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How the British Revenue Reports Support the Ayodhya Cause?

Kicking off a series of talks and interviews on the Ayodhya Ram Mandir issue, Srijan Foundation organised a Srijan Talk titled, “Case For Ram Mandir At Ayodhya” by Dr. Meenakshi Jain at INTACH, New Delhi.

The esteemed speaker, Dr. Meenakshi Jain holds a Ph.D from Delhi University and specialises in Cultural Studies. She is presently a member of the Governing Council, Indian Council of Historical Research.

Here is a snippet of Dr. Jain’s Srijan Talk, where she explains how the Revenue Reports meticulously recorded by the British incontrovertibly support the Janmasthan evidence in the Ayodhya Case.



In the course of the hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, the Allahabad High Court examined the Land Revenue Records pertaining to Village Ram Kot, Haveli Awadh, Faizabad, which had been systematically maintained by the British administration, to ascertain the ownership rights of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site. The Revenue Reports consisted of various Revenue documents recording data like survey, bandobast (settlement), kishtwar khasra, abadi, khewats, khasra khataunis, maps and so on and were revised in every 10-15 years.

The first Regular Settlement Report for Kot Ram Chandra was done in 1861 and showed the Janmasthan site as Nazul (Government) property. Importantly, this status had not been challenged by anyone. Prepared after an on-the-spot survey and measurement of the khasras, and duly attested by the local patidars, revenue officials and witnesses etc., as was the practice of the time, the Report declared the superior ownership of the land in the name of Sarkar Bahadur Nazul (Government) and also declared the Mahants as the under-proprietors (malikan-i-matahit) of the entire Janmasthan complex. There was no mention of Babri Masjid at all in the Report.

Interestingly, the subsequent Settlement Report of 1893 specifically referred to the sub-plot on which the Masjid was located as Sita Ki Rasoi. The following Settlement Reports of 1936-37 and 1989-90 also mentioned the sub-plot as Sita Ki Rasoi. “There was no record of the Babri Masjid in the documents preserved by the Revenue Department of the Government at the Collectorate and Tehsil at Faizabad (Grover 1994: 343-49).”

The Allahabad High Court took cognizance of this document as evidence that the entire complex was Nazul (Government) property and that no one had challenged this status in all these years. Even though the Muslims tried to argue in Court that “the entry as Nazul in British records was wrongly made,” the Allahabad High Court maintained the property belonged to the Government since the first Settlement Report of 1861.

In a curious turn of events, certain additions or interpolations were found to have been made in the khasra kishtwar documents of the 1861 Settlement Report at the District Record Office at Faizabad. Wherever there was mention of Janmasthan in the original records, additional words referring to Babri Masjid had been inserted. “In column No. 2, to the original record of ‘abadi Janmasthan,’ the words ‘and Juma Masjid’ had been added, so as to read ‘abadi Janmasthan and Juma Masjid.’ In column No. 3 to the words ‘taraf nazul,’ ‘and muafi’ had been inserted. In column No. 4 to the words ‘Sarkar Bahadur’ had been added ‘wa Azhar Hussain.’ The ink, the thickness of the letters, the handwriting, undoubtedly indicated additions (Grover 2015:119-21).”

Clearly, an attempt was made to manipulate the evidence by tampering with the records and making insertions, as indicated by the difference in the colour of the ink, the thickness of the lettering as well as the difference in handwriting. Not only that, there were copies of the same documents, made in the same year at the Tehsil office which did not have these additions. The tampering was also confirmed by the fact that these additions were not found in the subsequent Settlement Report of 1893. It is likely that these manipulations were mischievously carried out, with the possible complicity of some officials, within the early years of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid controversy.

Another important piece of evidence found in the Revenue Records was that from 1858 to 1991, no Waqf land had been allocated to the Babri Masjid. The UP Gazette published on 26 February 1944 included a list of all Waqf properties i.e. mosques that had a Waqf created against them for allocating funds for maintenance. The list named each mosque building, the year it was constructed in, the name of the person who constructed it and the Waqf created for its maintenance. In the entry made against Babri Masjid, the column with the Waqf details was left vacant. The name of the ruler who constructed it was given as Babur, the year it was constructed in was given as 1528 but it had nothing mentioned under the Waqf column. There was no documented evidence for any Waqf created for Babri Masjid. The fact that, “revenue documents from 1858-61 to 1991 revealed that no Waqf land had ever been associated with Babri Masjid (Grover 2015: 171-84),” was held as a serious weakness in the Muslim argument claiming rights to Babri Masjid by the Allahabad High Court.

Reference: The Battle For Rama: Case Of The Temple At Ayodhya – Dr. Meenakshi Jain.

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