People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 42

October 17, 2010





 ‘A Flawed Judgement’


G Mamatha


The following are the excerpts from the interview Professor D N Jha, former Professor of History at the Delhi University, gave to the People’s Democracy on September 30. Professor Jha was one of the four independent historians who had submitted “A Historians' Report to the Nation” on the historical dimensions of the Ayodhya conflict before the demolition of the Baburi Masjid on December 6, 1992.


What is your opinion of the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya title suit?

I think the verdict is flawed in more than one way.  In the first place, the court has placed an undue emphasis on the report of the excavations carried out at Ayodhya in 2003 under its own orders.  The report consists of about nine chapters and each chapter carries the name of the author and so one can attribute the findings recorded therein to individual archaeologists. But the last chapter, called the “Summary of Results”, does not mention its author. The authorial anonymity of the conclusions makes the entire report suspect. This is evident from the fact that whereas no reference to a temple is made throughout the report, it suddenly pops up in the “Summary of Results” whose author is not known. This contradiction between the main text of the report and its unsubstantiated conclusion is too glaring to be ignored. The report therefore is undoubtedly a doctored one. 

In the second place, the report unambiguously refers to the presence of animal bones, Muslim glazed ware, lime mortar and surkhi under the floors of the Baburi Masjid. These three are the characteristic features of Muslim architecture and thus, rule out the possibility of the existence of a Hindu temple, much less a Ram temple or any Vaishnava temple, under the mosque. It is an insult to human intelligence to argue in the face of such archaeological evidence as mentioned above that there was a pre-exiting temple which Babur/Mir Baqi destroyed to build the mosque at Ayodhya.


The judgement is also flawed because it asserts without justification that the Hindus have believed from times immemorial that the sanctum sanctorum of the mosque, where the idols were surreptitiously kept in 1949 with the connivance of the deputy commissioner of Faizabad, K K K Nayyar, who was a member of the RSS, was the real birth place of Ram. This can be countered on several grounds. The Hindus have not been in existence since eternity; nor does the mosque whose central dome, according to the court verdict, they believe to be the place of Ram’s nativity. The belief that Ram was born in a pre-existing temple under the mosque at Ayodhya was first clearly mentioned by a French Jesuit priest, Tiffenthaler, in 1788. The seed of this myth is thus sown not more that 222 years or little more. It was subsequently nurtured by several British authors. But even they were not unanimous in their view about the birthplace of Ram. For example, a Scottish physician who served in the Bengal Medical Service, Francis Buchanan, who visited Ayodhya in 1810 wrote clearly that the temple destruction theory was ill-founded. The earliest evidence of the Hindu-Muslim conflict over the issue of the birth place of Ram belongs to the time of Wajid Ali Shah who set up a three-member committee to diffuse the situation.

The absurdity of the assertions made in the court verdict can be easily demonstrated by historical facts.  If one goes back in time, before 1528, there is evidence of several religious groups who had claims on Ayodhya. The Chinese pilgrim Huan Tsang wrote in seventh century that there were 3,000 Buddhist monks and 100 monasteries and only 10 temples. There was thus a strong presence of Buddhism in Ayodhya in the seventh century. The Jain tradition has it that the first and fourth Jain Tirthankars were born in Ayodhya; even now it remains a holy place for the Jains. There is also much irrefutable evidence of the existence of Muslims in Ayodhya since the twelfth century onwards when  Sufi saints began to visit the place and preach there; one of the earliest Sufi saint to come here was Qazi Qidwatuddin Awadhi who came from Central Asia and is said to have been a disciple of Hazrat Usman Haruni, the spiritual preceptor of India's most famous Sufi saint, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer. Even now there are many Sufi shrines there and both Hindus and Muslims visit them. Thus, there is substantial evidence of Buddhist and Jain presence as well as of the existence of  Muslims centuries before the construction of the Baburi Masjid in 1528-29. One is amazed at how the court judgement has completely ignored all this evidence to prove that sanctum sanctorum of the mosque was the place where Ram was born.

This verdict is based more on faith and belief, than on history. Can the court adjudicate on matters of faith?

This judgement is a puerile exercise in theology, and has nothing to do with history even remotely. Based on faith and belief and not on any sound analysis of historical evidence, the verdict is absurd.  It does not give relief to any of the litigants who were fighting a title. By converting a title suit into a partition suit the judgement has become ridiculous. It assumes that the entire land belongs to Ram and gives a third of the land  to the Muslims  out of charity and two thirds to the Hindu organisations. It has given a serious blow to the secular values enshrined in our constitution.

The court verdict has negated the past. The historians and archeologists have the right to file an appeal against the verdict. It is imperative that the site notebooks, artefacts and other material evidence relating to the ASI’s excavations in 2003 and earlier  be made available for scrutiny by scholars, historians and archaeologists. It may be recalled that our request to the ASI in 1991 to provide us the site notebooks, especially of the Trench 4, which could have yielded clear evidence of the presence/absence of a pre-existing Hindu temple, was not even acknowledged. In the past, the ASI has played fast and loose with the academic community interested in Ayodhya controversy. Now it is absolutely essential to compel them to allow us access to the evidence generated by them at the behest of the court.