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?
By Abhay Kumar, The Milli Gazette Online
Do you think the demolished structure would have been given to the party that was involved in razing it to the ground or supporting its 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 majoritarian 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 majority community.
In a long-awaited verdict, finally delivered on November 9, the Supreme Court allowed the Hindus to build a Ram Temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya. Muslims, the other party to the dispute, was asked to build a mosque at another place in Ayodhya.
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 fabricated history, "the Muslim invaders" demolished the temple to build the mosque. Muslims, as well the eminent historians, have denied these allegations.
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 the Indian (read Brahminical) culture."
Perceiving a possible threat to their security, the Muslim minority is 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 tremendous pressure, is trying to keep "quiet".
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 processions organized by 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 the majority of the majority community is celebrating the Temple-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 broad-daylight on December 6, 1992.
How could we forget that thousands of fanatic Hindu mobs were mobilized to demolish a centuries-old religious place of the minority community?
How could we forget that the Ram Temple mobilization sparked off violence and riots, taking the lives of thousands of Muslims before and after the demolition?
How could we forget that innocent people were injured, displaced and killed in the name of building a temple at a place where no historical evidence can prove that it ever existed there? How could we forget this tragedy?
My conscience, let me repeat it, 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 majoritarian 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 brought down.
Justice, therefore, cannot ignore the questions of majoritarian tyranny, violation of law and order and the Constitution and mindless murder and violence. But the SC judgment hastened to please the majoritarian 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) is 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 be a thing of the past in the wake of the judgment. I do not think the majoritarian 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 the law into their hands. If this happens, the attitude of the Indian state will become more aggressive and hostile towards the minorities.
I am afraid the Ayodhya judgment may encourage the majoritarian forces to claim other religious places of the minority community.
I know my views are against the majoritarian frenzy. At the time of writing this note, I am sitting next to 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 frenzy 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 recently submitted his Ph.D. 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. His other writings are available at abhaykumar.org. You may write to him at debatingissues[at]gmail.com