Ayodhya dispute: KKK Nayar, the district magistrate accused of 'dereliction of duty' in Faizabad who helped Hindus 'reclaim land of their God'
Ayodhya hearing: Nayar who was posted at Faizabad for nine months and fourteen days, from 1 June 1949 till 14 March 1950 was accused of 'dereliction of his duty' as district magistrate and along with Guru Dutt Singh was forced to quit the service
On the intervening night of 22-23 December, 1949, an idol of Ram Lalla 'mysteriously appeared at the disputed site'. This was the beginning of a long and tiring legal battle that would change the political history of post-Independent India
Rajeev Dhavan, counsel for the Muslim parties in the Ayodhya dispute case, while highlighting the role of Nayar during the hearing of the case in the apex court, alleged that 'KKK Nayar and his fellow local official Guru Dutt Singh did not act to remove the idols despite instructions from then Chief Secretary Bhagwan Sahay and Inspector General of Police BN Lahiri'
Nayar who was posted at Faizabad for nine months and fourteen days, from 1 June 1949 till 14 March 1950 was accused of 'dereliction of his duty' as district magistrate and along with Guru Dutt Singh was forced to quit the service
Editor's note: This article was originally published on 5 November. It is being republished in light of the CJI Ranjan Gogoi-led Supreme Court bench being slated to deliver the verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case on Saturday at 10.30 am
In less than a week the Supreme Court of India will pronounce its judgment in the case that was marked by the Chief Justice-designate Justice SA Bobde as "one of the most important cases in the world."
Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute or the Ayodhya land dispute case is about the contesting claims of Hindu and Muslim communities over a piece of land in Ayodhya, a city located in the Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. While Hindu parties believe that the disputed site is the birthplace of Lord Rama and the Babri Masjid that was demolished in 1992 was built on its ruins, Muslim parties have rejected these claims.
The legal journey of the case that dates back to 1885 — when Mahant Raghubir Das filed a petition in the Faizabad district court seeking permission to build a canopy outside the disputed structure — is full of twist and turns. The chronicling of the entire dispute lay bare many twists and turns and several intriguing questions. It also includes making and unmaking of many political fortunes but most interestingly it comes out as a story that has many heroes and villains. Among them some are dead, many are forgotten and some have just vanished into oblivion.
Beyond this, another interesting aspect of this case is that whether a character in this story is categorised as a ‘villain’ or a ‘hero’, largely depends upon the prism that one chooses to view this case from.
Among these heroes and villains, who shaped the trajectory of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case was KKK Nayar. The story of this dispute in Independent India starts with him and he shall remain one of the most important characters in the story as it was his decision to do what he did which majorly shaped the contours of this story.
On the intervening night of 22-23 December, 1949, an idol of Ram Lalla "mysteriously appeared at the disputed site". This was the beginning of a long and tiring legal battle that would change the political history of post-Independent India. While the "appearance of the idol" created an unprecedented frenzy among Hindu devotees, KKK Nayar who was the district magistrate of Faizabad was asked by his seniors to remove the idol. Nayar refused to do so claiming that it would lead to communal riots.
According to a report in The Hindu, on 3 September Rajeev Dhavan, counsel for the Muslim parties in the Ayodhya dispute case, while highlighting the role of Nayar during the hearing of the case in the apex court, alleged that “KKK Nayar and his fellow local official Guru Dutt Singh did not act to remove the idols despite instructions from then Chief Secretary Bhagwan Sahay and Inspector General of Police BN Lahiri."
He also highlighted that the "then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had expressed grave concern about the incident." It was alleged that Nayar even ignored the instructions from Nehru to remove the idol.
The Allahabad High Court judgment delivered in this case in 2010 dwells to a great extent on the role of Nayar. The judgment talks about a letter written by then Faizabad superintendent of police (SP) Kripal Singh to Nayar a month before the "appearance" of the idol at the site on 29 November, 1949.
The letter states, "My dear Nayar, I visited the premises of Babri Mosque and the Janm Asthan in Ajodhya this evening. I noticed that several ‘Hawan Kunds’ have been constructed all around the mosque. Some of them have been built on old constructions already existing there”.
The letter while giving more details of a "probable intrusion" at the end states, "There is a strong rumor that on purnamashi the Hindus will try to force entry into the mosque with the object of installing a deity”. The judgment also talks about a report "running in scores of pages" prepared by Nayar after the 'appearance' of the idol in which Nayar wrote that the “news came as a great surprise as it had never been reported or suspected that there was any move to enter and occupy the Masjid by force”.
However, the court held that “The surprise does not appear to be genuine as there was a clear mention of such a plan in the above letter of the superintendent of police (SP) written on 29 November”.
In an important reference, the judgment says, “Moreover, in the same records there is a letter by Sri Nayar to Sri Govind Narayan, Home Secretary, Government of U.P., Lucknow dated 16.12.1949 in reply to his wireless message dated 08.12.1949, annexing therewith site plan showing the position of Babari Masjid and Sri Ram Chandra Ji Mandir at Janm Bhoomi. In the said letter, Sri Nayar stated that a magnificent temple at the site was constructed by Vikramaditya and in 16thCentury, it was demolished by Babar and the mosque known as Babari Masjid was constructed and in the said process, the building material of the temple was used, and that a long time before Hindus were again restored to possession of a site therein, i.e. at the corner of two walls”.
It is further mentioned that “Muslims who go to the mosque pass in front of the temple and there has frequently been trouble over the occasional failure of Muslims to take off their shoes”.
The judgment in detail talks about how Nayar in his report rejected all “rumors” regarding the apprehensions of “forced entry” of Hindus in Mosque as highlighted by the superintendent of police, which later came true.
In his book, Ayodhya: The Dark Night, Krishna Jha and Dhirendra K Jha write, "The idea that eventually changed the politics of India, though much later than its originators had anticipated, emerged for the first time among three friends—Maharaja Pateshwari Prasad Singh, head of the princely state of Balrampur, Mahant Digvijai Nath, and KKK Nayar".
Nayar who was posted at Faizabad for nine months and fourteen days, from 1 June 1949 till 14 March 1950 was accused of 'dereliction of his duty' as district magistrate and along with Guru Dutt Singh was forced to quit the service. But for the Hindus, he was a hero who helped them to “claim” the land of their God.
In 1967 Lok Sabha he was fielded by Bharatiya Jan Sangh as its candidate and he won from Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh.
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