By Alishan Jafri
Finally, a grand Ram temple is being built on the remains of what once stood there as a mosque for the past 400 years. I am not writing this to register any more complaints against the “fair”, unanimous and “balanced” 5 bench SC verdict.
The soon to be held foundation ceremony shall be attended by people on the highest posts of the secular Indian state. Amongst other guests, the alleged key conspirators of the demolition are also invited. Many leaders of the opposition are angry because they have not been invited. It is unfair to push aside these zealous enablers. Also, It’s the great judiciary of this country that made this glorious moment possible therefore judges should have been given a special invitation.
To many the Supreme court verdict came as a shock. However, I fail to understand what was so shocking about that verdict? It could not have been more obvious. In its final verdict, the court said that there was a mosque on that spot for more than 400 years. The court also acknowledged that Hindu idols in the temple were installed by force in 1949. And that Muslims offered prayer in the mosque until 1949. The apex court noted that there is no proof that this Babri Masjid was made after demolishing a Hindu temple. The act of demolition on 6 Dec, 1992 was unanimously accepted as a criminal act. I think that these facts were enough to reach the final conclusion that the learned judges did. We should never forget that Muslims were magnanimously offered twice the land somewhere else.
After the verdict, many Muslims wrote that the fight was about justice and equal citizenship. It was never about the piece of land. It was to put across a simple point that you cannot enter into my house or my mosque and desecrate it just because you have the violent strength of numbers. Muslims wanted the bully mob that desecrated Babri Masjid to know that there is a rule of law in this country that gives them the right to live with dignity, security and freedom.
One aspect that we often fail to acknowledge while talking about the aforesaid criminal act is the Supreme court’s so called hesitant allowal of the Kar seva around the mosque. It is an open secret that the ultimate objective of the Karseva led by BJP’s Lal Krishna Advani was to build a temple by razing the mosque from that spot. The campaign’s prime slogans, Mandir Wahin Banayenge(We will build the temple right on that spot) and Tel lagakar Dabur ka Naam mita do Babur ka (Remove the remains of Babur) were enough to remove the slightest doubts about the intent.
Many liberal commentators peevishly say that the Kar Sewaks violated the Supreme court guidelines but what were the guidelines? That you can openly threaten and humiliate a community but not attack them physically? The then CM of UP Kalyan Singh and his government lied to the court; but what had the court actually allowed in the first place? At the risk of repetition I ask, was the honourable court oblivious to the objective of that campaign?
How was the actual demolition any less vulgar than allowing a virtual simulation of the desecration and mass humiliation of India’s largest religious minority? What was really shocking was the Supreme Court’s shock at what had transpired in Ayodhya.
“Government has failed in its constitutional duty to protect the shrine”, the judges noted. The judges further said that the state government of UP had also assaulted the authority of the top court. Despite this strong comment and suo motu cognisance of the demolition as a grave criminal mischief and a blatant attack on the secular fabric of the nation, the Supreme court has failed to punish the guilty. Till day, It has also not acted on Mohammad Aslam’s contempt petition filed decades ago, although it held the UP government being guilty of belittling the authority of the court.
Those who call this dark episode as a dispute between two sides, must know that the response of the two sides was completely different. The two sides were unequal. The weaker side showed trust in the constitution, elected governments and pursued the battle legally in the country’s courts. While the other side led by the Hindu nationalist right wing ran a militant campaign with a sea of supporters on the streets to demolish a mosque and spirit of Indian constitution as the state looked away.
This event has already polarised India so much. The communal frenzy which erupted as its ramification took hundreds of lives. There should be no doubt that in case of a contrary judgement, more blood would have been shed. Leaders of the VHP had issued warnings that a conflicting verdict will invite huge resistance. There was also a popular consensus amongst the people that the pro-Hindutva Modi government should intervene and build the temple.
Liberal political pundits had claimed that this verdict in the favour of Hindus will water down the flames of communalism. Muslims should accept it and set an example. Much water has flown down the Saryu but did that verdict decrease communalism and anti Muslim prejudice even by an inch? Post the verdict, a more militant wave of Hindu communalism and anti Muslim violence was witnessed including the recent violence and hate campaign against anti-CAA protestors, the anti-Muslim riots in Delhi and brazen arrests of activists and students.
The malicious campaign against the Tablighi jamaat and Matkaz must be recalled in the light of the would be gathering at Ayodhya where a priest and 16 security personnels have tested positive for the virus. The small yet significant difference here is that when the Tablighi Markaz happened, then there was very little awareness and a few hundred cases. Right now there are over 16 lac reported cases of covid-19 and thousands have already died.
On a personal note, I strongly feel that this event should still be excused. This is a moment of extreme pride that comes once in only 400 years. The cases against Mr Advani and all the other accused should be shut now. The burden of pretense of equality and justice should not hinder this ultimate celebration. The tinderbox of communalism and radical majoritarianism of 1992 which burned the soul of India’s constitution in broad daylight, on this 5th August, shall become
its new guiding lamp.