The Sunni Waqf Board, one of the parties in the Ayodhya land dispute case, on Wednesday clarified that it had not accepted that Hindu deity Ram was born at a spot known as Ram Chabutra at the contested site, The Indian Express reported. Various media organisations had reported on Tuesday that the board had conceded that the platform in the outer courtyard of the site was the deity’s birthplace.

The board, however, pointed out that it had not challenged an 1885 ruling by a court in Faizabad that said Hindus had worshipped it as Ram’s birthplace. “We do not believe that Ram Chabutra is the birthplace,” Bar and Bench quoted senior lawyer Zafaryeb Jilani as saying in the top court. “It is their [Hindus’] belief and we have not taken any steps in that regard after an observation to that effect by a district judge.”

The lawyer said Ramkot Fort in Ayodhya has a place called “janmasthan” that is described as Ram’s birthplace, Bar and Bench reported. “This belief that place of birth was below the middle dome was not there till 1989, none of the suits filed from 1950 to 1989 make such a claim,” Jilani added. When asked if there was evidence that Hindus wanted to worship inside the boundary wall after the mosque was built and before 1855, and if Muslims opposed it, Jilani said: “No, Hindus started asserting their right in the outside portion around 1865.”

On Tuesday, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had questioned Jilani about the Waqf Board’s position on the deity’s birthplace. Jilani told the top court that Ain-i-Akbari, a detailed account of the life and times of Mughal emperor Akbar which was written by his court historian Abul Fazal, did not mention the belief of Hindus that Ram was born near the central dome of the mosque built by Babur. It was demolished by Hindutva activists in 1992. Jilani told the bench that two Hindu texts the Ramcharitmanas and the Valmiki Ramayana also did not mention the precise birthplace of Ram.

“Only because Valmiki Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas do not mention the precise site in Ayodhya where Ram was born, can’t Hindus believe that Ram was born at a particular place in Ayodhya?” the court asked the advocate on Tuesday.

Ain-i-Akbari has all the minutest details about India and from this it can be said that there was no such belief that Lord Ram took birth at the site,” Jilani told the court. Then the court asked: “Then how come it does not mention Babri Masjid?”

Jilani said only important facts were mentioned in Ain-i-Akbari. The court shot back saying: “A mosque built on the instructions of an emperor is not important?” When Justice SA Bobde asked the lawyer if the board disputes the Chabutra as the deity’s birthplace, Jilani replied: “Earlier we had. But the district judge said it was worshipped believing it to be the birthplace. When the mosque was constructed there was nothing. There was no visible sign of anything and after excavation so many things have come out.”

The Supreme Court on Monday had said the faith of Hindus in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case would be difficult to question.

The Ayodhya dispute has been going on for several decades, with both Hindu and Muslim groups claiming their right to the land. The Babri Masjid stood there before it was demolished in 1992 by Hindutva activists.

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