Refocus on the Demolition of Babri Mosque
By Sajjad Shaukat
27 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 retired of High Court 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.
Anti-Muslim biased approach could be judged from the verdict of the Supreme Court of India. While announcing its judgement on the disputed land regarding the Babri mosque, the court ruled in favour of the Hindus and said that a temple will be constructed on the Ayodhya land. The court noted that the demolition of 460-year-old Babri Mosque in 1992 was a violation of law and ordered that five-acre alternative land in a suitable, prominent place be provided to Muslims for a mosque. The land for the mosque will be acquired by the government.
Muslims in India protested against the Supreme Court’s decision which is likely to have a significant impact on fraught relations between India’s Hindus and Muslims, who constitute 14 percent of its 1.3 billion people.
Muslim group’s lawyer, Zafaryab Jilani said: “This is not justice.” India’s Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi stated: “This court must accept faith and accept belief of worshippers.”
The court’s verdict was a huge victory for Hindu nationalists under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had promised to build the temple in 2014 elections that brought him to power.
It is notable that in the Indian general elections of 2019, BJP and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won huge majority in the Lok Sabha, with the BJP sweeping up 303 seats on its own—21 seats more than it won in the 2014 elections. Hindu majority was mobilized on ‘hate Muslim’ slogans and ‘anti-Pakistan’ jargons, while the incessant and unjust Indian propaganda against the Muslims and Pakistan was beyond anybody’s cognition, which still keeps on going. Indian Prime Minister Modi’s extremist party BJP had also got a land sliding triumph in the Indian elections 2014 on the basis of anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan slogans. Hence, since the Prime Minister Modi came to power, he has been implementing anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda with the support of fanatic coalition outfits.
In this regard, various developments like unprecedented rise of Hindu extremism, persecution of Muslims, assaults on Muslims, including their places of worships and property by the fanatic Hindu mobs, inclusion of Hindu religious books in curriculum, forced conversion of Muslims into Hindus and ban on beef and cow slaughter clearly showed that encouraged by the Hindu fundamentalist groups 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 the ideology of Hindutva which is the genesis of Hindu terrorism.
Owing to the huge mandate of the BJP in the elections of 2019, violence has been let loose, with “Jai Shri Ram”–a slogan that roughly translates to “Hail Lord Ram”. As Modi was named as the leader of the NDA for a second time, minority communities especially Muslims have made to live in fear by the extremist Hindus.
In the aftermath of the elections, news reports have highlighted different cases in which Dalits and particularly Muslims were violently targeted for reasons as varied as allegedly possessing beef, protesting against caste-based discrimination or simply being Muslim. Especially, various incidents of arrests and violent assaults on the Muslims by the Hindus have been recorded.
As regards Modi’s victory in the elections 2019, India’s many politicians and analysts opined, “Modi’s election win is a victory for far right Hindu nationalism…India’s secular democracy is under threat…BJP’s record in 2015-2019 has been divisive to say the least. The party has marginalised religious minorities, especially Muslims, from public life with many, as a result, being lynched by Hindu nationalists in the name of cow protection…Jingoism and Islamophobia have propelled the BJP to an even stronger showing than in 2014. A Modi victory puts India’s 200 million Muslims in danger…Modi is part of the large Hindu supremacist family…In his home state of Odisha, he furthered India’s sectarian divide, pushed the idea of Hindu supremacy and with that, violence against Muslims, Christians and other minorities…Modi is radicalising Muslims.”
It is mentionable that almost 120 days have passed. Indian forces have continued lockdown and curfew in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). On August 5, 2019, New Delhi unilaterally annexed the IOK, revoking articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution which gave a special status to Kashmir. While, Indian fanatic rulers are also escalating tensions with Pakistan to divert attention from the drastic situation of the Indian Held Kashmir, and have continued shelling inside Pakistani side of Kashmir by violating the ceasefire agreement in relation to the Line of Control (LoC).
Besides, implementing the August 5 announcement, Indian central government issued a notorious map on October 31, this year. In accordance with it, Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
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.
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