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Family of last Imam of Babri Masjid remembers haunting memories

Family of last Imam of Babri Masjid remembers haunting memories

Ayodhya: Abdul Gaffar Khan was the last imam of the Mughal-era Babri Masjid which was demolished by Hindu Karsevaks in December 1992. That incident still haunts the family of Abdul Gaffar khan, who was renowned for his knowledge on the Holy book Quran.

The month of December 1992 was the month of festivity in Imam’s house. The Grand-daughter of Imam was to be married but the riots sparked by the right wing extremists had shattered the environment of the family.

70-year-old Taibunnisa Begum, the daughter-in-law of Abdul Gaffar Khan, who died in 1990 says that “We ran away from our homes as riots started in town. When I came back on December 29, I saw the house had been ransacked and set ablaze. We never recovered from that day.”

The Imam’s son, and Taibunnisa Begum’s husband Mohammad Sabir, was killed in looting and rioting.

Sabir’s son Mohammad Shahid says that the Karsevaks tore the pages of Quran and further added that “Our houses started getting attacked around noon. My father and I ran in different directions. I was saved, he was killed.” “I regret I couldn’t save him. I had faith they wouldn’t kill him. After all, he was respected, the imam’s son, and would supply wood to nearby temples as well. But December 6 changed all equations.”

Mohammed Shahid had three sons. Two of them settled in Mumbai and one in Saudi Arabia. His daughter is preparing for Medical entrance examination.

Mohammed Shahid’s mother Taibunnisa Begum says that they still live in the same house because they have no other place to live. The sawing machine (used to cut wood), a source of income in those days, has rusted. In one corner is an e-rickshaw that the family rents out for Rs 300 a day.

Haji Mehboob, one of the original litigants in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suit speaks about the imam’s knowledge and acumen among the town’s prominent Muslim families.

Haji Mehboob says that “My father, Haji Pheku Sahab, was the muezzin of the mosque and we would often play in the fields nearby. Often, we would catch a glimpse of the imam, who was known for his command of the Quran.”