Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang

Reading SC order on Ayodhya: Condemn the Sin but Concede to Sinners

Senior journalist Biswajit Roy decodes Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya and also highlights the 'twist in the logic' of the apex court

Biswajit Roy 14 Nov 2019

Supreme Court

Babri Masjid and Supreme Court of India

The five-member constitution bench of the Supreme Court began their 1045 page verdict by aptly calling the Ayodhya dispute almost as old as the idea of India. Then the bench reminded us of our ancient civilisational values of assimilation, inclusion and harmony as well as modern constitutional principles of secular democracy that our founding fathers had followed despite the counter-currents in the stormy days of Partition. At the fag end too, the court stressed on the constitutional principle that ‘all forms of belief, worship and prayer are equal’ and those who ‘interpret the Constitution, enforce it and engage with it can ignore this only to the peril of our society and nation’.

Explaining further in the ‘conclusion of title’ of the 1500 square yards of the disputed land in Ayodhya, the bench insisted that ‘the court does not decide title on the basis of faith or belief but on the basis of evidence’. Nevertheless, the bench noted several times that the Muslim side did not question the Hindu faith about Lord Rama’s birth in Ayodhya. They had only contested the claim that he was born precisely under the central dome of the demolished Babri mosque and denied that the mosque came up over the ruins of an earlier temple dedicated to the deity.

The bench rigorously examined the findings of Archeological Survey of India and its earlier scrutiny by the Allahabad bench of Lucknow High Court. Though the ASI excavations (sans the area where the idol of Ramlala is ‘virajman’ since 1949) in 2003 found elaborate ruins of earlier non-Islamic structures of different periods of our history, the SC bench did not find categorical confirmation or conclusive proof of an ancient Rama temple underneath. So the purported original sin of the founder of the Mughal dynasty or his henchmen; construction of a mosque on the man-made ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to the popular icon of Hindu faith and glory, was not established.

ASI report was inconclusive

The bench rigorously examined the findings of Archeological Survey of India and its earlier scrutiny by the Allahabad bench of Lucknow High Court. Though the ASI excavations (sans the area where the idol of Ramlala is ‘virajman’ since 1949) in 2003 found elaborate ruins of earlier non-Islamic structures of different periods of our history, the SC bench did not find categorical confirmation or conclusive proof of an ancient Rama temple underneath. So the purported original sin of the founder of the Mughal dynasty or his henchmen; construction of a mosque on the man-made ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to the popular icon of Hindu faith and glory, was not established.

The contest over possession

However, the bench noted the long-drawn communal contest over the piece of land during the colonial period. “On the balance of probabilities, there is clear evidence to indicate that the worship by the Hindus in the outer courtyard continued unimpeded in spite of the setting up of a grill-brick wall in 1857. As regards the inner courtyard, there is evidence on a preponderance of probabilities to establish worship by the Hindus prior to the annexation of Oudh by the British in 1857.”

So, despite the lack of evidence of total and continued possession by the Muslims, the existence of a functioning mosque was accepted.

In contrast, “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 the construction in the sixteenth century. However, there is evidence to show that namaz was offered in the structure of the mosque and the last Friday namaz was on 16 December 1949”.

So, despite the lack of evidence of total and continued possession by the Muslims, the existence of a functioning mosque was accepted.

Violation of rule of law in between 1949-1992

Moreover, the bench noted the reasons for intermittent discontinuity. “The exclusion of the Muslims 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. The ouster of Muslims on that occasion was not through any lawful authority but through an act which was calculated to deprive them of their place of worship. ”

Commenting on more recent development, the bench noted: “During the pendency of the suits, the entire structure of the mosque was brought down in a calculated act of destroying a place of public worship. The Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years ago.” Observing that,’ there was no abandonment of the mosque by the Muslims’, the lordships pointed to the court’s constitutional duty. “The Court in the exercise of its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution must ensure that a wrong committed must be remedied. 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 twist in logic

 However, the logical underlining of verdict took unexpected twists and turns at the remedial order. First, bench set aside the ‘three-way bifurcation’ of disputed land ordered by the High Court in 2010 as both’ legally unsustainable’ and ‘not feasible’ in terms of ‘maintaining public peace and tranquility’. As the ‘disputed site ad-measures all of 1500 square yards’, it’s division ‘ will not sub-serve the interest of either of the parties or secure a lasting sense of peace and tranquility’, the bench argued.

So, the lack of evidences for continued and total possession, particularly before and after 1857 (year of first Hindu-Muslim joint struggle for Independence) when both Sunni Mughal power and Shia Nawabs in Oudh were powerless and the mutiny-struck colonial Raj had unfolded it’s divide and rule policy, became crucial for the denial of the land title or part of it to Muslims. Perhaps this the first time, the law on adverse possession or lack of it as well as religious texts and colonial historiography have been used to this extent to buttress majority faith-based claims.

True, hawks at both sides have succeeded in stalling an out of court consensus, thus binding the hands of the court. But the invocation of article 142 of the constitution empowered the court to find a more imaginative and equitable way of sharing based on the syncretic tradition of Ayodhya, still practiced despite marginalization by the excluvists in both communities as well as letters and spirit of the constitution.

But the claims of the majority faith were accepted because ‘on a balance of probabilities, the evidence in respect of the possessory claim of the Hindus to the composite whole of the disputed property stands on a better footing than the evidence adduced by the Muslims’. So the bench decided to hand over ‘the disputed site comprising of the inner and outer courtyards’ to Ram Lala Virajman, a party to legal contest as a ‘juristic person’ or a rightful holder of the property in law.

Further, the deity is granted human agency of his ‘next friend’, or VHP-controlled Ram Janan bhoomi Nyas to represent Him and maintain his rights. The claim of Nirmohi Akhara, a much older Monk order of Ram-Sita bhakta but not controlled by the Sangh parivar for traditional sevait rights stands rejected, though it has been given a berth in a government-run trust.

The bench first condemned ‘egregious violation of rule of law’ and ‘calculated’ crimes against the Constitution by the Hindu zealots in between 1949-92. But in queer turn in their infinite acumen and wisdom, finally awarded the criminals what they had asked for; exclusive right to the disputed land, simply because the latter claimed to be the rightful representatives of the presiding deity and in turn, the majority faith. The logic only legitimises the postmodern vandals and de facto acceptance of their misdeeds.

So, the lack of evidences for continued and total possession, particularly before and after 1857 (year of first Hindu-Muslim joint struggle for Independence) when both Sunni Mughal power and Shia Nawabs in Oudh were powerless and the mutiny-struck colonial Raj had unfolded it’s divide and rule policy, became crucial for the denial of the land title or part of it to Muslims. Perhaps this the first time, the law on adverse possession or lack of it as well as religious texts and colonial historiography have been used to this extent to buttress majority faith-based claims.

What does it mean?

The bench first condemned ‘egregious violation of rule of law’ and ‘calculated’ crimes against the Constitution by the Hindu zealots in between 1949-92. But in queer turn in their infinite acumen and wisdom, finally awarded the criminals what they had asked for; exclusive right to the disputed land, simply because the latter claimed to be the rightful representatives of the presiding deity and in turn, the majority faith. The logic only legitimises the postmodern vandals and de facto acceptance of their misdeeds.

Nonetheless, the bench found it ‘ necessary to provide restitution to the Muslim community for the unlawful destruction of their place of worship’. “Having weighed the nature of the relief which should be granted to the Muslims, we direct that land admeasuring 5 acres be allotted to the Sunni Central Waqf Board either by the Central Government out of the acquired land or by the Government of Uttar Pradesh within the city of Ayodhya.” But again, it is almost in the line of what the Sangh Parivar spin-masters had been selling for long: there is only one Ram Janamsthan, so vacate it and make a mosque elsewhere.

This Devil’s bargain, now legitimised in law, may be less sinister than the Partition but still gargantuan. With the zombie’s appetite is now being whetted, it’s not likely to stop at Ayodhya but march forward to Kashi and Mathura.

Courtesy: enewsroom.in

Reading SC order on Ayodhya: Condemn the Sin but Concede to Sinners

Senior journalist Biswajit Roy decodes Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya and also highlights the 'twist in the logic' of the apex court

Supreme Court

Babri Masjid and Supreme Court of India

The five-member constitution bench of the Supreme Court began their 1045 page verdict by aptly calling the Ayodhya dispute almost as old as the idea of India. Then the bench reminded us of our ancient civilisational values of assimilation, inclusion and harmony as well as modern constitutional principles of secular democracy that our founding fathers had followed despite the counter-currents in the stormy days of Partition. At the fag end too, the court stressed on the constitutional principle that ‘all forms of belief, worship and prayer are equal’ and those who ‘interpret the Constitution, enforce it and engage with it can ignore this only to the peril of our society and nation’.

Explaining further in the ‘conclusion of title’ of the 1500 square yards of the disputed land in Ayodhya, the bench insisted that ‘the court does not decide title on the basis of faith or belief but on the basis of evidence’. Nevertheless, the bench noted several times that the Muslim side did not question the Hindu faith about Lord Rama’s birth in Ayodhya. They had only contested the claim that he was born precisely under the central dome of the demolished Babri mosque and denied that the mosque came up over the ruins of an earlier temple dedicated to the deity.

The bench rigorously examined the findings of Archeological Survey of India and its earlier scrutiny by the Allahabad bench of Lucknow High Court. Though the ASI excavations (sans the area where the idol of Ramlala is ‘virajman’ since 1949) in 2003 found elaborate ruins of earlier non-Islamic structures of different periods of our history, the SC bench did not find categorical confirmation or conclusive proof of an ancient Rama temple underneath. So the purported original sin of the founder of the Mughal dynasty or his henchmen; construction of a mosque on the man-made ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to the popular icon of Hindu faith and glory, was not established.

ASI report was inconclusive

The bench rigorously examined the findings of Archeological Survey of India and its earlier scrutiny by the Allahabad bench of Lucknow High Court. Though the ASI excavations (sans the area where the idol of Ramlala is ‘virajman’ since 1949) in 2003 found elaborate ruins of earlier non-Islamic structures of different periods of our history, the SC bench did not find categorical confirmation or conclusive proof of an ancient Rama temple underneath. So the purported original sin of the founder of the Mughal dynasty or his henchmen; construction of a mosque on the man-made ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to the popular icon of Hindu faith and glory, was not established.

The contest over possession

However, the bench noted the long-drawn communal contest over the piece of land during the colonial period. “On the balance of probabilities, there is clear evidence to indicate that the worship by the Hindus in the outer courtyard continued unimpeded in spite of the setting up of a grill-brick wall in 1857. As regards the inner courtyard, there is evidence on a preponderance of probabilities to establish worship by the Hindus prior to the annexation of Oudh by the British in 1857.”

So, despite the lack of evidence of total and continued possession by the Muslims, the existence of a functioning mosque was accepted.

In contrast, “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 the construction in the sixteenth century. However, there is evidence to show that namaz was offered in the structure of the mosque and the last Friday namaz was on 16 December 1949”.

So, despite the lack of evidence of total and continued possession by the Muslims, the existence of a functioning mosque was accepted.

Violation of rule of law in between 1949-1992

Moreover, the bench noted the reasons for intermittent discontinuity. “The exclusion of the Muslims 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. The ouster of Muslims on that occasion was not through any lawful authority but through an act which was calculated to deprive them of their place of worship. ”

Commenting on more recent development, the bench noted: “During the pendency of the suits, the entire structure of the mosque was brought down in a calculated act of destroying a place of public worship. The Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years ago.” Observing that,’ there was no abandonment of the mosque by the Muslims’, the lordships pointed to the court’s constitutional duty. “The Court in the exercise of its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution must ensure that a wrong committed must be remedied. 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 twist in logic

 However, the logical underlining of verdict took unexpected twists and turns at the remedial order. First, bench set aside the ‘three-way bifurcation’ of disputed land ordered by the High Court in 2010 as both’ legally unsustainable’ and ‘not feasible’ in terms of ‘maintaining public peace and tranquility’. As the ‘disputed site ad-measures all of 1500 square yards’, it’s division ‘ will not sub-serve the interest of either of the parties or secure a lasting sense of peace and tranquility’, the bench argued.

So, the lack of evidences for continued and total possession, particularly before and after 1857 (year of first Hindu-Muslim joint struggle for Independence) when both Sunni Mughal power and Shia Nawabs in Oudh were powerless and the mutiny-struck colonial Raj had unfolded it’s divide and rule policy, became crucial for the denial of the land title or part of it to Muslims. Perhaps this the first time, the law on adverse possession or lack of it as well as religious texts and colonial historiography have been used to this extent to buttress majority faith-based claims.

True, hawks at both sides have succeeded in stalling an out of court consensus, thus binding the hands of the court. But the invocation of article 142 of the constitution empowered the court to find a more imaginative and equitable way of sharing based on the syncretic tradition of Ayodhya, still practiced despite marginalization by the excluvists in both communities as well as letters and spirit of the constitution.

But the claims of the majority faith were accepted because ‘on a balance of probabilities, the evidence in respect of the possessory claim of the Hindus to the composite whole of the disputed property stands on a better footing than the evidence adduced by the Muslims’. So the bench decided to hand over ‘the disputed site comprising of the inner and outer courtyards’ to Ram Lala Virajman, a party to legal contest as a ‘juristic person’ or a rightful holder of the property in law.

Further, the deity is granted human agency of his ‘next friend’, or VHP-controlled Ram Janan bhoomi Nyas to represent Him and maintain his rights. The claim of Nirmohi Akhara, a much older Monk order of Ram-Sita bhakta but not controlled by the Sangh parivar for traditional sevait rights stands rejected, though it has been given a berth in a government-run trust.

