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Published in the 1-15 Aug 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Babri: Muslims finish their arguments 

By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas

Lucknow: The full bench hearing the arguments against Archeological Survey of India (ASI) report of excavation of the disputed Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid site at Ayodhya headed by Justice Syed Rafat Alam, Justice Bhanwar Singh and Justice Khem Karan sat on July 12, after a five-week summer vacations and the arguments from the Muslim side on the on- going-specific-arguments against ASI report came into their last round. The Muslim sides objections against ASI report began on Oct, 8, 2003. 

Before Jilani concluded his arguments it was also pointed out that there were doubts about the genuineness and impartiality of the ASI report and that the conduct of ASI team, in destroying all the notes and drafts reports, within three or four days of submission of report had increased these doubts. "The notes and draft reports are always preserved by archeologists so that the veracity of the report may be tested on the basis of the same and therefore, on the totality of these submissions the ASI report was liable to be rejected," he said before winding


It may be known that the order to excavate the disputed site was given on March 5, 2003 and the final report was tabled before the High Court, Lucknow on Aug 22, 2003.

The Muslim side, however, freshly resumed its arguments by observing that the contents of ASI report regarding the recovery of glazed ware and glazed tiles were totally misleading and that it was wrongly mentioned in the report; that the glazed tiles were found in the period contemporary to the period of construction of Babri Masjid. That is period VIII (Post-Medieval Period).

As a matter of fact the glazed wares were found even in period VII (Medieval-Sultanate period) in quite a large number and it was even admitted in the report that some glazed ware were found even below the level of the mosque, however, the details about the layers in which the glazed wares were found were not mentioned in the report.

"This has been done simply to avoid giving an explanation about the existence of the alleged temple in the same layers as it is well known that temples of North India have not been using glazed wares during that period and that the glazed wares were considered to be a specialty of the Muslim architecture at least from 13th century onwards," argued Zafaryab Jilani, counsel of Sunni Central Waqf Board (SCWB).

Adding weight to the arguments in this respect SCWB counsel filed a chart before the Court to show as to how many glazed wares were found in layers IV, III and II which ironically were all layers of the period prior to the construction of Babri Masjid and the said chart was proved correct with the help of the day-to-day register and site-note books maintained by the ASI.. It may be mentioned that there are 82 trenches having been excavated along with some baulks and a few more making a total of 90 and G-7 out of it is the deepest- trench having 21 layers.

Zafaryab Jilani also pointed out that Muslim rulers had started developing Ayodhya as a capital of Avadh region from the beginning of 13th century and that is how the glazed wares were found in the layers of 13th century and same was the case of glazed tiles.

The issue of recovery of bones was also brought to the notice of the Court and a chart was filed again to show that animal bones were found in almost all those layers which were said to be layers of period VI, VII and VIII (Early Medieval-Rajput period-Medieval-Sultanate period -Post-Medieval Period) and it was evident from the said finds of bones that the claim of ASI about the alleged existence of temple-like structure at the time of construction of Babri Masjid was totally unsustainable as it was not possible that meat would have been consumed by the occupants of the so-called temple or by the residents of that place. It was never the case of any party that the Hindus and specially Vaishnavites of 12th to 16th century were in the habit of consuming meat. It was also pointed out that ASI report has given no explanation about the said bones and the reference of the said animal bones has been given only in the summary/conclusion of the report. "Perhaps ASI has no explanation about this important recovery which has totally negated the temple theory of ASI," said Jilani.

Before Jilani concluded his arguments it was also pointed out that there were doubts about the genuineness and impartiality of the ASI report and that the conduct of ASI team, in destroying all the notes and drafts reports, within three or four days of submission of report had increased these doubts. "The notes and draft reports are always preserved by archeologists so that the veracity of the report may be tested on the basis of the same and therefore, on the totality of these submissions the ASI report was liable to be rejected," he said before winding his set of arguments.

Next in line from the Muslim side was Abdul Mannan who supported the objections filed on behalf of Haji Mahboob Ahmad, a co-plaintiff, of suit no. 4 and he also argued that the court reject the report of ASI as it was self-contradictory and against all material on record.

Mushtaq Ahmad Siddiqui spoke on behalf of Hashim Ansari, plaintiff no. 7 of suit no. 4 with his objections and adopted the arguments already advanced on behalf of SCWB. He further added to them by filing a note on history of Ayodhya showing that Ayodhya had remained under Muslim rule from 13th century to 18th century and Rama cult had started, in Ayodhya, in the late 16th century, that is, after the documentation of Ramcharitramanas written by Tulsidas. He further added examples of the glazed wares etc. and showed variance regarding the same in the report at different places. It was also strenuously urged by him that the report was liable to be rejected even on account of the reason that the same was neither signed by the team leader (Hari Manjhi) nor the authors of different chapters of the said report. It was also shown by him that some charts included in the report were neither referred to in any chapter of the report nor was it shown as to who prepared the same and, in this respect, attention of the Court was drawn to the two-charts giving periodisation of the layers affixed in between page 37 and 38 of the report. The entire two-volumes of ASI report has 574 pages with first volume running into 272 pages.

It was also pointed by Mushtaq A Siddiqui that the ASI itself has given wrong inferences about the periodisation of different layers as it had shown layers VII and VIII of trench J-3 to be equal to layer IX, X and XI of trench G-7. Although the difference between the two trenches is not less than 15 meters. Mushtaq A Siddiqui also referred to the book of Hans Baker on Ayodhya filed by the Hindu side and the statement of SP Mittal, a witness of Hindu side to substantiate his argument regarding the historical development of Ayodhya. In a nutshell his contention was also that ASI report was liable to be rejected. The last arguments from the Muslim side came in the form of Syed Irfan Ahmad, counsel for Haji Mahboob and he too adopted the arguments of SCWB and reiterated the objections already filed on behalf of Haji Mahboob. His main contention was that the report was prepared at the instance of BJP (erstwhile)government and the same represented the viewpoint of the Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) lobby and was not at all an impartial report. On July 15th, finally the Muslim side finished presenting its arguments for the rejection of ASI report.

The Hindu side is represented by senior counsel Lala Ram Gupta who could not appear because of his reported illness and who had sought adjournment for the second week of August, The Nirmohi Akhara counsel Ranjit Lal Verma started his arguments and presented that the report was liable to be accepted and further excavation should be done in at least six-trenches falling on the mound of makeshift structure and its adjacent area. He further submitted that the site-note books indicated the existence of lower-class population at the disputed site in 10th and 11 centuries. He is yet to reply to the objections raised on behalf of Muslim side and will resume his objections on August 9-the date which Court has fixed on the application of Lala Ram Gupta.

The other counsels from the Hindu side have said that they would make submissions, if required, after the arguments of Lala Ram Gupta.

Meanwhile, the evidence in the title-suit will go on before the Commissioner appointed by the Court. 

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