The Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute: A timeline

Almost seven decades after the first court case was filed over the Ayodhya Ram Mandir-Babri masjid dispute in post-independence India, in 2019, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark verdict paving the way for the construction of Ram Mandir.
With the Ram Mandir consecration ceremony in Ayodhya now complete, we take a look at the significant events leading up to the moment of the Ram Lalla taking his seat in the sanctum sanctorum


1528: A mosque is built on the site by Mughal emperor Babar which Hindus allege to be the birth place of Lord Ram and where according to them, a temple earlier existed.

1530-1605: Multiple conflicts and incidents of sectarian violence in relation to the Mandir-Masjid debate are alleged to have taken place.

In the reign of Emperor Akbar, a platform is constructed in front of the mosque and a royal order passed stating that Hindus shouldn’t be stopped from performing puja at the platform.

1853:First recorded incidents of communal violence take place at the site.

1859:British officials erect a fence to separate the places of worships, allowing the inner court to be used by Muslims and the outer court by Hindus.

1885:Lawsuit filed by Mahant Raghubir Das files seeking permission to build a canopy on the premises. The plea is rejected a year after by the Faizabad district court.

1949:Idol of Lord Ram ‘surfaces’ inside mosque. Muslims claim that it was kept there by the Hindus and protest the ‘installation.’ Both parties file civil suits. The government proclaims the premises a disputed area and locks the gates.

18 January, 1950:First title suit is filed by Gopal Singh Visharad asking for the right to worship the idols installed, The court restrains the removal of idols and allows the worship.Visharad seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting removal of the idols from the Janmasthan.

24 April, 1950:The State of Uttar Pradesh appeals against the injunction order.

1950:Ramchandra Paramhans files another suit, but withdraws later.

1959:Nirmohi Akhara files the third suit, seeking possession of the site, doing away with the court-appointed receiver. It claimed itself to be the custodian of the spot.

18 December, 1961:UP Sunni Central Board of Waqf moves to claim possession of the mosque and adjoining land.

1983:The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) starts a nationwide movement for construction of a temple at the disputed site.

1 February, 1986:A district judge directs Masjid gates to be unlocked to allow ‘darshan,’ on the plea of Hari Shanker Dubey. The Babri Masjid Action Committee is set up during this period.

1989:A fresh suit filed by former VHP vice-president Deoki Nandan Agarwala for declaration of the title and possession in its favour at the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court.

23 October, 1989:All the four suits pending before a Faizabad court transferred to a special High Court bench.

November 1989:VHP carries out ‘Shilanyas’ ceremony in Ayodhya and the first stone of the planned Ram temple is put in place

December 1989:VP Singh becomes Prime Minister of the country and Janata Dal-led National Front government comes to power

1990: VHP volunteers partially damage the mosque. Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar tries to resolve the dispute through negotiations, which fail the next year.

September 1990:BJP leader LK Advani starts yatra from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya. Advani gets arrested in Bihar during the yatra.

November 1990:Karsevaks under VHP leaders clash with Uttar Pradesh police in Ayodhya. Many are killed, as police enforces crowd control.

10 November 1990:Chandra Shekhar becomes Prime Minister with Congress support.

1991:BJP becomes the second-largest party and the biggest opposition party in Lok Sabha after general elections with 120 seats.

June, 1991:BJP comes to power in Uttar Pradesh, Kalyan Singh becomes Chief Minister

6 December 1992:In a significant histporical event, the Babri mosque is razed to the ground by supporters of the VHP, Shiv Sena and BJP, sparking nationwide communal riots between Hindus and Muslims, claiming 2,000 lives.

May, 1996:BJP becomes single largest party in Lok Sabha elections, Atal Bihari Vajpayee government lasts 13 days.

March 1998:BJP returns to power with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as PM for second time, this time the government lasts 13 months.

October 1999:BJP again comes to power at the Centre with a coalition of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and completes its first full term.

2001:Tensions rise on the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque. VHP brings up Ram temple construction at the site.

