The magnificently designed grand Ram Mandir will be a recreation of the traditional northern Indian style of temple architecture. The temple will be 161 feet tall and almost double the size of originally planned. The interiors show a high dome with intricate carvings on its stonewalls and pillars. The genesis of ‘Nagara’ or the northern style of temple architecture been traced to 5-6th century A.D. that evolved with regional variations and complexities in design and structures as seen in Odisha, Central India and Gujarat.
The basic plan of the traditional ‘Nagara’ temple has a square ‘sanctum sanctorum’ or ‘Garbhagriha’. The temple’s elevation is marked by a conical ‘Shikhar’, which rises up from the walls of sanctum sanctorum caring the square plan and horizontal divisions of the walls to the superstructure. In the southern Dravidian style the superstructure is in form of pyramidal towers. The ‘Nagara’ Shikhar, according to traditional treatises on architecture the Shilpashastras, should give a visual impression of soaring into the sky, closely resembling the beak of a parrot- ‘Sukanasa.’
The ‘Shikhar’ crowned with ‘Mastak’ or head, thereby the entire sanctum sanctorum symbolizing the human body where the ‘Shikhar’ is the intermediate section followed by the feet or ‘Padabhaga’. Atop Shikhar placed a huge spherical stone with ‘Khapari’ or skull above which is placed pitcher –‘Kalash and Dwaj’ (religious flag).
The ‘Nagara’ style evolution is exhibitive of addition of ancillary structures that used to place in the same linear alignment of the ‘Garbhagriha. There are two broad subdivisions of ‘Nagara’ temples depending on regional variations to the shape of the ‘Shikhar’ and variations in Mandaps i.e. the Odisha and central Indian styles. Following the Odishan terminology, the ancillary structures called the ‘Natmandap’ –pavilion for musical, dance and theatrical performance, the ‘Bhogmandap’- for distribution of Prasad and the ‘Jagmohana’- or a massive pillared porch before the main shrine. A passage connects the ‘Jagmohana’ with the main shrine. Each ‘Mandap’ have a superstructure on top such that each succeeding structure was higher that preceding to give the visual effect of a range of mountains leading up to its highest peak which is the ‘Shikhar’ above the ‘sanctum sanctorum.’
Ram Mandir design — ‘Nagara’ style, 366 pillars
The proposed design of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya will be modeled on the ‘Nagara’ style and will adhere to the principles of Vastu Shastra, explained its septuagenarian architect-designer Chandrakant Sompura. After the Bhoomi and Shilas Pujan by PM Narendra Modi on August 5, construction giant Larsen and Toubro (L&T) is soon going to start building
the temple by digging the site to lay the foundation. L&T will carry out the design and construction services for Ram temple free of cost to Shree Ram Teerth Kshetra Trust as a charity gesture. Ashish Sompura has prepared the revised design of the temple. L&T will construct the architectural design made by Sompura.
The first floor of the Ram Mandir is likely to come up in the next one and a half year. The digging of the temple site is likely to start after the monsoons get over and may take about 4-5 months for completion. The laying of foundation, on the other hand, may take another 6-8 months as per the estimates and it would take another 6-8 months to complete the first of the three floors of the Ram Mandir. The entire temple is expected to be completed in the span of 36-40 months, with the remaining two floors taking another 18 months for completion and finishing of the temple requiring another 4 months.
The Ram temple will have a square base and a rectilinear outline, which is called as phamsana-style shikhar. Its sanctum sanctorum shikhar right at the entrance has an octagonal base with circular perimeter. The Ram Temple design been tweaked from the one proposed 30 years ago after the Supreme Court verdict in favour of construction at the Ramjamabhoomi site. Instead of two stories, the temple will now have 161 feet high-rise three stories as per revised plan approved in June this year by newly formed Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra trust formed to oversee its construction.
The design was modified after the Supreme Court verdict in November 2019 on the 2.77 acre site claimed by both Hindus and Muslims, where the 16th century Babri mosque stood before it was razed in 1992 by Hindu activists who believed it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple coloration the birthplace of Lord Ram.
“Now there will be five domes in place of two. It has two reasons- first, now there is no dearth of land for the temple. Second, in view of tremendous public sentiment all over the world, a large number of devotees may visit the temple every day and the size has been increased to accommodate the growing needs,” claimed Sompura. Sompura family is known for designing many temples for the last many generations, but the Ayodhya Ram temple project is special to him just as the Somnath temple was for his grandfather Prabhashankar Sompura, who designed and oversaw its reconstruction.
“This project is special as it is being built at the birthplace of Lord Ram. We have to ensure that it should be the best. With five domes that are rare, it will set unprecedented example. It will be developed as the best place of worship in terms of temple architecture,” claimed Sompura explaining the essence of the design to Tehelka on phone. “The temple has been modeled in keeping with the ‘Nagara’ style — one of the three primary architecture systems that govern temple construction in India, the others being Dravidian and Basar — and adheres to the principles of Vastu Shastra,” he added.
“This (Nagara) style is prevalent across north India but not in south India. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple is in the shape of an octagon. The perimeter of the temple is circular,” he added. Famous examples of the Nagara style of temple construction include the Somnath shrine in Gujarat. Its distinctive characteristics include a tower that gradually curves inwards, as opposed to the pyramidal towers of the Dravidian school. Basar is a combination of the two.
“The core structure of the Ram Temple has been kept the same as it was in the proposed model,” said Sompura’s son Ashish who will supervise construction as it is not possible for 77years old Sompura to travel frequently. “Another floor is being added by increasing the height of the temple by 33 feet. Apart from this, five domes will be built in three places. Total 366 pillars will be built in the entire temple — there will be 160 pillars on the first floor, 132 on the second, and 74 on the third. The sanctum sanctorum will be octagonal,” Sompura added. Each pillar will embellish sculptures of sixteen deities.
The total area of the Ram Mandir complex site is 67.703 acres held by the Union government, including 2.77 acre of the disputed land handed over to the temple trust after the Supreme Court decision last year. Government had acquired total area of which the major chunk belonged to Ram Janambhoomi Nyas trust that acquired 42 acres of land from nearby owners.
