The Babri morass: How did it all transpire (20 years after Babri demolition)
Dec 6 (Friday) will mark 20 years since the day a mob of Hindu 'karsevaks' (religious volunteers) brought down the centuries-old Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, triggering riots in the country as well as in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh. A timeline of the dispute:
April 21, 1526: Mughal leader Zahiruddin Muhammad Babar, a descendant of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, defeats Ibrahim Lodhi, the last sultan of the Lodhi dynasty at the First Battle of Panipat.
March 17, 1527: Babar defeats Rana Sangram Singh (Rana Sanga), the Rajput king of Chittorgarh at the Battle of Khanwa near Agra and solidifies his control over most of northern India.
1528: Mir Baqi Khan, a general of Babar builds a mosque in Ayodhya, traditionally at a spot believed by Hindus to be the birthplace of Lord Ram. Khan allegedly builds the mosque after demolishing a Hindu temple at the spot. The mosque becomes known as the Masjid-i-Janamsthan, Masjid Mir Baqi or the Babri Masjid.
1853: The first recorded communal clashes between Hindus and Muslims over the site happen.
1859: The colonial British administration puts a fence around the site, denominating separate areas of worship for Hindus and Muslims.
December 1949: Idols of Lord Ram suddenly make their appearance inside the mosque. Both sides to the dispute file civil suits. The government locks the gates, saying the matter is sub judice and declares the area 'disputed'.
1961: Case filed in Indian courts against forceful occupation of the Babri Mosque and placing of idols within it.
1984: The movement to build a temple at the site gathers momentum as Hindu groups form a committee to spearhead the construction of a temple.
1986: District judge orders the gates of the mosque to be opened after almost five decades and allows Hindus to worship inside the "disputed structure". A Babri Mosque Action Committee is formed as Muslims protest the move to allow Hindu prayers at the site.
1989: The clamour for building a Ram temple grows. Fronted by organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, foundations of a temple are laid on land adjacent to the "disputed structure". The 'shilanyas' ceremony was allowed by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
1990: BJP president L.K. Advani takes out a cross-country 'rath yatra' (chariot procession) to garner support for the move to build a Ram temple at the site. Police fire at VHP volunteers on orders of then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, when they gather in Ayodhya as participants of the rath yatra.
1991: The BJP becomes India's primary opposition party in parliament and comes to power in Uttar Pradesh.
1991: The movement for building a temple gathers further momentum as karsevaks pour into Ayodhya. Bricks are sent from across India.
Dec 6, 1992: The Babri Mosque is demolished. Communal riots across India follow.
Dec 16, 1992: Ten days after the demolition, the Congress government in New Delhi, headed by P.V. Narasimha Rao, sets up a commission of inquiry under Justice Liberhan.
1993: Three months after being constituted, the Liberhan Commission begins investigations into who and what led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque.
Feb 27, 2002: At least 58 people are killed in Godhra, Gujarat, in an attack on the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express travelling from Ayodhya to Ahmedabad. The S-6 coach is carrying 'ramsevaks' (Hindu pilgrims) returning from Ayodhya to Gujarat. Riots follow in the state in which over 2,000 people, mostly Muslims die.
2003: The court orders a survey to find out whether a temple to Lord Ram exist on the site. In August, the survey presents evidence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim groups dispute the findings.
September 2003: A court rules that seven Hindu leaders, including some prominent BJP leaders, should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque.
November 2004: An Uttar Pradesh court rules that an earlier order which exonerated L.K. Advani for his role in the destruction of the mosque should be reviewed.
2009: The Liberhan Commission submits its report on June 30, almost 17 years after it began its inquiry. Its contents are not made public.
Sep 30, 2010: The Allahabad High Court pronounces its verdict on four title suits relating to the Ayodhya dispute. The disputed land in Ayodhya is to be divided into 3 parts. 1/3 goes to Ram Lalla represented by Hindu Maha Sabha, 1/3 to Sunni Waqf Board, 1/3 goes to Nirmohi Akhara.
December 2010: The Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha and Sunni Waqf Board move the Supreme Court of India, challenging part of the Allahabad High Court's verdict.
May 9, 2011: The Supreme Court of India stays the High Court order splitting the disputed site in three parts and says status quo will remain. The two judge bench of Supreme Court also remarks that the high court verdict is surprising as no party wanted a split of the site.