The bench first condemned ‘egregious violation of rule of law’ and ‘calculated’ crimes against the Constitution by the Hindu zealots in between 1949-92. But in queer turn in their infinite acumen and wisdom, finally awarded the criminals what they had asked for; exclusive right to the disputed land, simply because the latter claimed to be the rightful representatives of the presiding deity and in turn, the majority faith. The logic only legitimises the postmodern vandals and de facto acceptance of their misdeeds.

So, the lack of evidences for continued and total possession, particularly before and after 1857 (year of first Hindu-Muslim joint struggle for Independence) when both Sunni Mughal power and Shia Nawabs in Oudh were powerless and the mutiny-struck colonial Raj had unfolded it’s divide and rule policy, became crucial for the denial of the land title or part of it to Muslims. Perhaps this the first time, the law on adverse possession or lack of it as well as religious texts and colonial historiography have been used to this extent to buttress majority faith-based claims.

What does it mean?

The bench first condemned ‘egregious violation of rule of law’ and ‘calculated’ crimes against the Constitution by the Hindu zealots in between 1949-92. But in queer turn in their infinite acumen and wisdom, finally awarded the criminals what they had asked for; exclusive right to the disputed land, simply because the latter claimed to be the rightful representatives of the presiding deity and in turn, the majority faith. The logic only legitimises the postmodern vandals and de facto acceptance of their misdeeds.

Nonetheless, the bench found it ‘ necessary to provide restitution to the Muslim community for the unlawful destruction of their place of worship’. “Having weighed the nature of the relief which should be granted to the Muslims, we direct that land admeasuring 5 acres be allotted to the Sunni Central Waqf Board either by the Central Government out of the acquired land or by the Government of Uttar Pradesh within the city of Ayodhya.” But again, it is almost in the line of what the Sangh Parivar spin-masters had been selling for long: there is only one Ram Janamsthan, so vacate it and make a mosque elsewhere.

This Devil’s bargain, now legitimised in law, may be less sinister than the Partition but still gargantuan. With the zombie’s appetite is now being whetted, it’s not likely to stop at Ayodhya but march forward to Kashi and Mathura.

Courtesy: enewsroom.in

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Spreading Saffronisation? Complaint filed against BHU official for allegedly removing RSS flag

Sangh says she abused RSS members and said she didn’t agree to the Ayodhya verdict

Priyanka Kavish 14 Nov 2019

BHU

A Deputy Chief Proctor at the South campus of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Mirzapur district was booked on charges of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, caste, etc., after she allegedly removed a RSS flag from the university’s playground Tuesday, The Indian Express reported.

A case by a local RSS office bearer, Chandramohan, was filed against Kiran Damle for allegedly removing a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) flag from the campus. She resigned the same day, following protests by a group of students and local RSS workers.

Station House Officer (SHO), Kotwali Dehat, Abhay Kumar Singh, said a case was registered against Damle under IPC sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).

What transpired?

Chandramohan, head of RSS’s Mirzapur district wing, claimed, “On November 12, the daily Sangh shakha was being held at the stadium on BHU South campus as it has been for the past seven years. Around 7 am, Kiran Damle uprooted a saffron flag and threw it on the floor. All swayamsevaks present there told her that the flag has importance for religious reasons. After this, Damle verbally abused Swayamsevak Neeraj Dwivedi and others present there. She also said that despite the country accepting the Supreme Court’s verdict on Ayodhya, she does not.”

However, deputy chief proctor (South campus), BHU, Kiran Damle, told The Indian Express,”On Tuesday, when I went to the university playground, I found an orange-coloured flag hoisted there. I asked my attendant about who put it there but he said he did not know. I then asked the students present at the playground, nobody replied. After no one took responsibility, I took out the flag, gave it to my attendant and told him to keep it in my office.”

She added, “Later, some students came to me and said the flag is of the RSS. I told them that I did not know because nothing was written on it. I told them that they could conduct their activities, but should not put the flag as it is a sensitive time. Later in the afternoon, a protest was held at the university demanding my resignation. Most of the protesters were from outside [the varsity]. I told the students and protesters that I made a mistake and even apologised to them. They said an apology won’t be enough and that I should resign. I told them that if that is what will make you people calm down, I will resign. I gave my resignation Tuesday from the post of deputy chief proctor. Then, some people told me they would also lodge an FIR against me. I was silent because I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Political twist

While SP Dharamvir Singh said removal of the flag has hurt the sentiments of 'swayam sevaks' and Damle should instead have explained and prevailed upon them for getting it removed, local Congress leader and former MLA, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi questioned the interference of RSS office bearers in the workings of the university and said that ‘shakhas’ should not be held on educational institutions.

It is ironical that the RSS which is an ally of the BJP refuses to accept the tricolor as the only flag of India, which is the same for every religion and every person. The RSS has always implicitly rejected India’s constitution by rejecting the tricolor and instead propagate its saffron flag called the ‘Bhagwa Dhwaj’. They consider this flag as the Guru and donations are made to this ‘guru’ with beneficial results before the tax authorities. It is regarded as the symbol of “nationalism” — ie Hindu, not Indian, nationalism.


Related:

Fact Check: The RSS Had No Role in India’s Freedom Struggle

The RSS Doublespeak: Bhagwa for Itself, Tricolour for the 'Others'

Spreading Saffronisation? Complaint filed against BHU official for allegedly removing RSS flag

Sangh says she abused RSS members and said she didn’t agree to the Ayodhya verdict

BHU

A Deputy Chief Proctor at the South campus of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Mirzapur district was booked on charges of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, caste, etc., after she allegedly removed a RSS flag from the university’s playground Tuesday, The Indian Express reported.

A case by a local RSS office bearer, Chandramohan, was filed against Kiran Damle for allegedly removing a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) flag from the campus. She resigned the same day, following protests by a group of students and local RSS workers.

Station House Officer (SHO), Kotwali Dehat, Abhay Kumar Singh, said a case was registered against Damle under IPC sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).

What transpired?

Chandramohan, head of RSS’s Mirzapur district wing, claimed, “On November 12, the daily Sangh shakha was being held at the stadium on BHU South campus as it has been for the past seven years. Around 7 am, Kiran Damle uprooted a saffron flag and threw it on the floor. All swayamsevaks present there told her that the flag has importance for religious reasons. After this, Damle verbally abused Swayamsevak Neeraj Dwivedi and others present there. She also said that despite the country accepting the Supreme Court’s verdict on Ayodhya, she does not.”

However, deputy chief proctor (South campus), BHU, Kiran Damle, told The Indian Express,”On Tuesday, when I went to the university playground, I found an orange-coloured flag hoisted there. I asked my attendant about who put it there but he said he did not know. I then asked the students present at the playground, nobody replied. After no one took responsibility, I took out the flag, gave it to my attendant and told him to keep it in my office.”

She added, “Later, some students came to me and said the flag is of the RSS. I told them that I did not know because nothing was written on it. I told them that they could conduct their activities, but should not put the flag as it is a sensitive time. Later in the afternoon, a protest was held at the university demanding my resignation. Most of the protesters were from outside [the varsity]. I told the students and protesters that I made a mistake and even apologised to them. They said an apology won’t be enough and that I should resign. I told them that if that is what will make you people calm down, I will resign. I gave my resignation Tuesday from the post of deputy chief proctor. Then, some people told me they would also lodge an FIR against me. I was silent because I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Political twist

While SP Dharamvir Singh said removal of the flag has hurt the sentiments of 'swayam sevaks' and Damle should instead have explained and prevailed upon them for getting it removed, local Congress leader and former MLA, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi questioned the interference of RSS office bearers in the workings of the university and said that ‘shakhas’ should not be held on educational institutions.

It is ironical that the RSS which is an ally of the BJP refuses to accept the tricolor as the only flag of India, which is the same for every religion and every person. The RSS has always implicitly rejected India’s constitution by rejecting the tricolor and instead propagate its saffron flag called the ‘Bhagwa Dhwaj’. They consider this flag as the Guru and donations are made to this ‘guru’ with beneficial results before the tax authorities. It is regarded as the symbol of “nationalism” — ie Hindu, not Indian, nationalism.


Related:

Fact Check: The RSS Had No Role in India’s Freedom Struggle

The RSS Doublespeak: Bhagwa for Itself, Tricolour for the 'Others'

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Bhopal BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Calls Godse ‘Patriot’ Again, Praises Gandhi

Citing illness, Thakur distanced herself from BJP’s 42-day long ‘Gandhi Sankalp Yatra’ from October 2 to November 12.

Kashif Kakvi 14 Nov 2019

Pragya Thakur

Image Courtesy: DNA India 

Bhopal: Malegoan blast-accused and Member of Parliament from Bhopal constituency, Pragya Singh Thakur, yet again raked up a controversy by claiming that Nathuram Godse, assassin of M K Gandhi, was a patriot.

When asked why she was missing from the 42-day long ‘Gandhi Sankalp Yatra’ organised by her own party (Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP) to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Thakur said on Wednesday that she believed in following the path shown by Gandhi ‘instead of publicising it’.

“The Congress only cashed in on Gandhi’s name for political benefits, but never followed his ideals. Congress will never have empathy for anybody, whether it’s Gandhi or Godse. They cannot reach up to the ideal of Gandhi, or the ideology and ‘patriotism of even Godse’.They play with public feelings for political gains,” she said.

After calling Godse a patriot again, Thakur, who had earned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ire for praising Godse as a “deshbhakt” during the Lok Sabha polls, praised the PM. “The day he took the office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji has been following his ideals and propagating Gandhi ji's teachings. And the changes are clearly visible across the country,” Thakur was quoted as saying by the Times of India on Wednesday.

During the Lok Sabha election campaigning in Agar-Malwa district of Madhya Pradesh, the BJP MP had called Godse a patriot. Her statement had kicked up a row across the country. Days after her statement on May 17, PM Modi said, “Will never forgive Pragya Thakur for insulting Gandhi.”

Later on, she apologised for her statement, but the then BJP president, Amit Shah had claimed that the issue has been referred to the party’s internal disciplinary committee to review her statement and take action. Six months on, no action has been taken so far.

To mark 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi, the state BJP unit had observed ‘Gandhi Sankalp Yatra’ from October 2 to November 12—launching campaigns for plastic-free city, de-addiction and self-dependence among youth, plantation, blood donation and cleanliness drives. However, Thakur was seen missing from the programmes. Her absence gave ammunition to the Congress leaders, who then launched a scathing attack on her.

On Wednesday, Congress leader and Labour Minister Mahendra Singh Sidodia said: “There are several people like Pragya Singh Thakur who worship Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse. They do not follow Gandhi ji but, display their double face for obvious reasons.”

Pragya hit back and said, “It’s evident that we (BJP), and not Congress, followed the path shown by great personalities who sacrificed everything for us. I am a sanyasin (ascetic) and patriotism has been in my blood from [my] birth. But we do not publicise our work. We do not indulge in fake propaganda like Congress.”

“We do not want any certificate [to say] that we believe in Gandhi. We won’t forget what he has done for the country. We follow his ideology, but do not indulge in propaganda. I am unwell and could not attend a single function during the Gandhi Yatra. I wanted to recover fast, but my health worsened. I want to recover quickly now so that I can attend the winter session of Parliament,” said Pragya.

Coming down heavily on BJP MP, senior journalist Shahroz Afridi said that her love for Gandhi’s assassin is not hidden. “We have already seen it during the Parliamentary elections. She distanced herself from ‘Gandhi Sankalp Yatra’ because she admire Godse. Her party, too, has affection for Godse, else the disciplinary committee would have taken action against her after PM Modi’s statement against her.”

Courtesy: News Click

Bhopal BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Calls Godse ‘Patriot’ Again, Praises Gandhi

Citing illness, Thakur distanced herself from BJP’s 42-day long ‘Gandhi Sankalp Yatra’ from October 2 to November 12.

Pragya Thakur

Image Courtesy: DNA India 

Bhopal: Malegoan blast-accused and Member of Parliament from Bhopal constituency, Pragya Singh Thakur, yet again raked up a controversy by claiming that Nathuram Godse, assassin of M K Gandhi, was a patriot.

When asked why she was missing from the 42-day long ‘Gandhi Sankalp Yatra’ organised by her own party (Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP) to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Thakur said on Wednesday that she believed in following the path shown by Gandhi ‘instead of publicising it’.

“The Congress only cashed in on Gandhi’s name for political benefits, but never followed his ideals. Congress will never have empathy for anybody, whether it’s Gandhi or Godse. They cannot reach up to the ideal of Gandhi, or the ideology and ‘patriotism of even Godse’.They play with public feelings for political gains,” she said.

After calling Godse a patriot again, Thakur, who had earned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ire for praising Godse as a “deshbhakt” during the Lok Sabha polls, praised the PM. “The day he took the office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji has been following his ideals and propagating Gandhi ji's teachings. And the changes are clearly visible across the country,” Thakur was quoted as saying by the Times of India on Wednesday.

During the Lok Sabha election campaigning in Agar-Malwa district of Madhya Pradesh, the BJP MP had called Godse a patriot. Her statement had kicked up a row across the country. Days after her statement on May 17, PM Modi said, “Will never forgive Pragya Thakur for insulting Gandhi.”

Later on, she apologised for her statement, but the then BJP president, Amit Shah had claimed that the issue has been referred to the party’s internal disciplinary committee to review her statement and take action. Six months on, no action has been taken so far.

