Babri Masjid

Ayodhya, India

Demolished 1992

The Disappointed Tourist: Babri Masjid, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

Babri Masjid (Mosque of Babur) was a mosque in Ayodhya, India that was built in 1529 on the orders of the Mughal emperor Babur. The mosque was a focus for Muslim Hindu conflict starting in the 19th Century, with many Hindus claiming the site as the birthplace of The Hindu deity Rama. Attempts to discover whether or not the mosque had in fact been built on a previous temple to Rama, as Hindu nationalists claimed, were inconclusive. The mosque was destroyed by a Hindu nationalist mob in 1992, setting off violence throughout the country and subcontinent that led to several thousand deaths. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court upheld the claim that the mosque had been built over a Hindu temple and awarded most of the site for the construction of a new temple to Rama. Muslims were awarded an area to construct a new mosque. The decision was appealed and in 2019 the Supreme Court awarded the entire site for the construction of a Hindu Temple. Muslim plaintiffs were allotted a site in Dhannipur about 20 miles away and construction of the new mosque started in January of 2021. The huge new temple to Rama was inaugurated with much fanfare by Prime Minister Modi, whose Hindu nationalist party has used the issue to become the dominant political force in India. I don’t know the source of the photograph on which this painting is based.

This was a great injustice and marks the beginning of the end of India as a multi-cultural democratic state. We are being turned into a theocracy. Anon.