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Dec 06, 2017 12:45 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

25 years since Babri Masjid demolition: Timeline of key events that shaped the dispute

Here's a timeline of the key events that have shaped the dispute over centuries.

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A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra said on Tuesday that it will hear appeals regarding the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in February 2018.

Tuesday's hearing of appeals also coincided with the eve of the 25th anniversary of Babri Masjid's demolition.

At the centre of the bitter battle is the belief that Lord Ram was born at that particular location during the Treta Yug, lakhs of years ago. The belief is that the birthplace of Lord Ram is the room located under what was Babri mosque's sanctum sanctorum or the central dome.

In the 16th century, Mughal emperor Babur built the mosque after supposedly destroying a pre-existing temple dedicated to Lord Ram. In 1992, the activists stormed the Babri mosque site and destroyed it.

Here's a timeline of the key events that have shaped the dispute over centuries:

1525: Mughal emperor Babur invaded and conquered large parts of north India.

1528: Babur's general Mir Bagi came to Ayodhya, supposedly destroyed the pre-existing temple dedicated to Lord Ram and built 'Masjid-i-Janmasthan' (mosque at the birthplace) at the same site.

1853: The site witnessed its first event of religious violence.

1859: British administration built railings to separate the two places of worship. They allowed Muslims to use the inner area while the outer area was given to Hindus. This practice continued for nine decades.

1949: An idol of Lord Ram was secretly placed under the main dome of the mosque.  Later, the government declared shut the gate as a precautionary measure.

1950: A suit was filed in the Faizabad court seeking rights to perform puja there. Another suit was filed to seeking continuation of the religious rituals and keeping idols in the structure.

1959: Nirmohi Akhara, a stakeholder in the dispute filed another suit, seeking direction from the court gets charge of the disputed site.

1984: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) forms a committee under the leadership of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Lal Krishna Advani with the sole aim of setting free the supposed birthplace of Lord Rama by constructing a temple in honour of the lord.

1991: BJP comes into power in Uttar Pradesh even as the Congress was in the Centre.

1986: A district court ordered reopening of the site for Hindu worshippers after which the Uttar Pradesh government acquired land surrounding the site for devotees' convenience.

1992: On December 6, kar sevaks (activists) stormed the mosque compound and demolished the Babri mosque in an event that resulted in riots and communal tension across the country.

1993: Centre took over 67 acres of the land around the site and sought the top court’s opinion on whether a Hindu place of worship ever existed there before the mosque was built.

The same year, the Ayodhya Act 1993 was passed which also allowed a lone priest to worship in the makeshift temple built at the site.

2003: The Allahabad High Court asked Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to carry out an in-depth study and an excavation survey of ascertain what was under the site.

ASI report indicated the presence of a 10th century temple under the site and human activity at the site dating back to the 13th century BC. Muslim groups immediately disputed the ASI findings pointing towards the lack of evidence. However, the report was upheld by the High Court.

2010: Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court ordered partition of the site occupied by the Babri Masjid into three equal parts, among Nirmohi Akhara, Ram Lalla (the deity) and the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board.

2011: The Supreme Court stayed orders of the High Court and ordered all sides to maintain the status quo.

2014: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) added construction of the temple in its 2014 General Election manifesto. The BJP also came to power in the Centre.

2015: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) launched a nationwide campaign to collect stones for construction of the Ram temple. Later in the year, two trucks of stones arrived in Ayodhya. However, then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav blocked the stones from getting closer to site.

2017: Supreme Court urges stakeholders to find an out-of-court settlement. Then Chief Justice JS Khehar also offered help to settle the fight amicably.

In a separate demolition case, the apex court ordered reopening the criminal conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders such as former deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti.

2017: The Shia Waqf Board filed an application in the top court according to which the Ram Temple would be built in Ayodhya and a mosque would be built in Lucknow. However, the move is facing stiff opposition from the Sunni Waqf Board.

2017: Supreme Court moves hearing of appeals to February 2018.
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