The elaborate construction plan on the site includes the central Ram Temple along with four other temples namely Bharat Temple, Laxman temple, Sita Temple and Ganesh Temple on the four corners of the complex. The plan also proposes a research center, Katha Kunj for stage plays of Ram Leela, Ras Leela, Ramayana, Bhagwat Katha, Mahabharat, and other performances. Staff quarters, Dharamshala and Bhojanshala for pilgrims would also be constructed inside the complex. The temple complex will have 24 gates made of Makrana marble.
The central Ram Temple will be 350 feet in length, 235 feet in width and 161 feet in height. The temple foundation stone will be 25 feet high on which the Chabutra will build on a 6feet high platform called Jagati. The ground floor will have the idol of lord Ram in the central Garbhagriha ‘sanctum sanctorum’ and the first story will have Ram Darbar. The temple will have five main divisions starting at the Singh Dwar or temple main entrance, starting with Rang Mandap, Nritya Mandap, Kudu Mandap, Garbhagriha and Parikrama. The Kudu Mandap on either side has Prarthanamandap and Kirtanmandap. The Singh dwar will be the main entrance gate of the Ram temple and made of white ‘Makrana’ marble. The stone for construction of temple will come from Bharatpur and Rajasthan.
The Sompuras of Ahmedabad, the family behind some of India’s most famous temples, including the Akshardham and Somnath temples of Gujarat, will now see their vision materialize in Ayodhya in the form of the Ram Mandir. The septuagenarian architect Chandrakant Sompura designed many temples, but the Ayodhya Ram temple project is special to him just as the Somnath temple was for his grandfather Prabhashankar Sompura, who designed and oversaw its reconstruction.
The family claims to have designed at least 131 temples in India and abroad including the Swaminarayan temple in London, and a few others in the US — over 15 generations. The Ram Temple project is being handled by two of the youngest members of this clan, Nikhil (55) and Ashish (49), under the wings of their father Chandrakant (77), who now works from home due to old age.
Chandrakant’s grandfather Prabhashankar Oghadbhai Sompura designed the Somnath temple. He has written 14 books on the Shilpashastras. He had been awarded the Padma Shri in 1973 for his outstanding contribution in Science & Engineering. Chandrakant now guides his son Ashish and Nikhil from home, who attend the meetings of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust. Eight ongoing projects Sompura family is presently handling including famous DevasthanPavagadh in Gujarat under the guidance of Chandrakant.
GAINERS AND LOSERS OF TEMPLE MOVEMENT
The Ramjanambhoomi movement has added a new chapter in the contemporary history of India changing mindset and entire political recourse of the nation that founded on the strength of secular values and traditions unlike Pakistan.
With the bhoomipujan for Ram Mandir by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the site of razed Babri mosque once again draw attention to analyse who emerged as gainer or loser on the political arenas after the final outcome of more than a century old legal dispute dragging since 1857.
The issue of Ram Mandir dominated national politics after Congress led Rajiv Gandhi government indulged in appeasement of Muslims by rendering apex court ruling in Shahbano case inoperative by enacting legislation in 1986. The move marginalized Congress party and Bhartiya Janata Party gradually occupied its space in the minds of Hindus who swung to emotive issues like common civil code, abolition of Article 370 from Kashmir and Ram temple in Ayodhya where Babri mosque was erected demolishing 10th century temple by commander of Baber Mir Baki in 1529.
The Mahant Paramhans Ram Chandra Das started struggle to liberate Ram Mandir by approaching District Judge Faizabad restoring the right to worship seeking permission to conduct Hindu pujas to Ram Lalla. The Court granted permission to conduct pujas. He is first warrior for the cause along with Hindu Mahasabha leader Gopal Singh Visharad. Later the movement took political colour and Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh through its wing Vishva Hindu Parishad and political arm BJP took the batten of the movement into its hands. Ashok Singhal, an engineer from IIT-BHU and Lal Krishna Advani, a brilliant lawyer who was born in Karachi (Pakistan) and had early education there later his family migrated to India during partition. The trio gave aggressive momentum to the temple movement that culminated in destruction of mosque on 6 December,1992.
Lal Krishna Advani, 92, who was not invited to physically experience his dream Ram temple bhoomipujan ceremony, witnessed it live being performed by none other than once his trusted aide PM Narendra Modi while other two of the trio died without facing trial in demolition case. After assuming the president ship of BJP in 1989, it was Advani who sharpened the temple movement with his historic Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya in 1990. The yatra, which saw many communal riots and bloodbath, eventually established the BJP in a big way in national politics. Considered as hardliner of Hindutva Advani, remained number two in Vajpaiyee government. An accused in the mosque demolition case, Advani became deputy prime minister in the Vajpayee government.
In 2009 he lost final opportunity to become the Prime Minister with the BJP losing the electoral battle to the Congress. It gave impetus to emergence of young leadership of Narendra Modi to fill the vacuum of leadership. Despite bringing BJP on the national central stage, he remained prime minister in waiting with facing trial of demolition. His exciting career ended as a big loser.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the biggest gainer from the Ram temple movement. His modest Hindutva image led to his emergence as an acceptable face for Prime Minister in the era of coalition politics in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He served three terms as the Prime Minister of India, first for a term of 13 days in 1996, then for a period of 13 months from 1998 to 1999, followed by a full term from 1999 to 2004. He was among the founding members of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), of which he was president from 1968 to 1972. Nearly 30 years ago in 1989, the BJP passed a resolution in the Himachal Pradesh town of Palampur, signaling that it was joining the Ram temple agitation that aggressively strategized by the VHP. By all accounts, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not at all keen on the idea, but he did not oppose the party line either but he was most benefited person from the temple movement.
Narendra Modi: The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been most benefited person of Hindutva polity that led to destruction of Babri mosque in 1992. After the demolition of Babri mosque in 1992 Narendra Modi was sworn thrice as chief minister of Gujarat continuously for 15 years since 2001 to 2014 and thereafter second term as prime minister of the country. Modi shot to prominence as manager of L.K. Advani’s Ramrath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya that was scuttled en-route in Bihar by Lalu Prasad Yadav arresting Advani for creating communal disharmony. He also part of Tiranga Yatra to Srinagar with BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi. Prior to joining active politics of BJP as assigned, by RSS in 1985 he held several positions in the party hierarchy until 2001 rising to the position of general secretary. Modi led the BJP in the 2014 and 2019 general election that gave the party a majority in the Lok Sabha. He is moving ahead on Hindutva agenda fetching him desired dividends.
