Statement on Ayodhya Verdict

The judgement delivered by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Dispute on 30 September 2010 has raised serious concerns because of the way history, reason and secular values have been treated in it. First of all, the view that the Babri Masjid was built at the site of a Hindu temple, which has been maintained by two of the three judges, takes no account of all the evidence contrary to this fact turned up by the Archaeological Survey of India’s own excavations: the presence of animal bones throughout as well as of the use of ‘surkhi’ and lime mortar (all characteristic of Muslim presence) rule out the possibility of a Hindu temple having been there beneath the mosque. The ASI’s controversial Report which claimed otherwise on the basis of ‘pillar bases’ was manifestly fraudulent in its assertions since no pillars were found, and the alleged existence of ‘pillar bases’ has been debated by archaeologists. It is now imperative that the site notebooks, artefacts and other material evidence relating to the ASI’s excavation be made available for scrutiny by scholars, historians and archaeologists. 

No proof has been offered even of the fact that a Hindu belief in Lord Rama’s birth-site being the same as the site of the mosque had at all existed before very recent times, let alone since ‘time immemorial’. Not only is the judgement wrong in accepting the antiquity of this belief, but it is gravely disturbing that such acceptance should then be converted into an argument for deciding property entitlement. This seems to be against all principles of law and equity.
The most objectionable part of the judgement is the legitimation it provides to violence and muscle-power. While it recognizes the forcible break-in of 1949 which led to placing the idols
under the mosque-dome, it now recognizes, without any rational basis, that the transfer put the idols in their rightful place. Even more astonishingly, it accepts the destruction of the mosque in 1992 (in defiance, let it be remembered, of the Supreme Court’s own orders) as an act whose consequences are to be accepted, by transferring the main parts of the mosque to those clamouring for a temple to be built.
For all these reasons we cannot but see the judgement as yet another blow to the secular fabric of our country and the repute of our judiciary. Whatever happens next in the case cannot, unfortunately, make good what the country has lost. 

Romila Thapar, K.M. Shrimali, D.N. Jha, K.N. Panikkar, Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Iqtidar Alam Khan, Shireen Moosvi, Jaya Menon, Irfan Habib, Suvira Jaiswal, Kesavan Veluthat, D. Mandal, Ramakrishna Chatterjee, Aniruddha Ray, Arun Bandopadhyaya, A. Murali, V. Ramakrishna, Arjun Dev, R.C. Thakran, H.C. Satyarthi, Amar Farooqui, B.P. Sahu, Biswamoy Pati, Lata Singh, Utsa Patnaik, Zoya Hasan, Prabhat Patnaik, C.P. Chandrasekhar, Jayati Ghosh, Archana Prasad, Shakti Kak, V.M. Jha, Prabhat Shukla, Indira Arjun Dev, Mahendra Pratap Singh, Ram Rahman, M.K. Raina, Sohail Hashmi, Parthiv Shah, Madan Gopal Singh, Madhu Prasad, Vivan Sundaram, Geeta Kapur, Rajendra Prasad, Anil Chandra, Rahul Verma, Indira Chandrasekhar, Sukumar Muralidharan, Supriya Verma, N.K. Sharma, S.Z.H. Jafri, Farhat Hasan, Shalini Jain, Santosh Rai, Najaf Haider, R. Gopinath, R.P. Bahuguna, G.P. Sharma, Sitaram Roy, O.P. Jaiswal, K.K. Sharma