Babri Masjid Demolition: The Events That Led To The Fall Of The Domes

Babri Masjid was not just a mosque- it had history engraved on it. And on December 6, 1992, its demolition by Hindu Kar Sevaks raised a question over India's future as a secular nation.

BJP President LK Advani, sits in prayer for construction of Ram Janam Mandir Temple in Ayodhya in 1990

The demolition of the 16th-century Babri Masjid, which was razed 30 years ago on this day, (December 6) in Ayodhya, has been an emotive issue in India’s political discourse that has been mired in a slew of legal suits involving Hindu and Muslim religious groups. 

The demolition of Babri Masjid was an outcome of a chain of episodes that catapulted the fervour of building the Ram Temple where the mosque stood, by pulling it down.

Tracing the history of the dispute

The mosque was built in 1528 by Mughal emperor Babur’s commander Mir Baqi and in 1859, the British administrator erected a fence to separate the places of worship, with the inner court to be used by Muslims and the outer court by Hindus.

Troubles began far before 1992. The first-ever suit in respect to the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute was filed during British rule in 1885.

It was filed by Mahanth Raghubar Das against the Secretary of State for India in the Council seeking permission to construct a temple for lord Ram at Ayodhya. Janam Ashthan in Ayodhya is one of the oldest pieces of land under litigation.

The trial court of Faizabad though endorsed the plaintiff's claim for building the temple at the site believed to be the birthplace of Sri Ram, the plea was dismissed on the ground that the event occurred 356 years ago and ‘it is too late’ for remedy.

“It is most unfortunate that a masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago it is too late now to remedy the grievance. All that can be done is to maintain the parties in status quo,” District Judge Faizabad said while dismissing the appeal.

Consequently, over the years, through several episodes, communal tension started increasing between the two factions.

In 1944, the Commissioner of waqfs declared the land to be Sunnis’ property as Babar was a Sunni. In 1949, a Ram idol appeared inside the mosque, and Muslims complained and filed a suit. Hindus filed a counter-suit, leading the government to declare it disputed and lock its gate.

The time period between 1950-59 saw several Hindu priests filing several suits demanding the right to perform puja and place idols inside the structure. Nirmohi Akhara filed a suit demanding actual control of the site in 1959.

Advani's Rath Yatra

With the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) increasingly pushing to “liberate” the birthplace of Lord Ram and build a temple in his honour, a campaign was set up in 1989 laying the foundations of a Ram temple on land adjacent to the disputed mosque.

In the 1990s, the VHP was desperate to begin the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya and had fixed October 30 as the date of action. But, LK Advani, BJP’s longest-serving president’s ratha yatra of 10,000 kilometres passing through 10 States from Somnath to Ayodhya, between September 25 and October 30, changed the discourse of Ayodhya politics forever.

This had also been BJP's central election plank during the 1989 elections.

Advani travelled in an air-conditioned Toyota chariot holding a bow and surrounded by trishuls and saffron bands. The setup looked right out of the TV serial Mahabharata.

Advani, assisted by Narendra Modi, travelled through 600 villages in Gujarat. A report by Frontline says that the kind of response that Advani got, with people touching his feet and throwing coins at his chariot, surprised even A.B. Vajpayee, who was not fully in agreement with the yatra. But he conceded that it had touched a chord with people. The Yatra was the biggest mass mobilisation of Hindutva forces and would catapult the BJP to political power within a few years.

Needless to say, communal riots broke out following Advani’s rath yatra.

Meanwhile, on October 23, Advani was arrested under the National Security Act and was flown out of Bihar. And the yatra, along with 75,000 Kar sevaks, had reached Ayodhya.

The Janata Dal government in Uttar Pradesh, headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav, relocated 20,000 policemen to protect the Babri Masjid.

On the designated day, 40,000 kar sevaks reached the bridge leading to Ayodhya, where they had promised to hold their rally beside the masjid ground. But, as expected, several Kar sevaks climbed the masjid to tear it down.

However, under Mulayam Singh’s order, police fired at them and a scuffle broke out killing several kar sevaks.

Revisiting the day

But the same was not the case on December 6, 1992.

It was on a Sunday when cloud settled in a place where once, there were three domes.

The scenes would return "like deranged ghosts", according to an India Today report, "to haunt those of us who were at the graveside to witness the burial of a secular dream".

It was around 11 am when a huge crowd of kar sevaks surrounded the mosque and shouted “Mandir yehi banega (We will build a temple here).”


Shortly after noon, the Babri Masjid's three domes had been "submerged" by kar sevaks. Journalists were attacked. One by one, the domes crumbled.

It is said that over 1.5 lakh kar sevaks were involved in demolishing the mosque and over 2,000 people died in riots that followed across the country.

On the day, the RSS and its affiliates organised a rally involving 150,000 VHP and BJP supporters at the site of the disputed structure, where there were speeches made by BJP leaders such as Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti. During the rally's first few hours, the crowd started raising slogans.


In preparation for the attack around noon, a young man managed to slip past the cordon and climb the structure itself, brandishing a saffron flag. This acted as a signal by the mob, who then stormed the structure.

The police cordon, vastly outnumbered and unprepared for the size of the attack, fled. The mob set upon the building with axes, hammers, and grappling hooks, and within a few hours, the entire 16-century structure, made from mud and chalk, was levelled.