To mark 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi, the state BJP unit had observed ‘Gandhi Sankalp Yatra’ from October 2 to November 12—launching campaigns for plastic-free city, de-addiction and self-dependence among youth, plantation, blood donation and cleanliness drives. However, Thakur was seen missing from the programmes. Her absence gave ammunition to the Congress leaders, who then launched a scathing attack on her.

On Wednesday, Congress leader and Labour Minister Mahendra Singh Sidodia said: “There are several people like Pragya Singh Thakur who worship Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse. They do not follow Gandhi ji but, display their double face for obvious reasons.”

Pragya hit back and said, “It’s evident that we (BJP), and not Congress, followed the path shown by great personalities who sacrificed everything for us. I am a sanyasin (ascetic) and patriotism has been in my blood from [my] birth. But we do not publicise our work. We do not indulge in fake propaganda like Congress.”

“We do not want any certificate [to say] that we believe in Gandhi. We won’t forget what he has done for the country. We follow his ideology, but do not indulge in propaganda. I am unwell and could not attend a single function during the Gandhi Yatra. I wanted to recover fast, but my health worsened. I want to recover quickly now so that I can attend the winter session of Parliament,” said Pragya.

Coming down heavily on BJP MP, senior journalist Shahroz Afridi said that her love for Gandhi’s assassin is not hidden. “We have already seen it during the Parliamentary elections. She distanced herself from ‘Gandhi Sankalp Yatra’ because she admire Godse. Her party, too, has affection for Godse, else the disciplinary committee would have taken action against her after PM Modi’s statement against her.”

Courtesy: News Click

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Babri demolition, never forget, never forgive

Reading 'Babri Masjid, 25 Years On'

Dr K S Sudeep 14 Nov 2019

Babri book

The preparation was accomplished with phenomenal secrecy, was technically flawless with consistency and assured results. The theme was power. It attracted clusters of young men to support the hidden agenda. Leaders know how passions are aroused and how to prevent the same; they however always see what would be beneficial to them rather than what would be good for the nation. This is what happened in Ayodhya.” (from Liberhan Commission report on demolition of Babri mosque).

 

Preface

Babri Masjid has become history. A thing of the past.

Soon we will have a Supreme Court judgment on the case regarding the mosque, but as we know, the name of the case itself is something vague -- Ram Janmabhoomi - Babri Masjid land dispute case. It is about two entities, and just like the first one, the second one is also nearly a myth by now.

Problems with things of the past is that we soon forget what it was and where it stood. And in current India, it will not be a surprise if after a few more years it does not even find a place in the history books taught in schools. If it finds, it would only appear as a symbol of Muslim aggression. Even the court dispute has become more about beliefs and people's sentiments than about historic and archaeological evidences. Rightly so. But when an 'almost' Hindu nation weighs its sentiments, sentiments of a large section of people go unnoticed. Forgotten. Ignored.

That is precisely why an alternative recording of events become important. Alternative sources of history, when the mainstream history is limited to the heroic accounts of the dominant society and its protagonists. Ram Rajya's history is about the heroics of Ram. The villainy of Ram and his disciples will have to be heard from the backyards of history. It needs to be told nevertheless. it needs to be heard nevertheless. At least by those who do not want to be run over by these cultural bulldozers.

 

A multitude of accounts

'Babri Masjid, 25 Years On' is a book that came out in 2017, a collection of essays edited by Sameena Dalwai and Ramu Ramanathan. Irfan Engineer's name is listed as 'Journal Editor'. It comes after two other important books on the same topic -- 'The Babri Masjid Question 1528-2003: A Matter of National Honour' and 'Destruction of the Babri Masjid – A National Dishonour', both by veteran lawyer and political commentator A G Noorani. What makes this book different is the multitude of accounts and angles covered in the book, as it is told by a spectrum of authors that covers many prominent artists and activists.

I know it is too late to introduce a book that came out almost two years back, so I will stick to highlighting some parts of the book that I find important, and placing it in the context of the legal and sentimental dispute as well as the 'conscience of the society' that I am a part of.

 

Countdown and a Witness account

In his essay 'Countdown to Ayodhya', senior journalist Anant Bagaitkar describes political developments centred around the Ayodhya issue close to the demolition. He recollects how he and some other journalists secretly met a senior RSS leader and the conversation they had, where the leader clearly said they were prepared to break the structure if the Government did not yield to pressure by the end of the three month deadline that they had given. This was in July 1992. Later in September, VHP leaders VH Dalmiya and Ashok Singhal declared that a temple could not be constructed without the demolition of the Babri Masjid. In October, VHP organised a meeting of the dharma sansad to consider the future course of action on the issue. In this meeting the decision was taken to resume the kar seva and the date decided was 6 December, 1992.

He also recalls that by November end RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena workers had gathered in Ayodhya as kar sevaks, and even before 6 December, the assembled mob indulged in attacking mosques and mazars (shrines) in the vicinity of Ayodhya.

What follows is a witness account of the events from 1st to 6th December 1992, in an essay by then Maharashtra Times journalist Pratab Asbe who was entrusted with reporting the events in Ayodhya. He recollects that on 5 December, during the rehearsal of the kar seva, leaders had announced that the kar seva on 6th will only be a symbolic gesture. They said, "On 6 December, two lakh kar sevaks will put a fistful of soil in the four-acre  premises of Ram Mandir and the monks will clean the Ram Chabutra with the holy water from the river Sharayu." However, we know that was not to be the case.

On 6th December afternoon, Adwani gave an inflammatory speech that went like this, “No power in the world can stop the construction of Ram Mandir. If the central government tries to obstruct, then we will not allow the government to run. Those who have come to be martyrs let them be martyrs. Let the fortunate ones be able to make it to Lord Ram’s feet. Let them be martyred.”

It is particularly interesting how they manhandled the media persons who tried to cover the incidents of that day. "Many national and international journalists were standing near Ram Chabutra. Kar sevaks and saints started misbehaving with these media persons. The so-called holy men started abusing journalists. One of the monks was hitting a journalist from Voice of America. This was followed by a Time magazine journalist getting beaten up. Even BBC’s Mark  Tully  couldn’t  escape  this. And  then  anybody  and  everybody started hitting the journalists. Just then, television cameras faced the wrath of this aggressive mob of kar sevaks. Around 60-70 television cameras were damaged.." "only the photographers with a still camera  were able to put the cameras in a leather bag and escape. They were also followed and beaten up. As a result, the photography and video shoot of kar seva came to a halt. This attack on the press was pre-planned and a well-co-ordinated strategy.."

The final acts of the drama unfolded soon. In his own words, ~as if the doors of a dam were opened, mobs of kar sevaks started jumping on the compound surrounding the Babri Masjid. In no time, they broke the compound and entered the mosque and with an unswerving determination, climbed the mosque up to its dome. They started hitting the mosque with anything that they could catch hold of. Immediately, they were being supplied with spades, shovels and ropes. This boosted the demolition process. High on the sadistic pleasure derived from the act, kar sevaks were repeatedly attacking the mosque as if it was a living human being. Unable to withstand the shocks, the mosque began disintegrating. The soil and bricks started falling apart. At this end, the voice  on  the microphone announced, “Siyawar ramchandra ki jai, mandir yahin banayenge.” Seeing the  attack on the mosque, women spectators along with their men counterparts started dancing and shouting slogans..~

~at 2.45 p.m., the first dome of Babri Masjid was demolished. The moment the dome collapsed, Uma Bharti joyously embraced Murli Manohar Joshi. Uma Bharti and Sadhvi Rithambara shouted inflammatory slogans, instigating kar sevaks. Sadhvi Rithambara announced: “ek dhakka aur do, babri masjid tod do” (Pound and thrash till it collapses). While all this was happening, the police was also seen clapping and expressing its joy. Around 4.00 p.m. in the evening, another dome  collapsed. And then the third and the last dome at 4.46 p.m. Sadhvi Rithambara congratulated the Hindu population on the microphone by saying, “The shameful structure has fallen.”~

 

Artists' accounts

The first among the six artists' acoounts is that of theater actor, director and activist Sudhanva Deshpande of Jan Natya Manch New Delhi. He weaves his narration beginning with his memories of Operation Blue Star and Indira Gandhi assassination that he witnessed as a teenager and his experiences during 1992.

In the next essay 'How it feels to be a Muslim in India', award winning playwright Shafaat Khan talks about the post-Babri Muslim life in India and in Mumbai in particular. He says, "the Mumbai riots ensued by the demolition of the Babri Masjid had brought a change in direction. Until that time I believed that violence was in the hands of a few goondas and politicians. For the first time I saw that physically and mentally, the common man was imbibed with the destructive forces all the way. A whole society was given over to violence with a strong belief that it provided all the answers." He explains how this affected his life as a playwright and director, and how his adaptation of Asghar Wajahat’s Hindi play Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya, O Jamyai Nai, was an attempt to communicate with 'the rioters, supporters of riots and those who strengthened them by standing upright on the street.'

Unfortunately, around 27 years on, that 'whole society' is still at large, making use of every opportunity to 'annihilate the other'. The hatred machines have got more and more official channels at their disposal and perpetrators of hate crimes are rewarded with election tickets, increased popularity and more and more power.

In her essay 'Why I never wish to forget the violence', Playwright and screenplay writer for popular Marathi TV serials Manaswini Lata Ravindra tells how her mother who never wore religious symbols was forced to wear a bindi to escape violence from a Hindu mob. She also recollects memories from her school days, about how the dominant ones in the class silenced those who had different opinions, or were just different, say by name / religion. "The day the episode of Shivaji Maharaj chopping off Shaista Khan’s fingers was taught in the class, all the Hindu boys assumed themselves in the role of Shivaji and the Muslim boy was obviously considered to be Shaista  Khan. I remember the Muslim boy was so petrified that he skipped school the following day." She also tells about how she realised that at no cost will she ever be able to gain experiences from someone else’s societal environment. "How much ever one tries, it is very difficult to change your context of being someone." Which is an important point in any intersectionality we talk about these days.

Joy Sengupta writes about how he woke up to a hard realization at home, that 'the well-oiled mechanism was geared towards bringing about a preconceived, elite-driven Hindu unity'. He adds that "Middle-class India, under the mask of liberal democracy, was nothing but a sheer bunch of fence-sitters belonging to the Hindu majority waiting to cross over. This demolition just helped them unmask and breathe in soft Hindutva. Indian nationalism and the modern Indian state were getting crafted out of the affirmations of Hindutva."

Veteran theatre artist and television host Dolly Thakore has contributed with a piece titled 'Joining hands, building trust'. She was also a volunteer for an NGO 'Citizens For Peace' that did relief works in a riot-struck Mumbai. Playwright, actor and women's rights campaigner Sushma Deshpande feels the 'obsessive need for communicating the ideologies of Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule to the masses' and writes about her experience of conducting a theatre workshop for Muslim girls in Hyderabad.  She notes that 'when the whole community is under attack, the scope to address the issues and the rights of the weaker sections within that community get further eroded."

 

Activists

In her account 'Where is the place for the activist', academician and activist Shama Dalwai explains how being a Muslim or having a Muslim in family in Mumbai became a frightening prospect by end of 1980s. She says that the school that her children went to, though seemed like a liberal institution, "affixed a Muslim identity to my children by singling them out as ‘strangers’ and ‘the others’." During the Mumbai riots that broke out post the demolition of the mosque, as a Hindu mother of half-Muslim children, she recounts how she became terrified for the safety of her children (Sameena is her daughter). The police violence, mayhem by Shiv Sainiks and, most shattering, she says, was the withdrawal of the Leftist comrades from the scene. She also talks about how media selectively omitted certain kinds of news, and talks about her attempts to calm down the Muslims.

Helen Bharde, a former corporator affiliated to Indian National Congress, is a christian woman married to a Muslim. Her write-up is mostly about setting up and running the relief camp at her locality Golibar. She writes about how that place, near Santacruz, became a haven for the Muslims during the riots. How Muslims, fearing for their lives, had run away from their homes and formed a community at Golibar and sought refuge there. It does not mean it was all safe there. She recalls an incident when a young boy who was playing in the vicinity was mistaken for a rioter and shot down by the police. And 'if that wasn’t tragic enough, the old man who went to retrieve the boy was also beaten up brutally', she adds.

In her essay 'Walking the tightrope: Balancing gender and community' Flavia Agnes critiques the women’s movement that failed to create a strong alternative for women of all castes and religions.

Rekha Thakur of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh in her note writes about the 'dual agenda' of Massacring the Muslims and criminalising Bahujan at the same time. One could say it is problematic to make such a reading, as the growth of Hindutva in India from late 80s to 2019 can not be understood only as a savarna ideology. It is essentially based on hatred of Muslims (and Christians, though to a lesser extent). Many of the Sangh leaders were from OBC communities. It also succeeded in containing the OBC angst post anti-Mandal uprisings of 1990s.

In 'Riots in the pink city', M Hassan narrates Jaipur of 1989 to 92. He describes it as a period of intense polarisation and violence. How the southern hilly region, being predominantly tribal, is a fairly known ‘laboratory’ of communalism due to the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad of RSS, which spread its tentacles in each tribal settlement. About how Jaipur's Musafirkhana acted as a shelter and relief camp during communal riots, and how the Musafirkhana issued guidelines to
ward off confrontation and escalation of conflict in 1989 and 1991. Hassan writes about how the 'Game of riots' that is often played to alienate one community. It is a game that continues even now, Musaffarnagar being the latest major instance.