Murli Manohar Joshi, a professor of Physics at Allahabad University, was a founder member of the BJP, along with Vajpayee and Advani. As president of BJP in 1992 he was a strong and vocal advocate of a Ram temple present at the Babri mosque site when demolition took place. He joyously photographed hugging Uma Bharti.
He was an accused with Advani in the demolition case, Joshi for long dominated the political scenario, only to gradually fizzle out because of growing age and change in the party leadership. He, along with Advani, is now part of the imprudent ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ of the BJP. His political career concluded with decline of Vajpayee government.
Ashok Singhal: professionally a metallurgical engineer from BHU-IIT, Singhal was a dedicated warrior for the cause of Hindutva and Ram Mandir at janambhoomi site. He was the international working president of the Hindu organisation Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) for over 20 years and in charge of the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Singhal was a key organiser of the first VHP Dharma Sansad in 1984 held at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, attracting hundreds of sadhus and Hindu notables to discuss the issues of rejuvenating Hinduism. The movement for reclaiming the Ramjanmabhoomi temple was born here. Singhal soon became the chief architect of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. He was replaced in the VHP in December 2011 following long bout of diminishing physical health.
During the tenure of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2004) and Ashok Singhal, the pair fell out when Ashok Singhal felt that NDA Government of Vajpayee was not taking any further steps in building Ram Mandir. Ashok Singhal then went on fast unto death on the demand of the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. He was “Force Fed” on the orders of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This saddened him affecting badly his once good relations PM Vajpayee for the rest of his life. He never went to capitalise his position for any political gains as many other leaders of movement secured in return.
Kalyan Singh: He was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when Babri Masjid in Ayodhya razed in 1992 despite his affidavit before apex court committing status quo on the shrine site. His government was dismissed after demolition. He again became chief minister with the arrangement with BSP.
Narendra Modi appointed him the Governor of Rajasthan in September 2014. He was also an accused in Babri demolition case along with BJP veterans Lal Krishna Advani, Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi.
A firebrand Hindutva leader from OBC community and prominent face of the Ram Mandir movement, his government was dismissed after Babri Masjid demolition. His return to active politics is being seen by political analysts as yet another push by the BJP to Hindutva agenda ahead of 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. Largely he is gainer as he enjoyed chief minister ship after demolition and governorship besides adjustment of his kin in BJP’s OBC dominated politics.
Uma Bhrati: The firebrand face of the Hindutva movement, she raised slogans such as ‘Ram namsatya hai, Babri Masjid dhwast hai’ as the Babri mosque was razed. She later became chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. She joined the BJP at a young age, unsuccessfully contesting her first parliamentary elections in 1984. In 1989, she successfully contested the Khajuraho seat, and retained it in elections conducted in 1991, 1996 and 1998. In 1999, she switched constituencies and won the Bhopal seat. Bharti held various state-level and cabinet-level portfolios in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Tourism, Youth Affairs and Sports and Coal and Mines during the second as well as third ministry of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
After Narendra Modi became the Indian Prime Minister in 2014, she was appointed the Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, and held this office until September 2017. Uma Bharti seems to be gainer of Mandir movement in view of prominence she enjoyed in party and power.
Vinay Katiyar: The firebrand Katiyar was once symbol of youth aggression in the temple movement. He was the founder-president of Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Hindu nationalist organisation Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) in India. He has served as an All India General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and as a Member of Parliament in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. He is also facing trial as a co-accused in the demolition case. Katiyar was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Faizabad (Ayodhya) constituency to the 10th, 11th and 13th Lok Sabha in 1991, 1996 and 1999, and to the Rajya Sabha as a representative of Uttar Pradesh in 2012. Presently after Modi came to power, he was seen sidelined and rarely takes part in political activities though he cannot be seen as loser.
THE LOSERS: CONGRESS LEADERSHIP
The Mandir-Masjid movement virtually gave blow to the polity of two Congress led Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao who misjudged the ground realities by playing soft Hindutva. It badly hurt Congress prospects in terms of electoral gains.
Rajiv, as Prime Minister, chose to be mum when the locks of Babri Masjid were opened by district judge orders, thereby inadvertently helped much-needed push to the BJP and the Hindutva brigade. Narasimha Rao failed to thwart the demolition was the final blow as Muslims deserted Congress and explored their security and future in regional parties. The Congress remained as big loser in the game.
Janata Dal led Prime Minister VP Singh played ‘Mandal’ card to check ‘Kamandal’ politics of BJP paving way for saffron surge. It provided good opportunity for regional parties to grow on the caste base. The emergence of new political forces in the Hindi heartland to gain a foothold actually hurt the votes BJP and Congress. Lalu-Mulayam emerged as rising political players in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh snatching the Muslim voters from Congress and OBCs from BJP. Perhaps this forced BJP to change its strategy from brahminical dominance by giving prominence to leaders belong to backward classes in the states.
While Lalu, as chief minister of Bihar, halted Advani’s Rath Yatra in 1990 and got him arrested, Mulayam as the chief minister of UP in the very same year promised safety of mosque structure saying, “Parinda bhi par nahi maar sakta” in response to the VHP-BJP’S proposed karseva in Ayodhya.
Subsequent firing by the police on karsevaks in Ayodhya earned Mulayam long-standing loyalty among the minorities. The Congress’s loss was Lalu-Mulayam’s gain. Both built a strong Muslim-Yadav combination as their winning electoral formula. Both ruled their states and central government as ministers.
The temple will be a modern symbol of Indian culture: Modi
After performing the Vedic rituals of historical bhoomipoojan for foundation laying of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on this occasion said, “Shree Ram Temple would be the modern symbol of our culture and I am intentionally using the word ‘modern’. It will symbolise our eternal hope. It will epitomise our national feeling. This temple will be the emblem of collective will power of millions of people. This shrine would inspire hope, devotion and determination in the minds of future generation.”
