On 6 December 1992, a large crowd of
Hindu Kar Sevaks (activists)
demolished the 16th-century Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodhya, in
Uttar Pradesh. The demolition occurred after a political rally at the
site turned violent.
Hindu mythology, the city of
Ayodhya is the birthplace of Rama. In
the 16th century a Mughal general, Mir Baqi, had built a mosque, known
as the Babri Masjid, at a site considered by some
Hindus to be Ram
Janmabhoomi, the birthplace of Rama. In the 1980s, the Vishva Hindu
Parishad (VHP) began a campaign for the construction of a temple
Rama at the site, with the
Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
as its political voice. Several rallies and marches were held as a
part of this movement, including the
Ram Rath Yatra
Ram Rath Yatra led by L. K.
On 6 December 1992 the VHP and the BJP organised a rally at the site
involving 150,000 volunteers, known as kar sevaks. The rally turned
violent, and the crowd overwhelmed security forces and tore down the
mosque. A subsequent inquiry into the incident found 68 people
responsible for the demolition, including several leaders of the BJP
and the VHP. The demolition also resulted in several months of
intercommunal rioting between India's
Hindu and Muslim communities,
causing the death of at least 2,000 people.
2.1 Conspiracy allegations
3.1 Communal violence
3.3 Supreme Court order of April 2017
4 International reactions
4.4 Middle East
4.5 United Arab Emirates
5 In popular culture
7 Further reading
8 External links
Archaeology of Ayodhya
Demolition of the Babri Masjid
Ram Janmabhoomi attack
Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas
Bharatiya Janata Party
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Sunni Waqf Board
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
L. K. Advani
Murli Manohar Joshi
Hindu belief, Ram Janmabhoomi, in the city of Ayodhya, is
the birthplace of Rama. It is therefore considered one of the most
sacred religious sites in the
Hindu religion. In 1528, following
the Mughal invasion of North India, a mosque was built at the site by
the Mughal general Mir Baqi, which came to be named after emperor
Babur. According to sources,
Mir Baqi destroyed a pre-existing temple
Rama at the site. For at least four centuries, the site was used
for religious purposes by both
Hindus and Muslims. In 1859, soon
after the first recorded incidents of religious violence at the site,
the British colonial administration set up a railing to separate the
outer courtyard of the mosque to avoid disputes. The status quo
remained in place until 1949, when idols of
Rama were surreptitiously
placed inside the mosque, allegedly by volunteers of the Hindu
Mahasabha. This led to an uproar, with both parties filing civil suits
laying claim to the land. The placing of the idol was seen as a
desecration by the users of the Masjid. The site was declared to be in
dispute, and the gates to the Masjid were locked.
In the 1980s, the
Vishva Hindu Parishad
Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) intensified its campaign
for the construction of a temple dedicated to
Rama at the site, with
Bharatiya Janata Party
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as its political voice. The
movement was bolstered by the decision of a district judge, who ruled
in 1986 that the gates would be reopened and
Hindus permitted to
In September 1990, BJP leader
L. K. Advani
L. K. Advani began a Rath Yatra to
Ayodhya in support of the
Hindu nationalist movement. Advani was
arrested by the government of Bihar before he could reach Ayodhya.
Despite this, a large body of kar sevaks or
Sangh Parivar activists
Ayodhya and attempted to attack the mosque. This resulted in a
pitched battle with the paramilitary forces that ended with the death
of several kar sevaks. The BJP withdrew its support to the V. P. Singh
ministry at the centre, necessitating fresh elections. The BJP
substantially increased its tally in the union parliament, as well as
winning a majority in the
Uttar Pradesh assembly.
On 6 December 1992, the RSS and its affiliates organised a rally
involving 150,000 VHP and BJP kar sevaks at the site of the mosque.
The ceremonies included speeches by BJP leaders such as Advani, Murli
Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti. During the first few hours of the
rally, the crowd grew gradually more restless, and began raising
slogans. A police cordon had been placed around the mosque in
preparation for attack. However, around noon, a young man managed to
slip past the cordon and climb the mosque itself, brandishing a
saffron flag. This was seen as a signal by the mob, who then stormed
the structure. The police cordon, vastly outnumbered and unprepared
for the size of the attack, fled. The mob set upon the building with
axes, hammers, and grappling hooks, and within a few hours, the entire
mosque was leveled.
