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Babri-Ayodhya verdict: Will appeal for peace apply to Hindutva hardliners in future?

Sandeep Pandey, Lubna Sarwath, Yugal Kishore Shashtri 15 Nov 2019
Ayodhya
 
With the exception of few, every leader of political or social importance is making an appeal to the common people to maintain peace and communal harmony in the wake of tje Supreme Court judgement in the Ram Janambhumi-Babri Masjid case as part of which the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land has been given for construction of Ram temple and Government has been directed to provide 5 acres of land elsewhere for construction of mosque. 

The Prime Minister has said, "After the verdict, the way every section of society, of every religion, has welcomed it is a proof of India’s ancient culture and tradition of social harmony." He also said, "The calm and peace maintained by 130 crore Indians in the run-up to today’s verdict manifests India’s inherent commitment to peaceful coexistence."

The RSS chief has made an appeal, "I urge the people of India to maintain law and order." Lal Krishna Advani’s reaction is, "I stand vindicated, and feel deeply blessed..." It will be interesting to see how the Court will now judge him as an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

The SC observes, "As regards the inner courtyard, there is evidence on preponderance of probabilities to establish worship by the Hindus prior to the annexation of Oudh by the British in 1857. The Muslims have offered no evidence to indicate that they were in exclusive possession of the inner structure prior to 1857 since the date of construction in the sixteenth century."
 
This has been the basis of handing over the disputed site to Hindus. It further observes, "The exclusion of the Muslim from worship and possession took place on the intervening night between 22/23 December 1949 when the mosque was desecrated by the installation of Hindu idols." And then it goes on to say, "The Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years."

While acknowledging Muslims offering namaz from 1857 to 1949 in the inner structure but saying there is no evidence of this before 1857, although accepting that the mosque existed for at least 450 years, the judgement says, "Dividing the land will not subserve the interest of either of the parties or secure a lasting sense of peace and tranquility,’ and offers the land to Hindus.
 
It balances by saying, "Justice would not prevail if the Court were to overlook the entitlement of the Muslims who have been deprived of the structure of the mosque through means which should not have been employed in a secular nation committed to the rule of law. The Constitution postulates the equality of all (emphasis in the judgement) faiths. Tolerance and mutual co-existence nourish the secular commitment of our nation and its people."
 
The purpose of the judgement and the national appeals, before and after the delivery of judgement – issued by authorities as well as social-political leaderships – are understandable. At best the judgement is a compromise to appease the majority while assuaging the feelings of minority, whether justice has been done is questionable. Similar to the clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), a tight security control ensured that ‘peace’ would prevail.
 
Two of us (Sandeep Pandey and Yugal Kishore Shashtri) were not allowed to hold a two day communal harmony workshop on August 17-18, 2019, at Ram Janaki temple at Saryu Kunj in Ayodhya in which Prof Ram Puniyani was to speak. We were issued notices soon after that by the resident magistrate of Ayodhya prohibiting us from opening a bank account of our Sarva Dharm Sadbhav Trust.

The Sarva Dharm Sadbhav Trust has plans to build a multi-faith harmony centre in Ayodhya to convey the message that Ayodhya, sacred to at least five religions -- Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism -- is a place which is symbol of communal harmony. We were detained again on August 19 when we wanted to hold a press conference at the temple. 
The government obviously didn’t want any other point of view than in favour of Ram temple to be expressed by anybody for the last four months. This is how ‘peace’ and ‘social harmony’ has been enforced upon the country.

If such a tight control had been observed in 1992, when BJP's government was in power in Uttar Pradesh, probably the mosque would not have been demolished. Then chief minister Kalyan Singh went back on his word given to the Supreme Court, that he would be faithful to the Constitution, to claim that he was a RSS worker first and chief minister later, after the mosque was demolished. 
 
In 2002, in spite of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee admonishing Narendra Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat, to follow ‘Rajdharm,’ and Defence Minister George Fernandes wanting to deploy Army, rioting went on in Gujarat for three days. And we should remember that this violence was triggered by burning of a train in Godhra carrying kar-sewaks who had gone to perform shila-pujan at Ayodhya, 17 years in advance of a judgement in favour of Ram temple. 

Earlier this year Amit Shah, Home Minister, and Mohan Bhagwat, both rejected the Supreme Court judgement allowing entry of women of menstruating age to Sabrimala temple in Kerala. The Home Minister is also openly discriminating against Muslims, contrary to the Constitutional principle of equality of all faiths, by excluding them from the possibility of obtaining Indian citizenship as part of the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill.

