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Published in the 16-31 March 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Faizabad's former DM appears before court

By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas

The Milli Gazette Online

Lucknow: The developments on the Babri Masjid title-suit front are gradually, as of now, heading for the great finale. The on-going recording of statement from the Hindu side is slowly coming to an end. The Muslim side has already finished with the recording of statements of their witnesses.

Babri MasjidNow, the process of presenting witness from the Hindu side; Ram Sharan Srivastava, age around 68 years, son of (late) Kanchan Lal Srivastava, resident of Kidwai Nagar, Kanpur, UP was presented before Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Faizabad-Hari Shankar Dubey on Jan 20, 2005. The recording of his statement was on behalf of Suresh Das- plaintiff of Suit No. 5 and the successor of Ramchandra Paramhans-continued until Feb 16, 2005 and by the time it ended it resulted in a consolidation of a book consisting 184-pages. RS Srivastata was represented through his counsel Madan Mohan Pandey.

Through his affidavit by way of his examinations-in-chief, he stated that the dispute of Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid was a sensitive issue and when he was the District Magistrate (DM) of Faizabad — between 1987 and Dec. 1990, he studied minutely all the aspects of the dispute because it was necessary to maintain communal peace and harmony. It was during his tenure Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) declared shilanyas, which was performed during his tenure. He also said that he interacted with Muslim brothers, saints, mahatmas, intellectuals and ulama and also with archeological experts and journalists of India and abroad and then on the basis of all of this accumulated information he reached his conclusion and wrote the book: Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid Dispute-Eik Drishtikon, published by Carefree Printers, Kanpur in 1997. He also stated that regarding the dispute he read the book by P. Connary-who was the officiating Commissioner and Settlement Officer and who wrote Historiographical Sketch of Faizabad. 

RN Srivastata also inspected the revenue records and nuzul records quite a few times and said that the bandobust settlement of Faizabad was made in 1861, 1893-94 and 1936-37. He also said that his interaction with various historians and through his own study of historical records and revenue gazetteers he came to know that the Babri Masjid was Ramjanambhumi temple which was built after demolishing a temple by Babar in 1526 and which had ceased to function as a mosque from 1934 onwards ie prayers were never offered since then. He referred to the gazetteers of 1858,1870,1877,1902 and 1905 as well as the revenue records of 1861, 1893 and 1936 during his study.

He also said that on the basis of the facts available and his personal investigation and also on the basis of information from various agencies he came to a conclusion that the site-in-question is the birth place of Lord Rama-which was built during the reign of Babar and on whose command, Meer Baqi, his military chief, destroyed it and on the very place the disputed structure (which is now demolished) was built. He said further that the black-stone on the pillars of disputed structure had lotus, god and goddesses and human figures visible on them and in the same vicinity is the presence of Sita Rasoi (Sita’s kitchen) footprints, Chauka Belan (kitchen utensils) and Ram Chabutra and the same place has been the place of worship for Hindus.

He also said that he was in London in 1994 and he read New Encyclopedia Britannica Part-I in which it was stated that in Ayodhya is the birth place of Lord Rama and a mosque was built on it by Babar in 1526, in the place of mandir, and had also carried a photograph of the disputed structure (Babri Masjid). RS Srivastava retired from his administrative services on March 31, 1994.

He was first cross-examined by Ranjit Lal Verma, on behalf of Nirmohi Akhara and he stated that shilanyas programme by VHP was not proper and he elaborated that the reason for his writing the aforementioned book was solely for his own satisfaction and also to apprise the public about the event that had taken place during his tenure as DM of Faizabad. The Muslim side was then given the chance to cross-examine him and senior advocate Abdul Mannan, on behalf of Mohammad Farooq, defendant No.11 of Suit No. 3 of 1989 started questioning him during which he said that he had joined Provincial Civil Services (PCS) in 1961 and had got promoted to Indian Administrative Services (IAS) in 1984 and became DM of Hardoi, UP. He also told that when he was posted as DM of Faizabad he sought the entire information about the (Vivadit Isthal) disputed place and he did oversee the disputed place for hundreds of times. He also gave the dimensions of Babri Masjid from North to South to be 200 yards and from East to West to be 100-150 yards. This was far from reality as Babri Masjid measured about 25 to 30 yards from North to South and only 10 yards from East to West!

He also said that when the UP CM Mulayam Singh Yadav in 1990 had passed the state government order to remove the umbrella over the shilanyas site he had opposed the move. The shilanyas site was more than 100 feet to the East of Babri Masjid. 

He then stated that he read history till high school and that once after he became the DM of Faizabad he did not try to unearth the history of Babri Masjid — thus contradicting his earlier statement, and thereafter, he also denied the possibility of the presence of graves around the disputed structures.
He gave his personal opinion too, that the mosque should not be demolished and the disputed site should be used for any other purpose. He also said that the disputed structure was 500 years old and its’ demolition was an unlawful act more so in a secular nation.

Then, he was crossed examined by Zafaryab Jilani, counsel for Sunni Central Waqf Board (SCWB) during which he informed that he was engaged as a consultant to Agriculture and Finance Corporation of the Ministry of Forest and Environment and is also a manager of various colleges in Kanpur and Hamipur in UP. "He was appointed by the erstwhile BJP government as a reward for writing the book," said Zafaryab Jilani.

He was then asked about how many days after becoming DM he formed his opinion that Babri Masjid was constructed on a temple? To which he answered, that it took him six-months to study various gazetteers.

