Indian lawyer who led Babri Mosque case dies at 73

Indian lawyer who led Babri Mosque case dies at 73

Lawyer Zafaryab Jilani's role in Babri Mosque litigation was immense, says his colleague

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) - A Muslim lawyer, Zafaryab Jilani, who represented the Muslim side in the 1992 Babri Mosque case at Indian courts, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 73.

"He (Zafaryab Jilani) was not keeping well for some time now. He passed away today," Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, a cleric in the Lucknow city of northern Uttar Pradesh state, said.

On Dec. 6, 1992, the Babri Mosque in the northern Indian city of Ayodhya was torn down by Hindu hardliners who claimed the site was the birthplace of their Lord Ram.

In 2019, after years of litigation, India’s top court ruled that the historical site of the early 16th century Babri Mosque will be handed over to Hindus for the construction of the Ram temple.

Jilani was also the convener of the Babri Masjid Action Committee -- an advocacy group of Muslims that fought the legal battle for several years for the ownership of Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodhya.

He was known as someone who emerged as the “eyes and ears” of the Babri Mosque case.

M.R. Shamshad, the lawyer-on-record from the Supreme Court of India who worked with Jilani in the Babri litigation, told Anadolu that Jilani "devoted his entire life to ensure that community litigations are contested with diligence."

"His contribution to the Babri Mosque litigation was tremendous. The history of Babri Mosque will not be complete without mentioning his role in it," he said.

Jilani, also the secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board -- a representative body for Indian Muslims -- had suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2021.

Born in 1950 in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state, Jilani studied law and was associated with several non-governmental organizations as well. In the Babri case, he represented the Sunni Central Waqf Board and other Muslim litigants.

The Indian Supreme Court in 2019 ruled that a "suitable plot" of land measuring 5 acres would be allotted to the Sunni Waqf Board either by the central government or provincial government to construct a mosque.

Jilani, after the 2019 Supreme Court ruling had told Anadolu that the Muslim side in the legal battle of the Babri Mosque case possessed all the evidence under the law that the site belongs to the masjid.

He also said: "Never were Muslims stopped from offering prayers inside the Babri Masjid as there was no such claim of any idol being at the site where the Masjid was built."

Built in 1528 under the rule of the first Mughal emperor Babur, the grand mosque, along with a land of 2.77 acres in India's central province of Uttar Pradesh, was demolished by a group of radical Hindus in 1992. Hindus claimed one of their gods, Lord Ram, was born at the site of the mosque.

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