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Probe instituted into missing Babri files
Published on 10 Jul. 2009 10:47 PM IST
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The Uttar Pradesh government has instituted a high level probe into the disappearance of 23 files relating to the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmbhoomi case even as a police report has been filed on the missing documents, an official said. The probe was ordered Thursday night while the police report was registered Friday. The developments come in the wake of scathing observations by a three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court that is dealing with the million dollar question of whether an ancient Hindu temple existed at the disputed Ayodhya site before the Babri mosque was erected there during the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century. The mosque was pulled down by Hindu fanatics who stormed the site Dec 6, 1992, after which a makeshift temple has been in place there. The probe has been entrusted to senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Anand Kumar, currently one of the three home secretaries of the state. “He has been asked to submit a report within 10 days,” an official spokesman said, declining to give any further details. The high court bench, headed by judge Rafat Alam, had Wednesday summoned Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Atul Kumar Gupta and asked him: “Where have the files gone? How have they gone missing?” The observations came after Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) convenor and well known lawyer Zafaryab Jilani informed the court about the missing files, saying they were “absolutely relevant to the case”. However, a senior official of the home department, from where these documents went missing, were of the view that they had no bearing on the legal issues pending before the court. “Since the matter pending before the court relates to the title of the land, the exchange of correspondence between the central and state governments or other such documents cannot have any legal bearing on the case,” the official contended Jilani disagreed, saying: “So what if it is only correspondence. After all, they throw light on the key issue of how a (Hindu) idol was planted inside the mosque.” It was on the night of Dec 22, 1949 that an idol of Lord Ram suddenly emerged in the middle of the mosque, following which hundreds of Hindus barged into it and started offering prayers. Even though the crowds were pushed back and the mosque gates were padlocked, the deity remained inside as no one ventured to get it removed despite a stern directive from the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to state chief minister Gobind Ballabh Pant. Two weeks later, on January 16, 1950, local resident Gopal Singh Visharad filed a suit before the civil judge of Faizabad, N.N. Chadha, seeking an injunction to offer prayers inside the mosque where the deity had been installed. Chadha agreed, with the rider that a priest could perform prayers once a day but the general public would not be allowed in. However, the question of land ownership remained disputed as a local Hindu group,the Nirmohi Akhara, staked its claim to the site. In the subsequent year, five Muslims of Ayodhya, led by Mohammad Hashim, moved a petition before the high court to overturn Chadha’s injunction. On Feb 1, 1986, just as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) took the temple movement to a high pitch, Faizabad district judge K.M. Pandey ordered that the mosque gates be unlocked. “After having heard the parties, it is clear that the members of the other community, namely Muslims, are not going to be affected by any stretch of imagination if the locks of the gates were opened and idols inside the premises are allowed to be seen and worshipped by the pilgrims and devotees,” Pandey said. “The heavens will not fall if the locks of the gates are removed,” he added, a claim that was belied as the order sparked off nation-wide rioting and communal clashes. The Sunni Waqf Board and Babri Masjid Action Committee moved the Allahabad High Court against the district judge’s order but this was not stayed. Meanwhile, all cases relating to the dispute were referred to the Lucknow bench of the high court, where it is still being heard. In all this, what is unexplained is the mysterious death of a home department official in 2000 while he was carrying certain Ayodhya-related documents and files to depose before the Liberhan Commission that probed the mosque demolition. The official, S.B. Sadh was then posted as officer on special duty in the Counter Communalism Cell of the state Home deparment. He had reportedly died on account of a fall from the train between the tracks and the platform while his train was soming to a halt at the New Delhi railway station. According to unconfirmed reports, the missing files also contained a letter sent by Nehru to the Uttar Pradesh government seeking immediate removal of the Ram idol. Yet talked about document is a letter from the then Faizabad district magistrate K.K.K. Nayyar to the government expressing his inability to remove the idol or to stop the “bhajan-kirtan” undertaken by Hindu sadhus at the disputed site. An officer of the erstwhile Indian Civil Service (ICS), Nayyar subsequently resigned from service and won a Lok Sabha election from the Faizabad constituency on a Hindu Mahasabha ticket.

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