In her essay 'A bruised nation', Shaila Satpute, who was Maharashtra State leader of Janata Dal once, confesses that she is more afraid today than what she was during the days of riots. "At that time there were sporadic incidents of violence. Today, I notice that the seeds of hatred that were planted have grown into a poisonous tree. Now, everyone is a target. At that time, the Babri Masjid incident provided a reason for violence. Now, people don’t need a reason to resort to violence", she says.

Vaze College Physics Professor Dr. Sanjeewani Jain's account of the collective action of teachers and students is the last in the section.

 

Asghar Ali Engineer's Special Essay

Noted Islamic Scholar, social reformist and peace activist late Asghar Ali Engineer in a lengthy special essay notes that the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi controversy was one of the major controversies which was exploited politically to the hilt  in  post-independence  India. He also connects it to theShah Bano controversy during 1985-86, and feels that had the controversial Muslim Women’s Bill not been passed in early 1986, the Ram Janmabhoomi controversy would not have arisen. He criticizes not only BJP and Shiv Sena, but also Congress for the cynical exploitation of Babri issue for winning 1989 elections, in an attempt to capture 'popular imagination'.

Engineer gives a summary of the history of the controversy and observes that the 'historical' accounts suggesting that Babar demolished a temple before erecting a mosque there are based on prejudices and guesswork. To quote from his essay, ~The translator of Babar’s Memoirs Mrs AF, Beveridge in a footnote suggests that Babar being a Muslim, and “impressed by the dignity and sanctity of the ancient Hindu shrine” would have displaced “at least in part” the temple to erect the mosque. She bases her inference on the fact that Babar being Muslim must have been intolerant of other faiths and thus demolished the temple which was supposedly in existence there. It is, at best, a very generalised inference..~

He adds that there is no doubt that the laying of the foundation stone of Ram Janmabhumi on 9 November, 1989 could not have been done without the connivance of the then Government led by Rajiv Gandhi, and how KK Nayar who was DM of Faizabad resisted all attempts to remove the idol when an idol first 'appeared' in those premises in 1949 and how Congress was helpless at that time. He feela that "if locking (the premises) was murder of justice and ideals of secularism, its unlocking (in 1986, opening it for Hindus to worship) was greater injustice and outright slaughter of ideals of secularism." He concludes the essay with the most sane thing to say, that we should "do every thing possible to resolve this issue through constructive dialogue in the spirit of reconciliation" and it is "highly necessary to arrange a round-table dialogue between the religious and secular leaders of the two communities."

 

Strengths, and what it lacks

The book is not by any means an apologetic one. Irfan Engineer does not mince his words when he says "Twenty-five years ago, Babri Masjid came crumbling down on 6 December 1992, amidst massive mobilisation by the Sangh Parivar -- organisations affiliated to right-wing Hindu supremacist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.." That itself is the major strength of the book.

Sameena Dalwai and Ramu Ramanathan do not see the demolition of the Babri mosque as an isolated incident, and they place it in a context. Reading from Sangh Parivar idol Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's book Six Epochs of Indian History, they observe that "In this, Savarkar admonishes Marathas for not taking revenge on Muslims in response to the atrocities committed around the year 1757 by Abdali. It seems, Savarkar would have liked the Marathas to not merely take revenge, but to annihilate Muslim religion (Mussalmani Dharma) and exterminate the Muslim “people” and make India Muslim-free.. According to Savarkar, the Maratha army should have exterminated ordinary Muslims (i.e. not just soldiers), destroyed their mosques and raped Muslim women." This is particularly relevant in a time when BJP makes election promises of honoring Savarkar with Bharat Ratna, which can be seen as a token of gratitude for laying the foundation stones of a religious hatred on they have built their political empire.

They also take into account another major factor that has contributed heavily to the hatred against Muslims in this country, partition. They observe that "India’s partition is not documented very well. The blame can hardly be placed on the British as the main culprits, as that remains untold. So does the fact, that arson, murder and rape was done by both sides to the ‘other’. Now young authors and curators alike are trying to keep alive the history of partition through collecting stories that turn into artefacts from a dying generation into live narratives". These narratives are crafted well in order to produce hatred. Connecting to more recent times, "Khairlanji happened. Gujarat Carnage happened. Mumbai riots happened. Otherwise our next generation will only be told to remember Godhra and Mumbai Bomb Blast, but not what happened before or after."

Despite this clarity in thoughts and a good overall vision about the whole sequence of events that led to the demolition of the mosque and what happened after that, I think the book misses out on one aspect intentionally or unintentionally. It is the 'bad Muslim'. The bad Muslim does appear in a couple of articles as an element to be calmed down, but the book fails to address the so called bad Muslims or the outfits that raise the Muslim political question. Be it AIMIM, SDPI or any such groups. Dalit / Ambedkarite perspectives are also missing in the book. Also I feel there is an excess of brahmin accounts. It wouldn't do any harm even if a couple of such accounts were omitted. As Manaswini rightly points out in the book, there is a limit to the extent to which one can relate to another person's feelings, how much ever one tries. That space could have been given to more Muslim writings.

 

Times of extraordinary stress and distress have not ended

In the Foreword to the book, Professor Upendra Baxi says 'Dr Sameena Dalwai and Ramu Ramanathan collect here the reminiscences of living together in the times of some extraordinary stress and distress twenty-five years ago', but it is not only about a time frame that is twenty-five or twenty-seven year old. It is about living together in the times of extraordinary stress and distress in the current India also. It is also about how we move forward from this point.

I will end with a poem that is quoted in the book, written by Zbigniew Herbert in a poem in 1956.

 

We stand on the border
We hold out our arms
For our brothers, for our sisters
We build a great rope of hope
Yes, we stand on the border
That is called reason
We gaze back at historical fires
And we marvel at death.

 

Babri demolition, never forget, never forgive

Reading 'Babri Masjid, 25 Years On'

Babri book

The preparation was accomplished with phenomenal secrecy, was technically flawless with consistency and assured results. The theme was power. It attracted clusters of young men to support the hidden agenda. Leaders know how passions are aroused and how to prevent the same; they however always see what would be beneficial to them rather than what would be good for the nation. This is what happened in Ayodhya.” (from Liberhan Commission report on demolition of Babri mosque).

 

Preface

Babri Masjid has become history. A thing of the past.

Soon we will have a Supreme Court judgment on the case regarding the mosque, but as we know, the name of the case itself is something vague -- Ram Janmabhoomi - Babri Masjid land dispute case. It is about two entities, and just like the first one, the second one is also nearly a myth by now.

Problems with things of the past is that we soon forget what it was and where it stood. And in current India, it will not be a surprise if after a few more years it does not even find a place in the history books taught in schools. If it finds, it would only appear as a symbol of Muslim aggression. Even the court dispute has become more about beliefs and people's sentiments than about historic and archaeological evidences. Rightly so. But when an 'almost' Hindu nation weighs its sentiments, sentiments of a large section of people go unnoticed. Forgotten. Ignored.

That is precisely why an alternative recording of events become important. Alternative sources of history, when the mainstream history is limited to the heroic accounts of the dominant society and its protagonists. Ram Rajya's history is about the heroics of Ram. The villainy of Ram and his disciples will have to be heard from the backyards of history. It needs to be told nevertheless. it needs to be heard nevertheless. At least by those who do not want to be run over by these cultural bulldozers.

 

A multitude of accounts

'Babri Masjid, 25 Years On' is a book that came out in 2017, a collection of essays edited by Sameena Dalwai and Ramu Ramanathan. Irfan Engineer's name is listed as 'Journal Editor'. It comes after two other important books on the same topic -- 'The Babri Masjid Question 1528-2003: A Matter of National Honour' and 'Destruction of the Babri Masjid – A National Dishonour', both by veteran lawyer and political commentator A G Noorani. What makes this book different is the multitude of accounts and angles covered in the book, as it is told by a spectrum of authors that covers many prominent artists and activists.

I know it is too late to introduce a book that came out almost two years back, so I will stick to highlighting some parts of the book that I find important, and placing it in the context of the legal and sentimental dispute as well as the 'conscience of the society' that I am a part of.

 

Countdown and a Witness account

In his essay 'Countdown to Ayodhya', senior journalist Anant Bagaitkar describes political developments centred around the Ayodhya issue close to the demolition. He recollects how he and some other journalists secretly met a senior RSS leader and the conversation they had, where the leader clearly said they were prepared to break the structure if the Government did not yield to pressure by the end of the three month deadline that they had given. This was in July 1992. Later in September, VHP leaders VH Dalmiya and Ashok Singhal declared that a temple could not be constructed without the demolition of the Babri Masjid. In October, VHP organised a meeting of the dharma sansad to consider the future course of action on the issue. In this meeting the decision was taken to resume the kar seva and the date decided was 6 December, 1992.

He also recalls that by November end RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena workers had gathered in Ayodhya as kar sevaks, and even before 6 December, the assembled mob indulged in attacking mosques and mazars (shrines) in the vicinity of Ayodhya.

What follows is a witness account of the events from 1st to 6th December 1992, in an essay by then Maharashtra Times journalist Pratab Asbe who was entrusted with reporting the events in Ayodhya. He recollects that on 5 December, during the rehearsal of the kar seva, leaders had announced that the kar seva on 6th will only be a symbolic gesture. They said, "On 6 December, two lakh kar sevaks will put a fistful of soil in the four-acre  premises of Ram Mandir and the monks will clean the Ram Chabutra with the holy water from the river Sharayu." However, we know that was not to be the case.

On 6th December afternoon, Adwani gave an inflammatory speech that went like this, “No power in the world can stop the construction of Ram Mandir. If the central government tries to obstruct, then we will not allow the government to run. Those who have come to be martyrs let them be martyrs. Let the fortunate ones be able to make it to Lord Ram’s feet. Let them be martyred.”

It is particularly interesting how they manhandled the media persons who tried to cover the incidents of that day. "Many national and international journalists were standing near Ram Chabutra. Kar sevaks and saints started misbehaving with these media persons. The so-called holy men started abusing journalists. One of the monks was hitting a journalist from Voice of America. This was followed by a Time magazine journalist getting beaten up. Even BBC’s Mark  Tully  couldn’t  escape  this. And  then  anybody  and  everybody started hitting the journalists. Just then, television cameras faced the wrath of this aggressive mob of kar sevaks. Around 60-70 television cameras were damaged.." "only the photographers with a still camera  were able to put the cameras in a leather bag and escape. They were also followed and beaten up. As a result, the photography and video shoot of kar seva came to a halt. This attack on the press was pre-planned and a well-co-ordinated strategy.."

The final acts of the drama unfolded soon. In his own words, ~as if the doors of a dam were opened, mobs of kar sevaks started jumping on the compound surrounding the Babri Masjid. In no time, they broke the compound and entered the mosque and with an unswerving determination, climbed the mosque up to its dome. They started hitting the mosque with anything that they could catch hold of. Immediately, they were being supplied with spades, shovels and ropes. This boosted the demolition process. High on the sadistic pleasure derived from the act, kar sevaks were repeatedly attacking the mosque as if it was a living human being. Unable to withstand the shocks, the mosque began disintegrating. The soil and bricks started falling apart. At this end, the voice  on  the microphone announced, “Siyawar ramchandra ki jai, mandir yahin banayenge.” Seeing the  attack on the mosque, women spectators along with their men counterparts started dancing and shouting slogans..~

~at 2.45 p.m., the first dome of Babri Masjid was demolished. The moment the dome collapsed, Uma Bharti joyously embraced Murli Manohar Joshi. Uma Bharti and Sadhvi Rithambara shouted inflammatory slogans, instigating kar sevaks. Sadhvi Rithambara announced: “ek dhakka aur do, babri masjid tod do” (Pound and thrash till it collapses). While all this was happening, the police was also seen clapping and expressing its joy. Around 4.00 p.m. in the evening, another dome  collapsed. And then the third and the last dome at 4.46 p.m. Sadhvi Rithambara congratulated the Hindu population on the microphone by saying, “The shameful structure has fallen.”~

 

Artists' accounts

The first among the six artists' acoounts is that of theater actor, director and activist Sudhanva Deshpande of Jan Natya Manch New Delhi. He weaves his narration beginning with his memories of Operation Blue Star and Indira Gandhi assassination that he witnessed as a teenager and his experiences during 1992.

In the next essay 'How it feels to be a Muslim in India', award winning playwright Shafaat Khan talks about the post-Babri Muslim life in India and in Mumbai in particular. He says, "the Mumbai riots ensued by the demolition of the Babri Masjid had brought a change in direction. Until that time I believed that violence was in the hands of a few goondas and politicians. For the first time I saw that physically and mentally, the common man was imbibed with the destructive forces all the way. A whole society was given over to violence with a strong belief that it provided all the answers." He explains how this affected his life as a playwright and director, and how his adaptation of Asghar Wajahat’s Hindi play Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya, O Jamyai Nai, was an attempt to communicate with 'the rioters, supporters of riots and those who strengthened them by standing upright on the street.'

Unfortunately, around 27 years on, that 'whole society' is still at large, making use of every opportunity to 'annihilate the other'. The hatred machines have got more and more official channels at their disposal and perpetrators of hate crimes are rewarded with election tickets, increased popularity and more and more power.

In her essay 'Why I never wish to forget the violence', Playwright and screenplay writer for popular Marathi TV serials Manaswini Lata Ravindra tells how her mother who never wore religious symbols was forced to wear a bindi to escape violence from a Hindu mob. She also recollects memories from her school days, about how the dominant ones in the class silenced those who had different opinions, or were just different, say by name / religion. "The day the episode of Shivaji Maharaj chopping off Shaista Khan’s fingers was taught in the class, all the Hindu boys assumed themselves in the role of Shivaji and the Muslim boy was obviously considered to be Shaista  Khan. I remember the Muslim boy was so petrified that he skipped school the following day." She also tells about how she realised that at no cost will she ever be able to gain experiences from someone else’s societal environment. "How much ever one tries, it is very difficult to change your context of being someone." Which is an important point in any intersectionality we talk about these days.

