The Babri mosque dates back nearly 500 years when it was built in Ayodhya by Mir Baqi, a commander of the first Mughal emperor Babur, in 1528. Hence the mosque’s name, Babri Masjid.
Ram Janmabhoomi i.e.Rama’s birthplace is the name given to the site that is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama, the 7th avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu.The Ramayana states that the location of Rama’s birthplace is on the banks of the Sarayu river in the city of Ayodhya.
A section of Hindus claim that the exact site of Rama’s birthplace is where the Babri Masjid once stood in the present-day Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.
According to this theory, the Mughals demolished a Hindu shrine that marked the spot, and constructed a mosque in its place. People opposed to this theory state that such claims arose only in the 18th century, and that there is no evidence for the spot being the birthplace of Rama.
TIMELINE OF DISPUTE
1853: The first recorded incident of violence over the holy site takes place during the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh. Nirmohis, a Hindu sect, claim that a Hindu temple had been destroyed during Babur’s times to build the mosque.
1859: The British colonial administration erects a fence at the site to separate the places of worship. While the Muslims are allowed to use the inner court, the Hindus are allowed the outer court.
1885: In January 1885, Mahant Raghubir Das files the first case, seeking permission to build a canopy on the Ramchabutra (a raised platform) outside the mosque. The plea is rejected by the Faizabad district court.
1949: Lord Ram’s idols appear inside the mosque, allegedly placed by Hindu groups. Both sides file suits; the government declares the area as disputed and locks the gates to the premise.
1950: Gopal Singh Visharad and Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das file suits at the Faizabad court seeking permission to offer prayers to the idols in the janamsthan. While the inner courtyard remains locked, prayers are allowed.
1959: The Nirmohi Akhara files a third suit seeking possession of the site and claiming to be the custodians of the Ram Janmabhoomi.
1961: The Sunni Central Board of Waqf files a case against the placing of idols inside the mosque and claim that the mosque and surrounding land was a graveyard.
1984: Hindu groups form a committee to spearhead the construction of the Ram temple at the Janmabhoomi site. The temple movement gathers momentum. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani takes over the leadership of the movement.
1986: A district court orders that the gates of the mosque be opened and Hindus be allowed to worship there, on a plea by Hari Shankar Dubey. As Muslims protest the move to allow Hindus to pray in the mosque, a Babri Mosque Action Committee is formed.
1989: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) lays the foundation of a Ram temple on the land next to the Babri Masjid. Justice Deoki Nandan Agarwal, former VHP Vice-President, files a case asking for the mosque to be shifted elsewhere. Four suits that have been pending at the Faizabad court are transferred to a special bench of the High Court.
1990: Volunteers of the VHP partially damage the mosque. PM Chandrashekhar intervenes and tries to resolve the issue through negotiations, but these fail. In September, Advani holds a rath yatra to educate people about the Ayodhya movement. He start from Somnath in Gujarat, and ends his yatra at Ayodhya.
1991: BJP becomes the primary opposition party. And powered by the rath yatra, comes into power in Uttar Pradesh. The momentum for the temple movement increases as karsevaks (volunteers) pour into Ayodhya.
1992: The disputed Babri Mosque is razed to the ground by the karsevaks on December 6, with the support of Shiv Sena, VHP and BJP. This leads to some of the most deadliest riots across the country, leading to the deaths of more than 2,000 people. The central government, headed by P V Narasimha Rao, sets up a commission of enquiry under Justice M S Liberhan on December 16.
2001: Tensions arise during the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition. The VHP reaffirms its commitment towards building the Ram temple.
2002: In February 2002, in an attack on a train from Godhra in Gujarat, believed to be carrying karsevaks to Ayodhya, at least 58 people are killed. Riots erupt across the state and over 1,000 people are said to have been killed during the riots.
The High Court orders the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to excavate the site to determine if it was earlier a temple. In April 2002, three HC judges start the hearing to determine who the site belongs to.
2003: The ASI begins the survey to determine whether a temple existed on the site. It finds evidence of the presence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim organisations dispute the findings. In September, a court rules that seven Hindu leaders should stand trial for inciting violence and the destruction of the mosque. Advani is the deputy prime minister, and does not face any charges.
2004: The Congress comes back into power at the Centre. A UP court rules that the previous order exonerating Advani should be reviewed.
2005: Suspected Islamic militants attack the disputed site. Security forces kill five alleged militants and a sixth unidentified person.
2009: In June, the Liberhan commission, which had been set up to investigate the events following the demolition, submits the report. Uproar in the Parliament as the report blames politicians from BJP for their role in the demolition.
2010: The Allahabad High Court pronounces its judgment on the four title suits relating to the dispute. In the landmark hearing, the HC rules that the disputed land be divided into three parts — one third to Ram Lalla, represented by the Hindu Mahasabha; one third to the Islamic Waqf Board; and the remaining third to the Nirmohi Akhara. In December, the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha and the Sunni Waqf Board move the Supreme Court, challenging the HC ruling.
2011: In May, the Supreme Court stays the High Court order to split the land, stating that the status quo remains.
2014: In a landmark win, the BJP led by Narendra Modi storms to power at the Centre.
2015: The VHP announces a nationwide drive to collect stones for the construction of the Ram Mandir. Six months later, in December, two trucks of stones arrive at the disputed site. Mahant Nritya Gopal Das claims there is a green signal from the Modi government that the temple will be built now. The Uttar Pradesh government led by Akhilesh Yadav says it will not allow the arrival of the stones in Ayodhya for the construction of the Ram Mandir.
March 2017: The Supreme Court said charges against Advani and other leaders cannot be dropped in the 1992 Babri mosque demolition case and that the case may be revived.
March 2017: The BJP storms to power in Uttar Pradesh with a massive victory.
March 21, 2017: The Supreme Court says the matter is sensitive and should be settled out of court. It asks stakeholders to hold talks and find an amicable solution.