Terming Shree Ram is the common thread of unity in diversity in the country and recalling his glorious ancient rule Prime Minister announced, “The magnificence of this temple in Ayodhya will completely change the economy of the region with opening up innumerous opportunities across sectors.”
“Once the shrine is constructed, not only the grandeur of Ayodhya would become multi-fold but the entire economy of this region would undergo massive transformation. There would be new avenues and new opportunities in every sector. Imagine people from across the world would visit here. Entire world would come here for the darshan of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita. How radically things will transform here!” Modi remarked.
Prime Minister said, “The construction of Shree Ram Temple is a task to unite the entire nation. This celebration is an occasion to unite the belief with the reality, man with Supreme God, humankind with conviction, present with past, and self with ethos. Today’s historical moment would be recounted across the globe for ages and bring achievements our country. This day is the proof of the honesty of the millions of determined devotees of Shree Ram.”
Discussing the majesty of Lord Rama Modi elaborated, “Rama belongs to all and lives in all. Sri Ram is the support of the poor and oppressed. There is no such segment in anyone’s life which is untouched by Lord Rama’s inspiration. There is no corner of India which doesn’t reflect Lord Rama. Rama is in the faith of India, Rama is in the ideals of India, Rama is in India’s divinity, Rama resides in India’s philosophy!”
“Thousands of years ago, the Rama who was an inspiration to the ancient India as depicted in Valmiki’s Ramayana, the Rama who was inspiring India through Tulsi, Kabir and Nanak in the Medieval era, the same Rama was present in the Bapu’s bhajans during the fight for freedom in the form of non-violence and satyagraha,”
“Tulsi’s Rama was with form (sagun) while Nanak and Kabir’s Rama was formless (nirgun). Lord Buddha was also connected to Lord Ram. At the same time, this city of Ayodhya has also been the center of Jain religion for centuries. This is the ubiquity of Ram, it reflects the unity in diversity that is of India!, Modi commented.
Explaining the omnipresence of Lord Rama he reminded, “In Tamil, we have Kamb Ramayana while in Telugu we have Raghunath and Ranganath Ramayana. We have Ruipad-Katerpadi Ramayan in Odiya, while there is Kumudendu Ramayana in Kannada. In Kashmir, you will find Ramavatar Charit while Ramacharitam in Malayalam. In Bangla, we have Krittibas Ramayana while Guru Gobind Singh has himself written Gobind Ramayana.” “You will find Rama in different forms, in the different Ramayanas, but Ram is present everywhere, Rama is for all. That is why, Rama is the connecting link in India’s ‘unity in diversity’, he added.
“Many countries of the world are saluting Lord Rama, their citizens believe themselves to be affiliated to Lord Rama. Indonesia is the country that has the maximum number of Muslims in the world. They are having various unique versions of Ramayana i.e. ‘Kakawin Ramayana’, ‘Swarnadeep Ramayana’, ‘Yogeshwar Ramayana’ just like our country. Lord Rama is venerated and adored there even today. There are ‘Ramker Ramayana’ in Cambodia, ‘Fra Lak Fra Lam Ramayana’ in Lao, ‘Hikayat Seri Ram’ in Malaysia and ‘Ramaken’ in Thailand. You will find description of Lord Rama and Rama Katha even in Iran and China. In Sri Lanka, the katha of Ramayana is taught &sung in the name of ‘Janaki Harana’ i.e. Abduction of Janaki. Nepal is directly connected to Lord Rama through Mata Janaki. There are many more countries and parts of the world, where Lord Rama venerated owing to their faith or past! Even today, there are many countries outside India, where Rama Katha (Saga of Lord Rama) is popular in their traditions, cited Modi to explain the roots of Rama across the world. “I am sure that the people of these countries will also be feeling pleased on the occasion of the beginning of construction of temple of Lord Rama. After all, Lord Rama belongs to all and lives in all,” he commented.
Modi recalled the long struggle of Ram devotees and paid them homage for the struggle on the day their dream of Ram Mandir starting taking shape. He congratulated fellow compatriots and Ram Bhakts all across the world. Claiming it as historic, Modi said that India is starting a glorious chapter today, when people all across the country are excited and emotional to have finally achieved what they had been waiting for centuries, several of whom are may feel hard to believe that they are witnessing this day in their lifetime.
He highlighted that Ram Janmabhoomi liberated from the cycle of cycle of breaking down and building up again, and a grand temple for Ramlala would be constructed in place of tents now. Comparing Shree Ram as the foundation of our culture, Prime Minister observed that while several attempts made to wipe out his existence, Shree Ram continues to be the foundation of our culture. He mentioned that this day stands testimony to the truth of the faith and resolution of crores of Ram Bhakts. He praised the dignity and restraint with which fellow compatriots responded, keeping the feelings of everyone in mind, when Supreme Court gave it verdict last year, and similar dignity and restraint is visible even today.
Recounting the character traits of Shree Ram, Prime Minister remarked that he always stuck to the truth, and established social harmony as the cornerstone of his rule. He loved his subjects equally, but had a special kindness for the poor and the needy. There is no aspect of life where Shree Ram doesn’t serve as an inspiration, and his impact is visible in several aspects of culture, philosophy, faith and tradition of the country.
Modi emphasized that the temple should be constructed on the foundation of mutual love and brotherhood. He said that through ‘sabkasaath’ and with ‘sabkavishwas’, we need to achieve ‘sabkavikaas’ and make a self-confident and Aatmanirbhar Bharat. He underlined that the message of Shree Ram, that there should not be any delay and we should move forward, is the message which the country needs to follow.
Earlier he drove straight to Hanumangarhi temple from helipad with Governor Anandi Ben Patel, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanth where he performed Pooja and Aarti. Then he went to makeshift temple of Ram Lalla (Childhood Rama) and paid respect bowing before his idols.
At a ceremony organised after the Bhoomi Pujan among the specially invited limited saint chiefs had limited dignitaries RSS chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat, Governor Anandi Ben Patel, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Ram Janam Bhoomi Chhetra Trust Chief Mahan Nritya Gopal Das and its Secretary Champat Rai shared the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
RSS Chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat remembered the then RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras telling how he prepared them to struggle for 20 to 30 years for the cause of Ram temple to achieve victory. We struggled and at the beginning of the 30th year, we have attained the joy of fulfilling our resolution. Welcoming the Prime Minister UP Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath highlighted various development schemes that facelift the banks of Saryu rivers and beatification of traditional Ghats, Roads and transport facilities.
