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All that we live and all that we see is that which goes into the past. But, all that we live and others shall see is what becomes history. November 9 2019, is one such momentous day that will be remembered by generations to come, for the sun has finally set on the longest drawn Ayodhya Dispute amongst Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhada and Ram Lalla. After 135 years of the case of Ayodhya and 65 years of it remaining pending in the court, there seems to be a forward push in this matter.

Post-independence, when the case was first taken to the court in 1949, Hindus and Muslims claimed ownership of the land only resulting into it being locked up. The year 1992 saw the Babri Masjid being razed to the ground by Karsevaks and the entire nation observed heart-wrenching riots. The hearing in Allahabad High Court began in 2002 to determine the claim on disputed land and was followed by division of it into three equal parts in 2010. The decision was unacceptable to parties involved and thus began the proceeding of the most controversial case of our secular country in the Supreme Court.

The situation has been a political and religious contortion, literally! It seemed as if everyone merged their identities in 1947, which in a way propagates the idea that each one of us is an Indian first and then associated with any religion. But, this truly doesn’t fare true in the Ayodhya dispute. Primarily, no party was ready to give up its claim. Secondly, there had not been any result of the mediation among the parties involved. Being a religious matter, it involved numerous intricacies which needed to be dealt with utmost care.

The entire country had been holding its breath for the final verdict of the age-long Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, with the supreme court on October 16 2019 concluding its daily hearings that had gone on until the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi roared ‘enough is enough’ on the 40th day. The judgement has been delivered today. Both sides i.e. Hindus and Muslims have presented a very strong case bringing into limelight various suggestions, perceptions and religious guidelines.

The major debate led by the Hindus was based on the disputed land being the birthplace of Lord Shri Ram. The place thus attracts a lot of sentimental value to the Hindu community. Just like Mecca the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad, Bethelem the birthplace of Jesus and Lumbini the birthplace of Lord Buddha are sacred places of worship for the followers of Islam, Christianity and Buddhism respectively; Ayodhya the birthplace of Lord Rama becomes the epicentre of belief, and hence, their right to construct a place of worship at the spot where their lord was born should not be taken away from them. Even though there was no strong proof of the disputed land being the birthplace, it rested in the ‘Belief is Evidence’ situation. Ram Lalla counsel had also argued that the ‘Once a temple, always a temple’ principle suggests the reconstruction of Ram Mandir. A report published by the Archeological Survey of India stated that there were findings of a structure which existed before the mosque was constructed in the 16th century. It reported that there is sufficient proof of the existence of a monumental structure just below the disputed structure. The lawyer presenting the case for Hindus has also shown an image of a 12th century stone slab with a medieval-style Sanskrit inscription. He claimed that the verses suggested the presence of a Vishnu Temple. The other images shown in the court depict the sculptures of humans, flowers and animals which do not sit with the Islamic way of representation. The Shia Waqf Board has said that the Muslim parties must relinquish their claim and hand over the disputed land for the construction of the temple. The unshakeable faith of this nation’s religious majority and their vehement belief coupled with the occurrence of events make the case well established for Hindus.

On the flip side, the Sunni Waqf Board suggested the restoration of Babri Masjid to its original form. The placement of the idol of Ram Lalla in the masjid in 1949 and the demolition of the masjid were heinous crimes and an attempt to disrupt religious harmony. Such actions are condemned as unconstitutional and undignified. The Sunni Board Claims that there were no concrete proofs of the structure discovered by Archaeological Survey of India to be a Ram Lalla Temple. They established the fact that since civilisation, new structures have been constructed over the old ones and hence the Babri Masjid falls in the same situation. Construction of Masjid by Mir Baqi at the desire of Babar was done in the early 16th century. Since the king had complete authority over the land, the Muslim community becomes the legitimate holder of the title of the Babri Masjid. They also claimed that the inscription of the word ‘Allah’ on the wall and the entrance of the masjid was an evidence strong enough to prove the structure as Islamic. The images of flowers, humans and animals found did not indicate the existence of a temple as various mosques all over the world have such form of imagery, thus the argument of them being unislamic falls flat. ‘Belief is Evidence’ cannot be taken into consideration as the belief of Muslims for the mosque also exists since the 16th century. Lack of conclusive proof on the other side and the unparalleled values attached by the minority Muslims in the structure makes their case ironclad.

The bench, led by the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi alongside CJI designate Bobde, D.Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S.A., in a unanimous judgement ruled in favour of the Hindus and the bench ordered that a temple must be built at the disputed site and trust will be formed by the Central Government to look into the construction of the temple. Also, the suit of the Nirmohi Akhara was barred by limitation by the Supreme court. However, Muslims would be entitled to a five-acre land in Ayodhya itself. The court ruled that the decision is merely based on facts and not on faith. The judgement is revolutionary in nature and thus brings an end to the age-long grotesque dispute. The bench of five judges also made it explicit that law lies above faith and religion and thus the court wasn’t ruling on faith. The Muslim possession was always contested by Hindus who worshipped and performed rituals on the very claimed site.

Now with the final verdict in place, there stands a chance of havoc being ignited in the name of the Lord Almighty. The representatives may be willing to accept the decision made by the court but the community members might not. It may, in most probable-case-scenario, result in nation-wide riots which would consequently lead to economic unrest in the country. In such a situation, the financial markets will start to fall as people will become more inclined towards saving their resources. They will withdraw money from the markets fearing a crash in the prices due to a nation-wide dispute, which may ultimately lead to a decline. Foreign investors may withdraw their investments, leading to a fall in FDI on account of the lack of political and social stability in the country.

History illustrates the situation well; after the riots of 1992-1993, output and employment were negatively impacted and it is believed that the process of liberalisation was to an extent derailed for the time being. The bomb blasts of Mumbai and the Gujarat riots which were the aftermath of the ‘Babri’ slowed down the economy of both the states as investments were withdrawn by Indian and global businesses. But this unrest might only be a possibility in case there are riots. If the government ensures stability, this might not be the harsh status quo, thereby signifying harmony in the masses. Although, as a cautious move, the government deployed police forces in U.P and Delhi as well, along with the imposition of section 144 in Uttar Pradesh.

On the other hand, if the decision is accepted by the communities peacefully, the situation will have a completely opposite result. The economy would profit as FDI would boost, owing to the stability in the country. Peace among the major religions of the nation will reflect steadiness which will henceforth increase investments. Moreover, religious harmony will strengthen our position internationally.

In order to ensure that such religious conflicts do not happen in the future, the Supreme Court must entail certain resolutions in their much-awaited verdict. Primarily, the places of religious worship act 1991, an amendment of the pre-existing act of 1951, explicitly states that no person or group shall convert any place of worship of one religious denomination into a place of worship of another denomination. For future precedents, this act should be mandated in its very essence. Second, during the demolition of Babri Masjid, around 22 mosques were vandalised. The decision for the restoration of these mosques must be passed as well.

Third, The apex body should closely monitor the current scenario of various religious places so that such a matter is not repeated in future. The demolition of Babri Masjid is cited as a major factor of terrorist bombings in Mumbai. So on a conclusive note, such disputed ensuing communal riots are not just detrimental on the religious front but on the national security and economic front as well.

Consideration of all facts and evidence given by both sides called for intense scrutiny. In such a situation where the question was of peace and coexistence of two religious communities of a secular nation, the decision is usually taken with an objective view in order to appease almost all the parties in contention. Irrespective of the intention of the CJI and the Supreme Court, the decision taken has been verified by the law of the country, thereby in accordance with “The Rule of Law”.


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