The story of the demolition of the historic Babri Mosque in northern India comes back to the fore.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid a foundation stone for the construction of a Hindu temple, on the ruins of the historical Babri Mosque, to announce the end of the conflict over this historical architectural edifice, whose story appears from time to time, as a result of a judicial struggle between Muslims and Hindus, which lasted for about thirty years, over the  right to own the mosque’s land.

It should be noted that the Babri Mosque is one of the biggest mosques in the state of “Uttar Pradesh” in northern India.

The story goes back briefly to the years immediately after India gained independence from British colonialism in 1947. Britain worked hard for 173 years to feed sectarian strife in the country. And they had deluded the Hindu population, that the “Ayodhya” region in the north of the country, especially in the Al-Babri Mosque, was the birthplace of “God Ram”, one of the Hindu gods, which made it one of the important holy places for them.

A group of extremist Hindus are trying to destroy the mosque

In 1870 by the British historian Patrick Carnegi published a regional history of the region, he claimed that the Mongols destroyed three temples in Ayodhya and replaced them with mosques.

As an inevitable result of all the above, one of the Hindu priests and a number of his assistants, on one night of December 1949, stormed the Babri Mosque at night and placed statues on its walls belonging to the Hindu god “Rama”. The next day they announced the appearance of “God Rama” inside the mosque. One of the big differences between Hinduism and Islam is the use of idols.  Islam is strictly prohibiting the worship of idols, because God, for his followers, is invisible and indivisible. Whereas, Hinduism believes that God can exist in many forms and that the faithful worship idols as a means of God. So the statue of Ram himself would be a “God “. This led the Indian authorities at that time to close the mosque, and to deport the Muslims from it. Then a guard was assigned to protect it.

But with the expansion of the circle of tension between Hindus and Muslims, and with the repeated attacks on mosques, in addition to the failure of the Indian government to take strict measures to protect the Muslim minority and protect their holy places. In 1992 a large Hindu group completely demolished the historical mosque. Which led to fueling the conflict between the followers of the Hindu and Muslim sects. This demolition sparked violence that spread across India over the following months. Sixteen states experienced interfaith unrest, according to a government report in December of the same year. In January 1993 riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims in Mumbai, the biggest city in India, over the right to ownership of the mosque’s land, which created hundreds of deaths, most of them were Muslims. Muslims have demanded many times to rebuilt the mosque. Muslims have demanded many times to rebuilt the mosque, but in vain.

A group of extremist Hindus occupy the mosque

Until the story appeared again in 2010, when the court decided to divide the mosque’s land into three parts. One third for Muslims, and two thirds for the various Hindu groups. In 2019, the Supreme Court issued a decision to grant the mosque land to Hindus. Claiming that the “Indian Archaeological Survey” issued a report in which it provided evidence that there were remains of a “non-Islamic” building under the demolished Babri Mosque structure. Which in turn gave the Hindus the right to establish a Hindu temple.

It should be noted that the Babri Mosque is one of the biggest mosques in the state of “Uttar Pradesh” in northern India. This construction dates back to the sixteenth century by the Mughal emperor, Zahir ad-Din Muhammad Babur in 1528. The mosque used to accommodate about 90 people to pray.  verses from the Qur’an were written on the walls inside. On the minbar, or pulpit, under the central dome was inscribed in Persian: “Place for the angels to descend.”

The Mosque had two courtyards, ringed by a perimeter wall and separated by a wall with a railing. In the outer courtyard was a small wooden platform with an idol of Ram where Hindus worshiped.

Muslims in Ayodhya continued praying in this mosque without interruption for four centuries, until the first troubles began in 1855.

خالد حياتله، عالم آثار فلسطيني - سوري، كان قبل النزاع في سوريا مرتبطاً بالمديرية العامة للآثار والمتاحف في دمشق. الان مع معهد الآثار الرقمية في أكسفورد، يستكشف ويقود إمكانات التقنيات الجديدة لإصلاح وإعادة بناء المعالم والمواقع الأثرية المدمرة في سورية. حصل على شهادته في علم الآثار من جامعة BYU في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية ومن جامعة دمشق.