It was the day when a court in Uttar Pradesh (UP) acquitted the leaders of the ruling right-wing Hindutva nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the highly publicised Babri Masjid demolition case. The ancient mosque was razed to the ground in 1992 by the supporters of the BJP in Ayodhya. The Hindutva Right continues to claim that the mosque was built by the Mughal invaders after destroying a temple of Lord Ram, a revered Hindu god.
Although it has been well documented that the 1992 incident was the result of a well-planned conspiracy and a culmination of an ongoing agitation for Ram temple by the BJP, the court in UP being governed by the party has ruled in favour of the accused saying this was done by “anti-social elements” and exonerating those involved in mobilizing Hindu majority against the mosque for years.
Those acquitted are former Deputy Prime Minister of India, L.K. Advani, besides few former union ministers. The verdict comes months after the Indian Supreme Court gave the title of the land to the Hindus even as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already laid the foundation stone for a grand Ram temple as per the promise made by BJP to the electorate.
The question of restoring the land to the Muslims does not arise anymore, especially under Modi, who enjoys a brute majority in the parliament.
While the September 30 decision was awaited, a Dalit woman, who was struggling for life in the hospital died after being brutally raped and tortured in UP. 20-year-old Manisha belonged to the so called untouchable community and was being harassed by the men from ‘upper caste’. She was assaulted two weeks ago. It has been revealed that the police too tried to shield the suspects and cremated the body of the deceased by keeping her parents away to hush up the evidence.
Notably, the Chief Minister of the state Yogi Adityanath is notoriously known for giving free hand to the police to kill Muslims in faked encounters after blaming them to be criminals and terrorists, but right under his nose, the police have tried to save those responsible for the rape and murder of a Dalit woman.
The two incidents are interlinked in historical sense.
The two developments have evoked ugly memories of December 6, 1992, the day when Babri Masjid was pulled down by the mobs. It was also the death anniversary of a towering Dalit icon and a scholar Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
Ambedkar had coauthored the Indian constitution that guarantees religious freedom and was a vocal critic of the Hindutva Right that believes in an orthodox caste system that discriminates against Dalits. Ambedkar himself grew up facing blatant discrimination from the ‘upper-caste’ Hindus and had warned that if ever India becomes a Hindu state it will have a devastating effect.
His prophecy was proven right when the Babri Mosque was attacked under a BJP government in UP. It is hard to say whether the BJP goons had purposely picked December 6 as a day of action to send a message to the followers of Ambedkar, but this ugly coincidence was a reminder of what Ambedkar had forewarned about Hindu theocracy.
Today, 28 years later that Hindutva privilege has repeated that by exonerating those involved in the demolition and trying to cover up a heinous crime against a Dalit woman. It is like the proverbial killing of two birds (read Muslims and Dalits) with one stone.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone how the Muslim haters and casteists have become emboldened under the rule of Modi and Adiyanath. Since they both subscribe to the racist text of Manusmriti – a Hindu text that justifies caste-based atrocities, this was always anticipated in a BJP regime.
The Muslims and Dalits have no choice but to revisit Ambedkar and find a way to fight back together instead of fighting separately on the question of religion and caste. These parallels should be an eye-opener for not just these two communities, but everyone considering how attacks on all the religious minorities, and the oppressed groups besides political dissidents have grown ever since Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014. From BJP perspective, they all are enemy aliens, who have been repeatedly othered for both short term electoral gains and to maintain Hindu supremacy.
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