He denied the suggestion that Bharat Vikas Parishad, under whose auspices his book was inaugurated- was a sister-concern of RSS and stated that he did not remember any name or writer which was referred by him in his book on Ramjanbhumi. He however, could not even recall Beveridge who had translated Babarnama into English and said that he had not read any book titled as ‘Babarnama’ or ‘Humayunnama’, ‘Akbarnama’ or ‘Alamgirnama’. Some other books were cited before him and he said that he had not read any of them.

Zafaryab Jilani was sure that his book was mere hearsay because there was no bibliography in his book and asked him about as many as 18 titles to find him at sea in the Ayodhya-test. The books referred to by Jilani were!

 

  1. Short history of Mughals in India -Ishwari Prasad

  2. The Mughal Empire by Ishwari Prasad

  3. The History & Culture of Indian people, The Mughal Empire by RC Majumdar and Chaudhry

  4. History of Ancient India - RS Tripathi

  5. The Culture & Civilisation of Ancient India in Historical Account Line by D Kausambi.

  6. The Wonder That Was India by AL Bushan

  7. Epigraphical Indica- ASI

  8. A Cultural History of India- AC Barham

  9. Historical Dictionary of India- Surjit Man Singh

  10. An Advance History of India- RC Majumdar

  11. An Encyclopedia in Indian Archeology—B A Ghosh

  12. The Early History of India – B A Smith

  13. The Hindu World by Benjamin Walker

  14. Early Travels of India (1583-1619)-William Forester

  15. Catalogue of Historical Document in Kapardwar Jaipur-GN Bahura 

  16. Khulasatul Tawarekh by SR Bhandari 

  17. Khairul Majlis- Sheikh Nizamuddin

  18. Fawaidul-Fuwaad-Amir Hasan 

 

He said that except for Epigrapghical Indica he had not even heard of any of the books that were mentioned.

He stated that his assertion about the disputed place being the birth place of Lord Rama was based on his study of Ramcharitramanas and Balmikis’ Ramayana and that he had not studied any book of history in this respect and further stated that he had written this on the basis of tradition and that he has held this opinion even before his posting as DM of Faizabad that the disputed place was the birth place of Lord Rama and he was holding this religious belief since his childhood. 

He admitted that Ayodhya was inhabited during the regime of Chandragupta 1st but he expressed his inability to tell as to whether Chandragupta 1st was also known as Vikramadiya. 

About the visit of Hieun Tsaung he admitted that it was a historical fact and he had written in his book that there were hundreds of Buddhists monasteries and 3000 Buddhist monks and only 10 Dev mandirs ( non-Buddhists). He could not name any book in which he might have read anything against this historical statement. He admitted that he had not read, in any text book- about demolition of any temple at Ayodhya by Babar, although, according to him he was taught that Babar was an aggressor. It was also admitted by him that it was correctly written in the Faizabad district gazetteer that there were some Jain shrines and a lot of mosques and tombs at Ayodhya. He stated that according to his study Babar had never come to Ayodhya but had camped near Ayodhya. He however could not point-out any source in any book of history except gazetteers that any Ramjanambhumi temple was demolished by Meer Baqi on the commands of Babar.

He further admitted that in the gazetteer of Faizabad published by HR Navill in 1905 it was mentioned that Babar had come to Ayodhya and stayed there for about a week but he did not accept this assertion to be correct. He expressed his ignorance of the fact if there was any king known as Vikramaditya who had inhabited Ayodhya. He could not name the period of Raja Vikramditya and was also unable to tell how much prior to Babar there was any king called Vikramditya.
He further stated that he had never read the books titled:

  1. The Disputed Mosque. An Historical Inquiry by Sushil Srivastava (1991)

  2. Ramjanambhumi V’s Babri Masjid by Koneard Elst (1990)

  3. Ramajanambhumi through the Ages - JC Agarwal

  4. Ramkatha in Tribal and Folk Traditions of India-K.S. Singh and Y N Datta ( 1993)

  5. Kya Kahti Hai Surya Ki Dhara – P N Misra ( 1987)

  6. Ayodhya and The Future India – J. Bajaj (1993)

  7. Karseva se Kar Seva Tak – G. Sharma (1993)

  8. Temples of North India-BK Deva (1969) 

He said further that he had not even heard the names of these books or of their authors except for Sushil Srivastava.

"The subject is so recent and a writer is expected to read them, at least, before embarking on this endeavour," said Zafaryab Jilani.

RS Srivastata would then say that no Muslim had ever told him that prior to the attachment of Babri Masjid in 1949 prayers were offered inside mosque.

He was then cross examined by MA Siddiqui, on behalf of Hashim Ansari, plaintiff No. 7 of Suit No. 4 of 1989. He stated that his book should be accepted as a book of history and then, he expressed ignorance about the judicial record regarding the cases relating to Babri Masjid. He said that Mukhtar Ahmad Kidwai (former M.P.) used to tell him that the mosque was constructed after demolishing the temple but he had never told him that prayers were offered until 1949 in the said mosque. He stated that all the Muslims who had met him as DM used to tell him that prayers were never offered after 1934 in the said mosque. He denied the suggestion that his statements were against the white-paper of the government of India (1993) and it was admitted by him that the letter sent by the then DM of Faizabad, KK Nayyer in Dec. 1949 was seen by him during his tenure as DM of Faizabad. 
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