With the special CBI court likely to frame charges against BJP leaders L K Advani, M M Joshi and Uma Bharti in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case, here's a look back at the event and beyond
The destruction of the 16th-century mosque in the town of Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh was a break-point in the Hindu-Muslim fabric of the nation. While some say that the site where the mosque stood is the birthplace of Lord Ram, the issue has been raging from eons. Here is a timeline of how communalism threw modern India into jeopardy.
Hindu youths clamour atop the 16th century Muslim Babri Mosque in this 06 December 1992 photo five hours before the structure was completely demolished by hundreds supporting Hindu fundamentalist activists. Pic/AFP
1527: A mosque is built on the site which some Hindus say marks the spot where Lord Ram was born. Some have claimed an old Hindu temple was demolished and a mosque constructed at the same place in Ayodhya and named after Babur and hence the name Babri Masjid.
1853: First recorded incidents of communal clashes at the site.
1859: British colonial administration erected a fence to separate the places of worship, allowing the inner court to be used by Muslims and the outer court by Hindus. This stood for 90 years.
1949: Idols of Lord Ram appear inside mosque, allegedly placed there by Hindus. Hindu wing is also said to have allegedly said that the idols had miraculously appeared. Muslims protest resulting in both the parties filing civil suits. The government then declared the premises a disputed area and locked the gates.
1984: The movement was spearheaded by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to build a temple at the site, which they claimed was the birthplace of Lord Ram. It gathered momentum when they formed a committee to construct a temple at the Ramjanmabhoomi site. Then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Lal Krishna Advani, took over leadership of campaign.
1986: A district judge ordered the gates of the mosque to be opened after almost five decades and allowed Hindus to worship inside the 'disputed structure.' The gates were opened in less than an hour after the court decision. Muslims set up Babri Mosque Action Committee in protest against the move to allow Hindu prayers at the site.
1989: VHP steps up the campaign and proclaims that a Shila or a stone will be established for construction of temple near the area. In November, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad laid foundations of a temple on land adjacent to the 'disputed structure'.
1990: VHP volunteers partially damage the mosque. The then Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar tries to resolve the dispute through negotiations, which fail.
1991: BJP comes to power in Uttar Pradesh state, where Ayodhya is located.the power at the Centre, is however Congress.
1992: The mosque is razed down by more than lakh supporters of the VHP, the Shiv Sena party and the BJP, prompting nationwide riots between Hindus and Muslims in which more than 2,000 people die.
1998: The BJP forms coalition government under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
2001: Tensions rise on the anniversary of the demolition of the mosque. VHP pledges again to build Hindu temple at the site.
January 2002: Mr Vajpayee sets up an Ayodhya cell in his office and appoints a senior official, Shatrughna Singh, to hold talks with Hindu and Muslim leaders.
February 2002: BJP rules out committing itself to the construction of a temple in its election manifesto for Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. VHP confirms deadline of 15 March to begin construction. Hundreds of volunteers converge on site. At least 58 people are killed in an attack on a train in Godhra which is carrying Hindu activists returning from Ayodhya.
March 2002: Between 1,000 and 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, die in riots in Gujarat following the train attack.
April 2002: Three High Court judges begin hearings on determining who owns the religious site.
January 2003: Archaeologists begin a court-ordered survey to find out whether a temple to Lord Ram existed on the site.
August 2003: The survey presented evidence of a temple under the mosque. Muslim groups disputed the findings. Mr Vajpayee says at the funeral of Hindu activist Ramchandra Das Paramhans that he will fulfil the dying man's wishes and build a temple at Ayodhya and hopes the courts and negotiations will solve the issue.
September 2003: A court rules that seven Hindu leaders should stand trial for inciting the destruction of the Babri Mosque, but no charges are brought against L.K Advani who was also at the site in 1992.
November 2004: A court in Uttar Pradesh rules that an earlier order which exonerated Advani for his role in the destruction of the mosque should be reviewed.
July 2005: Suspected Islamic militants attack the disputed site, using a jeep laden with explosives to blow a hole in the wall of the complex. Security forces kill five people they say are militants, and a sixth who was not immediately identified.
2007: The Supreme Court refused to admit a review petition on the Ayodhya dispute.
June 2009: The Liberhan commission investigating events leading up to the mosque's demolition submits its report - 17 years after it began its inquiry.
November 2009: There is uproar in parliament as the Liberhan commission's report is published and it blames leading politicians from the Hindu nationalist BJP for a role in the mosque's razing.
September 2010: Allahabad High Court rules that the site should be split, with the Muslim community getting control of a third, Hindus another third and the Nirmohi Akhara sect the remainder. Control of the main disputed section, where the mosque was torn down, is given to Hindus.
December 2010: The Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha and Sunni Waqf Board moved to the Supreme Court of India, challenging part of the Allahabad High Court’s verdict.
May 2011: Supreme Court suspends High Court ruling after Hindu and Muslim groups appeal against the 2010 verdict.
September 2013: SC advanced by about two months the date of hearing in the Babri Masjid demolition case against L.K. Advani and 19 others after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) pleaded for an early hearing which was not opposed by the senior BJP leader.
March 2015: SC issues notices to senior BJP leaders, including L.K.Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharati and Kalyan Singh, on a plea not to drop charges of criminal conspiracy against them in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
March 2017: The Supreme Court revived the conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders, including L.K. Advani, MM Joshi and Uma Bharti in the Babri Masjid demolition case.