January 2002:Vajpayee sets up an Ayodhya cell in his office to mediate talks, appoints dedicated officer.

February 2002:BJP rules out committing itself to the construction of a temple in its election manifesto for the UP assembly elections.

VHP confirms deadline of 15 March to begin construction. Hundreds of volunteers converge on the site. Meanwhile, in a supposedly related incident, at least 58 people are killed in an attack on a train in Godhra carrying Hindu activists returning from Ayodhya, sparking communal riots in Gujarat.

March 2002:Following the train attack, some 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, die in riots in Gujarat

April 2002:Three Allahabad High Court judges began hearings on determining possession of the religious site.

January 2003: Archaeologists from ASI begin survey ordered by Allahabad HC, to find out whether a temple did exist on the site.

August 2003:The ASI survey said that there is evidence of a temple beneath the mosque, but Muslims dispute the findings.

Vajpayee, at the funeral of Hindu activist Ramchandra Das Paramhans, vows to fulfil the dying man’s wishes and build a temple at Ayodhya, hoping the courts and negotiations will solve the issue.

September 2003:A court rules that seven leaders should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque, no charges brought against Advani, then deputy prime minister

31 August, 2003:All India Muslim Personal Law Board announces it will challenge the ASI report.

November 2004:UP rules that an earlier order which exonerated Advani for his role in the destruction of the mosque should be reviewed.

July 2005:Suspected Islamic militants attack the disputed site, using a jeep laden with explosives to blow a hole in the wall of the complex. Security forces kill five people they claim as militants,  sixth is not immediately identified.

June 2009:The Liberhan commission investigating events leading up to the mosque’s demolition submits its findings, contents are not made public.

July 2010:Court reserves its judgement and asks all parties to solve the issue amicably

8 September 2010:The High Court announces the verdict would be delivered on 24 September.

14 September, 2010:A writ is filed to defer the judgement but, HC rejects it.

28 September, 2010:Supreme Court rejects petition for deferment and gives the go-ahead to the Allahabad high court to deliver the judgement on the Ayodhya title issue. The high court picks 30 September as verdict day.

30 September, 2010:Allahabad High Court announces verdict. A three-judge bench of the Allahabad high court partitions 2.77 acres 2:1 between Hindu and Muslim groups.

9 May, 2011:SC stays the verdict of the Allahabad High Court order splitting the disputed site in three parts and says that status quo will remain.

June 2015:VHP launches a campaign in Rajasthan to gather Shilas. After more than ten years, two truckloads of etched stones arrive in Ayodhya.UP government declares the Shilas would not be allowed admission into Ayodhya.

21 March, 2017:SC recommends matter be settled out of court.

8 February 2018:SC orders parties to prepare their paperwork and declare that no more parties would be permitted to enter the case, case to be treated as land dispute.

14 March 2018:SC cancels 32 intervention petitions, leaving only those parties who were part of litigation at the HC.

8 March, 2019:SC constitutes a title dispute mediation panel with FM Kalifulla as the chairman and comprising spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, to mediate.

2 August, 2019:SC announces that on basis of the report submitted by the Chairman of the committee, the mediation failed. The court orders day-to-day hearing of the case from 6 August.

6 August, 2019:A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and comprising Justices Sharad Arvind Bopde, Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer begin day-to-day hearing of the case.

9 November, 2019:The almost 70-year long dispute comes to an end. In a historic judgment, the five-judge bench orders setting up of a trust to pave the way for construction of a temple at Ayodhya. It also orders allotting 5 acres to Muslims in Ayodhya for building a mosque.

5 August 2020:Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays the foundation stone for a Ram temple in Ayodhya, marking a historic accomplishment for his party. A grand temple to be constructed for ‘Ram Lalla’, the infant Ram, who had been living in a tent for years.

22 January, 2024:The new Ram Lalla idol is consecrated at Ayodhya an event watched by millions across the world. PM Modi takes part in the ‘pran pratishtha’ rituals in the presence of Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.