Ayodhya: Once There Was A Mosque
The Babri Masjid is constructed in Ayodhya by Mir Baqi, upon the instructions of the Mughal emperor Babur.
16th-18th centuries: There is no record or discussion of the mosque having been built over a demolished temple, nor indeed is there any record of claims being made that the site was the birthplace of Rama.
The temple town of Ayodhya witnesses clashes between Sunni Muslims and Bairais over the temple of Hanumangarhi, with the former claiming the temple was built at the site of a demolished mosque. Nawab Wajid Ali Shah intervenes on behalf of the temple and holds the peace.
As a local belief about the Babri Masjid being the birthplace of Rama gathers currency, the British colonial administration erects a fence at the site. While Muslims use the mosque's inner court to pray, Hindus are allowed to use the outer court.
Mahant Raghubir Das seeks permission to build a platform or chabutra in the outer courtyard of the Babri Masjid. His plea is later rejected by a local court.
The dispute comes to life again with the outbreak of rioting between Hindus and Muslims which results in damage to the mosque and the dome, which was subsequently rebuilt by the government.
Shia and Sunni Waqf boards contest each other's claims to the Babri masjid but a local court eventually rules in favour of the latter.
22 December, 1949
Idols of Lord Ram are planted by Hindu Mahasabha activists inside the mosque. The mosque is then locked. District magistrate K.K. Nayar refused to remove the idol on the premise that this would lead to large-scale rioting. He later joined the Jan Sangh, the precursor to the BJP, and was also elected as an MP.
26 December, 1949
Nehru sends a telegram to the chief minister of the United Province Govind Ballabh Pant expressing concern over the developments in Ayodhya.
Hashim Ansari files a petition in the Faizabad court asking for the mosque gates to be opened and for namaz to be allowed. Gopal Singh Visharad and Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das also file suits in the Faizabad court seeking permission to offer prayers to the idols in the so-called asthan janmabhoomi. While the inner courtyard remains locked, prayers are allowed from outside. An interim injunction allows a pujari in but forbids entry to others.
A third suit is filed in the Faizabad court by the Nirmohi Akhara (headed by Mahant Bhaskar Das). The Akhara stakes claim to the disputed ground and claims to be responsible for conducting the puja.
A fourth suit is filed by the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board in the Faizabad court asking for the restoration of the Muslims' right to pray at the mosque.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is formed by M. S. Golwalkar and S. S. Apte to safeguard "Hindu interests".
April 6, 1980
The BJP is founded after the dissolution of the Janata Party.
Hindu groups form a committee to spearhead the construction of the Ram temple as the Ram Janmabhoomi movement gathers momentum. BJP leader L.K. Advani assumes leadership of the movement.
In response to a mass conversion in Meenakshipuram in 1981, where around 400-800 Dalit families converted to Islam, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad held a 'dharma sansad'. Under VHP joint general secretary Ashok Singhal's leadership, a demand was raised to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya. A Shriram-Janaki rath yatra was taken out from Sitamarhi in Bihar to Delhi on September 25, 1984. Six more yatras were taken out in UP.
General elections are held for the 9th Lok Sabha in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination. The BJP wins only two seats out of 541. The party's openly Hindutva politics and espousal of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement fails to yield dividends.
23 April 1985
Supreme Court delivers its verdict in the case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum and upholds the decision of the high court that gave orders for maintenance to Shah Bano under CrPC. The judgment is denounced by conservative Muslim leaders.
February 1, 1986
A district judge directs that the Babri Masjid gates be unlocked and Hindus be allowed to worship there. In protest, Muslims set up the Babri Masjid Action Committee. According to historian Ramachandra Guha, "the judge's order was widely believed to have been directed from Delhi, from the Prime Minister's Office, no less. The local administration seemed to know of the judgment beforehand, for the locks were opened within an hour of the verdict." Television crews from Doordarshan were also present. Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister at the time and the move was part of the 'divide and rule' politics of a government that was coming under a cloud because of corruption charges. A few months after appeasing Hindu communalists, he did the same with their Muslim counterparts.
Parliament passes the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, effectively overturning the Supreme Court verdict in the Shah Bano case. In a 2001 interview, L.K. Advani said that the Rajiv Gandhi government's decision to open the doors of the Ram temple and its backtracking over the Supreme Court verdict in the Shah Bano case were crucial factors that forced the BJP to get involved in the Ayodhya movement.
A fresh suit is filed by VHP vice-president and former judge of the Allahabad high court Deoki Nandan Agarwal seeking to become the "sakha" or friend of the deity and its birthplace in the title suits at the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad HC. In July 1996, the high court clubbed all the cases together.
August 14, 1989
Allahabad high court orders maintenance of status quo with respect to the Babri Masjid.
November 9, 1989
Rajiv Gandhi government allows the VHP to perform shilanyas (laying of the foundation stone) for the Ram temple on November 9, 1989, on the disputed land.
