior counsel C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for Ramlalla, told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Vaidyanathan told a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi that the travelogue of English historian William Flinch, accounts of Jesuit missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler, and British surveyor Montgomery Martin prove the claim of Hindus over the disputed site.
Finch, who visited Ayodhya between 1608 and 1611, recorded the ruins of ‘Ranichand’, or Ramachand castle in Ayodhya, but there was no mention of any mosque there in his account, Vaidyanathan told the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer. He said this was significant since according to one version, the mosque was built by Mughal emperor Babur’s commander, Mir Baqi, in the 1500s.
He said the account of Tiefenthaler speaks about the “swarga-dwar (door to heaven)”, from where Ram is believed to have ascended to heaven. He said according to Tiefenthaler, Aurangazeb or Babur demolished the house that Hindus believed where Ram was born in.
At this, Justice Chandrachud asked whether the two versions on who may have constructed the mosque will affect Ramlalla’s claim to the site. Vaidyanathan replied, “It will not make any difference to the claim as regards the location of the temple, which itself is a deity…. What is established is that it (mosque) was constructed on the site which Hindus considered to be janmasthan (birthplace) of Lord Ram.” He said, “What is important about the documents is identification of janmasthan and that at the site of the temple, a mosque was put up.”
Vaidyanathan said the first mention that the temple was destroyed during the reign of Babur appears in the accounts of Montgomery Martin, a British surveyor. He also drew the court’s attention to a document which referred to clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya over the Ram temple in 1853. Historian Hans T Bakker had also, in his study on the history of Ayodhya, referred to the temple being destroyed by Babur and a mosque being constructed, the counsel submitted. He referred to a 1945 suit filed by UP Shia Wakf Board claiming rights over the mosque, which, according to it, was a Shia wakf (property). Vaidyanathan said the Shia board had stated in the plea that the mosque was built by Mir Baqi during Babur’s reign. Justice Bobde asked whether the Sunni Wakf Board, which was the respondent in the matter, had contested the Shia board’s claim.
Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the mosque side, said the Shia board has always maintained that the mosque was built on vacant land. The suit was dismissed in 1946 and the Shia Board filed an appeal against the dismissal in Supreme Court in 2017, Dhavan said.