CONGRESS, SP AND BSP SUPPORT BHOOMIPUJAN
Endorsing Ram Mandir bhoomipujan in Ayodhya, Congress leader and General Secretary In-charge Priyanka Gandhi said, “Ram belongs to everyone.” A day ahead of the ground-breaking ceremony in Ayodhya, she issued a statement signing off with “Jai Siya Ram.”
Toeing the line of faith Priyanka prayed, “By Lord Ram’s grace, let this ceremony promote national unity, brotherhood, and cultural confluence.” “Bhagwan Ram, Mata Sita and Ramayan have been highlighted in our religious and cultural texts for thousands of years, that Ram is present in various forms across the country, and he belongs to everyone from Shabri to Sugreev, Valmiki to Bhasa, Kamban to Ezhuthachchan, to Kabir, Tulsidas and Ravidas. Sabke data Ram hain (Ram is everyone’s provider),” she added.
“Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’… Waris Ali Shah’s ‘Jo Rab hai Wohi Ram Hai’… Ram is everyone’s,” she vigorously pleaded in her statement. Priyanka Gandhi also signed off the statement with the traditional greeting of ‘Jai Siya Ram’, instead of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, which has become synonymous with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
After the bhoomipujan ceremony Congress leader Rahul Gandhi twitted, “Maryada Purushottam Lord Rama is the manifestation of the best human qualities. They are the core of humanity in the depths of our mind. Ram is love he can never reflect in hatred. Ram is compassion he can never appear as cruelty. Ram is justice he can never appear in injustice.”
Many senior Congress leaders followed her line and supported the move. Former Union minister Manish Tewari, who put out a video on his twitter page, humming lines from the bhajan ‘RaghupatiRaghav Raja Ram’.
Many senior Congress leaders, including its top leadership, have posted messages on social media platforms welcoming the bhoomipujan and even claiming credit for the opening of the locks of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1989. CWC had passed resolution supporting the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya after the Supreme Court verdict.
In the morning of the day of Bhoomipujan in Ayodhya Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav twitted “Jai Mahadev Jai Siya-Ram, Jai Radhe-Krishna Jai Hanuman.” May everyone be full of the welfare of Lord Shiva, the fearlessness of Shri Ram and the liberated sense of Shri Krishna! Hope that the present and future generations will also follow the path shown by Maryada Purushottam with free will, dignity and peace and work for the good and welfare of the society.
BSP president Mayawati gave credit to Supreme Court for deciding long-pending Ayodhya dispute paving the way for foundation laying ceremony for Ram temple. She added Ayodhya is a pious city connected with Ram but some political parties have vitiated the atmosphere playing dirty politics. Our stand was to accept and honour the verdict of apex court that we have done.
Ayodhya Dispute: Beginning to End
The Supreme Court on November 9 paved the way for construction of much awaited Ram Temple on the site of Babri mosque that frenzy Hindutva mob in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh demolished on December 6, 1992. The apex court cleared the decks for temple on disputed land but simultaneously ordered five acres of different land to Sunni Waqf Board for construction of Mosque in Ayodhya. The Bench also held that the destruction of the Mosque was against the rule of law. However, apex court finally decided title dispute swinging since pre-independence era but the trial in the demolition case is still pending on in a Lucknow Court since December 1992.
Centre government in February this year notified a scheme envisaging the setting up ‘Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra Trust’ for the construction and management of a magnificent Ram temple in Ayodhya at the place of demolished Babri mosque. The possession of the inner and outer courtyards of the dispute structure handed over to this trust. The scheme provided for construction of a Ram temple at the dispute site in accordance with Court verdict.
Nine years after the Allahabad High Court’s verdict in the Ayodhya case, the Supreme Court’s constitution bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi delivered much awaited verdict days before he demitted office of the chief justice of India. The other Justices with him comprised of Justices SB Bobade, Dr. Dhananjay Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer on the bench unanimously ordered the government to acquire land on an alternative site for a mosque. The Uttar Pradesh government allotted land to Waqf board in Ronahi village of Faizabad. The dispute, which dates back over a century, concluded after 40 days of forceful arguments in the Supreme Court where former Attorney General K. Parasaran turned the table in favour of Ram temple.
Dates and events of Mandir dispute
1529: Babri Mosque constructed by Mir Baqi.a Mughal commander (beg) originally from Tashkent (in modern Uzbekistan) during the reign of the first Mughal emperor Baber was made the governor of the province of Awadh. It is believed that he razed the 10th century Ram Mandir and built Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in 1528 over it.
DURING BRITISH RULE
1857: It was the year of India’s first struggle for independence against the British Raj. However, the seeds of another controversy were sown quietly some 130 km from Lucknow in Faizabad district. The temple town of Ayodhya fell under this district. A petition was submitted before the magistrate of Faizabad by Maulvi Muhammad Asghar, the muezzin of Babri Masjid, alleging that the eastern part of the courtyard of the mosque had been forcibly taken over by the Mahant of Hanuman Garhi.
Hanuman Garhi was an important centre of religious life in Ayodhya, especially for Vaishnav Bairagis. The complaint by the muezzin marked the beginning of a legal dispute over the place. However, it was still several years before the land on which the mosque stood was to be officially declared as “disputed land”.
1859: The British government made its first intervention in the matter, while hearing the petition filed in 1857 and keeping in mind the regional conflict. The administration got a wall built that separated the places of worship for Muslims and Hindus. The Hindus got entry to the courtyard through the east gate, while the Muslims had access to the mosque from the northern side.
1860-1884: During this period, the Muslim side filed similar petitions like it did in 1857 and complained about the increasing interference of some local seers and sadhus and illegal occupation of land. These petitions were made in 1860, 1877, 1883 and 1884. All of them were rejected.
