Ayodhya's bones of contention
By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas
Lucknow: Zafaryab Jilani received a long distance call past mid-night on December 6-7 1992. "Mr. Jilani my government has not been able to protect Babri Masjid from demolition. If you want, I can resign and come down to help Babri Masjid cause," said the caller.
"No, Sir, we all are helpless right now as the central and state governments have both colluded to get Babri Masjid demolished. Your presence right now will not help," replied Zafaryab
|Muslim parties have put in their contention that there is no single finding of any sort indicating demolition of any Hindu Temple or even of any Hindu religious structure, nor there is any finding that the Babri Masjid was constructed after the demolition of any such temple. In fact, according to the report, instead of there being any demolition of any structure, the finding was, as it appeared in various chapters of the report, that the Mosque was constructed directly resting over a 50 meter long wall in the west of the mound which had a tilt towards the East and had three phases, which is the foundation wall of the Mosque.
The caller was the Indian (now former) ambassador to US Mr. Sidharth Shankar Ray who was associated with the legal fighting of the Babri Masjid case before he was sent as ambassdador to Washington by PV Narsimha Rao.
Today, SS Ray is still on the same pedestal pursuing the case for the Sunni Central Waqf Board (SCWB) and appearing on behalf of Babri Masjid to contest the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) report of excavations at the Babri Masjid / Ramjanambhumi site at
The excavation order was passed on March 5, 2003 and the final report was presented by the ASI on Aug 22, 2003 before the Special High Court Bench at Lucknow which consists of Justice Syed Rafat Alam, Justice Bhanwar Singh and Justice Khem
The hearing of objections started on April 12, 2004 after SCWB had filed well-studied objections in about half a dozen applications since Aug 22, 2003.
SS Ray drew the attention of the court that the ASI report was full of mistakes and contradictions and does not deal with two basic issues in question referred to them for investigation: Whether the disputed site was previously a Hindu Temple where there was a Hindu Temple in existence before the Babri Masjid was constructed, and the second is whether the said Masjid was constructed after demolishing the alleged Hindu Temple in question.
Muslim parties have put in their contention that there is no single finding of any sort indicating demolition of any Hindu Temple or even of any Hindu religious structure, nor there is any finding that the Babri Masjid was constructed after the demolition of any such temple. In fact, according to the report, instead of there being any demolition of any structure, the finding was, as it appeared in various chapters of the report, that the Mosque was constructed directly resting over a 50 meter long wall in the west of the mound which had a tilt towards the East and had three phases, which is the foundation wall of the Mosque.
And, apart from this 50-metre wall of the foundation in the West, no other corresponding wall of the alleged Temple period was found to exist nor was there any foundation of any other wall corresponding to this Western wall except the foundation walls of Babri Masjid. This showed that the said western wall was likely to be that of an Idgah, prior to Babri Masjid, which was used only for observing Eidul Fitr and Eid al-Adha prayers.
"The contention in the report that this western wall was a part of any alleged temple is absolutely untenable as there should have been, in such a case, foundations for walls on all four sides identical to the western wall, of pre-Babri Masjid period. Although, the foundation walls of the demolished Babri Masjid have been found to exist, there were no foundation walls of any alleged temple," said Ray.
"Moreover, as this wall of 50 meter had a tilt towards the East, it could not be considered to be one of the walls of the alleged temple, as temple walls do not have such a tilt and the Mosque / Idgah walls do have such a tilt. And, it was too long and straight to be of any Hindu Temple, which invariably has short walls and has different apartments of Mandap, Garbh Grah," he continued.
