When Pandit Nehru said I am busy but ready to visit Ayodhya

Aydohya dispute became a flash-point after two idols were placed inside the Babri Masjid in 1949. Nehru was the prime minister at the time.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was a self-confessed atheist. But there came a time soon after Independence when Nehru said that he was ready to go to Ayodhya. However, he could never undertake that journey. Nehru was the prime minister when the Ayodhya dispute of Ram Janmabhoomi firmed its roots.

On the intervening night of December 22-23 in 1949, two idols were placed inside the central dome of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The idols were of Lord Ram and his wife Sita.

Some priests and devotees claimed that the idols “appeared” miraculously on their own inside the mosque, which according to them was built on the site of a temple in 1539 by a military commander of Mughal king Babar. Others claimed that a gang had broken into the mosque and placed the idols.

A police constable named Mata Prasad recorded the statements at the Babri Masjid compound on December 23. His First Information Report (FIR) said that a group of “50-60 unidentified others entered the mosque surreptitiously and spoiled its sanctity.”

The occasion was celebrated by priests, devotees and several local groups. But it also led to communal tension in Ayodhya in particular and United Province (as Uttar Pradesh was known then) in general. Chief Minister of United Province at the time was Govind Ballabh Pant, a veteran Congress leader.

Nehru’s Letters on Ayodhya

Three days later (on December 26) Pandit Nehru shot off a telegram to GB Pant on Ayodhya dispute saying, “I am disturbed at developments at Ayodhya. Earnestly hope you will personally interest yourself in this matter. Dangerous example being set there which will have bad consequences.”

Some reports suggest that Nehru also wrote a note directing the state government to shift the idols of Ram Lalla and Sita out of the Babri Masjid premises.

Nehru reiterated his concern in his letter to C Rajagopalachari, then Governor-General of India. “I wrote to Pantji last night about Ayodhya and sent this letter with a person who was going to Lucknow. Pantji telephoned to me later. He said he was very worried and he was personally looking into this matter,” read Nehru’s letter, dated January 7, 1950

Nehru blamed DM for Ayodhya dispute

Another letter (dated March 5, 1950) of Pandit Nehru suggests that an instruction was passed on to the Faizabad district administration which apparently refused to comply with the directive. This letter was a reply to the one he received from celebrated Gandhian KG Mashruwala.

Nehru wrote, “You refer to the Ayodhya mosque. This event occurred two or three months ago and I have been very gravely perturbed over it. The U.P. Government put up a brave show, but actually did little. Their District Officer in Fyzabad [K.K. Nayar, ICS] rather misbehaved and took no steps to prevent this happening.”

Nayar was the district magistrate of Faizabad then. Ayodhya falls in the Faizabad district. Incidentally, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has recently announced to rename Faizabad district as Aydohya.

On the other hand, Nayar had defended his decision of apparently not acting on a directive of then prime minister routed through the state government. He wrote a letter to then UP chief secretary saying, “I would, if the government decided to remove the idols at any cost, request that I be relieved and replaced by an officer who may be able to see in the solution a merit which I cannot discern.”

Nayar also claimed that removal of idols from the disputed site would cause widespread suffering, which might result in loss of many lives.

Nehru’s Ayodhya Promise

Against this background Nehru suggested in yet another letter to GB Pant that he was ready to visit Ayodhya. On February 5, 1950, Nehru wrote to Pant saying that the Ayodhya dispute might have a bearing on the rest of India including Kashmir issue.

“I shall be glad if you will keep me informed of the Ayodhya situation. As you know, I attached great importance to it and to its repercussions on all-India affairs and more especially Kashmir.

“I suggested to you when you were here last that, if necessary, I would go to Ayodhya. If you think this should be done. I shall try to find the date, although I am terribly busy,” Nehru wrote.

This visit did never take place as soon the gates of the Babari Masjid were locked to pacify the communal tension in Ayodhya. Entry of public was prohibited. A priest was allowed to worship the idols of Ram Lalla and Sita once a year.

The gates were thrown open in 1986 after the then government of Rajiv Gandhi – the grandson of Pandit Nehru – decided to do so.

Source: India Today

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