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Ayodhya case: SC to look into litigant’s complaint of intimidation

Posted in S. Asia

Published on September 08, 2019 with No Comments

‘Hindus, Muslims prayed at disputed site’

The Constitution Bench hearing the Ayodhya appeals questioned the Muslim parties on whether allowing Hindus to worship in the outer courtyard of the disputed structure was an indication that the ‘mosque’ was in part a ‘temple’.

The Bench, led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, made the queries even as senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, for Sunni Waqf Board, argued that an idol of Lord Ram was surreptitiously moved inside the Babri Masjid in the intervening night of December 22-23 of 1949.

Parrying the question from the Bench about the true nature of the disputed structure, Dhavan resorted to historical sketches on Faizabad by British officials like P. Carnegi and H.R. Nevill, both of whom had recorded that Babur built a mosque at the Janamsthan and that the mosque bore the name of Babur along with the two inscriptions.

Dhavan said Hindus and Muslims “alike used to worship in the mosque-temple”. The British built a railing to prevent disputes between the two communities.

“It is within this railing that the mosque exists and that is where Muslims pray. Whereas Hindus pray outside the fence where they have raised a platform,”. Dhavan submitted. He said the Muslims were in possession of the ‘mosque’ both before and after the 1855 riots. He said both religions has coexisted in that space, but the title was with the Muslims.

The Hindu parties have argued in the court that the disputed land itself is a juristic person. “Whether Hindus prayed in the inner or outer courtyard is not relevant. We say that whole area is Janambhoomi,” senior advocate K. Parasaran, for the Ayodhya deity, had earlier submitted.

In his submissions. Dhavan referred to records about aggression shown by the local populace towards worshippers coming to the mosque. He had termed the disputed land a “composite place of worship”, comparing it to religious sites in Jerusalem such as the Wailing Wall.

 

The Supreme Court of India agreed to look into a complaint made by Iqbal Ansari, a litigant in the Ayodhya appeals, about an alleged instance of intimidation and attack on him.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan informed the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi about the alleged incident which happened on Tuesday evening.

Dhavan said Ansari was accosted by a couple at his home in Faizabad. They told him to withdraw from the case or face dire consequences. The woman even introduced herself as an “international shooter”.The lawyer, who presented the facts of the incident to the court before the day’s Ayodhya hearing began, said it was learnt that the Faizabad police had detained the couple. He said though he was not commenting on the nature of the probe the police may conduct, a “simple word” from the Supreme Court may prove enough to nudge the investigation on. “We will look into it,” Mr. Gogoi replied.

The court has issued notice to an 88-year-old Chennai-based man for allegedly intimidating  Dhavan for representing the Muslim side in the Ayodhya title suit appeals. Dhavan had sought contempt proceedings to be initiated against N. Shanmugham, a retired government official. The senior lawyer, who appears for the Sunni Waqf board, had annexed a letter from Mr. Shanmugham with his petition.

Dhavan had said this was only one of the several instances of threats received by him for appearing in the case. “It needs to be mentioned that the petitioner has been accosted both at home and in the court premises with intimidating behaviour by several persons,” he had said. He had also referred to several WhatsApp messages sent by a Sanjay Kalal Bajrangi and annexed screenshots of the messages in his petition.

 

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