It is interesting that the politics of Hindtuva, which has built itself up on violence and hatred, starting with the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, and doesn’t care if the copy of Constitution is burnt at Jantar-Mantar and holds an unfavourable Supreme Court judgement in contempt, is displaying a new found faith in Constitution, values like equality and fraternity enshrined in it, and respect for a favourable Supreme Court judgement. 

It is obvious that it has worked to build a consensus, taking most Muslim organizations on board, and also the Supreme Court judges into confidence, to arrive at this judgment. But the larger question is, has this consensus for maintaining peace and harmony been built selectively only for the Ayodhya judgement?

If the BJP/RSS genuinely believe that peace and harmony should prevail from now on, can we expect no more mob-lynching incidents, killing of intellectuals, discrimination against minorities and Dalits and in general politics of hate? Are they also going to respect places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which prohibits conversion of any place of worship? 

Conversion doesn’t always take place in the manner in which it has been done in Ayodhya. At Mazar mod in Indira Nagar, Lucknow, at a corner plot where Muslims used to offer namaz, gradually over years, after a stone was kept under a tree, Hindus have started worshipping a deity and now there is a Provincial Armed Constabulary camp as well at the site. 

In a TV channel discussion on Indian Ahead on October 23, 2019, in anticipation of the Ayodhya judgement, in which one of us (Lubna Sarwath) was also invited, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) spokesperson Vinod Bansal admitted that they have a list of 30,000 sites in addition to Kashi and Mathura, where Hindu temples were demolished to build some Islamic structures. 
Working president of VHP Alok Kumar has said that SC judgement on Ayodhya is not the end of the story, it is the beginning, in the context of Kashi and Mathura. Will the BJP/RSS top brass counsel the VHP leadership and make it clear to the country that observance of peace and harmony is meant for them as well? 

The demolition of Babri Masjid invited the problem of terrorism to India. More such misadventure is going to plunge India into deeper problems.
 
Pandey is a member of the Socialist Party of India and Yugal Kishore Shastri , the Mahant of the Ram Janaki Temple, Ayodhya

Babri-Ayodhya verdict: Will appeal for peace apply to Hindutva hardliners in future?

Ayodhya
 
With the exception of few, every leader of political or social importance is making an appeal to the common people to maintain peace and communal harmony in the wake of tje Supreme Court judgement in the Ram Janambhumi-Babri Masjid case as part of which the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land has been given for construction of Ram temple and Government has been directed to provide 5 acres of land elsewhere for construction of mosque. 

The Prime Minister has said, "After the verdict, the way every section of society, of every religion, has welcomed it is a proof of India’s ancient culture and tradition of social harmony." He also said, "The calm and peace maintained by 130 crore Indians in the run-up to today’s verdict manifests India’s inherent commitment to peaceful coexistence."

The RSS chief has made an appeal, "I urge the people of India to maintain law and order." Lal Krishna Advani’s reaction is, "I stand vindicated, and feel deeply blessed..." It will be interesting to see how the Court will now judge him as an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

The SC observes, "As regards the inner courtyard, there is evidence on preponderance of probabilities to establish worship by the Hindus prior to the annexation of Oudh by the British in 1857. The Muslims have offered no evidence to indicate that they were in exclusive possession of the inner structure prior to 1857 since the date of construction in the sixteenth century."
 
This has been the basis of handing over the disputed site to Hindus. It further observes, "The exclusion of the Muslim from worship and possession took place on the intervening night between 22/23 December 1949 when the mosque was desecrated by the installation of Hindu idols." And then it goes on to say, "The Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years."

While acknowledging Muslims offering namaz from 1857 to 1949 in the inner structure but saying there is no evidence of this before 1857, although accepting that the mosque existed for at least 450 years, the judgement says, "Dividing the land will not subserve the interest of either of the parties or secure a lasting sense of peace and tranquility,’ and offers the land to Hindus.
 
It balances by saying, "Justice would not prevail if the Court were to overlook the entitlement of the Muslims who have been deprived of the structure of the mosque through means which should not have been employed in a secular nation committed to the rule of law. The Constitution postulates the equality of all (emphasis in the judgement) faiths. Tolerance and mutual co-existence nourish the secular commitment of our nation and its people."
 