1885: Court Dispute Begins — Mahant Raghubir Das files the first suit in the matter, seeking to build a temple on land adjoining the mosque. The Faizabad District Magistrate (DM) refuses him permission. Next, Mahant Raghubir Das files a title suit in Faizabad Court against the Secretary of State for India, seeking permission to build a temple on the chabutra (eastern courtyard) of the Babri mosque. Faizabad Court rejects his plea.
1886: The suit filed by Das was dismissed. However, rulers of the day had started seeing it as a Hindu-Muslim controversy of significant proportion.
1870-1923: As the dispute spread further, several official publications of the time started taking note of it. It was even mentioned in some of the gazettes published at the time. A stone marker reading “No 1 Ram Janmahoomi” was placed at the main entrance of the mosque.
FROM BRITISH RAJ TO INDEPENDENT INDIA
Intervening night of December 22/23,1949: Ram Idol Appears inside the Mosque— On the night of 22nd December, a Ram Idol appears inside the mosque. Hindus see the appearance of the Idol as a divine revelation, however many argue that the Idol was smuggled inside at night. Hindus start offering prayers. The Government declares the site as a “contested area” and locks the entrance.
December 29, 1949: A judge of Faizabad district court declared Babri Masjid a “disputed property” and ordered that status quo be maintained. Muslims were barred from entering the mosque and its main gate was locked. Hindus got permission for darshan from a side gate and four pujaris were employed with access to idols.
January 16, 1950: Hindu sides file Suits — Two suits are filed in Faizabad Court by Gopal Singh Viharad of Hindu Mahasabha and Paramhansa Ramachandra Das, seeking permission to conduct Hindu pujas to Ram Lalla. The Court granted the parties permission to conduct pujas. The Court orders the inner courtyard gates to remain locked.
1959: Third Hindu suit filed — Nirmohi Akhara files third suit, seeking possession of the land.
December 18,1961: Muslim suit filed — UP Sunni Wakf Board files a suit seeking possession of Babri Mosque site. They also demand the removal of Ram Idols from Babri Masjid.
February,1984: Ram Janmbhoomi Movement commences — Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) constitutes a group to start the Ram Janmbhoomi Movement. BJP leader LK Advani is made the leader of the campaign.
1st February, 1986: Inner Gate of Babri Mosque opened — A third party, lawyer UC Pandey appeals for the gates to be unlocked before the Faizabad Session Court, on the grounds that the Faizabad district administration, and not a Court, had ordered its closure. District Judge orders the locks to be removed to allow Hindu “pooja and darshan”. Muslims constitute a Babri Mosque Action Committee (BMAC) in protest.
1987: Suits withdrawn from Faizabad and transferred to the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court. The suit filed by Visharad became the number one suit. Another suit (number two) was filed by Paramhans Ramchandra Das (withdrawn later). The third suit was the one filed by Nirmohi Akhara and the fourth one was by the waqf board.
1989: ‘Ram Lalla’ himself became a party. The fifth suit was filed by one Deoki Nandan Agarwal in the name of ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’. Agarwal filed it as a ‘sakha’ (friend) of Ram Lalla. All title suits shifted to Allahabad High Court. Another suit in name of Ram Lalla Virajman filed in the High Court, naming the parties in the Nirmohi Akhara (1959) and Sunni Waqf Board (1961) suits as defendants.
November 9, 1989: Shilanayas performed – PM Rajiv Gandhi allows the VHP to perform Shilanayas (laying of foundation stone) near disputed area.
September 25, 1990: Rath Yatra — LK Advani launches a Rath Yatra from Somnath (Gujarat) to Ayodhya (UP) to incite support for the Movement. Communal riots break out.
DEMOLITION AND THEREAFTER
December 6, 1992: Babri demolished – Babri Masjid demolished by thousands of Hindu ‘karsevaks’ (volunteers) even as helpless security forces watched the structure being brought down. The Karsevaks leave behind a make-shift temple in its place.
Two FIRs were filed the same day. One of them (crime number 197) was lodged at 5.15pm against the “lakhs of karsevaks” for the offence of demolition. The second FIR (crime number 198) was filed against eight individuals, namely LK Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, VH Dalmia, Vinay Katiyar and SadhviRitambhara. They were accused of making provocative and inflammatory speeches before the demolition. The cases were filed at the Ram Janmabhoomi police station.
December 16, 1992: Liberhan Commission formed — 10 days after the Mosque was demolished, the PM forms a committee led by retired High Court Judge M. S. Liberhan, to look into circumstances leading to the demolition of the Babri Mosque and the communal riots. The Commission was originally mandated to submit its report within three months of its formation.
January 7, 1993: State acquires Ayodhya land — Narsimha Rao Government issues a presidential ordinance acquiring 67.7 acres of land (Site and adjoining areas). On the same day of issuing the ordinance, the President also referred it to the Supreme Court for its advisory opinion. Later it was passed as a law — Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Act, 1993 to facilitate acquisition of land by Central government.
1993-2002: Hearing gained pace in the title suit case in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad
High Court. A long-drawn battle began as parties concerned started presenting their arguments.
1994: Ismail Faruqui Judgment — The SC by a majority of 3:2 upheld the constitutionality of Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Act. The majority judgment by former CJI JS Verma reasoned that every religious immovable property is liable to be acquired. The SC adjudged that offering namaz at mosque was not integral to Islam unless that mosque had any particular significance in Islam. The judgment has been criticized for regarding the mosque as a non-essential place of worship. There were no reviews filed against Ismail Faruqui
August 1, 2002: Focus shifted back to the title suit as the high court ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to initiate excavation at the disputed site.
Dec 2002-August 2003: ASI began excavation at the disputed site on December 30, 2002. It did a preliminary survey and submitted its report to the ASI director general. It suggested a variety of anomalies ranging from 0.5m to 5m in depth that could be associated with some ancient and contemporary structures. Based on the preliminary findings, a detailed digging and examination was started. The ASI submitted its report in two volumes before the court in August 2003. It claims to have found remnants of a 10th century Hindu Temple. Muslims question the ASI report.
June 30th, 2009: Liberhan Commission report submitted — After a delay of 17 years, the Librehan Commission submits its report to the Prime Minister. The Commission had to find out what happened on the 6th of December and who was responsible for the demolition of the mosque? What was the role of the Chief Minister or the Council of Ministers? What were the deficiencies in the security measures and who was responsible for attacking the media?
