Here is a lesson from history for those insisting that the Babri Mosque site be handed over to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad party who insist on building a temple in its place because they believe a Ram temple existed there, Times of India reported.
In Lahore’s famous Naulakha Bazar there still exists the Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj Singhnian which earlier housed a mosque built in 1722. Though the existence of the mosque — demolished in 1935 — had never been doubted, the Privy Council ruled in 1940 that Muslim rights over the property had ceased since the 12-year time during which it could have been restored to them had elapsed.
The judgment of the Privy Council survived Partition.
In rejecting the demand of Anjuman Islamia for restitution, the Privy Council said that since no one had sued within a statutory period to eject the person possessing adversely the property belonging to the wakf, plaintiffs “born 100 years later” could not claim any rights. “The land cannot be recovered by or for the mutawali and the terms of endowment can no longer be enforced,” it said.
The litigation over Shaheed Ganj was very similar to the one being contested over ‘Ramjanambhoomi’. Shaheed Ganj came under the Sikhs after Lahore was occupied by them in 1762. Sikh rule ended only in 1849, after British annexation. A part of the mosque was turned into a shrine for Bhai Taru Singh, who had suffered religious persecution. When the British came in 1849, the mosque was still with Sikhs.
Then litigation began. In 1850, a case by Nur Ahmad, claiming to be a descendant caretaker of the masjid, came to nothing as he had been long out of possession. On June 25, 1855 Ahmad brought another suit against the Sikhs, which was also dismissed.
In 1925, the Sikh Gurdwaras Act was passed and the Shaheed Ganj Gurdwara included as a Sikh shrine. Various parties made claims to the gurdwara but the Sikh Gurdwaras Tribunal held that it stay with a committee of management for the notified Sikh Gurdwaras at Lahore. But on July 7, 1935, the building of Shaheed Ganj was demolished, the minutes of Privy Council saying “by or with the connivance of its Sikh custodians”, leading to riots and disorder in Lahore.
Another plaint was made on October 30, 1935, against the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. But this was a curious plaint for it made no claim for possession of the property or ejectment of the defendants or for restoring it to its hereditary owners. It asked for a relief “claiming a declaration that the building was a mosque in which the plaintiffs and all followers of Islam had a right to worship, an injunction restraining any improper use of the building and any interference with the plaintiffs right of worship and a mandatory injunction to reconstruct the building.” This was dismissed by the district judge and later by the high court in 1938. Finally, it came to the Privy Council.
The Babri Mosque, was a mosque in Ayodhya, a city in the Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh, India, on Ramkot Hill (Rama’s fort). It was destroyed in 1992 when a political rally developed into a riot involving 150,000 people, despite a commitment to the Indian Supreme Court by the rally organisers that the mosque would not be harmed. More than 2,000 people were killed in ensuing riots in many major cities in India including Mumbai and Delhi.
The mosque was constructed in 1527 by order of Babur, the first Mughal emperor of India and was named after him. Before the 1940s, the mosque was also called Masjid-i-Janmasthan. The Babri Mosque was one of the largest mosques in Uttar Pradesh, a state in India with some 31 million Muslims. Although there were several older mosques in the surrounding district, including the Hazrat Bal Mosque constructed by the Shariqi kings, the Babri Mosque became the largest, due to the importance of the disputed site.
It is still a disputed site.