Books

How Babri was occupied in 1949

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Book: Ayodhya: The Dark Night (The Secret History of Rama’s Appearance in Babri Masjid)
Publisher: HarperCollins (2012)
Author: Krishna Jha, Dhirendra K. Jha
Pages: 192. Price: Rs 499

Dr Aga Syed Sameer

This is one of the few books based on investigative journalism that grips the soul of the reader right from the beginning. It is based on the much debated controversy of medieval India, that has engulfed whole of India in its pangs in modern times, and is still shaping the politics on the religious front. It breaks all the myths woven around the idea of “Birthplace of Rama” during the past seven decades by Hindu religious bodies like — VHP, RSS, Hindu Mahasabha and BJP, right from the day when Mahatma Gandhi was murdered.

It was the single most influential issue that catapulted BJP into the fore-front of politics soon after it embraced Ayodhya as its main campaign issue in the 1980s.

The book not only breaks the myths but also enlightens its readers about the ideology and working of various nefarious elements placed well within the cog-wheels of politics and administration in modern India. It introduces the reader to the little known world of sadhus and akharas. The castes and creeds of the various akharas, the temples they maintain, the competition with other akharas, their intricate and well-guarded beliefs, their subservience and their religio-political motives.

The events that laid the foundation of the myth of the “miracle of Rama’s appearance” in the Babri Mosque in December 1949, still propagated by Hindutva elements all over India, are the main plot of this book.

The book identifies the “miracle” of “Rama’s Appearance” to be the brain-child of the three friends - Mahraja Pateshwari Prasad Singh (ruler of the princely state of Balrampur), Mahant Divijay Nath (head  of the Gorakshapeeth in Gorakpur and President of Hindu Mahasabha) and KKK Nair (Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Magistrate of Faizabad). The trio were united together by their Hindu communal sentiments to hatch a conspiracy that would irreversibly mould the history of modern India on the religio-political front. Each one of them served as an important cog wheel in the idea of “Hindutva Statehood” cashing on the sentiments of  the Hindu majority of the newly born State of India. The trio were the perfect pack of finance, religion and administration against which no one would have won.

The book identifies Mahant Digvijay Nath as the main mastermind behind the whole conspiracy of Rama’s “appearance” in the Masjid.

The authors write, “Mahant Digvijay Nath - the powerful president of the Hindu Mahasabha unit in the United Provinces - who became the party’s national general secretary just two days after the Babri Masjid incident. That the Mahant, one of the prime accused in the Gandhi murder case, could achieve this (planting of the idol) just months after being acquitted on the grounds of insufficient evidence is in itself indicative of the state government’s attitude towards the activities of a communal organization like the Hindu Mahasabha and its leaders”.

The authors further describe the psyche of Mahant Digvijay Nath as being “…..politically the most cunning sadhu of the twentieth century. The game he played was carefully considered. Here was a sadhu who understood politics sufficiently to deal with the Congress on equal terms, but asserted his Hindu identity strongly enough to never be seen to grovel. His arrest in the aftermath of the Gandhi murder was significant; so too was his release in the absence of clinching evidence”.

Talking about KKK Nair, the authors write “…KKK Nair presided over Faizabad for nine months and fourteen days, from 1 June 1949 till 14 March 1950 when he was relieved of his job, and in that short period, he made a huge impression…. The mutilation of the Mosque was just one testimony of his conspiracies”.

In another place the authors tell, “Nair was an outspoken Hindu communalist who, despite his official position, was openly advocating that the mosque be handed over to the Hindu community.”

The authors have painstakingly joined the pieces of the puzzle that led to the notion of “Miracle” inside the main dome of Babri Masjid 60 years ago in the darkest night of the Modern India - 22nd December 1949. The book also identifies the villian who volunteered to realize this conspiracy on the ground - Abhiram Das. Abhiram Das was a Naga Vairagi living within the confines of Hanumangarhi - the main seat of power of the Nirvani Akhara. Abhiram Das, later known as ‘Ramjanmabhoomi Uddharak’ (liberator of the Rama birthplace) or simply as Uddharak Baba, died in 1981.

According to the extensive research by the authors, Abhiram Das was born in village of Rarhi of district Darbhanga in Bihar to a poor family of farmers who had fled to Ayodhya to save himself from the clutches of poverty. The authors have described Abhiram Das as “foul-mouthed, ill-tempered and an almost completely illiterate sadhu”. He grabbed this opportunity of planting the idol of Lord Rama (Rama Lalla) in the Babri Masjid on the night of 22-23 December 1949 along with two of his cousins - Yugal Kishore Jha and Indushekhar Jha (both of whom were completely clueless about the happenings of that night till that happened).

