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Ram Mandir Consecration: Why the Mosque Given in the Verdict is Nowhere in Sight

Construction of the proposed mosque is yet to kick off, with only the foundation having been laid so far.

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Approximately 25 km from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, a strange silence shrouded a five acre plot of land in Dhannipur village.

This is the land that was allotted to the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board by the Supreme Court of India, to build a mosque "in place of the demolished Babri Masjid" after the top court pronounced its verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute in 2019.

Five years on, in January 2024, as lakhs of devotees throng Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya ahead of the consecration of the Ram Temple scheduled for 22 January, construction of the proposed mosque is yet to kick off, with only the foundation having been laid so far.

Construction of the proposed mosque is yet to kick off, with only the foundation having been laid so far.

A board at the Dhannipur site showing a design of the proposed mosque.

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

A Quick Recap

Built in the sixteenth century by Mughal General Mir Baqi in the honour of emperor Babur, Ayodhya's Babri Masjid was the focus of a dispute between the Hindu and Muslim communities for decades.

According to the Hindus, the mosque was constructed on the ruins of a temple, which in turn, marked the birthplace of Lord Ram — a Hindu deity.

While the conflict itself dates back to the 1800s, the mosque was demolished during a political rally on 6 December 1992 when lakhs of karsevaks led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) turned violent and tore it down.

After a long legal and political fight, the 2019 judgement of the Supreme Court paved the way for the construction of the Ram temple at the previously disputed site.

In its judgement, the court ruled that the 2.7 acres of disputed land should be handed over to a trust, which was to be formed by the central government, to build the Ram Temple. It also ordered the government to give an alternative five acres of land in another "prominent" place in Ayodhya — not very far from the disputed site — to the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board for the purpose of building a mosque as a replacement for the demolished Babri Masjid.

Administrative Hurdles

The foundation stone for the proposed mosque was laid on 26 January 2021. Since then, the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF), which is handling the construction of the mosque, ran into several administrative hurdles.

"There are two main reasons behind the delay in the construction of the mosque," Aazam Qadri, the President of UP Sunni Central Board Waqf Sub-Committee in Ayodhya, told The Quint.

"First, the Ayodhya Development Authority was not approving the map. Then, the Board was considering constructing a museum or a library on that land. But more recently we had a meeting of the Sunni Central Waqf Board in Bombay (Mumbai). There we decided that we'll build a cancer hospital next to the mosque. We, however, needed more land for that. If, we only were to construct a mosque, it would have been built by now," Qadri said.

Construction of the proposed mosque is yet to kick off, with only the foundation having been laid so far.

Aazam Qadri, President  of the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board Sub-Committee in Ayodhya said that the construction of the mosque is expected to start soon.

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

The mosque mosque is expected to include an Indo-Islamic Research Centre, a Super Speciality Hospital, a Library, a Museum, a Community Kitchen and a Cultural Centre.

It was also claimed that the capacity of the hospital would be 100 beds which will be further increased to 200. Similarly, food will be cooked daily for 1,000 poor people in the community kitchen, which will later be expanded to be able to feed 2,000 people. 

A report by the Hindustan Times dated 17 January, however, claimed that the construction of the mosque might be delayed further. Quoting an IICF official, the report said that the "work for the mosque was initially slated to begin in May 2024 but will now be delayed as the planning process is still underway."

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Role of the Waqf Board

The five acres of alternative land that the Supreme Court allotted to the Muslim side in its verdict in the title dispute, initially was not accepted by the Muslim litigants.

"If we accept the verdict that this land was given to us as an alternative for the Babri Masjid, then we'll have to leave 3000 mosques in future. If we accept this, tomorrow they'll demolish any mosque and quote this verdict," explained Khaliq Ahmed Khan, a paralegal based in Ayodhya who had documented the case for over two decades.

Khan also said that according to the Waqf Act and the Sharia Law a mosque can neither be sold nor put to any other use, or exchanged for any other piece of land.

Construction of the proposed mosque is yet to kick off, with only the foundation having been laid so far.

Khaliq Ahmed Khan is a paralegal who documented the Ayodhya title dispute for over two decades.

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

Subsequently, the the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board welcomed the Supreme Court verdict and accepted the land.

"When the trust is under the Sunni Central Waqf Board which is under the UP government, isn't it the responsibility of the state government to fund the trust or ensure funding? They didn't have to fund the mosque. They had to fund the Sunni Central Waqf Board, through which they're also earning lakhs and crores in revenue. Why is the state government not pressuring the Board to use their money?" Khan questioned.

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'Apathy' of Local Muslims

Mohd. Shahid, 52, was in his thirties when the Babri Masjid was demolished.

"The Masjid in front of our house was attacked first. They tore The Holy Quran and threw pages on the streets. After collecting those pages, all of us ran in different directions. I went towards the police station and my father went in the opposite direction. They were killed there — both my father and my uncle. Two more people were killed in our neighbourhood," Shahid recalled as he claimed that he and his family are more or less "indifferent" to the construction of the mosque.

Shahid's uncle Rafiq, who sat next to him, in their modest two-room house explained the reason behind this indifferent approach.

Construction of the proposed mosque is yet to kick off, with only the foundation having been laid so far.

Mohd. Shahid lost his father and uncle to the violence that ensued after the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992.

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

"Your Temple is being built, we're very happy about that. We've even accepted the one-sided judgement of the Supreme Court. But you had promised that the masjid will also be built in Ayodhya city. But the land that has been allotted is 25 km away from here. Will people who live here, wake up at 4 am and go all the way 25 km to offer namaz?" Rafiq said.

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