On December 22, 1949, the idol of Ramlalla was placed in the Babri Masjid (mosque) premises in Ayodhya and on December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid was demolished. During this interval of more than 40 years whatever happened publicly is known, but most people are unaware of what kept happening behind the curtain. Here is a first hand account by the editor of a daily published from Faizabad, who has been an eye-witness to numerous activities that took place backstage and publicly. Many Prime Ministers, opposition politicians, journalists and activists have been dependant on him for information. His information and experiences have exposed many little known facts related to the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi dispute and revealed several which were not known till now.
When I reached the Janambhoomi in Ayodhya around 7 o’clock in the morning, I got to know that a gathering of approximately 50-60 people in the compound had broken the locks of the Babri Masjid, forcibly and wrongly entered the mosque by jumping a ladder through a lower wall, had installed the idol of Ramlalla and on the walls inside and outside the masjid had written ‘Sita Ram’, etc in saffron and yellow colors. On duty constable no. 70 Hansraj had told them to desist but they had paid no heed. The PAC guard present there called for help, but by that time people had entered the mosque. District officers came to the scene and remained busy making arrangements. Later a crowd of 5-6 thousand wanted to collectively go inside the masjid, shouting religious slogans and chanting, but due to arrangements being there could not do so but Ram Sakal Das, Sudharshan Das and 50-60 unknown men by wrongfully entering the mosque and installing the idol have polluted the mosque. Many of the employees on duty have seen this. The above description was registered in Ayodhya police station case number 215 crime no. 167 on 23.12.1949 at 7 p.m.
On December 23, 1949, at 9 o’ clock in the morning constable No. 07 Mata Prasad reached the Ayodhya police station in district Faizabad and according to the description that he gave verbally to the police station chief, sub-inspector Ramdev Dube, head constable Parmeshwar Singh certified in writing, ‘on the night of 22/23 December a crowd of rioters forcibly entered the Babri Masjid and polluted the mosque by installing the idol of Ramlalla’. Nobody could have guessed that that this case registered under section 147/295/448 of the Indian Penal Code will give sorrow to the Indian nation for the next 60 years and will remain a threat for values such as secularism inherent in the Indian Constitution.
Here it becomes necessary to mention D. B. Rai in the context of how facts are presented in a distorted form. He writes: “In the night on 22/23 December, 1949, it is said that under the central dome of the disputed building there was a very strong supernatural light and the sentry of the guard engaged in security, who was a Muslim, has stated that upon diminishing of the shine of the light his eyes saw a surprising, amazing scene. His statement is that after the light died out, the idol of Shri Ramchandra with his three brothers were ensconced there’. The administration did not have the gumption to remove the idols in front of the public. According to the public, an investigation of this incident had taken place and the District Officer of that time, K.K. K. Nair, and the City Magistrate, Guru Dutt Singh, had submitted resignation letters.
According to legend, Baba Abhayram Das and some other sadhus of Ayodhya had said to constable Sher Singh, appointed in the guard of that time, that if in reality he is Sher Singh (‘Sher’ means Lion), then he should let them take the idol of Ram inside the disputed building. Sher Singh used to often visit Abhayram Das’s place. He also used to consume ‘bhang’ and ‘ganja’ (intoxicating herbs) with him. Sher Singh became sentimental on the night of 22/23 December. His duty was between 9 to 12 at night, and he allowed Mahant Abhayram Das and other saints to enter the disputed building where the sadhus installed the ‘ashtdhatu’ (alloy) idol of Ramlalla and got busy in worship. Thousands of devotees also gathered, because secretly word had been spread that today Ramlalla will emerge. After 12 o’ clock, Sher Singh remained on duty for 1 hour and then at 1 o’ clock he woke up his colleague, a Muslim constable, and sent him on sentry duty. When he reached on duty, he became speechless on seeing the bright shine of the alloy idol of Ramlalla. Because he had reached duty an hour late, perhaps his well being lay in supporting the story of the sudden appearance of Ramlalla.
