What if the Ram temple were demolished on December 6, 1992, instead of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya? Do you think the Supreme Court judgement would have been the same?
Do you think the site having the demolished structure would have been given to the party that was involved in razing the structure to the ground or supporting the demolition? These questions are unlikely to be raised in debates and TV shows.
Would you not share the apprehension that the mainstream Indian media, the opposition parties and civil society members lack the courage to go against the communal frenzy?
The so-called secular and liberal forces have also disappointed us. They, too, do not want to appear “unpopular” and “insensitive” to the so-called “astha” (belief) of the Hindu community.
In a long-awaited verdict on November 9, the Supreme Court ordered the formation of a trust to build a temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya. It also ordered the government to grant five acres of land in Ayodhya to Sunni Waqf board, another party to the dispute, for the purpose of building a mosque.
The Hindutva forces have argued that the Babri Masjid, built in the 16th century, stood at the exact place of the demolished Ram temple. In their view of history, “the Muslim invaders” demolished the temple to build up the mosque. Many eminent historians have refuted such claims.
Abandoned by the secular parties, the minority Muslim community is perhaps most vulnerable today. They are increasingly being told to appear “tolerant”, “friendly” to the majority Hindus, “loyal” to the country and become “rooted” in Indian (read Brahminical) culture.
Perceiving a possible threat to their security, the Muslim minority is probably trying to keep a smile on their face even if they feel hurt and let down by the apex court of the country.
For example, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, following the SC ruling, is giving contradictory statements. The Board says that they respect the judgement, yet they feel disappointed with it. The Board, which is under huge pressure, is trying to keep “quiet”.
But Muslims perceive a threat to their safety. They are also doing the best to avoid any provocation. As a result, a large number of Muslims have put up messages on social media, welcoming the judgment. Some others are taking part in a procession organised by the Hindutva outfits. Some of them have also appeared before media to “congratulate their Hindu brothers” over this “historical” judgement.
Unlike the minority community, the majority community is celebrating the judgement. The celebration includes chanting and writing ‘Jai Sri Ram’ on social media. “If the temple was not built in Ayodhya where it would be built!”, argues one of them. The extremists among them say the time has come to solve the controversy of Kashi and Mathura as well. While the so-called liberals, among them, deny the use of coercion in this process, saying that there is nothing wrong in building the temple after the Supreme Court has upheld the position of the Hindus. Note how the position of the majoritarian forces is being justified by invoking the ruling of the apex court of the country. However, one should not forget that till recently the Hindutva forces were saying that the question of building a temple is a matter of “faith”.
Even if many from the Hindu community are celebrating the Ram Temple Babri Masjid judgment by the Supreme Court, my conscience does not allow me to celebrate it.
My conscience does not allow me to forget the gross injustice done in the broad-daylight on December 6, 1992.
How could we forget that thousands of fanatic Hindus were mobilised to demolish centuries-old religious place of the minority community?
How could we forget that the Ram Temple mobilisation sparked off violence and riots, taking the lives of 2000 people?
How could we forget innocent people who were injured, displaced and killed in the name of building a temple at a place where no historical evidence can suggest that it had existed before? How could we forget this tragedy?
My conscience, let me say it again, does not allow me to celebrate a judgement that appears to honour the so-called majoritarian sentiment. The judgement that does not show courage to challenge the brute power of a communal government cannot appeal to my conscience.
Irrespective of what the mainstream media and the ruling elite say, I think that December 6 was one of the darkest days in Indian history. On that day, not only the dome of the mosque was razed to the ground but also the pillars of secularism and democracy were broken.
Justice, therefore, cannot ignore the questions of sectarian tyranny, violation of law and order and the Constitution and mindless murder and violence. But the judgment today hurried to please the communal sentiments constructed and maintained by the Hindutva forces. The so-called bench comprising several judges made a historical blunder to paint a false picture of ‘India (read Hindus) being tolerant and secular’.
Would the judgement bring peace in society and put an end to communal politics? I doubt.
I wish I were proven wrong. But I doubt if communal conflicts are going be a thing of the past in the wake of the judgment. I do not think the communal forces are going to be contented with winning the Ram Temple and Babri Masjid case.
I am afraid the judgement of the day is likely to boost the morale of communal forces to take laws in their hands. If this happens, the attitude of the Indian state would become more aggressive and hostile towards the minorities.
I am afraid the Ayodhya judgment may encourage the communal forces to make claims to other religious places of the minority communities.
I know my views are against those who are in power and those who are in a celebratory mood. At the time of writing this note, I am sitting at a bonfire. People around me are greeting me with ‘Jai Sri Ram’. I also received a message last night to my Whatsup number in which I was alleged to be a certain local friend of Babur who would “start his long journey back home to Samarkand”, following the verdict.
Contrary to all these allegations and the frenzied mood of Hindu India, I want to register my dissent. I know my statement does not have much impact today but I am confident that history and posterity would understand the pain of my heart.
Abhay Kumar has recently submitted his PhD at Centre of Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. A regular contributor to newspapers and web portals, Kumar has been working on the broad theme of the Indian Muslims and Social Justice.