Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the promise of vikas seems to have taken a back seat, and the issue of building a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya has taken centre-stage.
After the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing in the Ayodhya Title Suit Case on 29 October 2018, pushing the matter to January 2019, the political tides across the country have shifted, with the demand for an ordinance echoing from across the right wing.
As the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Shiv Sena marched to Ayodhya on Sunday, 25 October, upping the ante for the construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site, here are the latest developments in the demand for an ordinance:
Mir Baqi, commander of Mughal emperor Babur, reportedly built the masjid in 1528. It is believed that the mosque was built by demolishing a Ram temple that previously existed there.
The first time the disputed site went through legal scrutiny was in 1885, when Mahant Raghubir Das filed a plea in Faizabad district court seeking permission to build a canopy outside the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure. His plea was, however, rejected. In 1949, idols of Ram Lalla were placed under a central dome outside the disputed structure. The Nirmohi Akhara then filed a suit in 1959 seeking possession of the site.
The matter started gaining momentum in 1981 when the Sunni Central Waqf Board, too, filed a suit seeking possession of the site. After a local court ordered the government to open the site for Hindu worshippers, the Allahabad High Court ordered a maintenance of status quo in respect of the disputed structure in 1989.
On 6 December 1992, a group of Kar Sevaks chanting ‘Jai Sriram’ marched to the disputed site and demolished the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure. Following the aftermath, which saw communal riots across the country, the ‘Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act’ was passed in 1993 for acquisition of land by Centre in the disputed area.
On 24 October 1994, the Supreme Court said that a mosque was not integral to Islam.
Following multiple petitions and hearings, the Allahabad HC in a 2:1 majority ruled a three-way division of disputed area between Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla in September 2010.
Multiple pleas and hearings challenging the 1994 verdict and the 2010 verdict followed followed till 27 September, 2018 when the Supreme Court declined to refer the case to a five-judge Constitution bench.
In the latest hearing on 29 October 2018, the apex court fixed the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute cases for January 2019 before an appropriate bench, which will decide the schedule of hearing.