Reviewed by ASIF ANWAR ALIG
In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act”— George Orwell
Speaking truth before a section of the xenophobic Indian society hardly remains praiseworthy. Krishna Jha and Dhirendra K. Jha’s pioneering research in Ayodhya: The Dark night—The Secret History of Rama’s Appearance in Babri Masjid exposes so called indomitable appearance of Hindu God Ram inside now demolished Babri Masjid way back on 22 December 1949. An audacious revelation of untold facts this book questions chauvinist society’s rejection of arguments with evidences.
This work of investigative journalism is an eye opener for the opinion makers to assess the damaging factors save nation’s secular soliloquies. It recounts the eyewitness of clandestine appearance of Ram’s idol inside Babri Masjid some seven decades ago.
Unpardonable act of Babri Masjid demolition on 06 December 1992 was a resultant bigotry which tarnished country’s religious diversity. Investigative reports by author(s) and firsthand narrations from individuals interviewed from those mattered in this case to eyewitness of surreptitious placing of idol inside the mosque this book has ample details to engage readers to think in a context of evidences presented.
Muhammad Ismael, then Muezzin of now demolished Babri Masjid was deeply slumbered upon hearing a thud sound rumbled from mosque’s medieval precincts. Like a powerful drum bang it was but forced entry of Ram inside a mosque. That dark night scared muezzin—and the Indian Muslim community thereafter. Muezzin was observing the suspicious act with the course of events outside mosque for weeks. He foresaw an unpredictable misfortune.
The muezzin sensed from the incidence occurring in that dark night that something unusual was happening. He was prophesying another misfortune since many days by a look at dark clouds hovering over the mosque. It was severer than 1934 attack he witnessed which had damaged mosque’s domes and a hole was created.
Invokes by the crowds continued thereafter to damage the sanctum with repeated annoyances. Selected intruders infringed inside the mosque on 22 December 1949 unlike huge crowd one and half decades ago. New covert modus operandi though proved more alarming than the previous assault. Eyewitnesses recounted trespassers entering into the mosque in dark night.
Short and stout muezzin was highly disturbed by witnessing such happenings. His presence couldn’t be realized in darkness until he flamboyantly grabbed vairagi sadhu Abhiram Das holding the idol of Ram Lulla. Grabbing Das from behind he attempted to snatch idol but others overpowered him in fierce retaliation. Somehow saving himself from their clutches he ran nonstop to inform nearby Muslims families about the horrifying incidence. Soaked in blood he informed them about a surreptitious attempt to capture the mosque.
Narrating beyond the events of that particular dark night this book equally brings other contextual facts such as muezzin’s cordial relation with the Hindu priests who often hovered at nearby Ramachabutara since decades. Eyewitnesses interviewed in this book reveal that hardly was any animosity in local inhabitants that represented both communities. Muezzin and Hindu priests would always extend mutual support to each other.
One interviewee Bhaskar Das was a junior priest at a tiny temple at Ramachabutara and went on to become mahant of Nirmohi Akhara later. He spoke—“before 22 December 1949, my guru Mahant Baldev Das had assigned my duty at the chabutara. I used to keep my essential clothes and utensils with me there. In the night and during afternoon, I used to sleep inside the Babri Masjid. The muezzin had asked me to remove my belongings during the time of namaz (prayer), and the rest of the time the mosque used to be our home.” Ayodhya of that era projected towering religious diversity until one dark night turned it into a battleground.
The Ramachabutara would always be filled with offerings for the priests to enjoy comfortable living. Babri Masjid muezzin’s upkeep remained unmanageable and he often faced crisis due to little help from his community. Several vairagi priests fed him. They lived amicably irrespective of differences in faiths as if individuals from one community living in a “big religious complex.”
What provoked same vairagis for their forced entry inside mosque one calm night? Running aimlessly the muezzin thought of the hollow trust. Was the harmonious relation worthless? Putting idol inside mosque was an unpardonable crime to shame humanity. It prophesied for a disastrous outcome—mosque’s demolition decades later.
The muezzin went to the Muslim dominated Paharganj Ghosiana village in Faizabad outskirts to express his concerns on fateful incidence. He awakened villages and informed them that Babri Masjid had been breached that night. Abdur Rahim, a regular at the mosque, spoke to the author(s)—“They might have killed Ismael Saheb. But he somehow managed to flee from the Babri Masjid. He reached our village around 2 a.m. He was badly injured and completely shaken by the developments. Some villagers got up, gave him food and warm clothes.”
Shocked muezzin Muhammad Ismaeil went in depression after that fateful night. He lived in Paharganj Ghosiana village as a loner and didn’t come out of shock from that horrendous night until death. First victim to resist the permeating act he was key witnesses to independent India’s most shameful incidence which still haunts common masses. Political extremists fuel it further to worsen relationship between the two communities post mosque demolition.
To recount incidences of mischievous entry of Ram inside now demolished Babri Masjid author(s) interviewed many eyewitnesses for this book. Their quotes and investigative reports describe that fall of three-domed marvel of Ayodhya—the Babri Masjid—on 06 December 1992 was the loss of legacy for coexistence having been maintained since four centuries.
It equally liquidated country’s religious harmony. The kar sewaks couldn’t demolish mosque if previous conspiracies of Hindu communalists had been tackled meticulously. Raising finger on Hindu Mahasabha for their strategic Ayodhya strategy to turn the historic mosque a bone of contention this book emphasizes that demolition was a strategically planned act.
Questioning mischievous involvement of the then Faizabad district collector K.K.K. Nair and his assistant Guru Dutt Singh this book points out their partialities to unconditional support to Hindu communalists. Their nefarious steps to fuel communal disharmony through working in the behest of Hindu chauvinists until making the appearance of Ram Lulla inside mosque a ‘miracle’ were all planned strategies.
Open support to Hindu Mahasabha was meant to convert historic mosque into a temple by hook or by crook through idol’s surreptitious entry. Officers provided legal shield to culprits by manipulating enquires and investigation reports. They defended main culprit Abhiram Das and other intruders. Through putting together many intricate details from attempts to smuggle Ram idol inside the mosque to creating false propaganda for Sri Rama Janma Bhumi this book is seminal fact finding initiative. It is a comprehensive report on the biggest ever blunder in India’s socio-political history which still haunts the inhabitants.
This book review was first published in Radiance Viewsweekly 10 July 2016 edition.