Supreme Court Relied On ASI’s Evidences, Travellers’ Tales

The presence of symbols of Hindu religious significance inside and outside the Babri Masjid, which were acknowledged by Muslim witnesses, suggested actual worship took place down the centuries and large congregations visited the disputed site during festivals, the Supreme Court has said.

The SC’s observations in its verdict on the Ayodhya case, bolster the argument that the Hindu community persisted with its claim to worship and the evidences gathered by the Archaeological Survey of India pointed to a religious structure of Hindu origin.

“The oral testimony of Hindu devotees establishes the pattern of worship and prayer at Sita Rasoi, Ramchabutra and towards the ‘garb grih’, while standing at the railing of the structure of the brick wall,” the court has said. The argument that the Ayodhya site’s significance went beyond faith alone, is important even as the court held that the ASI report could not be used to settle a title suit.

The judgement evaluates faith-tradition, ASI evidences, traveller accounts and witnesses to state that the presence of a masjid did not deter Hindus from continuing their worship at the disputed site and within the precincts of the structure prior to the incidents of 1856-57 (when riots broke out over access to the plot).

“The physical structure of an Islamic mosque did not shake the faith and belief of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the disputed site. On the other hand, learned counsel fairly stated that the evidence relied on by the Sunni Wakf Board to establish the offering of namaz by the Muslim residents commences from around 1856-57,” the SC ruled.

The accounts mentioned by the court have often been part of BJP’s political campaign where the party has argued that the site is of much more significance to the Hindus than a mosque at Ayodhya was to Muslims. Records of travellers indicate, said the court, that there was “historical presence of worshippers and the existence of worship at the disputed site even prior to the annexation of Oudh by the British and the construction of a brick-grill wall in 1857.” The wall was built by the British colonial administration to separate the inner and outer courtyards and restrict access of Hindu devotees.

While the ruling notes that the ASI report does not conclude that remnants of the pre-existing structure were used for the purpose of constructing the mosque or there was an act of razing, it notes a reasonable inference can be drawn that foundations of the mosque is based on the walls of a pre-existing structure. This underlying structure was suggestive of Hindu religious origin.

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