July 26, 2010: A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, comprising Justices SU Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and DV Sharma, reserved their order on the Ayodhya land title suit.
VERDICT THAT NO PARTY ACCEPTED
September 30, 2010: Allahabad HC splits land in three ways — The High Court delivers its judgment, dividing the land between three parties: one third for the Sunni Wakf Board, one third for the Nirmohi Akhara and one third to Ram LallaVirajman.
The judgment of the Lucknow Bench of the HC of September 30, 2010, which divided the disputed land in Ayodhya in 2:1 ratio among the Muslim and Hindu litigants.
The HC allotted the dome of the demolished Babri Masjid, under which the makeshift temple currently stands, to the Hindus. The structure was demolished by a group of Karsevaks on December 6, 1992. The nearby Ram Chabutra and Sita Rasoi also went to the Nirmohi Akhara. The one-third share of the Sunni Wakf Board comprises the outer courtyard of the disputed land.
MATTER IN SUPREME COURT
May 9th, 2011: Supreme Court stays Allahabad High Court ruling — The SC admits a batch of petitions filed by all parties. A Division Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and RM Lodha term the High Court Judgment as “strange”. RM Lodha observes “a new dimension has been given by the High Court as the decree of partition was not sought by the parties. It was not prayed for by anyone. It has to be stayed. It’s a strange order. How can a decree for partition be passed when none of the parties had prayed for it?..”
March 21, 2017: Former Chief Justice Khehar suggests an out of court settlement among all parties.
2011-2016: It’s a period of comparative quiet even as voices in the political arena continued to rise for a judgement in the case pending before the SC.
August 11, 2017: 3 judge bench of SC starts hearing the matter — The 3 judge bench of SC comprising CJI Dipak Misra, Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer began hearing the appeal.
Feb — July 2018: The petitioners argue that the SC ought to refer the 1994 Ismail Faruqui judgment to a 7-judge Bench for reconsideration.
July 20, 2018: SC reserves verdict — The SC reserves judgment on the question of referring the appeal to a larger Bench.
September 27, 2018: SC refuses to form a larger Bench — The 3 judge bench in a split of 2:1 verdict held that the Ismail Faruqui judgment of 1994 does not require reconsideration by a larger bench.
2017-2019: First, under Chief Justice Deepak Misra and then, under CJI Ranjan Gogoi, the apex court shifted focus towards the title dispute case. Justice Misra retired in 2018 before regular hearing in the case could begin.
2018: After assuming office in October 2018, CJI Ranjan Gogoi expressed his willingness for a speedy hearing and judgment in the long-pending case.
January, 2019: The CJI constituted a five-judge bench, including himself, to begin hearing in the case.
LAST EFFORTS AT MEDIATION
March 2019: The Supreme Court bench hearing the Ayodhya matter constituted a three-member mediation panel, comprising (retired) SC judge FM Khalifulah, Art of Living head Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate and trained mediator Sriram Panchu.
August 2019: On August 2, the mediation committee informed the Ayodhya bench that the parties concerned had failed to reach an agreement. The Supreme Court then fixed August 6 for commencement of day-to-day hearing in the matter.
October 16, 2019: Starting August, the bench regularly took up daily hearings of the case for 40 days. October 16 was fixed as the last date for the parties to submit their argument. The legal battle that had continued in courts of independent India for almost 70 years reached culmination with hearing being completed in the country’s top-most court.
November 9, 2019: Five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice DY Chandrachud, SA Bobde, S Abdul Nazir and Ashok Bhushan deliver the much awaited judgement in the case. It was a unanimous decision. The bench ordered for allocation of the entire disputed land of 2.77 acres for the construction of a temple. The union government was to constitute a trust to oversee it.
The court in its judgement observed that archaeological evidence from the ASI showed that Babri Masjid was constructed on a structure whose architecture was indigenous and non-Islamic. The court also said that Muslim parties including the Sunni waqf board had failed to establish the exclusive possession of the disputed land.
The bench also ordered for allocation of 5 acres of land to the waqf board in the district of Ayodhya itself, for the possible construction of a mosque. Even as the way for temple construction was cleared, the court also ruled that the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 and its desecration in 1949 was in violation of the law.
Trial derailed in demolition case for 28 years
The Supreme Court in its title suit judgement had also observed that the demolition of the mosque was a criminal act. With one case reaching finality in the apex court, focus now shifted to the other cases.
After the demolition on 6th December,1992, two FIRs were registered the same day at the Ram Janmabhoomi police station.
One of them (crime number 197) was lodged at 5.15pm against the “lakhs of karsevaks” for the offence of demolition.
The second FIR (crime number 198) was filed against eight individuals, namely senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani, the then BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi, firebrand saffron clad Sadhvi Uma Bharti, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) General Secretary Ashok Singhal, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, VHP president Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Bajrang Dal chief Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Ritambhara. They were accused of making provocative and inflammatory speeches before the demolition.
After 28 years of often-derailed investigations and trial, the matter has finally reached the concluding stages of hearing in the special CBI court in Lucknow. Out of the 32 surviving accused, 31 have recorded their final statements under section 313 of the Cr.P.C. One of the lesser known accused is absconding. 351 witnesses have been examined so far. And to no one’s surprise, all the accused have claimed innocence and alleged that they have been framed in the case.
Here’s a brief history of the cases which have seen dramatic turns and twists more than 28 years till now and still languishing for justice. A case in which many of the 49 accused are already dead and those still active include some high-profile names of Indian politics: among them a former deputy prime minister, former chief minister, some former cabinet ministers, and a few sitting Members of Parliament .
DEMOLITION AND THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF FIRS
Just minutes after demolition of the Babri mosque on December 6, 1992, the first FIR crime no. 197/92 was registered against unknown “karsevaks” at 5.15pm under sections 395, 397, 332, 337, 338, 295, 297, 153A of IPC, and section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act.
Ten minutes later, a second FIR (crime no. 198/92) was registered under sections 153A, 153B, 505 of IPC against LK Advani, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Sadhvi Ritambhara. This was the hate-and-provocative-speech case.
