New book examines Babri Masjid demolition and why Ayodhya still ‘remains a divided city’

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New book examines Babri Masjid demolition and why Ayodhya still ‘remains a divided city’


New Delhi: On 9 November 2019, a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the land where the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya once stood belonged to Ram Lala. The decision was expected to end the “conflict” between two communities in India that have been asserting their religious rights over 2.77 acres of disputed land for five centuries. But a new book “Ayodhya: Past and Present” shows how Ayodhya still “remains a divided city”.

The author, Sutapa Mukherjee, has been a frequent visitor to the city since 1998. After the Supreme Court’s decision, she returned to the land now ‘gifted’ to Lord Ram and reconnected with the locals. Her narrative starts with the Supreme Court’s historic 2019 judgment, traces the stages of the seventy-year legal battle over the disputed land, and even goes back several centuries to give a cultural and civilizational context to the Ayodhya ‘conflict’, before the climax is an account of the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

Published by HarperCollins, “Ayodhya: Past and Present” by Sutapa Mukherjee will be released on January 5, 2023 in paperback, ThePrint’s online non-fiction book submission destination.

The book gives voice – through countless personal interviews – to the people of the city of pilgrims, both the driving forces behind the Mandir-Masjid clash and the ordinary people caught in the crossfire. The book brings to life the reality of this once quaint town that is about to become a commercialized pilgrimage destination.

Swati Chopra, Associate Publisher, HarperCollins India says, “The story of Ram’s Ayodhya goes back in time; the story of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in Ayodhya is a more recent phenomenon. In this book, veteran journalist Sutappa Mukherjee provides a masterful account of the latter while dipping into the former to provide the necessary context.

“We are publishing in time for the 30th anniversary of the event that changed Ayodhya and in many ways India forever – the demolition of the Babri Masjid – which the book describes in great detail, as well as the history of the city and its people afterwards. A must-read for anyone interested in contemporary Indian politics and Ayodhya’s imprint on it.’

Sutapa Mukherjee worked as a full-time journalist with The pioneer and Outlookand as a stringer for the Associated Press, Agence France Presse and BBC Online.

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