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#India's Supreme Court clears the way for construction of #Hindu temple on site of destroyed #BabriMasjid in #Ayodhya.

I've been following this issue for 30+ years. Here's a thread analyzing the #AyodhyaJudgment:
2/n #AyodhyaJudgment
-I first visited #Ayodhya (& #BabriMasjid) in 1990: before the masjid was destroyed, before I entered the field of #anthropology. I went there while researching my first book, "Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God": A re-tracing of the #Hindu epic #Ramayana...
3/n #AyodhyaJudgment
...In my book, I take what I hope is an even-handed approach. For what it's worth, I've received approving messages from #Hindutva activists & #secularists alike. You can judge for yourself:
4/n #AyodhyaJudgment
-My next book, "Mullahs on the Mainframe," was an ethnography of a #Muslim community based in #India. Many of my friends suffered violence in riots sparked by the #Ayodhya controversy, especially 1992-1993 and 2002.
5/n #AyodhyaJudgment
...Like my book on the #Ramayana, my ethnography of a #Muslim community in #India tried to be even-handed. You can judge for yourself:
6/n #AyodhyaJudgment
-Purpose of referencing my books is to make clear that I come to the issue with genuine sympathy for both sides, and no axe to grind-- as well as a three-decade record of looking at the topic.

With that in mind, here is my analysis:
7/n #AyodhyaJudgment
-Was a #Hindu mandir destroyed to construct #BabriMasjid? There is a lot more data available now then when I wrote my book on the #Ramayana, but (disappointingly for both sides) the evidence remains unclear. Most of the discussion talks *past* the data.
8/n #AyodhyaJudgment
There is a lot of evidence that the site of described as #RamJanamBhoomi had multiple constructions prior to #BabriMasjid. These probably spanned many centuries, and may well have included #Hindu, #Muslim, #Buddhist and/or #Jain structures...
9/n #AyodhyaJudgment
...But that is not necessarily evidence that a #Hindu mandir was in use in 1528 (when #BabriMasjid construction began).

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report of 2003 describes a pillared structure which may well have been a temple. But...
10/n #AyodhyaJudgment
...But if the pillared structure was a temple, there is no evidence whether it was #Hindu, #Buddhist or #Jain (all communities were in #Ayodhya). More importantly, there is no evidence of its date: Could have been in disuse, even buried, for centuries.
11/n #AyodhyaJudgment
Here is the take of a (Muslim) former ASI archeologist who supports the creation of a #RamMandir on the site, based partly on his archaeological findings:
12/n #AyodhyaJudgment
And here is the take of the celebrated (Hindu) historian #RomilaThapar, taking the opposite view. She has written extensively and authoritatively on the topic, as well as on the communal violence resulting from the #Ayodhya conflict:
13/n #AyodhyaJudgment
-Bottom line on archaeology: It is highly likely that the site of #RamJanamBhumi was occupied by holy structures of one or more faiths prior to the construction of #BabriMasjid-- but there is no evidence for or against any mandir being in use in 1528.
14/n #AyodhyaJudgment
-Bottom line on non-archaeological evidence: There is no documentary evidence of a mandir's destruction. There is a documentary case to be made, both pro and con.

Pro: #Babur destroyed mandirs in many other places.
Con: The non-description in #TulsiDas:
15/n #AyodhyaJudgment
...Probably the most widely-read version of the Sanskrit epic #Ramayana is the #Hindi Ramcharitmanas of Goswami #TulsiDas. Tulsi Das was born in or about 1532 (ie, just 4 years after construction of #BabriMasjid began), and was educated in #Ayodhya...
16/n #AyodhyaJudgment
Tulsi Das wrote the #Ramcharitmanas in #Ayodhya, in 1575-1577.

The most popular version of #Ram's epic was written within living memory of the construction of #BabriMasjid. But there is no mention in any of Tulsi Das' works of a mandir's destruction.
17/n #AyodhyaJudgment
Absence of proof is not proof of absence.

That is true for archeology: Inconclusive data doesn't mean a mandir was (or wasn't) torn down.

That is true for history: Non-mention by Tulsi Das doesn't mean it didn't (or did) happen.

Here's what we can say:
18/18 #AyodhyaJudgment
Bottom line: Neither side can prove its case with scientific evidence-- there is data on both sides, but nothing conclusive.

It ultimately comes down to what each side believes-- or WANTS to believe.

Just like it has for centuries.
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