In the recently concluded general elections, the BJP emerges as the third-largest party with 89 seats and supports V.P. Singh's National Front government from outside.
September 25, 1990
BJP President L.K. Advani launches his Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya to gather support for the Ram temple. He is arrested in Samastipur in Bihar by the government of Lalu Prasad Yadav in November, 1990. Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal is also arrested.
October 30, 1990
Kar sevaks clash with the police on their way to Ayodhya's Babri Masjid and at least 20 kar sevaks are killed. Mulayam Singh Yadav was chief minister at the time. Uttar Pradesh was subsequently rocked by a series of communal clashes. After the Rath Yatra, the BJP withdraws its support to the National Front central government led by V. P. Singh, leading to its collapse.
BJP emerges as the second-largest party with 121 seats in the Lok Sabha following the general elections but the Congress under Narasimha Rao forms the government at the Centre.
BJP forms the government in Uttar Pradesh with Kalyan Singh as the chief minister.
December 6, 1992
A crowd of almost 150,000 people gather to listen to speeches by BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders - including LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi - at the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The crowd later storms the mosque and demolishes it in a few hours. The demolition occurred despite assurances from the state government to the Supreme Court that the mosque would not be harmed.
After the demolition of the Babri Masjid, on the evening of December 6, 1992, kar sevaks started attacking Muslim residents of Ayodhya, ransacking and demolishing their houses. Eighteen Muslims were murdered, almost all their houses and shops were torched and destroyed, including 23 local mosques. Additionally, riots broke out in different parts of the country, including Mumbai, and around 2,000 people were killed.
December 8, 1992
Muslims in Pakistan attack more than 30 Hindu temples and the Pakistani government closed offices and schools for a day to protest the destruction of a mosque in India.
December 16, 1992
The Narasimha Rao government sets up the Liberhan Commission, led by retired High Court Judge M. S. Liberhan, to investigate the case.
Terrorists orchestrate a series of deadly bomb blasts across Bombay, allegedly to avenge the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
April 3, 1993
Parliament passes the 'Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act' under which the Centre acquires 67.703 acres of land in and around the Babri Masjid. Ismail Faruqui files a written petition challenging some aspects of the Act.
The Liberhan Commission begins its probe. CBI takes over the criminal case and files a chargesheet against BJP leader L.K. Advani and 19 others and accuses them of conspiring to demolish the mosque.
24 October 1994
The Supreme Court in the Ismail Faruqui case says that 'Mosque' is not integral to Islam owing to the fact that 'Namaz' can be offered anywhere. Supreme Court finds UP chief minister Kalyan Singh guilty and the court sentences him to a token imprisonment of one day with a fine of Rs 20,000.
The BJP forms a coalition government under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Tensions rise on the anniversary of the demolition of the mosque. VHP pledges again to build a Hindu temple at the site.
A special CBI court drops proceedings and conspiracy charges against the accused including Advani, M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharti, Bal Thackeray and others.
PM Vajpayee sets up an Ayodhya cell in his office and appoints a senior official, Shatrughan Singh, to hold talks with Hindu and Muslim leaders.
BJP rules out committing itself to the construction of a temple in its election manifesto for Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. VHP confirms deadline of 15 March to begin construction. Hundreds of volunteers converge on site. At least 58 people are killed in an attack on a train in Godhra which is carrying Hindu activists returning from Ayodhya. Between 1,000 and 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, die in riots in Gujarat following the train attack in March. Narendra Modi is chief minister of Gujarat at the time.
The Allahabad high court directs the Archaeological Survey of India to excavate the Babri Masjid site to determine if a temple lay underneath.
The ASI submits a report saying that there is evidence of a 10th century temple beneath the mosque. Its report is refuted by archaeologists and historians.
CBI special court rules that seven Hindutva leaders should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque, but no charges are brought against Advani, now deputy prime minister, who was also at the site in 1992.
The court rules that the earlier order which exonerated Advani for his role in the destruction of the mosque should be reviewed.
Six suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists attack the disputed Ram Janambhoomi complex in Ayodhya. The VHP international general secretary Praveen Togadia held the Centre responsible for the "lapse in security" and blamed the UPA government. VHP president Ashok Singhal said that the attack intended to "destroy the excavated proof".
The Liberhan commission investigating the events leading up to the mosque's demolition submits its report - 17 years after it began its inquiry - to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
One of the longest-running commissions in the history of the country, the commission, in its report, found several BJP leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Pramod Mahajan, Uma Bharti and Vijayaraje Scindia, and VHP leaders like Giriraj Kishore and Ashok Singhal and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and former RSS leader K. N. Govindacharya culpable in the demolition of the mosque. The report held that several of the leaders had made provocative speeches at the rally and that the demolition was "neither spontaneous nor unplanned".
Allahabad high court rules that the disputed land in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid was shall be divided into three parts. A two-thirds portion is to be shared by two Hindu plaintiffs and one-third will be given to the Sunni Muslim Waqf Board. Plaintiffs representing Lord Ram (i.e. VHP), the Nirmohi Akhara and the Waqf Board were declared joint title-holders of the property.