The purpose of the judgement and the national appeals, before and after the delivery of judgement – issued by authorities as well as social-political leaderships – are understandable. At best the judgement is a compromise to appease the majority while assuaging the feelings of minority, whether justice has been done is questionable. Similar to the clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), a tight security control ensured that ‘peace’ would prevail.
 
Two of us (Sandeep Pandey and Yugal Kishore Shashtri) were not allowed to hold a two day communal harmony workshop on August 17-18, 2019, at Ram Janaki temple at Saryu Kunj in Ayodhya in which Prof Ram Puniyani was to speak. We were issued notices soon after that by the resident magistrate of Ayodhya prohibiting us from opening a bank account of our Sarva Dharm Sadbhav Trust.

The Sarva Dharm Sadbhav Trust has plans to build a multi-faith harmony centre in Ayodhya to convey the message that Ayodhya, sacred to at least five religions -- Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism -- is a place which is symbol of communal harmony. We were detained again on August 19 when we wanted to hold a press conference at the temple. 
The government obviously didn’t want any other point of view than in favour of Ram temple to be expressed by anybody for the last four months. This is how ‘peace’ and ‘social harmony’ has been enforced upon the country.

If such a tight control had been observed in 1992, when BJP's government was in power in Uttar Pradesh, probably the mosque would not have been demolished. Then chief minister Kalyan Singh went back on his word given to the Supreme Court, that he would be faithful to the Constitution, to claim that he was a RSS worker first and chief minister later, after the mosque was demolished. 
 
In 2002, in spite of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee admonishing Narendra Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat, to follow ‘Rajdharm,’ and Defence Minister George Fernandes wanting to deploy Army, rioting went on in Gujarat for three days. And we should remember that this violence was triggered by burning of a train in Godhra carrying kar-sewaks who had gone to perform shila-pujan at Ayodhya, 17 years in advance of a judgement in favour of Ram temple. 

Earlier this year Amit Shah, Home Minister, and Mohan Bhagwat, both rejected the Supreme Court judgement allowing entry of women of menstruating age to Sabrimala temple in Kerala. The Home Minister is also openly discriminating against Muslims, contrary to the Constitutional principle of equality of all faiths, by excluding them from the possibility of obtaining Indian citizenship as part of the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill.

It is interesting that the politics of Hindtuva, which has built itself up on violence and hatred, starting with the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, and doesn’t care if the copy of Constitution is burnt at Jantar-Mantar and holds an unfavourable Supreme Court judgement in contempt, is displaying a new found faith in Constitution, values like equality and fraternity enshrined in it, and respect for a favourable Supreme Court judgement. 

It is obvious that it has worked to build a consensus, taking most Muslim organizations on board, and also the Supreme Court judges into confidence, to arrive at this judgment. But the larger question is, has this consensus for maintaining peace and harmony been built selectively only for the Ayodhya judgement?

If the BJP/RSS genuinely believe that peace and harmony should prevail from now on, can we expect no more mob-lynching incidents, killing of intellectuals, discrimination against minorities and Dalits and in general politics of hate? Are they also going to respect places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which prohibits conversion of any place of worship? 

Conversion doesn’t always take place in the manner in which it has been done in Ayodhya. At Mazar mod in Indira Nagar, Lucknow, at a corner plot where Muslims used to offer namaz, gradually over years, after a stone was kept under a tree, Hindus have started worshipping a deity and now there is a Provincial Armed Constabulary camp as well at the site. 

In a TV channel discussion on Indian Ahead on October 23, 2019, in anticipation of the Ayodhya judgement, in which one of us (Lubna Sarwath) was also invited, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) spokesperson Vinod Bansal admitted that they have a list of 30,000 sites in addition to Kashi and Mathura, where Hindu temples were demolished to build some Islamic structures. 
Working president of VHP Alok Kumar has said that SC judgement on Ayodhya is not the end of the story, it is the beginning, in the context of Kashi and Mathura. Will the BJP/RSS top brass counsel the VHP leadership and make it clear to the country that observance of peace and harmony is meant for them as well? 

The demolition of Babri Masjid invited the problem of terrorism to India. More such misadventure is going to plunge India into deeper problems.
 
Pandey is a member of the Socialist Party of India and Yugal Kishore Shastri , the Mahant of the Ram Janaki Temple, Ayodhya

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