Contrary to the report registered by constable Mata Prasad, the above given facts are from the book named ‘Truth of 6 December’ ) (page no. 24), the writer of which is D.B. Rai about whom it will not be out of context here to mention that when on December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid was demolished, then it was this good man himself who was the senior Police Superintendent of Faizabad and in demolishing the mosque was in almost the same role in which any worker of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad could have been. As a reward the Bharatiya Janata Party gave him a Lok Sabha ticket twice and he won both times. The legend he is mentioning, infinite numbers of such legends have been spread during this dispute and the poor, innocent public has trusted them.
In the above quoted statement of D. B. Rai there are many interesting anomalies. These anomalies are not the product of something inadvertent or lack of information. Instead, these should be taken as well thought out ways to erase the difference between myth and history or an attempt to make legends to be believed as history. To sing the glory of the past, revivalist powers in the whole world have treated history in the same manner. If you go to Ayodhya, then you will find such books of history selling on footpaths which will make your head spin. To millions of extremely religious Hindus, these books written in corrupt language and in bad style seem more authentic than serious books of history. In any case, we are not a nation that keeps history safe or differentiates between myth and history.
Look at the statement of D.B. Rai a little carefully. Rai was senior Police Superintendent of Faizabad and there is no basis to believe that he would not have seen the FIR registered by constable Mata Prasad on December 23 at the Ayodhya police station, in which he had clearly said that Ram Sakal Das, Sudarshan Das and 50-60 other unknown men had wrongfully entered the mosque and by installing the idol had polluted the mosque. Rai it is said, from the beginning had imagined such a sentry during whose duty a very strong supernatural light appeared and upon diminishing of the shine
of the light his eyes saw a surprising, amazing scene. His statement is that after the light diminished he saw ensconced the idol of Shri Ramchandra with his three brothers.
If Rai had been honest in his writing, then he would not have hidden the fact that on that historic night of 22/23 December when Ramlalla appeared, at the time in the guard sent by the Faizabad police lines, there was no Muslim constable and the sole Muslim member of the guard was head constable no. 9 Abdul Barkat. I talked about this matter with Vibhuti Narayan, who himself has been a senior police officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre. He called the statement of D.B. Rai a bundle of lies. According to him, as per the prevailing tradition of the Uttar Pradesh police and as per the police manual, the head constable is the commander of the armed police guard and the commander does not stand on sentry duty. That is why there was no possibility that during the appearance of the idol of Ramlalla any sentry was there on duty and after completion of his duty he woke up some Muslim sentry and sent him for duty.
Similarly, in another kind of lie, D.B. Rai has imagined some constable named Sher Singh who often used to visit Abhayram Das’s place and Sher Singh also used to consume ‘bhang’ and ‘ganja’ (intoxicating herbs) with him. Sher Singh became sentimental on the night of 22/23 December. His duty was between 9 to 12 at night, and he allowed Mahant Abhayram Das and other saints to enter the disputed building where the sadhus installed the ‘ashtdhatu’ (alloy) idol of Ramlalla and got busy in worship.
According to the police line records, in the security guard that was posted at the Babri Masjid on the night of 22/23 December, there was no constable named Sher Singh. In the charge sheet filed on February 1, 1950 too, in the list of witnesses, the name of Sher Singh is not there, whereas guard commander Abdul Barkat and names of other members of the guard are included. The current mahant of the Nirmohi Akhara, Bhaskar Das, who had been appointed at that time to do worship on the birth place dais of the Akhara, told me that a policeman named Sher Singh used to come and go in his Akhara and sitting with sadhus, used to smoke pot with them and share a ‘chillum’ (pipe). The sadhus used to tease him by saying that if he really is a lion (Sher), then he should help them in installing the idol of Ramlalla in the mosque.
Keeping all these facts in mind, it can be said that at the time when by force and deceit, under the leadership of Ram Sakal Das and Sudarshan Das, the crowd installed the idol of Ramlalla, at that time constable no.70 Hansraj was on sentry duty. Should we believe that D.B. Rai, who himself was senior Police Superintendent of Faizabad, was not aware of all these facts? Whenever he wanted, he could have asked for records from the Faizabad police line or the Ayodhya police station and seen them. It was but natural that he didn’t try to find out the truth. He preferred to be one amongst those infinite Hindutva historians, for whom there is no difference between myth and history.