The idol that was planted by Abhiram Das under the main Dome of the Masjid was given to him by another Vairagi - Vrindavan Das, who according to the authors, lived in a thatched hut near the gate of the Masjid. The authors write, “Abhiram Das took the idol from Vrindavan Das and grasping it with both his hands, walked past him…towards the wall that separated the inner courtyard around the Babri Masjid from the outer courtyard that contained Ramachabutra… and said, ‘Follow me’. With these words, he held the idol firmly and began climbing the wall.”

Writing about the night of 22nd of December as “the truly dark night” in which the whole conspiracy was put to action on the ground by Abhiram Das, the authors write, “…Abhiram Das and others had taken the idol of Rama Lalla inside the mosque well before twelve o’clock that night when the shift at the gate changed and Abdul Barkat (guard on duty) resumed duty. And when after midnight and before dawn, the beating of ghanta-gharial began along with the aarti, he (the guard) woke up and saw that scene… (as told by Acharya Satyendra Das)”.

This was the modus operandi. It was well envisaged by the conspirators that the one who would plant the idol had to lie low till the dawn, so that it can be claimed that the idol had “manifested” itself under the main dome of the Masjid and not by any human intervention. For that claim, the statement of the guard on duty from the midnight was later exploited to claim the miracle of the event.

The authors write in another place, “Abhiram Das sat just beneath the central dome of Babri Masjid firmly holding the idol in his hands and got active… then erased many Islamic carvings with the help of a khurpi…from the inner and outer walls of the mosque, and scribbled Sita and Rama in saffron and yellow colours on them.”

The book further tells us the plight of Abdul Barkat when he saw the spectable inside the mosque and the extent of desecration done under the cloak of darkness during his duty hours. The FIR which was lodged in the morning (lodged only at nine in the morning though KKK Nair had reached the spot at five am) of 23rd December 1949 implicates Abhiram Das and others for intruding into the mosque and defiling it, while naming Abdul Barkat as one of the nine witnesses. “It was indeed a strange night - full of surprises for some like Muhammad Ismael - the muezzin and Abdul Barkat - the guard.”

KKK Nair was at the helm, as he was the sole administrator vested with full powers to exploit the situation and to deflect any of the Centre’s efforts to prevent the conspiracy from getting out of hand.

In an interview with Awadh Kishore (Abhiram Das’s cousin), the authors describe the events of the following morning of December 23rd reflecting the authoritative and the exploitative role of KKK Nair in bloating the whole situation rather than controlling it as an administrator.

 “At a little distance was Nair. When I moved closer, I heard Nair Saheb telling Abhiram Das: ‘Maharaj, don’t move from here. Don’t leave Rama Lalla alone. Tell everybody to raise the slogan that Rama Lalla is hungry.’ I still remember that scene. Nair Saheb looked firm and serious.”

KKK Nair was the sole person who sought to get the Land of the Babri Masjid transferred/attached to the administration with the help of his friend and confidante Guru Datt Singh. He was the city magistrate of Faizabad and acted as assistant to the deputy commissioner.

The book tells the story of how one man, a Gandhian, tried to take an opposite stance on the whole controversy of “Rama’s Appearance” and tried to tear the whole shroud of religiosity out of it. This man was Akshay Brahmachari, the secretary of Faizabad District Congress Committee in 1949. He was the sole person who risked his own life by taking the stand against the communal intentions of the Hindu Mahasabha and talked forcefully against the mobilization of Hindus in the Ayodhya. He continued on this line steadfastly until his death in isolation in 2010.

Even after the planting of the Rama’s idol in the Babri Masjid, Akshay fought relentlessly in the favour of Babri Masjid and its cause until his death. Akshay Brahmachari believed that there was no one called Bhai Lal (as reported by KKK Nair in his official report to thwart any enquiry in the delay of administrative action) and that this man was a fictitious character invented by Nair to carry out his agenda smoothly without getting dragged into any controversy. There is a whole chapter dedicated in the memory of this noble soul in the book. (risingkashmir.in)

 The author teaches in SKIMS Medical College, Bemina

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 April 2013 on page no. 21

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