[After 6 December 1992 a key leader offered him two crore rupees and a petrol pump [in exchange for a compromise. Hashim Ansari did not only turn down the offer with utter disdain and made that leader run away in shame.]
On 1 February 1985 when a law court in Faizabad allowed the reopening of the Babri Mosque to let Hindus to worship there, the whole country plunged into public uproar. While there was a gloom on the faces of every Muslim to contrast with a general scene of celebration and rejoicing in the camps of the communalists. As Doordarshan showed the scenes of worship [inside the mosque], Muslims lost their patience.
All of this was done according to a well thought out plan and the whole of it had happened with the connivance of the politicians and the judiciary.
This scribe was the first Urdu journalist to, under a disguise, succeed in entering the Mosque after its unlocking as, according to a judicial order, the entry of Muslims had been forbidden within the radius of 500 meters around it.
I spent almost an hour inside the Mosque taking account of the situation and writing it down in detail what I had seen there.
This was the time when I had the privilege of seeing for the first time Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant in Babri Mosque case. He was a man of rustic simplicity. I had to look around for his residence. His was a very ordinary lifestyle. Not many people knew him at that time. However, as the hearing of Babri Mosque case started his name started appearing in the news as the key petitioner.
President of Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad Mahant Gyan Das and Mohammad Hashim Ansari during a meeting at Hanuman Garhi Temple in Ayodhya. File photo
President of Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad Mahant Gyan Das and Mohammad Hashim Ansari during a meeting at Hanuman Garhi Temple in Ayodhya.
During our long conversation he told me the story of injustices carried out against Babri Mosque. He had such a rare treasure of information about Babri Mosque that to hear all of it one night sitting with him was not enough.
He told the stories of trickery and deceptions of law enforcement agencies, sadhus and sants. He kept on speaking for a long time and I continued taking notes of it.
Hashim Ansari was a harmless man. He had profound love for Babri Mosque. The reason of it was that until the midnight of 22/23 December 1949 when idols were installed on the pulpit, he had regularly prayed there. Even on the night of 22 December 1949 he had for the last time offered Isha prayers there.
After his last Isha prayers there Hashim Ansari spent all his remaining life waiting to have the privilege to pray in Babri Mosque once again.
But the grand players of religion and politics continued to play their game and justice continued to be their casualty.
The mosque building is not there anymore. An illegal structure of the so called Ram Temple stands in its place. Efforts are underway to strengthen and make it a permanent structure. All the four pillars of democracy are providing protection to this illegal structure. No one is willing to give a thought to whether or not the 500 years old ancient building that stood there until 6 December 1992 had any constitutional and legal status as well nor does anyone want to acknowledge the equal rights guaranteed by the constitution to those with whom the building had been identified.
Hashim Ansari was born in Ayodhya and took his last breath there at the age of 95. Hashim Ansari lived a life of austerity. The case in which he was a petitioner changed the political horizon of Indian politics. If he had wished he could have bargained his conscience and lived a comfortable life. But during this time neither was there any transformation in his life nor his life changed.
After 6 December 1992 a key leader offered him two crore rupees and a petrol pump [in exchange for a compromise]. Hashim Ansari did not only turn down the offer with utter disdain and made that leader run away in shame.
I remember when Babri Mosque was unlocked and Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) was formed he used to attend its meetings in Delhi and Lucknow. He headed the Ayodhya branch of BMAC as well. He attended several demonstrations and sit-ins organised for the recovery of Babri Mosque. On 30th March 1987 when a massive demonstration was organised at Boat Club, Delhi, Hashim Ansari was the centre of attraction for everyone in there as well. He was given a place in line with Muslim leaders at the public meeting at Boat Club.
During every protest demonstration and sit-ins I talked with him and reported his views and feelings the newspaper readers. Each of his talks and discussions on Babri Mosque reflected a pain and agony he had felt for the Mosque cannot be portrayed in words. He longed to see a solution to the problem in his lifetime but woe to destiny that it was not there to happen.
Hashim Ansari belonged to an extremely poor family. He used to work as a tailor to earn his living. Even today two of his sons work as tempo (taxi) drivers in Ayodhya.
In 1949 after the installation of idols in Babri Mosque Hashim Ansari was also the first of those people who the administration got arrested to maintain law and order in the area. He was accused of trying to make a call for prayers inside the Babri Mosque. He was again detained in 1975 after the imposition of Emergency and thus spent eight months in Bareilly Central Jail.
It was Hashim Ansari who had filed a suit in 1949 in an additional court in Faizabad for Babri Mosque and kept fighting silently despite his personal financial poverty. This was the time when people knew very little about Babri Mosque.
In 1961 when Sunni Central Waqf Board filed a suit in this very court Hashim Ansari’s name was included among six others as the main petitioners.
Hashim Ansari also pleaded Babri Mosque case in Allahabad High Court as well. This case is under review in the Supreme Court as the parties have challenged the bizarre decision of the High Court in which Babri Mosque site was divided into three parts one of which was granted to NarmohiAkhara and the other two equal parts were handed over to Sunni Waqf Board and Ram Lala.
It is said that for some time Hashim Ansari had been trying to find an amicable solution of the dispute outside the court. However this effort was fruitless as the second party was pressurising him to relinquish his claim. Ageing and ill health had also taken its toll on his mental capabilities.
What is noteworthy here is that despite such a long nerve racking legal battle Hashim Ansari had no bitterness for his opponents. He used to go to the court with his opponent ParamhansRamchandra Das in the same rickshaw together. When Paramhans Ramchandra died there were tears in Hashmi Ansari’s eyes and at Hashim Ansari’s death tears were noticed in the eyes of the leader of Rama Temple Gayan Das. He laid a wreath of flowers on Hashim Ansari’s dead body and walked with the hearse along with his other Hindu neighbours, up to the graveyard.
MahantGayan Das says that Hashim Ansari was against taking the dispute to the public. He used to come to see me in Hanuman Garhi. He did not like the politics of Hindu and Muslim politicians both.
In 1992 when the Karsevaks torched Hashim Ansari’s house, it were his Hindu neighbours who put it down. Readers will be surprised to learn that once when Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader AshokSingha’s car ran out of diesel and due to a strike petrol pumps were shut and he was left helpless, it was Hashim Ansari who sent some diesel from his house.
In Hashim Ansari’s small room that was his bedroom and drawing room as well, there were only two Takhts (hard-bedsits). On one of the walls even today hangs a photograph of Babri Mosque and outside the house there is a signboard with a caption in English, ‘Babri Mosque Reconstruction Committee’.
[Translated by Urdu Media Monitor.Com from daily JadidKhabar, Delhi, 24 July 2016.]