Babri Masjid Demolition: Major Scar on Indian Secularism
22 years ago, Indian Constitution which claims India to be a secular state was torn into pieces when on December 6, 1992, a large crowd of Hindu Karsevaks (volunteers) entirely demolished the 16th-century Babri Masjid (mosque) in Ayodhya, Utter Pradesh in a preplanned attempt to reclaim the land known as RAM Janmabhoomi – birthplace of the god.
The destruction of the Babri Masjid sparked Muslim outrage around the country, provoking several months of inter-communal rioting between Hindu and Muslim communities, causing the death of at least 2,000 people, majority of whom were Muslims. The governments of several neighboring countries including those of the Islamic World condemned the Indian government for failing to stop the demolition of the historical mosque.
In a 2005 book, India’s former Intelligence Bureau (IB) Joint Director Maloy Krishna Dhar wrote that Babri mosque demolition was planned 10 months in advance by top leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), BJP BJP/Sangh Parivar, VHP, Shiv Sena, the Bajrang Dal and the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Raow. Dhar elaborated, “He had drawn up the blueprint of the Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) assault at Ayodhya in December 1992.”
However, on December 6, 1992, the RSS and its affiliates organized a rally involving 150,000 VHP and BJP Karsevaks at the site of the mosque. The ceremonies included speeches by BJP leaders such as Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti. During the first few hours of the rally, the crowd began raising militant slogans. A police cordon had been placed around the mosque in preparation for attack. However, around noon, a young man managed to slip past the cordon and climb the mosque itself, brandishing a saffron flag. This was seen as a signal by the mob, who then stormed the structure. The police cordon, vastly outnumbered, fled. The mob set upon the building with axes, hammers, and grappling hooks, and within a few hours, the entire mosque was leveled. Hindu fanatics also destroyed numerous other mosques within the town.
A 2009 report, authored by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, found 68 people to be responsible for the destruction of the Babri Masjid, mostly leaders from the BJP. Among those named were Vajpayee, Advani, Joshi, Vijay Raje Scindia and Kalyan Singh who was then the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Liberhan wrote that he posted bureaucrats and police officers to Ayodhya, whose record indicated that they would stay silent during the mosque’s demolition. Anju Gupta, a police officer who had been in charge of Advani’s security on that day, stated that Advani and Joshi made speeches that contributed to provoking the behavior of the mob to accomplish demolition of the mosque.
By showing prejudice in favor of Hindus, on September 30, 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled that the 2,400 square feet (220 m2) disputed plot of land, on which the Babri Masjid had stood would be divided into three parts. The site at which the idol of Rama had been placed was granted to Hindus in general, the Sunni Wakf Board got one third of the plot, and the Hindu sect Nirmohi Akhara got the remaining third. The excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India were heavily used as evidence by the court to support its so-called finding that the original structure at the site was a massive Hindu religious building.
While, the Constitution declares India to be a secular state, granting equal rights to the religious minorities, but in practice ideology of Hindutva prevails. Hindu politics and culture, dominated by the fundamentalists parties such as BJP, RSS, VHP, Shiv Sena and other similar groups have been propagating Hindutva. Provocative utterances of their extremist leaders have resulted into unending violence against the Muslim and Christians including other minority groups.
Besides previous massacre of Muslims, more than 2500 Muslims were massacred in 2002 in the BJP-ruled Indian state of Gujarat. Regarding that massive genocide, both Human Rights Watch in 2002 and Amnesty International in 2003 charged the “Gujarat state administration” for involvement in “a massive cover-up of the state’s role in that massacres” and pointed out numerous police officials-specifically ministers, high officials and leaders of the VHP, BJP and Bajrang Dal as participants.
Similarly, in the recent years, assaults on Christians, their churches and property have been executed by the Hindu mobs in various cities of India. In this context, at least 100 Christians have been assassinated by Hindu extremists, mostly in the state of Orissa. Other religious minorities of India are also target of Hindutva terror.