Joy Sengupta writes about how he woke up to a hard realization at home, that 'the well-oiled mechanism was geared towards bringing about a preconceived, elite-driven Hindu unity'. He adds that "Middle-class India, under the mask of liberal democracy, was nothing but a sheer bunch of fence-sitters belonging to the Hindu majority waiting to cross over. This demolition just helped them unmask and breathe in soft Hindutva. Indian nationalism and the modern Indian state were getting crafted out of the affirmations of Hindutva."

Veteran theatre artist and television host Dolly Thakore has contributed with a piece titled 'Joining hands, building trust'. She was also a volunteer for an NGO 'Citizens For Peace' that did relief works in a riot-struck Mumbai. Playwright, actor and women's rights campaigner Sushma Deshpande feels the 'obsessive need for communicating the ideologies of Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule to the masses' and writes about her experience of conducting a theatre workshop for Muslim girls in Hyderabad.  She notes that 'when the whole community is under attack, the scope to address the issues and the rights of the weaker sections within that community get further eroded."

 

Activists

In her account 'Where is the place for the activist', academician and activist Shama Dalwai explains how being a Muslim or having a Muslim in family in Mumbai became a frightening prospect by end of 1980s. She says that the school that her children went to, though seemed like a liberal institution, "affixed a Muslim identity to my children by singling them out as ‘strangers’ and ‘the others’." During the Mumbai riots that broke out post the demolition of the mosque, as a Hindu mother of half-Muslim children, she recounts how she became terrified for the safety of her children (Sameena is her daughter). The police violence, mayhem by Shiv Sainiks and, most shattering, she says, was the withdrawal of the Leftist comrades from the scene. She also talks about how media selectively omitted certain kinds of news, and talks about her attempts to calm down the Muslims.

Helen Bharde, a former corporator affiliated to Indian National Congress, is a christian woman married to a Muslim. Her write-up is mostly about setting up and running the relief camp at her locality Golibar. She writes about how that place, near Santacruz, became a haven for the Muslims during the riots. How Muslims, fearing for their lives, had run away from their homes and formed a community at Golibar and sought refuge there. It does not mean it was all safe there. She recalls an incident when a young boy who was playing in the vicinity was mistaken for a rioter and shot down by the police. And 'if that wasn’t tragic enough, the old man who went to retrieve the boy was also beaten up brutally', she adds.

In her essay 'Walking the tightrope: Balancing gender and community' Flavia Agnes critiques the women’s movement that failed to create a strong alternative for women of all castes and religions.

Rekha Thakur of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh in her note writes about the 'dual agenda' of Massacring the Muslims and criminalising Bahujan at the same time. One could say it is problematic to make such a reading, as the growth of Hindutva in India from late 80s to 2019 can not be understood only as a savarna ideology. It is essentially based on hatred of Muslims (and Christians, though to a lesser extent). Many of the Sangh leaders were from OBC communities. It also succeeded in containing the OBC angst post anti-Mandal uprisings of 1990s.

In 'Riots in the pink city', M Hassan narrates Jaipur of 1989 to 92. He describes it as a period of intense polarisation and violence. How the southern hilly region, being predominantly tribal, is a fairly known ‘laboratory’ of communalism due to the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad of RSS, which spread its tentacles in each tribal settlement. About how Jaipur's Musafirkhana acted as a shelter and relief camp during communal riots, and how the Musafirkhana issued guidelines to
ward off confrontation and escalation of conflict in 1989 and 1991. Hassan writes about how the 'Game of riots' that is often played to alienate one community. It is a game that continues even now, Musaffarnagar being the latest major instance.

In her essay 'A bruised nation', Shaila Satpute, who was Maharashtra State leader of Janata Dal once, confesses that she is more afraid today than what she was during the days of riots. "At that time there were sporadic incidents of violence. Today, I notice that the seeds of hatred that were planted have grown into a poisonous tree. Now, everyone is a target. At that time, the Babri Masjid incident provided a reason for violence. Now, people don’t need a reason to resort to violence", she says.

Vaze College Physics Professor Dr. Sanjeewani Jain's account of the collective action of teachers and students is the last in the section.

 

Asghar Ali Engineer's Special Essay

Noted Islamic Scholar, social reformist and peace activist late Asghar Ali Engineer in a lengthy special essay notes that the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi controversy was one of the major controversies which was exploited politically to the hilt  in  post-independence  India. He also connects it to theShah Bano controversy during 1985-86, and feels that had the controversial Muslim Women’s Bill not been passed in early 1986, the Ram Janmabhoomi controversy would not have arisen. He criticizes not only BJP and Shiv Sena, but also Congress for the cynical exploitation of Babri issue for winning 1989 elections, in an attempt to capture 'popular imagination'.

Engineer gives a summary of the history of the controversy and observes that the 'historical' accounts suggesting that Babar demolished a temple before erecting a mosque there are based on prejudices and guesswork. To quote from his essay, ~The translator of Babar’s Memoirs Mrs AF, Beveridge in a footnote suggests that Babar being a Muslim, and “impressed by the dignity and sanctity of the ancient Hindu shrine” would have displaced “at least in part” the temple to erect the mosque. She bases her inference on the fact that Babar being Muslim must have been intolerant of other faiths and thus demolished the temple which was supposedly in existence there. It is, at best, a very generalised inference..~

He adds that there is no doubt that the laying of the foundation stone of Ram Janmabhumi on 9 November, 1989 could not have been done without the connivance of the then Government led by Rajiv Gandhi, and how KK Nayar who was DM of Faizabad resisted all attempts to remove the idol when an idol first 'appeared' in those premises in 1949 and how Congress was helpless at that time. He feela that "if locking (the premises) was murder of justice and ideals of secularism, its unlocking (in 1986, opening it for Hindus to worship) was greater injustice and outright slaughter of ideals of secularism." He concludes the essay with the most sane thing to say, that we should "do every thing possible to resolve this issue through constructive dialogue in the spirit of reconciliation" and it is "highly necessary to arrange a round-table dialogue between the religious and secular leaders of the two communities."

 

Strengths, and what it lacks

The book is not by any means an apologetic one. Irfan Engineer does not mince his words when he says "Twenty-five years ago, Babri Masjid came crumbling down on 6 December 1992, amidst massive mobilisation by the Sangh Parivar -- organisations affiliated to right-wing Hindu supremacist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.." That itself is the major strength of the book.

Sameena Dalwai and Ramu Ramanathan do not see the demolition of the Babri mosque as an isolated incident, and they place it in a context. Reading from Sangh Parivar idol Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's book Six Epochs of Indian History, they observe that "In this, Savarkar admonishes Marathas for not taking revenge on Muslims in response to the atrocities committed around the year 1757 by Abdali. It seems, Savarkar would have liked the Marathas to not merely take revenge, but to annihilate Muslim religion (Mussalmani Dharma) and exterminate the Muslim “people” and make India Muslim-free.. According to Savarkar, the Maratha army should have exterminated ordinary Muslims (i.e. not just soldiers), destroyed their mosques and raped Muslim women." This is particularly relevant in a time when BJP makes election promises of honoring Savarkar with Bharat Ratna, which can be seen as a token of gratitude for laying the foundation stones of a religious hatred on they have built their political empire.

They also take into account another major factor that has contributed heavily to the hatred against Muslims in this country, partition. They observe that "India’s partition is not documented very well. The blame can hardly be placed on the British as the main culprits, as that remains untold. So does the fact, that arson, murder and rape was done by both sides to the ‘other’. Now young authors and curators alike are trying to keep alive the history of partition through collecting stories that turn into artefacts from a dying generation into live narratives". These narratives are crafted well in order to produce hatred. Connecting to more recent times, "Khairlanji happened. Gujarat Carnage happened. Mumbai riots happened. Otherwise our next generation will only be told to remember Godhra and Mumbai Bomb Blast, but not what happened before or after."

Despite this clarity in thoughts and a good overall vision about the whole sequence of events that led to the demolition of the mosque and what happened after that, I think the book misses out on one aspect intentionally or unintentionally. It is the 'bad Muslim'. The bad Muslim does appear in a couple of articles as an element to be calmed down, but the book fails to address the so called bad Muslims or the outfits that raise the Muslim political question. Be it AIMIM, SDPI or any such groups. Dalit / Ambedkarite perspectives are also missing in the book. Also I feel there is an excess of brahmin accounts. It wouldn't do any harm even if a couple of such accounts were omitted. As Manaswini rightly points out in the book, there is a limit to the extent to which one can relate to another person's feelings, how much ever one tries. That space could have been given to more Muslim writings.

 

Times of extraordinary stress and distress have not ended

In the Foreword to the book, Professor Upendra Baxi says 'Dr Sameena Dalwai and Ramu Ramanathan collect here the reminiscences of living together in the times of some extraordinary stress and distress twenty-five years ago', but it is not only about a time frame that is twenty-five or twenty-seven year old. It is about living together in the times of extraordinary stress and distress in the current India also. It is also about how we move forward from this point.

I will end with a poem that is quoted in the book, written by Zbigniew Herbert in a poem in 1956.

 

We stand on the border
We hold out our arms
For our brothers, for our sisters
We build a great rope of hope
Yes, we stand on the border
That is called reason
We gaze back at historical fires
And we marvel at death.

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

Rajiv Shah 14 Nov 2019

Buddhist stupa

ASI excavations: Pix by Prof Supriya Varma

A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

Noting that “there was Buddhist occupation” in Ayodhya then, Prof Varma, in an interview recently  “updated” in Huffington Post following the Supreme Court’s verdict handing over the Babri site to build a Ram Lalla temple, said, this is what even Alexander Cunningham, the first director general of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), also said after he carried out “some kind of survey” around the Ayodhya region in 1861-62.

Belonging to the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and inserted as observers in the ASI team excavating the site following a Sunni Waqf Board plea in the Babri case, Prof Varma says, Cunningham mentioned three mounds, two of whom had some kind of Buddhist Stupa and one had a Vihara. Varma was recommended to the Sunni Waqf Board, along with Jaya Menon of the history department of the Shiv Nadar University.

According to Prof Varma, whose name was recommended to the Sunni Waqf Board by Prof Irfan Habib, one of the top-most Indian historians, currently professor-emeritus, Aligarh Muslim University, “Outside the Babri Masjid, there are several other archeological mounds which seem to be sites of Buddhist stupas as well as monasteries. There was clearly a Buddhist community here, in the period, roughly from the 2nd century BC to 6th century AD.”

She adds, “To us, it looks like this was then abandoned and reoccupied sometime around the 11th-12th century and possibly because there was a Muslim settlement that came up. And they had a small mosque, which was expanded as the community increased, in size and finally a much larger mosque was built by Babar in 1528.”

Insisting that “there is no evidence” of of the narrative that “Babar's general Mir Baqi knocked down a temple to build a mosque”, as suggested by ASI, Prof Varma says, there is only “oral tradition that starts coming up in the late 19th century and it is recorded in a colonial period gazetteer.” She adds, even when Alexander Cunningham recorded these oral traditions during his travel to Ayodhya around 1861-62.

How do you explain finding animal bones in a Vaishnav temple? ASI did not want that recorded. Bones were not dated. Labour they had hired were just throwing the bones away

According to Prof Varma, Cunningham “does not mention a temple being underneath the Babri Masjid”, adding, “He talks about three temples, there is oral tradition of three temples being destroyed, but these are not underneath the Babri Masjid. They are some other temples in Ayodhya.”

Taking up issue with those who claim that “this is the site of Ram Temple, which is a Vaishnav temple”, Prof Varma says, here, “generally, you would not expect to find any bones because of this vegetarianism etc., but when they started excavating, they started finding a lot of bones, animal bones.”

Wondering how “do you explain finding animal bones in a Vaishnav temple”, she says ASI, strangely “did not want that recorded”, adding, “We noticed that the labour they had hired were just throwing the bones away.”

She adds, “The other thing they were also doing, there is a certain pottery, ceramic type, which is known as glazed ware, which is generally associated with Muslim communities. They were finding a lot of this glazed ware. Those again were being thrown.”

In fact, according to her, there is an entire chapter on the trenches in the ASI report and a chapter of chronology, a chapter on different structures, on pottery, yet “what is missing is a chapter on bones and human skeletal remains. That is what they also found but they never published it.

Calling it procedural “violation of an ethical code”, Prof Varma says, worse, ASI “did not date” the bones. Pointing out that they did complain about this, she adds, also, “you would not expect glazed ware in a Vaishnav temple.”

According to her, the issue acquired so much of a political character, “As far as foreign archeologists are concerned, they would not want to get entangled in it. If they wish to do any other archeological work in India, they would not want that to be jeopardised.”

As for the ASI and its archeologists Prof Varma opines, “They really are now no longer considered to have any kind of expertise. They haven't kept up to date with the latest methods, the recent theoretical developments, and they really just see it as more as an administrative job than as an academic discipline.”

Courtesy: counterview.net

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

Buddhist stupa

ASI excavations: Pix by Prof Supriya Varma

A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

Noting that “there was Buddhist occupation” in Ayodhya then, Prof Varma, in an interview recently  “updated” in Huffington Post following the Supreme Court’s verdict handing over the Babri site to build a Ram Lalla temple, said, this is what even Alexander Cunningham, the first director general of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), also said after he carried out “some kind of survey” around the Ayodhya region in 1861-62.

