Image Courtesy: PTI
August 5, 2020: Sometime after noon, a ‘bhoomi pujan’ will take place in Ayodhya; this will mark the beginning of the construction work for a Ram temple, at the site where the Babri Masjid once stood. The construction of the temple is expected to take three years and the costs, yet undisclosed, will surely nun into astronomical amounts. The Babri Masjid- Ram Mandir fight, has been one of the most contentious issues in post-independent India. It has resulted in plenty of bloodshed, destruction, violence, hate and divisiveness. In November 2019 in a rather unpalatable, controversial, yet historic written judgement (which is still unsigned), the Supreme Court granted the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya to the Hindu litigants. In that very judgment, for apparently ‘balancing equities’, the court directed the Central and Uttar Pradesh governments to allot an alternative five acres of land to the Muslim party to build a mosque. Many thinking citizens of India (mainly from the majority community) are certainly not happy with the judgement; now that the ‘bhoomi pujan’ is actually taking place, will greatly add to the polarisation of an already fragmented nation! A day of lament, indeed!
August 5, 2020: The Prime Minister will be present for the ‘bhoomi pujan.’ He will not going there as a private citizen but as a Constitutional authority who is expected to protect and promote the secular fabric of the country. Despite pleas from several sections of society that he does not participate in the event, he has thrown all caution and propriety to the wind, in order to display his threw colours (he stopped hiding them a long time ago) The majority of Indians are Hindu; but thanks to the vision and ideals of our Constituent Assembly secularism was allowed to flourish with (at least theoretically) all religions treated with respect and allowed to grow. In the pathbreaking judgment of 1994 of S.R. Bommai vs Union of India, secularism was recognised as part of the basic structure of the constitution; Justice Jeevan Reddy held that the constitution does not recognise or permit mixing religion and state power, and the two must be kept apart. The judgement states, “if the Constitution requires the State to be secular in thought and action, the same requirement attaches to political parties as well. The Constitution does not recognise, it does not permit, mixing religion and State power. Both must be kept apart. That is the constitutional injunction. None can say otherwise so long as this Constitution governs this country. Introducing religion into politics is to introduce an impermissible element into body politic and an imbalance in our constitutional system. If a political party espousing a particular religion comes to power, that religion tends to become, in practice, the official religion. All other religions come to acquire a secondary status, at any rate, a less favourable position. This would be plainly antithetical to Articles 14 to 16, 25 and the entire constitutional scheme adumbrated hereinabove. Under our Constitution, no party or Organisation can simultaneously be a political and a religious party. “With the PM actually being there at the ‘bhoomi pujan’ makes it a day of lament, indeed!
August 5, 2020: Exactly a year on August 5, 2019, in a move that is acknowledged by legal luminaires both in India and globally as blatantly unconstitutional, the Government of India, abrogated Article 370 and Article 35A, thus revokingRs 40,000 crores. A sad anniversary: a day of lament, indeed!
August 5, 2020: How do you feel one year after Article 370 was revoked?” Rashid said, “ a day of lament, indeed!
August 5, 2020: Nobody cares when India has the greatest spike in the COVID-19 cases and deaths on a single day worldwide. When the poor, the excluded and the vulnerable (particularly the daily wagers and the migrant workers) are on the receiving end of a system which has neither a heart nor a conscience! When human rights defenders, journalists, activists, intellectuals and all who take a stand for Truth and Justice and stand up to the anti-people policies of the Government – are throttled, incarcerated and even killed! It is the eve of the 75th Anniversary of the Nuclear holocaust: first in Hiroshima (6 August 1945) and then in Nagasaki (9 August 1945). The world at that time said ‘NEVER AGAIN’ – a NO to every form of violence. India (which gave to the world the doctrine of ‘ahimsa’: non-violence) does not seem to have learnt. The ruling regime clearly espouses hate, divisiveness and violence: Kashmir today, the bhoomi pujan today, are indicators of this! A a day of lament, indeed!
There is a small book in the Holy Bible called the ‘Book of Lamentations’, the writer says, “Moreover, our eyes failed, looking in vain for help; from our towers we watched for a nation that could not save us. People stalked us at every step, so we could not walk in our streets. Our end was near, our days were numbered, for our end had come. (4: 17-18) and further, “You, LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation. Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long? Restore us to yourself, LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old” (5:19-21). Words worth reflecting on, this August 5, 2020: a day of lament, indeed!
August 4, 2020
(The author is a human rights and peace activist/writer. Contact: email@example.com)