An evidence that helped strengthen the Hindu side’s claim to the disputed site was the visit by Guru Nanak Dev to Ayodhya for Ram Janmabhoomi darshan in 1510-11 AD. Babri Masjiddid not come up until after the 1526 Battle of Panipat.
More than three centuries later, in 1857, a Nihang Sikh barged inside the mosque and occupied it for a considerable amount of time, even setting up a platform on which an idol of Lord Ram was placed. With a posse of 25 Sikhs standing guard outside, the Nihang Sikh lit a fire and started arrangements for puja, leading to the first recorded instance of friction between Hindus and Muslims over the structure. The Nihang Sikh scrawled “Ram” on the walls of the mosque, according to police complaint.
The addenda to verdict bring on record the Janam Sakhis, or writings that profess to be biographies of Guru Nanak Dev. On the question of “whether the disputed structure is the birthplace of Lord Ram according to belief of Hindu devotees”, the SC says there is no material to identify the exact place of Ram Janmabhoomi. But it recognises the visit of Guru Nanak Dev to Ayodhya as an event depicting visits by pilgrims even before 1528 AD.
The judgment says, “It is found that in period prior to 1528 AD, there were sufficient religious texts, which led Hindus to believe the present site of Ram Janmabhoomi as birthplace of Lord Ram.”
One of the witnesses in suit number 4, during his examination in Allahabad HC, had referred to books on Sikh cult and history. He said Guru Nanak Dev had sought darshan at the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi temple. To his statement, he appended various Janam Sakhis documenting the visit of Guru Nanak Dev to Ayodhya.
The verdict also traces a second event that occurred against the backdrop of 1857 transfer of power, when complaints sent to the Oudh administration (as Ayodhya and nearby areas were then referred to) reported the presence of Sikhs. A complaint in 1860 to deputy commissioner of Oudh said local Muslims were facing problems in performing namaz at the mosque. “The Azaan of Moazzin was met with the blowing of conch shells by Hindus. A contentious situation was arising. The Nihang Sikh was evicted from the site and a record was maintained,” SC notes, deducing that it showed namaz was at that stage being performed in the mosque.
That incident led to the installation of a railing in the form of a grill-brick wall outside the mosque. It was also the genesis of division of the complex into an inner courtyard (in which stood the structure of the mosque) and outer courtyard. “The construction of a railing in 1856-7 to provide a measure of separation between the inner and outer courtyards led to the construction of a platform by Hindus in close proximity to railing in outer courtyard. The platform, called Ramchabutra, became a place of worship for Hindus,” states the verdict.
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