In its ruling on the Ayodhya title dispute, the Supreme Court referred to the “1934 riot” and “1949 disturbance” while deciding in favour of the Hindu parties.
“The damage to the mosque in 1934, its desecration in 1949 leading to the ouster of the Muslims and the eventual destruction on December 6, 1992 constituted a serious violation of the rule of law,” the judgment said.
What were the two incidents:
In 1934, clashes occurred on Id-ul Zuha day, due to the slaughter of a cow in the village of Shahjahanpur near Ayodhya on March 27 that year.
The Bairagis of Hanuman Garhi took over the mosque and destroyed two of the domes. The police arrived before any further destruction could take place but tensions had accelerated rapidly.
At that time, the colonial government took the onus of rebuilding the mosque by hiring a Muslim contractor.
Muslims offered regular prayers at the mosque until 1934, after which until December 22, 1949 only Friday prayers were offered.
According to the written statement filed by Gopal Singh Visharad, the first defendant, no prayers were offered in the mosque since 1934.
The second incident occurred in the intervening night of December 22 and 23, 1949, when the mosque was desecrated by a group of about fifty or sixty people who broke open its locks and placed idols of Lord Ram under the central dome with due ceremony.
A First Information Report was registered in relation to the incident. On December 29, 1949, the Additional City Magistrate, Faizabad-cum Ayodhya issued a preliminary order treating the situation to be of an emergent nature.
Police constable Mata Prasad’s FIR read: “[The group] have (sic) already entered the mosque before the available PAC (Provincial Armed Corps) guards could be commanded. Officials of the district administration came at the site and involved themselves in necessary arrangements. Afterwards, a crowd of 5-6 thousand persons gathered around and while chanting bhajans and raising religious slogans tried to enter the mosque, but were deterred and nothing untoward happened thereon because of proper arrangements. Ram Das, Ram Shakti Das and 50-60 unidentified others entered the mosque surreptitiously and spoiled its sanctity.”
The December 1949 incident gave the Ramjanmabhoomi controversy further momentum.
While the State Chief Secretary and the Inspector-General of Police ordered the removal of the idol, the District Magistrate, conscious of the problems that would follow such an action, locked the mosque and asked the Imam to leave. However, puja was allowed within the mosque and devotees could get a darshan of the Lord from behind the grille partition.
Then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru ordered that the idols be removed, but the court restrained the order and allowed the puja to continue. The matter of the restoration of the mosque was left unaddressed and the issue was kept pending in the court at Faizabad.
In 1959, the Nirmohi Akhada, a local seminary, claimed ownership of the land. It sent legal notices to the district administration and leading Muslims of Ayodhya. Two years later, the Sunni Central Waqf Board too filed a case against the district administration and leading Hindus of Ayodhya.