Babri Mosque Demolition Exposed the Myth of India’s Secularism
26 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 demolition 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 destruction 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 L.K. 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. Nevertheless, 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 of the inquiry commission, 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. However, the commission clearly identified BJP, RSS and VHP as the organizations responsible for the incident and also nominated L.K. Advani, Lalu Parsad Yadev and Murli Manohar Joshi as main culprits behind this incident. But no action was taken against them.
By showing prejudice in favour 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.
Since the leader of the ruling party BJP Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India, various developments like unprecedented rise of Hindu extremism, persecution of minorities, forced conversions of other religious minorities into Hindus, ban on beef and cow slaughter, inclusion of Hindu religious books in curriculum, creation of war-like situation with Pakistan etc. clearly show that encouraged by the fundamentalist rulers, Hindu extremist outfits such as BJP, RSS VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena including other similar parties have been promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism in India by propagating ideology of Hindutva.
In fact, on the basis of anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan slogans, BJP got a land sliding victory in the Indian elections 2014. Hence, Prime Minister Modi is giving impetus to Hindu chauvinism against Pakistan and the Muslims, as under his directions, New Delhi accelerated unprovoked firing at the Line of Control in Kashmir and Working Boundary across Pak-Indian border, even without bothering for nuclear war.
Particularly, in the recent past, extremists of Hiudu fundamentalist outfits intensified assaults on the Muslims, Christians, and Pakistani artists, famous literary persons—members of the cricket boards etc., and even on Hindus of lower classes, including moderate Hindus.
More than 200 Indian writers, Authors, scientists, artists, filmmakers, film-stars etc. had decided returned their national awards in protest to rising Hindu extremism under Modi rule, while more than 100 persons have returned their rewards. Former Indian military personnel had also started returning their medals, criticizing the policies of the BJP government, embroiling Prime Modi in a new domestic crisis.
Modi’s anti-Pakistan policies have also external aspects. In this regard, while addressing a ceremony during his Bangladesh tour, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly stated on June 7, 2015 that Indian forces helped Mukti Bahini (Militants) to turn East Pakistan into Bangladesh. He elaborated that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had played an active role in separating Bangladesh from Pakistan, and he had also come to Delhi in 1971 to participate in the Satyagraha Movement, launched by Jana Sangh as a volunteer to garner support for the Mukti Bahini members.
Notably, various anti-Pakistan developments such as Modi’s open confession regarding Indian support to militants of Mukti Bahini, his arrival in Dhaka to receive award of Atal Bihari Vajpai, presentation of ‘Surrender Ceremony’ photograph by Bangladeshi leader to Modi, ruthless death sentences to Jamat-e-Islami Pro-Pakistan leaders under highly doubtful and objectionable trials etc. show that Indo-Bangladesh media nexus backed by Indian intelligence agency RAW has become more active in the recent years to create mistrust among people of Bangladesh against Pakistan.
Moreover, Indian cross-border terrorism in Pakistan, her support to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which is responsible for terror-acts in Pakistan—also involved in the massacre of innocent children at Army Public School, Peshawar might be noted as instance of anti-Pakistan developments.
Although apparently, India claims to be the largest democracy, acting upon the principles of liberalism and secularism, yet in practice, all political, economic and social fields of the country are divided on the caste lines. It is surprising that theoretically, Indian Constitution safeguards the rights of minorities, but in practice, ideology of Hindutva prevails. Hindu majority led by the BJP has shown complete disregard to the Constitution, and continued committing excesses and cruelties against Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits with impunity.
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 (6th December); 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.
Undoubtedly, we can conclude that Babri mosque demolition exposed the myth of India’s Secularism
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