Belonging to the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and inserted as observers in the ASI team excavating the site following a Sunni Waqf Board plea in the Babri case, Prof Varma says, Cunningham mentioned three mounds, two of whom had some kind of Buddhist Stupa and one had a Vihara. Varma was recommended to the Sunni Waqf Board, along with Jaya Menon of the history department of the Shiv Nadar University.

According to Prof Varma, whose name was recommended to the Sunni Waqf Board by Prof Irfan Habib, one of the top-most Indian historians, currently professor-emeritus, Aligarh Muslim University, “Outside the Babri Masjid, there are several other archeological mounds which seem to be sites of Buddhist stupas as well as monasteries. There was clearly a Buddhist community here, in the period, roughly from the 2nd century BC to 6th century AD.”

She adds, “To us, it looks like this was then abandoned and reoccupied sometime around the 11th-12th century and possibly because there was a Muslim settlement that came up. And they had a small mosque, which was expanded as the community increased, in size and finally a much larger mosque was built by Babar in 1528.”

Insisting that “there is no evidence” of of the narrative that “Babar's general Mir Baqi knocked down a temple to build a mosque”, as suggested by ASI, Prof Varma says, there is only “oral tradition that starts coming up in the late 19th century and it is recorded in a colonial period gazetteer.” She adds, even when Alexander Cunningham recorded these oral traditions during his travel to Ayodhya around 1861-62.

How do you explain finding animal bones in a Vaishnav temple? ASI did not want that recorded. Bones were not dated. Labour they had hired were just throwing the bones away

According to Prof Varma, Cunningham “does not mention a temple being underneath the Babri Masjid”, adding, “He talks about three temples, there is oral tradition of three temples being destroyed, but these are not underneath the Babri Masjid. They are some other temples in Ayodhya.”

Taking up issue with those who claim that “this is the site of Ram Temple, which is a Vaishnav temple”, Prof Varma says, here, “generally, you would not expect to find any bones because of this vegetarianism etc., but when they started excavating, they started finding a lot of bones, animal bones.”

Wondering how “do you explain finding animal bones in a Vaishnav temple”, she says ASI, strangely “did not want that recorded”, adding, “We noticed that the labour they had hired were just throwing the bones away.”

She adds, “The other thing they were also doing, there is a certain pottery, ceramic type, which is known as glazed ware, which is generally associated with Muslim communities. They were finding a lot of this glazed ware. Those again were being thrown.”

In fact, according to her, there is an entire chapter on the trenches in the ASI report and a chapter of chronology, a chapter on different structures, on pottery, yet “what is missing is a chapter on bones and human skeletal remains. That is what they also found but they never published it.

Calling it procedural “violation of an ethical code”, Prof Varma says, worse, ASI “did not date” the bones. Pointing out that they did complain about this, she adds, also, “you would not expect glazed ware in a Vaishnav temple.”

According to her, the issue acquired so much of a political character, “As far as foreign archeologists are concerned, they would not want to get entangled in it. If they wish to do any other archeological work in India, they would not want that to be jeopardised.”

As for the ASI and its archeologists Prof Varma opines, “They really are now no longer considered to have any kind of expertise. They haven't kept up to date with the latest methods, the recent theoretical developments, and they really just see it as more as an administrative job than as an academic discipline.”

Courtesy: counterview.net

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

When matters of faith prevail over rule of law

The Ayodhya dispute

Akhil Katyal 14 Nov 2019

 

When matters of faith prevail over rule of law

The Ayodhya dispute

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Domino Effect: Hindu Mahasabha seeks withdrawal of cases against karsevaks

72 hours in, The Hindu Mahasabha writes a letter to the PM and other BJP leaders for their help on the matter

Sabrangindia 13 Nov 2019

Hindu Mahasabha

Image Courtesy: nationalheraldindia.com

Bolstered by the Ayodhya verdict, the Hindu Mahasabha, a right-win organization has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, requesting them to dismiss the criminal cases registered against the karsevaks who were part of the Babri Masjid demolition act.

 

India Today

Those against whom the cases were filed include the names of 47 BJP leaders among hundreds of others. Among those accused in the case are senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Uma Bharti, MurliManohar Joshi, etc. A final decision in the case is expected by April 2020.

 

Anin Banerjee

The letter has been written by Swami Chakrapani, president of the Mahasabha, who was also a party in the Ayodhya land dispute case.

In addition to the request of the criminal cases being withdrawn, the Mahasabha has also demanded for ‘martyr’ status for those karsevaks who died in Ayodhya in 1992 and that the BJP leaders use the term ‘Dharmik Sainani’ (religious fighters) to address them.

Apart from this, they Mahasabha has asked for financial assistance and government jobs for the families of deceased karsevaks and wants a plaque with their names to be put up.

A report by the Deccan Herald says that according to the Liberhan Commission’s findings, nearly 5,000 karsevaks pulled down the domes of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. Before that, on October 30, 1990, karsevaks were fired upon during an attempt to do karseva in Ayodhya, near the disputed site, killing many ensuing a nationwide protest.

The demand of the Hindu Mahasabha comes in just 3 days after the Supreme Court brought to a closure, albeit in a flawed manner, one of the most long running legal battles in the country – the Ayodhya land dispute verdict. It ruled in the favour of Ram Lalla, giving the Hindu side exclusive ownership rights to the disputed land of 2.77 acres in Ayodhya.

Meanwhile, top BJP’s senior brass, along with its allies, the Rashtriya Swayam sevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is distancing itself from the demand of temples in Kashi and Mathura.

In Kashi, Gyanvapi mosque shares a boundary wall with the Kashi Vishwanath temple and in Mathura, the ShahiIdgah mosque stands beside the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple premises.

Replying to a query on whether the RSS would now take the movement to Kashi and Mathura, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said, “The Sangh doesn’t get involved in any movement (andolan). We work towards character building.”

Believing these statements is a naïve move. After the verdict, at a press conference, VHP working President Alok Kumar said that Ayodhya was not the end of the story. He said, "About Kashi and Mathura, I must make it clear that Supreme Court judgement is not the end of the story, it is the beginning.” RSS is an ally of the VHP which played a pivotal role in the battle along with Bajrang Dal. They’re all part of the Sangh parivar. One’s words echo another’s.

To take their statements at face value would be gravely misunderstanding that these are just pacifying measures full of hypocrisy and must not be trusted.

Related:

Ayodhya Verdict: RSS’ Moderation Smacks of Hypocrisy
Ayodhya Dispute Case: Does the tortuous journey end now?
Ayodhya still awaits justice

Domino Effect: Hindu Mahasabha seeks withdrawal of cases against karsevaks

72 hours in, The Hindu Mahasabha writes a letter to the PM and other BJP leaders for their help on the matter

Hindu Mahasabha

Image Courtesy: nationalheraldindia.com

Bolstered by the Ayodhya verdict, the Hindu Mahasabha, a right-win organization has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, requesting them to dismiss the criminal cases registered against the karsevaks who were part of the Babri Masjid demolition act.

 

India Today

Those against whom the cases were filed include the names of 47 BJP leaders among hundreds of others. Among those accused in the case are senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Uma Bharti, MurliManohar Joshi, etc. A final decision in the case is expected by April 2020.

 

Anin Banerjee

The letter has been written by Swami Chakrapani, president of the Mahasabha, who was also a party in the Ayodhya land dispute case.

In addition to the request of the criminal cases being withdrawn, the Mahasabha has also demanded for ‘martyr’ status for those karsevaks who died in Ayodhya in 1992 and that the BJP leaders use the term ‘Dharmik Sainani’ (religious fighters) to address them.

Apart from this, they Mahasabha has asked for financial assistance and government jobs for the families of deceased karsevaks and wants a plaque with their names to be put up.

A report by the Deccan Herald says that according to the Liberhan Commission’s findings, nearly 5,000 karsevaks pulled down the domes of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. Before that, on October 30, 1990, karsevaks were fired upon during an attempt to do karseva in Ayodhya, near the disputed site, killing many ensuing a nationwide protest.

The demand of the Hindu Mahasabha comes in just 3 days after the Supreme Court brought to a closure, albeit in a flawed manner, one of the most long running legal battles in the country – the Ayodhya land dispute verdict. It ruled in the favour of Ram Lalla, giving the Hindu side exclusive ownership rights to the disputed land of 2.77 acres in Ayodhya.

Meanwhile, top BJP’s senior brass, along with its allies, the Rashtriya Swayam sevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is distancing itself from the demand of temples in Kashi and Mathura.

In Kashi, Gyanvapi mosque shares a boundary wall with the Kashi Vishwanath temple and in Mathura, the ShahiIdgah mosque stands beside the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple premises.

Replying to a query on whether the RSS would now take the movement to Kashi and Mathura, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said, “The Sangh doesn’t get involved in any movement (andolan). We work towards character building.”

Believing these statements is a naïve move. After the verdict, at a press conference, VHP working President Alok Kumar said that Ayodhya was not the end of the story. He said, "About Kashi and Mathura, I must make it clear that Supreme Court judgement is not the end of the story, it is the beginning.” RSS is an ally of the VHP which played a pivotal role in the battle along with Bajrang Dal. They’re all part of the Sangh parivar. One’s words echo another’s.

To take their statements at face value would be gravely misunderstanding that these are just pacifying measures full of hypocrisy and must not be trusted.

Related:

Ayodhya Verdict: RSS’ Moderation Smacks of Hypocrisy
Ayodhya Dispute Case: Does the tortuous journey end now?
Ayodhya still awaits justice

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

VHP: Babri demolition anniversary this year will be a closed-door affair

Members say they’ve been instructed to refrain from any celebrations in a bid to maintain communal harmony

Priyanka Kavish 13 Nov 2019

Babri

For the first time in 27 years, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has promised that the Babri Masjid demolition anniversary on December 6 will be a low-key affair, reported The Times of India.

The Sangh outfit that has been celebrating the anniversary as ‘Shaurya Diwas’ organizes yagnas and special prayers for the Ram temple and pays tributes to kar sevaks who were involved in the Babri demolition.
 

How the VHP celebrates

Traditionally celebrated, the VHP used to plan a number of ‘religious’ programmes including ‘hawan’ for the temple to be constructed in Ayodhya.

Last year VHP spokesperson Sharad Sharma had said that the outfit would offer special prayers to Goddess Saraswati so that she could help people, especially politicians, by removing any obstruction in their path of constructing the temple.

"Sarva baadha mukti hawans [hawans seeking to get rid of all obstructions] will be held. Tributes will also be paid to the 'karsewaks' who faced the bullets”, he had said.

The VHP also planned a ‘Dharam Sansad’ in Delhi which was to deliberate on the Ram temple issue, cow protection and the Ganges.

Mahant Ramdas of the Nirmohi akhara had stated that December 6 was special as Ramjanmabhoomi was ‘liberated’ from a Mughal structure.

Last year, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had backed the VHP’s celebrations saying, “VHP has a right to observe the day as they have led the movement. Babri Masjid was an eyesore for everybody.”

This year, Sharad Sharma had given a memorandum to the Ayodhya Divisional Commissioner Manoj Mishra, seeking permission to light diyas at the disputed site on the festival of Diwali.
 

Hypocritical u-turn

After the arm-wresting and heckling for decades, this year, in the wake of the Supreme Court (SC) verdict, the VHP national general secretary said, “This time, all programmes will be a closed-door affair and there won’t be any public display.”

Ahead of the SC verdict the VHP had suspended all programmes and training camps, waiting for further orders from the central leadership. VHP’s Awadh general secretary had said, “Despite the SC ruling in favour of a Ram temple, we have been instructed not to celebrate and maintain communal harmony.”

Question is – Won’t it go back to a chest-thumping religious display of majoritarianism in the face of the Muslims next year onward? What will happen to all its claims of maintaining harmony and peace then?
 

Trust over trust?

After the verdict, the Centre has asked for a trust to be set up for the construction of a temple at the Ramjanmabhoomi site in Ayodhya. The VHP has suggested that Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath be included in it.

While the VHP has said it hopes that the temple will constructed as per the design of the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas, it maintains that it will be the Centre’s decision as to when the trust would be formed and when the temple construction would begin.

However, some mahants and sadhus connected with the Ayodhya movement have opposed the Centre’s mandate stating that there is no requirement for a new trust, as one (Nyas) already exists.

Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, President of the Nyas, in a statement, said: "The trust (Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas) already exists, we can give a big shape to it, and new members would be added as per need."

Mahant Suresh Das, mahant of Digambar Akhara, who has a long association with the Ram temple movement, said: "The court has very clearly said that the new trust is to be formed and it is the responsibility of the Union government to form the Trust, not of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, though representatives of Nyas should be in the Trust."

Meanwhile, VHP working president Alok Kumar has made another asinine statement. He said, "The VHP is of the view that government should not spend any money on temple construction. Our insistence is that the entire money should come from devotees and no government fund should be spent on it.”
 

Insincere VHP?

Alok Kumar had just last week said that the Supreme Court announced its verdict on Ayodhya land dispute case was "not end of the story but beginning of it", the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Saturday said it was "one of our activities" and the organisation would continue to do the other "constructive works and projects that we are running to organise to the society".

Now while the VHP seems to be giving out peacekeeping statements, the real question is – why can’t the Babri Masjid demolition anniversary be abolished once and for all, now that the SC verdict has ruled in the favour of the VHP’s demands?

Won’t that be the best way for the VHP to walk the talk?
 

