The Allahabad high court ordered the Archaeological Survey of India to excavate the site in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid stood and determine if there was any trace of a temple.
One of the Ram temple movement's leading voices, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, opposed the move while the opposing side, led by the Babri Masjid Action Committee, welcomed it.
Before work began, a deep penetration survey was carried out to find out if there were any structures below the ground surrounding the disputed site. The survey revealed there were.
The excavation began on March 12 and was to be completed in a month. However, the ASI sought extensions to complete the work and submitted its final report on August 22. In between, it told the court on June 9 that there is no evidence of any structure at the disputed site in Ayodhya with 'remote similarity' to a temple.
In its final report, the ASI said just the opposite: that it had found distinctive features of a 10th century temple beneath the Babri Masjid site.
The report resulted in jubilation among temple supporters, including the VHP, while inviting criticism from Muslim organisations. The latter pointed out that the ASI operates under the human resources development ministry, which is headed by Murli Manohar Joshi, who wants a Ram temple to be built in Ayodhya and was present when the Babri Masjid was demolished.
Text: Dhiraj Shetty
Complete Coverage: The Ayodhya tangle