ASI report, interestingly, does not show that there was any foundation wall of any Vimana, Garbha Grah or Mandapa if temple at all exixted there. If any temple was supposed to have existed on the disputed site, the finding about the demolition should also have shown it but the finding is that the Babri Masjid was constructed directly resting on this 50 meter wall which means that this wall was not part of the alleged temple. Merely finding foundation of this wall, that it was already existing, does not in any way indicate that there was any temple. On the other hand it indicates the existence of an Idgah wall. Furthermore, one finding is that the temple was supposed to have been constructed in the Early Medieval, i.e., 11th-12th centuries. While the other finding in the report is that this 50-metre western wall was constructed between the end of the 12th and the beginning of 16th century. This finding is in chapter 3 of the report. The report has 574-pages divided into 10 chapters.
"If the said temple was constructed during 11th-12th centuries, its walls should also have been constructed during the same period. If, that was the case, then the western wall, on which the Babri Masjid was directly resting, should also have been constructed in 11th-12th centuries and the same could not be said to have been constructed around the end of 12th century," said Ray.
SCWB referred to many other flaws to show that there were serious discrepancies in the report. The alleged pillar bases could not be identified with any alleged temple. Moreover, if demolition of such a massive temple was supposed to have taken place there should have been some evidence of such demolition, and there would have been huge debris around the place but nothing of this kind was found and the report is silent with regard to such debris. "The High Court had also observed, when ordering the excavation, that if there was a temple its foundation should be traced by excavation. No such foundation whatsoever has been found. So, neither in the report anything has been found about the foundation of an alleged temple nor a trace of such a temple," pointed Ray.
"Some important documents are not available to show the historical period during which some of the constructions were said to have been made, particularly the site notebook regarding the alleged ‘Circular Shrine’," said Zafaryab Jilani who is assisting Ray.
SCWB also brought to the court's notice with regard to site notebooks which mentioned the record about any remains or any relevant date. Such notebooks reportedly were not prepared and in the absence of such material documents some of the conclusions in the report appear to be arbitrary.
After the arguments of SS Ray, which continued during April 12-15, came the turn of Zafaryab Jilani. He pointed out to the court that there were discrepancies in a number of so-called pillar bases mentioned in Appendix 4 of the ASI report and the chart on pages 56-67 as well as the pillar-bases shown in figure 3-A of the report. Four of the pillar bases were said to be dating back to the 11-12 centuries while forty-six of them were said to belong to the end of 12-13 centuries AD. All these details were self-contradictory and the theory of the alleged temple was totally inconsistent with these details. Moreover, about a dozen "pillar bases" and particularly trenches J-1, L-1, L-2, L-3 and G-7 were not even recorded in the site notebooks maintained by the trench supervisor. Even, the size of the top portion of these so-called pillar bases was of different dimensions and it could not be said that there was any uniformity among them. The distances between these pillar-bases were of varying sizes ranging from 2.90 mtrs to 3.80 mtrs. These details establish that the so-called pillar-bases were not the foundation of any earlier structure but the same were the part of the floor.
On April 12 last, ASI moved an application to the effect that they have entered into correspondence with some agencies to examine and report about the identification of the animal bones unearthed during excavations. They attached photocopies of letters from Aug 14, 2003 to Jan 23, 2004 showing correspondence with agencies.
SCWB without any delay flied objections four days later saying that the application of ASI was malafide and aims at delaying the final disposal of the ASI report.
SCWB stated in its objections that no explanation had been offered as to why this correspondence had not started in April 2003 itself when the bones were found and preserved in sufficient numbers. Moreover, it was not understandable as to why the court was not informed either at the time of the submission of the report or thereafter up to April 4, 2004 about the necessity of obtaining such a report regarding the bones, especially when a large number of archeologists had raised objections against the ASI report for not taking into account these bones in its final report. Such objections were also raised by Muslims parties in their objections filed in Oct 2003.
"Why bones have not been taken into account when it is well known that bones are generally used by Muslims in their food and the finding of bones shows the site to have been inhabited by Muslims in the pre-and post- Medieval periods," maintained SS Ray before leaving for Kolkata on April 15.
SS Ray would be back in Lucknow on May 17 onwards when the court will be sitting next for further arguments. The matter of bones is also going to be taken by the court in the same sitting.«
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