Related:

UP police arrests more than 80 people in 2 days since Ayodhya verdict
What the Babri Judgment portends for the Future
Glaring loose ends: Is all fair in the Ayodhya verdict?
Muslim Organizations appeal for peace, law and order before Ayodhya verdict
Ayodhya Verdict: RSS’ Moderation Smacks of Hypocrisy

VHP: Babri demolition anniversary this year will be a closed-door affair

Members say they’ve been instructed to refrain from any celebrations in a bid to maintain communal harmony

Babri

For the first time in 27 years, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has promised that the Babri Masjid demolition anniversary on December 6 will be a low-key affair, reported The Times of India.

The Sangh outfit that has been celebrating the anniversary as ‘Shaurya Diwas’ organizes yagnas and special prayers for the Ram temple and pays tributes to kar sevaks who were involved in the Babri demolition.
 

How the VHP celebrates

Traditionally celebrated, the VHP used to plan a number of ‘religious’ programmes including ‘hawan’ for the temple to be constructed in Ayodhya.

Last year VHP spokesperson Sharad Sharma had said that the outfit would offer special prayers to Goddess Saraswati so that she could help people, especially politicians, by removing any obstruction in their path of constructing the temple.

"Sarva baadha mukti hawans [hawans seeking to get rid of all obstructions] will be held. Tributes will also be paid to the 'karsewaks' who faced the bullets”, he had said.

The VHP also planned a ‘Dharam Sansad’ in Delhi which was to deliberate on the Ram temple issue, cow protection and the Ganges.

Mahant Ramdas of the Nirmohi akhara had stated that December 6 was special as Ramjanmabhoomi was ‘liberated’ from a Mughal structure.

Last year, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had backed the VHP’s celebrations saying, “VHP has a right to observe the day as they have led the movement. Babri Masjid was an eyesore for everybody.”

This year, Sharad Sharma had given a memorandum to the Ayodhya Divisional Commissioner Manoj Mishra, seeking permission to light diyas at the disputed site on the festival of Diwali.
 

Hypocritical u-turn

After the arm-wresting and heckling for decades, this year, in the wake of the Supreme Court (SC) verdict, the VHP national general secretary said, “This time, all programmes will be a closed-door affair and there won’t be any public display.”

Ahead of the SC verdict the VHP had suspended all programmes and training camps, waiting for further orders from the central leadership. VHP’s Awadh general secretary had said, “Despite the SC ruling in favour of a Ram temple, we have been instructed not to celebrate and maintain communal harmony.”

Question is – Won’t it go back to a chest-thumping religious display of majoritarianism in the face of the Muslims next year onward? What will happen to all its claims of maintaining harmony and peace then?
 

Trust over trust?

After the verdict, the Centre has asked for a trust to be set up for the construction of a temple at the Ramjanmabhoomi site in Ayodhya. The VHP has suggested that Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath be included in it.

While the VHP has said it hopes that the temple will constructed as per the design of the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas, it maintains that it will be the Centre’s decision as to when the trust would be formed and when the temple construction would begin.

However, some mahants and sadhus connected with the Ayodhya movement have opposed the Centre’s mandate stating that there is no requirement for a new trust, as one (Nyas) already exists.

Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, President of the Nyas, in a statement, said: "The trust (Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas) already exists, we can give a big shape to it, and new members would be added as per need."

Mahant Suresh Das, mahant of Digambar Akhara, who has a long association with the Ram temple movement, said: "The court has very clearly said that the new trust is to be formed and it is the responsibility of the Union government to form the Trust, not of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, though representatives of Nyas should be in the Trust."

Meanwhile, VHP working president Alok Kumar has made another asinine statement. He said, "The VHP is of the view that government should not spend any money on temple construction. Our insistence is that the entire money should come from devotees and no government fund should be spent on it.”
 

Insincere VHP?

Alok Kumar had just last week said that the Supreme Court announced its verdict on Ayodhya land dispute case was "not end of the story but beginning of it", the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Saturday said it was "one of our activities" and the organisation would continue to do the other "constructive works and projects that we are running to organise to the society".

Now while the VHP seems to be giving out peacekeeping statements, the real question is – why can’t the Babri Masjid demolition anniversary be abolished once and for all, now that the SC verdict has ruled in the favour of the VHP’s demands?

Won’t that be the best way for the VHP to walk the talk?
 

Related:

UP police arrests more than 80 people in 2 days since Ayodhya verdict
What the Babri Judgment portends for the Future
Glaring loose ends: Is all fair in the Ayodhya verdict?
Muslim Organizations appeal for peace, law and order before Ayodhya verdict
Ayodhya Verdict: RSS’ Moderation Smacks of Hypocrisy

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Another cattle trader killed: Bihar’s losing count of lynchings

Muhammad Jamal was attacked late on Monday night while he was taking a dozen cows and bullocks on foot towards Kumedpur

Sabrangindia 13 Nov 2019

Cattle traders

Muhammad Jamal, a trader, taking cattle to sell at a weekly market has been lynched to death in Bihar’s Katihar district, The Telegraph reported. He was attacked late on Monday night on Labha Bridge by a group when he was in the process of transporting 18 cows and bullocks on foot towards Kumedpur.

Jamal who was accompanied by his brother Muhammad Kamal and two others, who managed to escape. The crowd claims that Jamal’s cattle hit a motorcycle belonging to one of their members, following which he was thrashed.

Reports say that he was beaten to death for refusing to pay extortion money by the miscreants, namely Sagar Yadav and Liladhar Yadav, who demanded money from them near the Labha bridge.

A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against Liladhar Yadav, two of his brother and his father Sagar Yadav, Katihar Sadar, Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Anil Kumar said.

Police said the murder was the result of personal enmity. “One Liladhar Yadav, who was previously engaged in cattle trade and had enmity with Jamal, is involved in the incident. He, along with his associates, thrashed Jamal to death on the pretext that a motorcycle belonging to them was hit by the cattle,” Katihar SP Vikash Kumar told The Telegraph.

Meanwhile, people blocked the Katihar-Gerabari NH 31 on Tuesday to protest the killing and demanded that a compensation of Rs 25 lakh be paid to the family of the deceased and that the accused be arrested immediately.

However, the police had made no arrest till late Tuesday evening.
 

Nitish Kumar’s frivolity

From July to September, Bihar saw 39 cases of mob attacks and lynchings being registered. In these attacks, 14 people have died and 45 have been grievously injured. A good number of these cases were based on rumours of child lifting.

Bihar does not have a specific law to tackle lynching. All that Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar has said that those who have been accused in these cases will not be eligible for government jobs, and those accused who already hold one, will be removed.

Police officials said 278 people have been arrested in 39 incidents since July. With the help of video footage, action is being taken by marking people involved in mob lynching.

The Wire reported additional DGP, CID Vinay Kumar as saying, “In mob lynching cases, we often book unidentified people. We are now focusing more on identifying faces in the crowd with help of video footage gathered through media and local people. The objective is to ensure that people do not take law in their hands.”

“In recent cases, over 2,000 unknown people are booked. Despite several warnings, people continued to take law in their hands because of unfounded rumours,” he added. That is why the decision to make government jobs and contracts conditional was reached.
 

Why the lynchings continue unabated

While three states, namely West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have passed ‘anti-lynching’ bills in their Assembly, they lie gathering dust on the President’s table.

In July 2018, the Supreme Court had passed directives urging that the Parliament enact a law to deal with lynchings, the crime that “threatens rule of law and the country’s social fabric. It has also passed an 11 point prescription which included state governments designating a nodal officer for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.

While the non-implementation of these guidelines is a major factor in the unceasing events, it is also the attitude of the police that matters in abating such occurrences. A report by Delhi-based NGO Common Cause and Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) showed that 35% of police personnel interviewed thought it was natural for the mob to punish the ‘culprit’ in cases of cow slaughter.

This also explains why – as revealed by a report published in 2017 – the police registered cases against the victims and survivors of mob lynchings in 30% of the cases, and why, in 5% of the attacks, no report of the attackers being arrested was recorded.

Another issue is the issue of instant justice being served. The mob claiming themselves to be duty bound to preserve their religion and beliefs, has made them monstrous in their approach of delivering justice. With rising right-wing nationalism, the spread of Islamophobia by fascists and the already existing, deeply ingrained caste hierarchy, the largely nationalistic mob seems like it is out to get Muslims, Dalits, tribals and whoever doesn’t fit their version of ‘right’.

Hate crimes have increased to 60% against Muslims, and the report by CSDS shows the deep-seated bias in the minds of the people when it says that 50% of the cops feel that Muslims are naturally prone to crime.

The heightened ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach and a lack of accountability on the part of the administration, the police and the people in power, is going to only foster and bolster the occurrence of such events.

The reason a judiciary exists, is because the concept of ‘instant’ justice is flawed. It is time that the murderous mob is questioned for its actions or for slowly chipping away at democracy.

 

Related:

Lynch Nation: A documentary that makes you confront lynch mob survivors

How MASUKA, a draft law against lynching, went from being popular to being forgotten

Cows are safer in Modi’s India than Muslims

How the govt’s inaction over cattle trade rules allowed cow vigilantism to thrive

2017 Deadliest Year For Cow-Related Hate Crime Since 2010, 86% Of Those Killed Muslim

Child-Lifting Rumours: 33 Killed In 69 Mob Attacks Since Jan 2017. Before That Only 1 Attack In 2012

Another cattle trader killed: Bihar’s losing count of lynchings

Muhammad Jamal was attacked late on Monday night while he was taking a dozen cows and bullocks on foot towards Kumedpur

Cattle traders

Muhammad Jamal, a trader, taking cattle to sell at a weekly market has been lynched to death in Bihar’s Katihar district, The Telegraph reported. He was attacked late on Monday night on Labha Bridge by a group when he was in the process of transporting 18 cows and bullocks on foot towards Kumedpur.

Jamal who was accompanied by his brother Muhammad Kamal and two others, who managed to escape. The crowd claims that Jamal’s cattle hit a motorcycle belonging to one of their members, following which he was thrashed.

Reports say that he was beaten to death for refusing to pay extortion money by the miscreants, namely Sagar Yadav and Liladhar Yadav, who demanded money from them near the Labha bridge.

A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against Liladhar Yadav, two of his brother and his father Sagar Yadav, Katihar Sadar, Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Anil Kumar said.

Police said the murder was the result of personal enmity. “One Liladhar Yadav, who was previously engaged in cattle trade and had enmity with Jamal, is involved in the incident. He, along with his associates, thrashed Jamal to death on the pretext that a motorcycle belonging to them was hit by the cattle,” Katihar SP Vikash Kumar told The Telegraph.

Meanwhile, people blocked the Katihar-Gerabari NH 31 on Tuesday to protest the killing and demanded that a compensation of Rs 25 lakh be paid to the family of the deceased and that the accused be arrested immediately.

However, the police had made no arrest till late Tuesday evening.
 

Nitish Kumar’s frivolity

From July to September, Bihar saw 39 cases of mob attacks and lynchings being registered. In these attacks, 14 people have died and 45 have been grievously injured. A good number of these cases were based on rumours of child lifting.

Bihar does not have a specific law to tackle lynching. All that Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar has said that those who have been accused in these cases will not be eligible for government jobs, and those accused who already hold one, will be removed.

Police officials said 278 people have been arrested in 39 incidents since July. With the help of video footage, action is being taken by marking people involved in mob lynching.

The Wire reported additional DGP, CID Vinay Kumar as saying, “In mob lynching cases, we often book unidentified people. We are now focusing more on identifying faces in the crowd with help of video footage gathered through media and local people. The objective is to ensure that people do not take law in their hands.”

“In recent cases, over 2,000 unknown people are booked. Despite several warnings, people continued to take law in their hands because of unfounded rumours,” he added. That is why the decision to make government jobs and contracts conditional was reached.
 

Why the lynchings continue unabated

While three states, namely West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have passed ‘anti-lynching’ bills in their Assembly, they lie gathering dust on the President’s table.

In July 2018, the Supreme Court had passed directives urging that the Parliament enact a law to deal with lynchings, the crime that “threatens rule of law and the country’s social fabric. It has also passed an 11 point prescription which included state governments designating a nodal officer for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.

While the non-implementation of these guidelines is a major factor in the unceasing events, it is also the attitude of the police that matters in abating such occurrences. A report by Delhi-based NGO Common Cause and Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) showed that 35% of police personnel interviewed thought it was natural for the mob to punish the ‘culprit’ in cases of cow slaughter.

This also explains why – as revealed by a report published in 2017 – the police registered cases against the victims and survivors of mob lynchings in 30% of the cases, and why, in 5% of the attacks, no report of the attackers being arrested was recorded.

Another issue is the issue of instant justice being served. The mob claiming themselves to be duty bound to preserve their religion and beliefs, has made them monstrous in their approach of delivering justice. With rising right-wing nationalism, the spread of Islamophobia by fascists and the already existing, deeply ingrained caste hierarchy, the largely nationalistic mob seems like it is out to get Muslims, Dalits, tribals and whoever doesn’t fit their version of ‘right’.

Hate crimes have increased to 60% against Muslims, and the report by CSDS shows the deep-seated bias in the minds of the people when it says that 50% of the cops feel that Muslims are naturally prone to crime.

The heightened ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach and a lack of accountability on the part of the administration, the police and the people in power, is going to only foster and bolster the occurrence of such events.

The reason a judiciary exists, is because the concept of ‘instant’ justice is flawed. It is time that the murderous mob is questioned for its actions or for slowly chipping away at democracy.

