Ayodhya is also well known for having the largest mosque in Uttar Pradesh, Babri Masjid, built in year 1528 by Mir Baqi under the orders of Babur. It is said and supported by little historical evidence that Baqi destroyed the already-existing temple to build the mosque.
The history of the site is still not clear- whether the temple was demolished or modified to build the mosque.
Looking at the timeline of the controversy, the first violence broke out in 1853 under the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh wherein Nirmohis, a Hindu sect, claimed a Hindu temple had been destroyed during Babur’s times to build the mosque.
After the Hindu-Muslim clash, a boundary wall was built at the site by the British Government in 1859, to separate the place of worship and avoid further disputes. Muslims were allowed to use the inner court while Hindus used the outer court to offer prayer.
1885: A civil suit was filed by Mahant Raghubir Das in Faizabad district court to build a temple on the Ramchabutra (a raised platform) outside the mosque that was rejected.
The site witnessed communal riots in the early 1910 decade. A major riot erupted in 1934 triggered by a cow slaughter in the nearby Shahjahanpur village. The walls around the Masjid and one of the domes of the Masjid were damaged during the riots. These were reconstructed by the British Government.
1949: Lord Ram idols appeared inside the mosque, which were actually placed by Hindu Groups. This attracted a thousand of Hindu devotees to the mosque and hence the government had the gates locked, declaring the mosque as a disputed land.
The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru asked the then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Govind Ballabh Pant to have the idols removed from the mosque. Pant’s orders couldn’t be carried out successfully for the fear that the Hindus would retaliate.
1950: Gopal Singh Visharad and Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das filed a civil suit at the Faizabad court seeking permission to offer prayers to the idols.
1959: Nirmohi Akhara filed a title suit, claiming ownership of the site.
1961: U.P. Sunni Central Wakf Board files the fourth suit for declaration and possession. The case was against the placing of idols inside the mosque and the claim was that the mosque and surrounding land were a graveyard.
1984: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) initiated a campaign for construction of a Ram Temple at the Janmabhoomi site.Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L. K. Advani took over the leadership of the movement.
1986: Acting on a plea by Hari Shankar Dubey, a district judge directed the gates of the mosque to be unlocked and Hindus should be allowed to worship there. As Muslims protested the movement, a Babri Masjid Action Committee was set up.
1989: VHP lays foundations of a Ram temple on land adjacent to the disputed mosque.
A fresh suit was filed by Justice Deoki Nandan Agarwal, former VHP vice-President for declaration and possession of the temple. Four suits pending at the Faizabad court were transferred to a special bench of the Allahabad high court.
1990: VHP volunteers partially damaged the mosque. Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar tried to resolve the issue but failed. In September, a rath yatra was organized by BJP that was led by L. K. Advani to educate people about the Ayodhya movement.
1991: BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh with Kalyan Singh as the chief minister.
1992: 6th December was the day when everything turned upside down. The karsevaks of VHP, Shiv Sena and BJP demolished the mosque. This led to a nationwide communal riot because of which more than 2000 people lost their lives.
2001: Special CBI court dropped conspiracy charges against L. K. Advani, Bal Thackeray, Uma Bharti and others.
2002: A train near Godhra in Gujarat, believed to be carrying Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya, was attacked. Around 59 people died in the accident. This led to another major communal riot in the state in which more than 1000 people died.
Three HC judges started the hearing to determine who the site belongs to.
The High Court ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to excavate the site and determine if it was earlier a temple
2003: ASI survey confirms that there was a temple beneath the mosque but Muslims challenged the findings.
A court ruled that seven Hindu leaders should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque, but no charges were brought against Advani, the then deputy prime minister, who was also at the site in 1992.
2004: Congress regained power at the Centre. A UP court ruled that the previous order exonerating Advani should be reviewed.
2005: Suspected Islamic militants attacked the disputed site. Security forces killed five of the alleged militants and a sixth who was not immediately identified.
2009: The Liberhan commission investigating the events leading to demolition of the mosque submitted its report. The report blamed politicians from BJP for their role in the demolition.
2010: Allahabad High Court gave its judgment on the four pending suits. HC ruled that the disputed land be divided into three parts, one-third to 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 went to the Supreme Court, challenging the HC ruling.
2011: CBI went to Supreme Court with the argument that “the actual demolition of the Babri Masjid and the continuous assault on media persons form a single connected transaction and can well be a concerted conspiracy”.
Supreme Court concurred with the High Court order to split the land, stating that the status quo remained the same.
2015: Supreme Court issued notice against BJP leaders including L K Advani, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, etc. on a plea not to drop charges of criminal conspiracy against them in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
6 March 2017: Supreme Court said charges against Advani and others cannot be dropped for 1992 mosque demolition, and indicated to revive conspiracy charges against BJP leaders.
21 March 2017: SC suggested out of court approach to resolve the dispute and find an amicable solution.
6 April 2017: SC uses its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to transfer the Babri Masjid demolition related trial in Rae Bareilly against top BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi to Lucknow, where a CBI court is hearing conspiracy and other serious criminal charges against “lakhs of unknown kar sevaks” for the actual act of razing down the 15th century mosque.
19 April 2017: SC revives conspiracy charges against L K Advani Murli Manohar Joshi and 13 others in the case.
30 May 2017: L.K. Advani Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar charged with criminal conspiracy in the case.
Source: Business Standard, The Hindu, Livemint, Economic Times, Firstpost, Times of India, Wikipedia, Google