The Babari Masjid Question: Letters from the Archives
by K.K. Nayar et al on 15 Jan 2011 11 Comments

1. The Origin

A radio message sent at 10.30 a.m. on 23 December 1949 by District Magistrate K.K. Nayar to Chief Minister Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, the chief secretary and the home secretary read thus: ‘A few Hindus entered Babari Masjid at night when the Masjid was deserted and installed a deity there. DM and SP and force at spot. Situation under control. Police picket of 15 persons was on duty at night but did not apparently act.’


This message was based on police constable Mata Prasad’s report to the Ayodhya police station earlier. Here is a translation of the FIR lodged by Sub-Inspector Ram Dube, Police Station Ayodhya, on 23 December 1949, as certified by the office of the city magistrate on 11 February 1986:


-        According to Mata (paper no 7), when I reached to (sic) Janam Bhumi around 8 o’clock in the morning, I came to know that a group of 50-60 persons had entered Babari Mosque after breaking the compound gate lock of the mosque or through jumping across the walls (of the compound) with a stair and established therein, an idol of Shri Bhagwan and painted Sita Ram, etc., on the outer and inner walls with geru (red loam). Hans Raj on duty asked them to defer but they did not. These persons have already entered the mosque before the available PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) guards could be commanded. Officials of the district administration came at the site and involved themselves in necessary arrangements. Afterwards, a crowd of 5-6 thousand persons gathered around and while chanting bhajans and raising religious slogans tried to enter the mosque but were deferred and nothing untoward happened thereon because of proper arrangements. Ram Das, Ram Shakti Das and 50-60 unidentified others entered the mosque surreptitiously and spoiled its sanctity. Government servant on duty and several others are witness to it. Therefore it is written and filed. [S. Gopal (ed.), Anatomy of a Confrontation, Viking, 1991; p. 70-1]


2. Nehru’s Telegram to G.B. Pant on Ayodhya on 26 December 1949

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. [J.N. Collection].


2a. Nehru’s Letter to C. Rajagopalachari, Governor-General of India

New Delhi

7 January 1950

-        My dear Rajaji,

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. He intended taking action, but he wanted to get some well-known Hindus to explain the situation to people in Ayodhya first. I told him on the telephone of your letter to me, which you sent this morning.

Vallabhhai is going to Lucknow day after tomorrow at Pantji’s request. This is in connection with the elections to Parliament.



[J.N. Collection Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Second Series, vol. 14, Part 1, p. 443-5, a project of Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, 1992, distributed by Oxford University Press].


2b. Nehru’s Letter to G.B. Pant

New Delhi

5 February 1950

-        My dear Pantji,

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 [emphasis added]. 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.


Yours sincerely,

Jawaharlal Nehru

[J.N. Collection]


2c. Nehru’s Letter to K.G. Mashruwala

New Delhi

5 March 1950

-        My dear Kishorilal Bhai,

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.* It is not true that Baba Raghavdas instigated this, but it is true that after it was done, he gave his approval to it. So also some other Congressmen in the U.P. Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant condemned the act on several occasions, but refrained from taking definite action probably for fear of a big-scale riot. I have been greatly distressed about it and have repeatedly drawn Pantji’s attention to it.


I am quite convinced that if we on our side behaved properly, it would be far easier to deal with Pakistan [emphasis added]. Today many Congressmen have become communal insofar as Pakistan is concerned and this reacts on their behaviour towards Muslims in India. I just do not know what we can do to create a better atmosphere in the country. Merely to preach goodwill irritates people when they are excited. Bapu might have done it, but we are too small for this kind of thing.


I am afraid, in the prevailing atmosphere, there is no chance or Bapu’s peaceful march of strikers being copied in Bengal.

Yours sincerely,

Jawaharlal Nehru

[ J.N. Collection].

* Nayar refused to carry out the instructions of the chief secretary and inspector general of police for removal of the idols. ‘I cannot in my discretion… enforce such a solution as I am fully aware of the widespread suffering which it will entail to many innocent lives.’ Nayar was replaced eventually.


2d. Vallabhbhai Patel’s Letter to G.B. Pant

New Delhi

9 January 1950


My dear Pantji,

The Prime Minister has already sent to you a telegram expressing his concern over the developments in Ayodhya. I spoke to you about it in Lucknow. I feel that the controversy has been raised at a most inopportune time both from the point of view of the country at large and of your own province in particular. The wider communal issues have only been recently resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the various communities. So far as Muslims are concerned, they are just settling down to their new loyalties. We can reasonably say that the first shock of partition and the resultant uncertainties are just beginning to be over and that it is unlikely that there would be any transfer of loyalties on a mass scale. In your own province, the communal problem has always been a difficult one. I think it has been one of the outstanding achievements of your administration that, despite many upsetting factors, communal relations have generally improved very considerably since 1946. We have our own difficulties in the UP organizationally and administratively as a result of group formations. It would be most unfortunate if we allowed any group advantage to be made on this issue. On all these grounds, therefore, I feel that the issue is one which should be resolved amicably in a spirit of mutual toleration and goodwill between the two communities. I realise there is a great deal of sentiment behind the move which has taken place. At the same time, such matters can only be resolved peacefully if we take the willing consent of the Muslim community with us [emphasis added]. There can be no question of resolving such disputes by force. In that case, the forces of law and order will have to maintain peace at all costs. If, therefore, peaceful and persuasive methods are to be followed, any unilateral action based on an attitude of aggression or coercion cannot be countenanced. I am therefore quite convinced that the matter should not be made such a live issue and that the present inopportune controversies should be resolved by peaceful (methods) and accomplished facts should not be allowed to stand in the way of an amicable settlement. I hope your efforts in this direction will meet with success.


Yours sincerely

Vallabhbhai Patel

The Hon’ble Pandit G.B. Pant

Premier of United Provinces


[Durga Das (ed.), Sardar Patel’s Correspondence, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1974, vol. 9, p. 310-11].


2e. G.B. Pant’s Letter to Vallabhbhai Patel


13 January 1950

-        My dear Sardar Sahib,

I have to thank you for your letter about the Ayodhya affair. It will be of great help to us. Efforts to set matters right in a peaceful manner are still continuing and there is a reasonable chance of success, but things are still in a fluid state and it will be hazardous to say more at this stage.

With best regards,

Yours sincerely,

G.B. Pant


[Durga Das (ed.), Sardar Patel’s Correspondence, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1974, vol. 9, p. 312].


[Excerpted from: The Muslims of India, A Documentary Record, ed. A.G. Noorani, Oxford University Press, 4th imp. 2006, p. 240-4] 

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