Travelogues placed in court to prove Ram temple theory

The Supreme Court. DH file photo

The Hindu side on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that a structure was raised on ruins of Ram Janmabhumi in Ayodhya whose existence did find mention in various historical evidence including travelogues and gazetteers. The counsel for Ram Lalla C S Vaidyanathan also claimed that there was no evidence to prove that the Babri Masjid existed until the 19th century.

Resuming arguments on behalf of Ram Lalla in the Ayodhya dispute case related to Ram temple and Babri masjid, the counsel argued before a five-judge Constitution bench, presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that as per the Skand Puran, it was the belief of Hindus that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya, it was a matter of faith and the court should see how rational it is.

He cited a travelogue written by English merchant William Finch, who had visited India between 1608 and 1611, and recorded that there was a fort or castle in Ayodhya where Hindus believed Lord Ram was born. The counsel also relied upon the East India company gazetteer, which was not disputed as evidence.

Finch's travelogue, published in the book Early Travels to India, has mentioned that Hindus believed Ayodhya was 'Janmasthan' (birthplace) of Lord Ram, he claimed.

He referred to other travelogues, including those by British surveyor Montgomery Martin and Jesuit missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler, to substantiate his arguments about the faith of people that Ayodhya was the birthplace of Lord Ram.

During the hearing, the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, asked Vaidyanathan, "When it was first called Babri Masjid?".

To the query, he said, "It was only in the 19th century. There is no document available to show that earlier (prior to 19th century) it was known as Babri Masjid."

On this, the bench asked if the 'Baburnama' (memoirs of Mughal ruler Babur) was totally silent on this and what the objective evidence was to show Babur directed for the demolition of the temple.

Responding to it, he said Babur had asked his general to demolish the structure.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for a Muslim party, interjected to claim that 'Baburnama' did mention Babur crossing the river to Ayodhya but some of its pages were missing.

During the arguments, Vaidyanathan said that there were two versions, one about the demolition of the temple by Babur and other about its demolition by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, but the inscription in the mosque suggested that Babur constructed the three-dome structure at the disputed site.

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