My associate Suman Gupta had taken a long interview of Mahant Bhaskar Das, in which he had related many interesting facts about a policeman named Sher Singh and one of them was that the work of obliterating the word ‘Allah’ engraved in Arabic on the wall near the birth place dais was also done by Sher Singh. Due to my health and lack of time I could not find out more about Sher Singh, but I feel that if someone does research work, then they will get many important clues.
In respect of the same episode, Akshay Brahmachari, a sadhu recluse and once district minister of the Congress, writes, “early in the morning of December 23, the night on which the idol of Shri Ram was kept in the Babri Masjid, at 9 o’ clock the District Commissioner revealed that I have got to know through Shri Bhailal at 6 in the morning that the idol has been kept in the mosque. I had gone to see it, and have just returned from there”. This quote has been taken from Akshay Brahmachari’s book ‘Kaumi Ekta Ki Agni Pariksha’(1989). In 1949, when the idol of Shri Ram was kept in the Babri Masjid, Akshay Brahmachari was minister in the Congress Committee of Faizabad district, was a deeply religious Vaishnav sadhu and was connected to the Ram Vallabha Kunj temple. He not only pleaded against this injustice in the whole country, but also went on a hunger strike against this at the office of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee.
I have given the above descriptions only with the objective that it becomes clear that at midnight on 22/23 December,1949, in the deserted courtyard of the Babri Masjid, the idol of Ramlalla did not appear due to some supernatural miracle, but 50-60 rowdy elements, by forcibly entering the mosque in a planned manner, had kept it in the courtyard of the mosque. It is very difficult to say why the guard engaged in security, in which there were 1 head constable and 3 constables and for whose help one unit of the PAC was also deployed, could not stop these rowdy elements. Was someone or some amongst them hand in glove with these miscreants? Finding the right answers to these questions is very difficult now. Veterans of Hindutva, by speaking about some Muslim sentry seeing the vision of a supernatural light (jyoti) or sometimes by fabricating the story of the idol being kept with the collusion of a sentry named Sher Singh, have certainly tried to draw a protective curtain over the activities of miscreants. By hatching a conspiracy they have made successful efforts to hide the occurrence of a forcibly kept idol from the huge Hindu community. It is my belief that if the correct facts be known to Hindus, then definitely many of them will protest against this injustice.
All available facts indicate that till 24 hours after the keeping of the idols, neither was there much tension in Ayodhya and nor was there so much of a crowd around the mosque that if the administration really wanted, then it could not have removed the idols. In this regard Akshay Brahmachari went to the spot with District Magistrate K.K.K. Nair. He (Akshay Brahmachari) writes, “I went to the Babri Masjid with the District Magistrate at 12. The idol was kept there. A few people had gathered around the mosque. With accessibility at that time, the safety of the mosque could have been ensured and the idols could have been removed, but the District Magistrate didn’t think it appropriate. Since early morning itself propaganda started happening through loud speakers that the Lord has appeared, Hindus should move for ‘darshan’ ( paying respect). I made the District Magistrate see this propaganda in Ayodhya and Faizabad while going to Ayodhya with him in his car. The excitation kept increasing. Then why didn’t the Uttar Pradesh Government or the district administrations make any attempt in this direction?”
All accused in the charge sheet filed by Ramdev Dube, assistant in-charge of Ayodhya Police Station, district Faizabad, from the side of the Government, were on bail, but the prosecution had no information about the situation of prosecutions and progress of the case. Case number 215/1949 section 147/295/448 main police station (kotwali) Ayodhya, Faizabad on 23.12.1949 on report of the then chief of the police station, sub-inspector Ramdev Dube had been registered against Abhiram Das, Shiv Darshan, Ram Subhag Das, Ram Sakal Das and 50-60 other unknown people. In the case, after consideration, the charge sheet was submitted on February 1, 1950, against Abhiram Das and 5 other people. I tried a lot, but due to the episode being old, no information about the decision in this case etc could be found from anywhere. In the police records too nothing is clearly written about the decision in this case. The senior police superintendent of Faizabad had also given a report to this effect in the Lucknow High Court on August 1, 2008, that even after trying a lot he could not get any information about the final decision in the case.