Hindus also destroyed numerous other
mosques within the town.
A 2009 report, authored by Justice
Manmohan Singh Liberhan, found 68
people to be responsible for the demolition of the Masjid, mostly
leaders from the BJP. Among those named were Vajpayee, Advani, Joshi
and Vijay Raje Scindia. Kalyan Singh, who was then the Chief Minister
of Uttar Pradesh, also faced severe criticism in the report. Liberhan
wrote that he posted bureaucrats and police officers to Ayodhya, whose
record indicated that they would stay silent during the mosque’s
demolition. Anju Gupta, a police officer who had been in charge of
Advani's security on that day, stated that Advani and Joshi made
speeches that contributed to provoking the behaviour of the mob.
The report notes that at this time several BJP leaders made "feeble
requests to the kar sevaks to come down... either in earnest or for
the media's benefit". No appeal was made to the Kar Sevaks not to
enter the sanctum sanctorum or not to demolish the structure. The
report notes: "This selected act of the leaders itself speaks of the
hidden intentions of one and all being to accomplish demolition of the
disputed structure." The report holds that the "icons of the movement
present [that day]... could just as easily have... prevented the
In a 2005 March book, former Intelligence Bureau (IB) Joint Director,
Maloy Krishna Dhar claimed that Babri mosque demolition was planned 10
months in advance by top leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
("RSS"), BJP and VHP and raised questions over the way the then Prime
Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao, had handled the issue. Dhar claimed that
he was directed to arrange the coverage of a key meeting of the
Sangh Parivar and that the meeting "proved beyond doubt that they
(RSS, BJP, VHP) had drawn up the blueprint of the Hindutva assault in
the coming months and choreographed the ‘pralaya nritya’ (dance of
Ayodhya in December 1992. The RSS, BJP, VHP and the
Bajrang Dal leaders present in the meeting amply agreed to work in a
well-orchestrated manner." Claiming that the tapes of the meeting were
personally handed over by him to his boss, he asserts that he has no
doubts that his boss had shared the contents with the Prime Minister
(Rao) and the Home Minister (S B Chavan). The author claimed that
there was silent agreement that
Ayodhya offered "a unique opportunity
to take the Hindutva wave to the peak for deriving political
In April 2014, a sting operation by
Cobrapost claimed that the
demolition was not an act of frenzied mobs but an act of sabotage
planned with so much secrecy that no government agency got wind of it.
It further said that the sabotage was planned several months in
Vishva Hindu Parishad
Vishva Hindu Parishad and Shiv Sena, but not jointly.
Ram ke Naam
Ram ke Naam by Anand Patwardhan, also examines the
events preceding the demolition.
The destruction of the Babri Mosque, as well as the destruction of
numerous others that day, sparked Muslim outrage around the country,
provoking several months of inter-communal rioting in which
Muslims attacked one another, burning and looting homes, shops and
places of worship. Several of the BJP leaders were taken into custody,
and the VHP was briefly banned by the government. Despite this, the
ensuing riots spread to cities like Mumbai, Surat, Ahmedabad, Kanpur,
Delhi, Bhopal and several others, eventually resulting in over 2000
deaths, mainly Muslim. The
Mumbai Riots alone, which occurred in
December 1992 and January 1993 and which the
Shiv Sena played a big
part in organising, caused the death of around 900 people, and
estimated property damage of around ₹ 9,000 crore ($3.6
billion). The demolition and the ensuing riots were among
the major factors behind the
1993 Mumbai bombings and many successive
riots in the coming decade. Jihadi groups including the Indian
Mujahideen cited the demolition of the Babri Mosque as a reason for
their terrorist attacks.
On 16 December 1992, the Union home ministry set up the Liberhan
Commission to investigate the destruction of the Mosque, headed by
retired High Court Judge M. S. Liberhan. Totalling 399 sittings over
sixteen years, the Commission finally submitted its 1,029-page report
Manmohan Singh on 30 June 2009. According to the
report, the events of 6 December 1992, in
Ayodhya were "neither
spontaneous nor unplanned". In March 2015, the Supreme Court of
India admitted a petition alleging that, with a BJP government in
power, the CBI would not pursue conspiracy charges against senior BJP
L. K. Advani
L. K. Advani and Rajnath Singh. The Court asked
the CBI to explain its delay in filing an appeal.