Supreme Court suspends high court ruling after Hindu and Muslim plaintiffs appeal against the 2010 verdict.
BJP's Narendra Modi leads the NDA coalition to power at the Centre.
Feb 26, 2016
BJP MP Subramanian Swamy files plea in SC seeking construction of a Ram temple at the Babri Masjid site.
Jul 20, 2016
The oldest litigant in the Babri Masjid case Mohammad Hashim Ansari dies at 95 years of age.
Supreme Court under Chief Justice J.S. Khehar says fresh attempts must be made by all parties concerned to find a solution to the Ayodhya title dispute which is a "sensitive" and "sentimental matter" and suggests an out-of-court settlement among rival parties.
BJP wins the state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Yogi Adityanath, founder of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, takes oath as chief minister.
Supreme Court rules that L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Union minister Uma Bharti, in addition to other BJP members and kar sevaks, will face charges of criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Kalyan Singh was excluded from the list because he held the post of the governor of Rajasthan. Several of the original accused, including Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray, died during the trial. The court orders that the trial, to be held in Lucknow, be completed in two years.
May 30, 2017
A special CBI court frames charges against BJP stalwarts L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti for being part of the criminal conspiracy to demolish the Babri Masjid but granted them bail after they appeared before it.
Speeding up preparations for the construction of a Ram temple on the Babri site in Ayodhya, truckloads of stones, to be used in building the temple, start arriving in Ayodhya.
The Supreme Court constitutes a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra to hear a batch of petitions challenging the Allahabad high court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case.
August 8, 2017
The Shia Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh tells the Supreme Court that a mosque could be built in a Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the disputed site in Ayodhya.
November 24, 2017
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat says that only a Ram temple and not any other structure will be built at the disputed Ayodhya site.
February 8, 2018
Supreme Court starts hearing the civil appeals and on March 14, 2018, the Supreme Court rejects all interim pleas, including Swamy's, seeking to intervene as parties in the case.
July 6, 2018
UP government tells Supreme Court some Muslim groups are trying to delay the hearing by seeking reconsideration of an observation in the 1994 verdict.
September 27, 2018
Supreme Court declines to refer the case to a five-judge Constitution bench. Case to be heard by a newly constituted three-judge bench on October 29.
November 12, 2018
Supreme Court declines early hearing of petitions in the case requested by Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha.
November 24, 2018
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray visits Ayodhya and accuses the Modi government of dragging its feet on the issue.
January 8, 2019
Supreme Court sets up a five-judge Constitution Bench to hear the case headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices S.A. Bobde, N.V. Ramana, U.U. Lalit and D.Y. Chandrachud.
January 10, 2019
Justice U.U. Lalit recuses himself after lawyer Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Sunni Waqf Board, informed the court that the judge had appeared for former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh in a contempt matter related to Babri Masjid case during his time as a lawyer, prompting Supreme Court to reschedule the hearing for January 29 before a new bench.
January 25, 2019
Supreme Court reconstitutes 5-member Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S.A Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S.A. Nazeer to hear the case
March 8, 2019
Supreme Court refers the dispute for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge F.M.I. Kallifulla and comprising the advocate Sriram Panchu and the Art of Living founder Venkatratnam Ravishankar Ramanayakanpet (also known as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar).
July 15, 2019
The special judge holding the trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case, involving BJP veterans L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharti and others, moves the Supreme Court seeking six more months to conclude the trial.
August 2, 2019
After the mediation process fails to yield any results, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi says that hearing of the Ayodhya case will begin on August 6 again and will be held on a day-to-day basis.
October 14, 2019
The Ayodhya district administration imposes Section 144 until December 10 in view of the imminent Supreme Court verdict in the case.
October 16, 2019
In a surprise development on the last day of the hearings, the primary Muslim litigant in the title dispute case informs the Supreme Court that it is willing to drop its appeals in the matter - and its claims to the land on which the historic Babri Masjid stood for centuries before it was demolished by Hindutva activists and leaders in 1992 - provided the Centre is willing to guarantee that all other places of worship in India will be protected from similar encroachment. Other Muslim plaintiffs dissociate themselves from this offer, which in any case was not accepted by the main Hindu plaintiff, i.e. the VHP.
November 5, 2019
UP Police decides to 'scrutinise' social media posts for objectionable or inflammatory posts in light to the upcoming judgement.
November 8, 2019
Supreme Court registrar says verdict in the title suit will be delivered at 10:30 am on November 9, 2019.
November 9, 2019
The Supreme Court pronounced its "unanimous" verdict in the Ayodhya title dispute case, saying that the Hindu parties will be given the disputed land where the Babri Masjid once stood. The Sunni Waqf Board, the biggest Muslim litigant in the case, will be given five acres at a separate "prominent" location in Ayodhya.