In the Bill of Indictment the names included were Abhiram Das chela Yamuna Das, Ram Vilas Das, Shiv Darshan Das chela Govind Das, Ram Sakal Das chela Saryu Das, Vrindavan Das chela Ram Ballabh Sharan and Ram Subhag Das. It was written at the time of filing of the Bill of Indictment against all of them in court that on date 22/23 December, 1949, the accused, believing Babri Masjid to be an old temple, installed the idol, after investigation of which as per section 147/448/295 of IPC penalty is ordered, required action be taken.
The Bill of Indictment in this regard is interesting as the facts described in the FIR – “When I reached the Janmbhoomi in Ayodhya around 7 o’clock in the morning, I got to know that a gathering of approximately 50-60 people in the compound had broken the locks of the Babri Masjid, forcibly and wrongly entered the mosque by jumping a ladder through a lower wall, had installed the idol of Ramlalla and on the walls inside and outside the masjid had written ‘Sita Ram’, etc in saffron and yellow colors” – were made to disappear from the Bill of Indictment and the Judicator, with the motive of helping the accused, changed their intention itself by writing that the accused installed the idol believing it to be an old temple. In this way the nature of this case itself changed. On December 29, 1949, the City Magistrate, Faizabad, while impounding the disputed building under section 145, in its description wrote, “three domed building and 4 walls, boundary of which in North- Chati Puran (sixth puran) and Nirmohi Akhara, in South- Araji Parti, in East- inside platform of Shri Ram meaning Nirmohi Akhara and Sahan temple, in West –Parikrama (perambulation/round )’. On the sides of the case was Government vs. Janambhoomi (Babri Masjid). In other words, instead of a mosque the process of giving that place the nature of a temple had begun on a paperwork basis then itself and later in the charge sheet (filed on February 1, 1950) as well the same thing was written.
On January 16,1950, an important leader of the Hindu Mahasabha of Faizabad, Gopal Singh Visharad filed law suit no. 2/1950 at Munsif Sadar’s place that due to being a devotee of Ram he be given permission to do worship and Muslims be stopped from going to the disputed spot. In this case, former District Magistrate Jai Karan Nath Ugra from the side of the State and Government filed an affidavit on April 25, 1950. In para 12 of the affidavit it was said that the property related to the case is known by the name of Babri Masjid and this Mosque from a long time is used by Muslims for Namaz and worship. Its use cannot be done in the form of a temple of Shri Ram.
In Para 23 of this affidavit itself it was said that on the night of December 22, 1949, some rowdy elements wrongly kept an idol of Ramchandra Ji in it, because of which the administration, to maintain peace and order, on December 29, 1949, under section 145, by the order of the Additional City Magistrate Markandey Singh, had to impound it. In this matter, 5 Muslims whose names were Zahoor Ahmed, Haji Feku, Mohammad Khalik, Mohammad Shami and Mohhamad Achchan Mian were made witnesses by Gopal Singh Visharad.
According to Akshay Brahmachari, those days it was being said that not even a single temple has remained in Pakistan then why should a mosque and graveyard exist in Ayodhya? We should come together and collectively obliterate the sign of Muslims from Ayodhya. This is possible only when the Congress is thrown out. Many Congressmen thought like this, but Jawaharlal and some few people are taking the side of Muslims; they will have to be finished. In Ayodhya Akshay Brahmachari and Sidheshawari Prasad should not be allowed to stay. They don’t want to let the Hindu religion grow. Amidst laughter of the District Magistrate slogans were shouted, ‘Akshay –Sidheshawari be destroyed’, ‘Akshay –Sidheshawari be killed’, ‘they are sacrilegious, have become Muslim’. For the safety and protection of Muslims they are putting pressure on the Congress Government, etc. In a massive public meeting of Govind Sahay, House Secretary of the State Government as well, these people created a ruckus and shouting slogans, instigated people.
With regard to the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi, sustained publicity of absolutely unfounded, unsubstantiated and make-believe stories through the mediums of advertisements, books and pamphlets etc kept being done and by reading them out again and again, the feelings of innocent, religious Hindus are provoked. Communal rancor, hatred, vengeance, stress, violence, and a frenzied anti-Muslim atmosphere is again being spread in the country by this. Due to the Mandir Nirman Andolan agitation terrible communal riots have taken place in several places. Thousands of innocent people have been harmed and property worth hundreds of thousands rupees has been destroyed.
(Sheetla Singh is Editor of the Dainik Janmorcha).