 

Related:

Lynch Nation: A documentary that makes you confront lynch mob survivors

How MASUKA, a draft law against lynching, went from being popular to being forgotten

Cows are safer in Modi’s India than Muslims

How the govt’s inaction over cattle trade rules allowed cow vigilantism to thrive

2017 Deadliest Year For Cow-Related Hate Crime Since 2010, 86% Of Those Killed Muslim

Child-Lifting Rumours: 33 Killed In 69 Mob Attacks Since Jan 2017. Before That Only 1 Attack In 2012

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Political dimensions of Ayodhya verdict

Brinda Karat 13 Nov 2019

Ayodhya Verdict

The Supreme Court judgement on the Ayodhya case has brought a long-standing dispute to a legal end.

-Of course the right to demand a review is there, but whether any of the parties will exercise that right is not yet clear.

-The way the issue developed, it was obvious that the only way forward was through a judicial verdict. That verdict is now out.

There is no alternative but to accept it. But acceptance does not necessarily mean closure.

Nations, communities, people, individuals in different contexts and times get closure when in the finale, there is no feeling of deprivation or injustice.

It cannot be said that the Ayodhya judgement meets these standards. It will be accepted but it is unlikely to bring closure.

There are certain premises, quite fundamental to the final verdict, which are questionable.

But a caveat is required.

The reference to the "Hindu" side and the "Muslim" side should be seen as reference only to the parties in the suit and not referring to these parties as representing their respective communities.

We know that there are substantial sections of Hindus who are appalled by the actions which have gone on in their name.

Within the Muslim community too, there are different views. Therefore the reference is only in so far as the judgement refers to the parties in this manner.

The basic question which is troubling is that after the judgement accepts that the demolition of the mosque in 1992 and the placing of the idols in 1949 were "serious violations of the law", why does the court reward the serious violators of the law by handing over the entire land to them?

Are there any overwhelming issues which would support such a decision? The judgement does not provide any convincing reasons.

The judgement acknowledged, though perhaps inadvertently, the political dimensions.

One of the reasons given while rejecting the Allahabad High Court judgement mandating division of the disputed land into three equal parts was that it "will not restore a lasting sense of peace and tranquility."

Therefore, one can assume that the Supreme Court believed one of the aims of its judgement must be to "restore a lasting sense of peace and tranquility."

This would be based more on a political assessment rather than one based on legal issues.

Till just a few days before the judgement was made public, when the Prime Minister and others appealed for calm and stated that all should accept the judgement, top leaders of the ruling regime were aggressively campaigning for the Ram temple in the precise place where the Babri Masjid once stood.

They made it clear enough that "lasting tranquility" would be elusive in a scenario other than what the judgement actually delivered.

One cannot escape the reality that there is a political dimension as a premise of this judgement which influences everything else.

The judgement was at pains to distance itself from arguments in which "faith" trumps reason.

It said "the court does not decide title on the basis of faith or belief but on the basis of evidence."

It rejected the recognition of the Ram Janmasthan as a legal entity. It said if such a claim were to be accepted "the extinguishing of competing claims on land would arise not by virtue of settled legal principles, but purely on the basis of the faith and belief of devotees."

But on this very issue the judgement appears self-contradictory.

In deciding the critical aspect of adverse possession of the disputed land, the court applied differing standards in judging claims of the opposing sides.

The mosque was built in 1528. Between 1528 and 1856 who was in possession?

The judgement says, "The Muslims have offered no evidence to indicate that that they were in exclusive possession of the inner structure prior to 1857, since the date of the construction in the sixteenth century."

This is a rather odd conclusion. Between 1528 and 1722, the entire area was under the Mughals, after which it was under the Nawabs of Awadh.

In 1856 it was annexed by the British. The first dispute was registered subsequently.

It is self-evident that in the entire period under Muslim rule, when the land is in their possession, it is Muslims who would be praying at the mosque, what further evidence is required?

The Hindu side could not provide any evidence of exclusive possession of the outer courtyard either but this was not taken as an issue.

Thus, the issue of inequality in the standards used to judge the claims of both sides.

The judgement says "the physical structure of an Islamic mosque did not shake the faith and belief of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the disputed site" – and this becomes the reason for a sleight of hand that since the Muslims could not prove exclusive possession, in the "preponderance of probability" the Hindus continued to pray there and this therefore establishes the right of Hindus to the disputed land.

While one side is called upon to provide evidence of exclusive possession, the claims of the other side are accepted on the basis of their belief and faith regarding the birthplace of "Ram Lalla".

It seems that regardless of the earlier distancing from the argument of faith as the basis, it is finally the belief of Hindus that weighs in their favour.

Thus, even though there was uninterrupted use of the mosque till it was demolished, the land on which it stood has been handed over to the Hindus.

In the addendum placed by one of the judges, not named, it is argued that "faith and belief of Hindus since prior to the construction of the mosque and subsequent thereto has always been that janmasthan of Lord Ram is the place where Babri Masjid has been constructed, which faith and belief is proved by documentary evidence."

Although only an addendum, this argument is partially reflected in the judgement leading to the handing over of the disputed land to Ram Lalla.

The land has been handed over in the name of Ram Lalla. Indian jurisprudence has this strange precedence of the deity being accepted as a juridical entity with all rights. This was introduced mainly to protect the property and land donated to the deity by big landlords.

After the land reform movements and the imposition of land ceilings, in several states this was a device used by landlords to bypass the law on land ceilings.

In this case, the recognition of the deity as a legal entity was not being challenged. However, as has been pointed out by some commentators, the legal entity of Ram Lalla came into the picture only in 1989. The case started in 1950.

Thus the entry of this legal entity so far into the proceedings was not in accordance to the law which limits interventions to within a particular time framework.

With these premises which are questionable, the use then of Article 142 to provide justice to Muslims by handing over five acres of land in Ayodhya to build a mosque is strange.

The Muslim side never asked for land. Their main plea was that the mosque and the title of the land where it stood belonged to them on the ground of possession.

Once that was rejected by the court, if indeed Article 142 was to be used, could it not have been used to immediately order a time frame to punish those responsible for the demolition of the mosque?

Those cases have been pending for the last 27 years. But there is no suggestion by the Court to expedite those cases.

Of course there are many quotable quotes and important formulations which serve the interests of secularism and may be used in the future.

The point, for example, that the judgement, in spite of referring to the ASI excavation findings, concludes that there is no proof that there was a temple underneath the mosque, nor that the structure had been destroyed to build the mosque.

In a way, this knocks the bottom out of the claim made by temple campaigners that since a Mandir was demolished to build a mosque, the historical wrong must be redressed.

The judgement also makes it clear that "the law cannot be used as a device to reach back in time and provide a legal remedy to every person who disagrees with the course which history has taken.

This also goes against the present attempts by sections of the mandir campaigners that the judgement can be used as a precedent for other sites.

The judgement also refers to basic values of secularism etc. It approvingly mentions the Protection of Religious Places of Worship Act 1991.

But there are serious issues in the judgement, some of which have been elaborated here, which cannot be overlooked.

Brinda Karat is a Politburo member of the CPI(M) and a former Member of the Rajya Sabha.

This was first published on ndtv.com and is being published here with the permission of the author

 

 

Political dimensions of Ayodhya verdict

Ayodhya Verdict

The Supreme Court judgement on the Ayodhya case has brought a long-standing dispute to a legal end.

-Of course the right to demand a review is there, but whether any of the parties will exercise that right is not yet clear.

-The way the issue developed, it was obvious that the only way forward was through a judicial verdict. That verdict is now out.

There is no alternative but to accept it. But acceptance does not necessarily mean closure.

Nations, communities, people, individuals in different contexts and times get closure when in the finale, there is no feeling of deprivation or injustice.

It cannot be said that the Ayodhya judgement meets these standards. It will be accepted but it is unlikely to bring closure.

There are certain premises, quite fundamental to the final verdict, which are questionable.

But a caveat is required.

The reference to the "Hindu" side and the "Muslim" side should be seen as reference only to the parties in the suit and not referring to these parties as representing their respective communities.

We know that there are substantial sections of Hindus who are appalled by the actions which have gone on in their name.

Within the Muslim community too, there are different views. Therefore the reference is only in so far as the judgement refers to the parties in this manner.

The basic question which is troubling is that after the judgement accepts that the demolition of the mosque in 1992 and the placing of the idols in 1949 were "serious violations of the law", why does the court reward the serious violators of the law by handing over the entire land to them?

Are there any overwhelming issues which would support such a decision? The judgement does not provide any convincing reasons.

The judgement acknowledged, though perhaps inadvertently, the political dimensions.

One of the reasons given while rejecting the Allahabad High Court judgement mandating division of the disputed land into three equal parts was that it "will not restore a lasting sense of peace and tranquility."

Therefore, one can assume that the Supreme Court believed one of the aims of its judgement must be to "restore a lasting sense of peace and tranquility."

This would be based more on a political assessment rather than one based on legal issues.

Till just a few days before the judgement was made public, when the Prime Minister and others appealed for calm and stated that all should accept the judgement, top leaders of the ruling regime were aggressively campaigning for the Ram temple in the precise place where the Babri Masjid once stood.

They made it clear enough that "lasting tranquility" would be elusive in a scenario other than what the judgement actually delivered.

One cannot escape the reality that there is a political dimension as a premise of this judgement which influences everything else.

The judgement was at pains to distance itself from arguments in which "faith" trumps reason.

It said "the court does not decide title on the basis of faith or belief but on the basis of evidence."

It rejected the recognition of the Ram Janmasthan as a legal entity. It said if such a claim were to be accepted "the extinguishing of competing claims on land would arise not by virtue of settled legal principles, but purely on the basis of the faith and belief of devotees."

But on this very issue the judgement appears self-contradictory.

In deciding the critical aspect of adverse possession of the disputed land, the court applied differing standards in judging claims of the opposing sides.

The mosque was built in 1528. Between 1528 and 1856 who was in possession?

The judgement says, "The Muslims have offered no evidence to indicate that that they were in exclusive possession of the inner structure prior to 1857, since the date of the construction in the sixteenth century."

This is a rather odd conclusion. Between 1528 and 1722, the entire area was under the Mughals, after which it was under the Nawabs of Awadh.

In 1856 it was annexed by the British. The first dispute was registered subsequently.

It is self-evident that in the entire period under Muslim rule, when the land is in their possession, it is Muslims who would be praying at the mosque, what further evidence is required?

The Hindu side could not provide any evidence of exclusive possession of the outer courtyard either but this was not taken as an issue.

Thus, the issue of inequality in the standards used to judge the claims of both sides.

The judgement says "the physical structure of an Islamic mosque did not shake the faith and belief of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the disputed site" – and this becomes the reason for a sleight of hand that since the Muslims could not prove exclusive possession, in the "preponderance of probability" the Hindus continued to pray there and this therefore establishes the right of Hindus to the disputed land.

While one side is called upon to provide evidence of exclusive possession, the claims of the other side are accepted on the basis of their belief and faith regarding the birthplace of "Ram Lalla".

It seems that regardless of the earlier distancing from the argument of faith as the basis, it is finally the belief of Hindus that weighs in their favour.

Thus, even though there was uninterrupted use of the mosque till it was demolished, the land on which it stood has been handed over to the Hindus.

In the addendum placed by one of the judges, not named, it is argued that "faith and belief of Hindus since prior to the construction of the mosque and subsequent thereto has always been that janmasthan of Lord Ram is the place where Babri Masjid has been constructed, which faith and belief is proved by documentary evidence."

Although only an addendum, this argument is partially reflected in the judgement leading to the handing over of the disputed land to Ram Lalla.

The land has been handed over in the name of Ram Lalla. Indian jurisprudence has this strange precedence of the deity being accepted as a juridical entity with all rights. This was introduced mainly to protect the property and land donated to the deity by big landlords.

After the land reform movements and the imposition of land ceilings, in several states this was a device used by landlords to bypass the law on land ceilings.

In this case, the recognition of the deity as a legal entity was not being challenged. However, as has been pointed out by some commentators, the legal entity of Ram Lalla came into the picture only in 1989. The case started in 1950.

Thus the entry of this legal entity so far into the proceedings was not in accordance to the law which limits interventions to within a particular time framework.

With these premises which are questionable, the use then of Article 142 to provide justice to Muslims by handing over five acres of land in Ayodhya to build a mosque is strange.

The Muslim side never asked for land. Their main plea was that the mosque and the title of the land where it stood belonged to them on the ground of possession.

Once that was rejected by the court, if indeed Article 142 was to be used, could it not have been used to immediately order a time frame to punish those responsible for the demolition of the mosque?

Those cases have been pending for the last 27 years. But there is no suggestion by the Court to expedite those cases.

Of course there are many quotable quotes and important formulations which serve the interests of secularism and may be used in the future.

The point, for example, that the judgement, in spite of referring to the ASI excavation findings, concludes that there is no proof that there was a temple underneath the mosque, nor that the structure had been destroyed to build the mosque.

In a way, this knocks the bottom out of the claim made by temple campaigners that since a Mandir was demolished to build a mosque, the historical wrong must be redressed.

The judgement also makes it clear that "the law cannot be used as a device to reach back in time and provide a legal remedy to every person who disagrees with the course which history has taken.

This also goes against the present attempts by sections of the mandir campaigners that the judgement can be used as a precedent for other sites.

The judgement also refers to basic values of secularism etc. It approvingly mentions the Protection of Religious Places of Worship Act 1991.

But there are serious issues in the judgement, some of which have been elaborated here, which cannot be overlooked.

Brinda Karat is a Politburo member of the CPI(M) and a former Member of the Rajya Sabha.

This was first published on ndtv.com and is being published here with the permission of the author

 

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Subscribe to Communalism