Supreme Court order of April 2017
In April 2017,
Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India reinstated criminal conspiracy
charges against L. K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay
Katiyar and others.
The governments of several neighbouring countries criticised the
Government of India for failing to stop the demolition and the
subsequent communal violence. There were also reports of retaliatory
In Pakistan, the government closed offices and schools on 7 December
to protest the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The Pakistani
Foreign Ministry summoned the Indian ambassador to lodge a formal
complaint, and promised to appeal to the
United Nations and the
Organisation of the Islamic Conference
Organisation of the Islamic Conference to pressure India to protect
the rights of Muslims. Strikes were held across the country, while
Muslim mobs attacked and destroyed as many as 30 temples in one day by
means of fire and bulldozers, and stormed the office of Air India,
India's national airline, in Lahore. The retaliatory attacks
included rhetoric from mobs calling for the destruction of India and
of Hinduism. Students from the
Quaid-i-Azam University in
Islamabad burned an effigy of the then-
Prime Minister of India, P.V.
Narasimha Rao, and called for "Jihad" against Hindus. In
subsequent years, thousands of Pakistani
Hindus visiting India sought
longer visas, and in some cases citizenship of India, citing increased
harassment and discrimination in the aftermath of the demolition.
Following the demolition in December 1992, Muslim mobs in Bangladesh
attacked and burned down
Hindu temples, shops and houses across the
country. An India-Bangladesh cricket match was disrupted when a
mob of an estimated 5,000 men tried to storm the Bangabandhu National
Stadium in the national capital of Dhaka. The
Dhaka office of Air
India was stormed and destroyed. 10 people were reportedly killed,
Hindu temples and several homes destroyed. The
aftermath of the violence forced the Bangladeshi
Hindu community to
curtail the celebrations of
Durga Puja in 1993 while calling for the
destroyed temples to be repaired and investigations be held into the
Ali Khamenei condemned the demolition, but in milder terms
compared to the reactions in
Pakistan and Bangladesh. He called
upon India to do more to protect Muslims.
At its summit meeting in Abu Dhabi, the Gulf Cooperation Council
strongly condemned the
Babri Masjid demolition. It adopted a
resolution which described the act as a "crime against Muslim holy
places." Among its member states,
Saudi Arabia severely condemned the
act. The United Arab Emirates, home to large expatriate communities of
Indians and Pakistanis, conveyed a more moderate reaction. In
response, the Indian government criticised the GCC for what it
regarded as interference in its internal affairs.
United Arab Emirates
Although its government condemned the events in moderate terms, the
UAE experienced severe public disturbances due to the demolition of
the Babri Mosque. Street protests broke out, and protesters threw
stones at a
Hindu temple and the Indian Consulate in Dubai. In
Al-Ain, 250 km east of Abu Dhabi, angry mobs set fire to the
girls wing of an Indian school. In response to the violence, UAE
police arrested and deported many expatriate Pakistanis and Indians
who had participated in the violence. The Commander-in-Chief of the
Dubai police force, Dhahi Khalfan, condemned the violence by foreign
nationals in his country.
In popular culture
Lajja, a 1993 novel in Bengali by Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin,
deals with the oppression of
Hindus in Bangladesh in the days after
the demolition. After its release, the author received death threats
in her country, and has been living in exile ever since. Malayalam
author N. S. Madhavan’s story “Thiruthu” is based on the Babri
masjid demolition. Antara Ganguly's 2016 novel, Tanya Tania is set
against the backdrop of the
Ayodhya dispute and the riots following
the demolition of the Babri Mosque.
The Bollywood film Mausam is based on the events surrounding the
demolition. The events riots that followed the demolition are an
important part of the plot of several films, including Bombay (1995)
set in the Mumbai riots.
Daivanamathil (2005) explores the
repercussions of the demolition on
Muslims in Kerala. Both Bombay
and Daivanamathi won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on
National Integration at the respective National Film Awards.
The film "Black Friday" was based upon the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts
which were considered to be the after effect of the demolition of the
Babri Masjid. The demolition is also mentioned in Naseem (1995),
Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and
7 Khoon Maaf
7 Khoon Maaf (2011).
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