Forty-seven other FIRs were also subsequently registered related to offences of assault on media persons, looting valuables like cameras and reporting gadgets from them, etc.
All FIRs were filed at Thana Ramjanmabhoomi in Ayodhya.
CASES TO CBI: In days following the FIRs, a curious move was made by the-then government. While case no. 197 was recommended for CBI probe, case no. 198 against accused politicians was handed over to the CB-CID wing of the Uttar Pradesh police.
August 27, 1993:TheUP state government transferred all the remaining 48 cases including case no. 198 for CBI probe.
October 5, 1993: CBI took up the investigation in all the cases related to Babri Masjid demolition and filed a consolidated single charge sheet against 40 people in all the 49 cases in a special court of Lucknow.
January 11, 1996: More than two years later, the agency filed a supplementary charge sheet against nine other prominent people. The total tally of accused reached 49.
CHARGE OF CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY SLAPPED
Contrary to initial FIRs in the case, the CBI in its charge sheet came up with the argument of having concrete and strong evidence to prove that demolition of the mosque was the fallout of a larger and threatening conspiracy. It also came up with new names as accused, which included top guns of the BJP and RSS, the stalwarts of the Ram temple movement. A charge under section 120(b) of criminal conspiracy added against them.
LEGAL BATTLE AND DERAILMENTS THEREAFTER
With the charge sheet being filed against the bigwigs of BJP and RSS, the stage was set for the commencement of trial in the case. But, the matter got entangled in legal complexities.
September 9, 1997: The special judge after hearing the applicants and the defence counsel passed an order recording his satisfaction that a prima facie case has been made out for framing of charges against the accused under section 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) under IPC and other relevant sections of law. The court ordered that formal charges would be framed in the next hearing.
Some of the accused including Lal Krishna Advani moved before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court against the lower court’s decision for framing of charges on the next hearing date.
The matter remained pending due to technical maneuverings.
February 12, 2001: Justice Jagdish Bhalla of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court passed a detailed order. He found no illegality in a joint single charge sheet for all the FIRs, since the offences were allegedly committed in the same course of action for accomplishing a conspiracy. However, taking note of an administrative lapse on part of the UP government, relating to notification of the trial court for crime no 198/92, that is hate speech case against Advani and others, the high court while upholding framing of charges in all other 48 cases, denied the same in case no. 198 against Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and others. The high court, however, said that the state government’s faulty notification for fixing the trial court dated October 8, 1993 was curable and could be done so through another notification.
May 4, 2001: Against the backdrop of the HC order, the Lucknow court dropped the proceedings against not just the original eight accused, but also against 13 others.
June 16, 2001: The CBI wrote to the UP government, asking it to rectify the error pointed out by the high court and issue a fresh notification empowering the special court for resuming trial. The UP government then headed by chief minister Rajnath Singh decided not to issue any fresh notification.
TRIAL IN DIFFERENT COURTS: LUCKNOW-RAEBARELI
January 27, 2003: Following legal deliberations, the CBI moved a petition in the designated court of Raebareli, requesting the court to proceed with the trial of the case 198/92 related to hate speeches against Advani and others.
September 19, 2003: In a major development, special magistrate, Raebareli, discharged Advani in case no. 198/92 but ordered framing of charges against the remaining accused. Advani was then the deputy prime minister of India.
July 6 2005: The high court after hearing several review petitions filed against the Raebareli court’s order of discharging Advani, ordered re-framing of charges against him and all the other accused.
July 26, 2005: The Raebareli court framed charges against all the accused.
As the matter kept languishing in two different courts, a debate raged about the necessity for it and whether the two separate trials could do justice to the matter in which the sequence lead to interrelated crime. The earlier order of the Lucknow trial court dropping proceedings against 13 other accused and further striking down the charge of criminal conspiracy against the most important of the accused became a cause of legal concern.
March 20, 2012: After a series of derailments and legal hurdles from the trial courts to high court, the CBI finally reached the Supreme Court in 2011 and subsequently filed an affidavit on March 20, 2012, during the UPA 2 government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The CBI made a strong argument for a common trial of all the 49 cases. It argued:
1) Investigations in all 49 cases had disclosed that there was a single general conspiracy by all the 49 accused, to demolish the disputed structure.
2) Each of the accused facilitated and participated in the fulfillment of the criminal conspiracy.
3) All the 21 persons against whom the proceedings were dropped were party to criminal conspiracy.
4) The 13 accused who were not being tried for any offences in any court of law were party to the conspiracy and demolition.
5) Hence, it was in the interest of justice that all the accused involved in criminal conspiracy and demolition of the disputed structure were tried in the court of the special judge at Lucknow.
April 19, 2017: In Supreme Court the matter remained pending for almost five years. The top court ruled against the Allahabad HC order of dropping conspiracy charges.
The SC ordered invoking of conspiracy charges against the accused including LK Advani and 20 others. The trial of all cases was also brought back to the Lucknow court.
DAY-TO-DAY HEARING IN CBI COURT LUCKNOW
From 2017 onwards there had been speedy hearing in the case as the charges were framed and trial on the joint charge sheet began. In between, with Kalyan Singh becoming the governor of Rajasthan, trial against him was stopped since he occupied a constitutional office.
However, last year, after he demitted the office of the governor, the trial against him resumed. Last month most of the big names in the case including Advani, Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Champat Rai (general secretary of the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust) have recorded their final statements under section 313 of CrPC.
So how long before the trial in the case could be completed? Advocate Abhishek Ranjan, who is also the counsel for Advani, Joshi and Kalyan Singh, says “The proceedings are in the final stages. After the 313 CrPC statement, the defence will once again like to question the needed witnesses. The Supreme Court has fixed August 31 as the final date for conclusion of the hearing. Hence day-to-day hearing is going on.”
SEVERAL ACCUSED AND WITNESSES ALREADY DEAD
Over the course of 28 years, several accused have already died including Bal Thackeray, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, and others. Senior advocate IB Singh, who had argued in defence of several of the accused, said, “The trial is in its last leg now. We expect a judgement in the case soon.”
But now, many hope the year of Bhoomi Poojan for the Ram temple will also bring judgment in the criminal act of demolishing a religious place, the