In Maharashtra, non-Hindu communities have lived in constant fear and awe since the advent of the fundamentalist party, Shiv Sena whose Chief Bal Thackeray (The late) has organised army of hoodlums to beat up any religious minority, openly directing the Hindu terrorists to loot and stone any of their shop or house. Lack of serious action by the subsequent governments against Shiv Sena’s vandalism has clearly defeated the secular echoes of India which is in fact a secular terrorist state.
Moreover in the recent years, discovery of thousands of unmarked graves of the innocent Muslims who were killed by the Indian security forces in the fake encounters in the occupied Kashmir etc. might be cited as another instance in this respect.
It is notable that on January 20, 2013, Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde confessed the nexus between BJP and the RSS, disclosing that organized training camps run by these fundamentalist parties were promoting Hindu terrorism. They also revealed that these parties were behind the Samjhauta Express, Meccca Masjid and Malegaon blasts including Gujarat and Babri Masjid incidents.
Notably, The Times of India reported on December 17, 2010 that India’s renowned “political leader and Congress Party’s heir, Rahul Gandhi feels that the “the bigger threat to India may be the growth of radicalized Hindu groups which create religious tension and political confrontations with the Muslim community.”
It is mentionable that Hinduvta agenda enabled BJP hardliner, Narendra Modi to get a land sliding triumph in the Indian elections 2014 and become the prime minister of India.
Prior to the elections, some people were opining that Modi, being an economic reformer, will not fall prey to the Hindu hawks surrounding him, and will move ahead with his “Economic Agenda” rather than “Hinduvta Agenda.” But, he started acting upon “Hinduvta Agenda.” Undoubtedly, Muslims were aware of Modi’s agenda to reduce the Muslim community in India to second class citizens. Muslim anxiety in India is multiplying due the fact that during the election campaign, Hindu majority was mobilized on ‘hate Muslim’ slogans and ‘anti Pakistan’ jargons. Hence, Modi regime is likely to target and persecute Muslims in India, while the incessant Indian propaganda against Pakistan is beyond anybody’s cognition.
Nevertheless, as part of anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan move of the BJP including other Hindu extremist parties, Indian Prime Minister Modi is giving impetus to Hindu chauvinism which could be judged from various recent incidents and developments, and which point towards emergence of Hinduvta under the umbrella of Shiv Sena backed by BJP government. Encouraged by the election-victory of the BJP, on May 28, this year, in a provocative act to disturb communal harmony in India, Rashtriya Hindu Andolan, a little known Mangalore-based Hindutva outfit and activists from various right wing groups organized a protest in Mangalore in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner by demanding the authorities to ban the morning Muslim call to prayer (Azan) across the country. Besides, forcing the Muslim employee in a Parliament Canteen by BJP leader to break his fast by stuffing piece of bread in his mouth, statement of Deputy Chief of Goa, declaring India as a Hindu state, opposition to declaration of Sania Mirza as Ambassador of Indian state by calling her daughter-in-law of Pakistan might be cited as example.
Besides, soon after assuming power, Modi government, hurriedly decided to forcibly annex and integrate disputed territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), uncovering its intentions to wrap up the article 370 of the Indian constitution which ensures a special status to J&K. The aim behind is to fortify measures and continue its illegal occupation in the J&K.
Furthermore, New Delhi which has accelerated unprovoked firing at the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir including Working Boundary in Sialkot and other sectors across Pak-Indian border, wants to continue it.
Nonetheless, apart from other frenzy events, the demolition of the Babri Masjid will remain a major scar on Indian so-called secularism, as on the very day, Indian fundamentalist leaders broke all the records of Hindutva terror by deliberately hurting the feelings of the Muslims. The atrocities and tyranny let loose on that day in Ayodhya continues unabated against the Muslims in one form or the other, under the Modi regime.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations