OPED

Ayodhya Dispute: Need for Upholding Law

Ram Puniyani
30-11-2017

The dispute around Babri Mosque seems to be unending. Just weeks ago we saw Sri Sri Ravishankar, the well known founder of ‘Art of Living’ stepping in to settle it ‘out of Court’. Now RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat (24th November 2017) has made a statement that only Temple will come up in Ayodhya. His assertion is just the repeat of RSS stand on the topic, which is despite the Allahabad Court judgment. As far as Sri Sri Ravishanker is concerned he is regarded as a spiritual person but at times he jumps into political issues. Earlier; one heard of his intervention; was at the time of Anna Hazares anti-corruption upsurge.

This time around Sri Sri is back on the political chessboard. He has already met the UP Chief Minister and plans to meet many local religious leaders from Hindu side. As such the Ayodhya matter is pending in the Supreme Court following the appeal by disputants. The Allahabad Judgment had divided the land, where Babri mosque was standing into three parts. One part to Sunni Waqf Board, one to Ram lalla Nyas and one to Nirmohi Akhada. The judgment primarily resorted to the fact that it is the ‘faith of Hindus’ that Lord Ram was born at the spot, so those two thirds were given to those representing the Hindu side, while Sunni Waqf Board has been given one third of the land. Now both Hindus and Muslims are claiming that whole land belongs to them alone.

As country got Independence, the land was under the possession of Sunni Waqf Board. On the night of 22 December 1949, some miscreants, belonging to pro Hindu groups, entered the mosque illegally and installed the Ram Lalla Idols in the mosque. Pundit Nehru, the then Prime Minister of the country wrote to the Chief of UP Government, Govind Vallabh Pant to get the idols removed immediately. The local Magistrate K.K.Nayyar, who later contested elections for MP on BJP predecessor Bharatiya Janasangh ticket, did not get the idols removed. The gates of mosque were locked. Under the pressure of rising Ram Temple movement the locks were removed and Shilanyas was performed when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister. This was in the aftermath of Shah Bano Judgment reversal by the act of Parliament. In the aftermath of this; RSS Combine intensified its campaign of ‘appeasement of Muslims’ and got support from the sections of Society.

It is around this time that BJP’s Lal Krishna Advani, made Ram Temple as the central part of his political campaign. In the aftermath of implementation of Mandal Commission report by VP Singh, BJP intensified its campaign for Ram Temple and Advani’s Rath yatra left a trail of communal violence and led to deeper polarization of society. This polarization and later attempts by RSS combine led to demolition of Babri mosque on December 6, 1992. The installation of the Ram Lalla idols was a crime and the guilty went unpunished. The demolition of the mosque was a crime and its culprits went on to become politically more powerful, Advani as Deputy Prime Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati occupying high political offices. Liberhan Commission report highlighted some of the factors leading to demolition. Advani and Company is facing the charges of criminal conspiracy in the Courts.

In the past the criminal acts related to Babri Mosque have paid rich political dividends to those who were part of illegal acts. The basic dictum is that reconciliation is always good; it is welcome all the time. Despite the nature of the past; out of court settlement is the best option to be sure. But who can do that sort of reconciliation? Can one begin the process of reconciliation without respecting the legal verdict? While many Hindu leaders are welcoming Sri Sri, the Sunni Waqf Board has asked for the solution he has in mind before they can meet him. Also they want to wait for the meeting of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, before they venture to meet Sri Sri. As such while the Hindu side has been harping that Muslims should give up their claim on this land and they will be given land at another place to build a mosque. This becomes clear with the statement of RSS Chief.

Shia Waqf Board, though it is not a party to the legal dispute, has shown willingness to yield to the demands of Hindu side. Can a large section of Muslims go along with the present efforts of the like of Ravishanker and the statement of Bhagwat? The answer to this question is difficult as Sri Sri does not seem to be a neutral person. He comes from the category of Modern Hindu Gurus. On most of the matters of social reform he is closer to conservative values. He has never condemned the crime of demolition of Babri mosque; neither did he grieve the massive violence unleashed in the aftermath of Babri demolition. He seems to be partisan to the ideology of Hindu nationalism, while posing to be neutral about it RSS is adamant on Hindu temple alone at the site as it is the part of their political agenda.

In these circumstances what should the Muslims do? The wedge between Shias and Sunnis is being promoted deliberately. While it was a Shia mosque, the Sunni Board has been the litigant. During last three decades, the Muslim community is being relegated on the margins of society due to communalization. In these circumstances, sticking to Legal recourse seems to be the best option for most of them. The likes of Sri Sri in the name of reconciliation will try to promote the solution amicable to those who have been at the forefront of installing Ram Lalla and demolition of the Mosque, both big crimes in a democratic society! Irrespective of the awaited Supreme Court judgment RSS is already asserting for Ram Mandir alone. Hope the highest Court gives a verdict which respects minority rights also.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

The politics of communal polarization in is focusing on many identity issues, one being the Love Jihad, where the Hindu girl married to a Muslim or Christian man is targeted, and is legally manipulated in a manner to ensure that she is forced to be sent to her parents or sent to ‘anti Conversion clinics’.  There is some public knowledge about Hadiya and the bogey of Love Jihad, spiced up with recruitment for participating in Jihad in Syria. Still, the cases of the likes of Swetha, a Hindu woman confined in a Yoga Center, where she is being pressurized to abandon her marriage to a Christian man are much less known. As per Shwetha the Yoga center as such is a re conversions clinic for those women who have adopted Christianity or Islam and married non Hindus. Lot has been coming in the media about the alleged immaturity of the girl Akhila who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, who is a worker of Popular Front of India (PFI).

The total focus on linking the case to PFI, to alleged joining of planned terrorist activity in Syria was brought in to give a different twist to the case. This was the pretext for the NIA to step in. This made the link of conversion of Akhila as a sinister plan to woo Hindu girls, covert them to Islam and induct them into the terror module. Quite a fertile imagination of those in authority. In Hadiya’s case Court went to the extent of declaring that a 24 years old girl is of a tender mind and is gullible. The judges might have forgotten that in India age of voting is 18 years, after which the person becomes adult and responsible for one’s decisions and actions. Hadiya did say in the Court that her conversion and marriage to a Muslim man is out of her own volition. Later Court hearings did not call her for depositions. Even the latest Court verdict has given a month’s time before court will hear here her in person (30th October 2017). These are surprising times. An adult, a Homeopathic student is mature enough for decisions for her life, but keeping her in her parents’ custody away from her husband is unthinkable on moral and social grounds, grounds which should guide the interpretation of law and consequent decision.

In case of Swetha, the Yoga Center (Ernakulam) , where she has been detained turns out to be a place where emotional blackmail and even threats are being used to force the girls to abandon their new faith or to force their spouse to convert to Hinduism. Another Hindu woman Sruthi Meledath also testified similar experience when she was asked to leave her Muslim husband Anees Hamid, whom she planned to marry. This was at Yogvidya Kendram. The similarity of the agenda of such centers is very clear.

The issue of Love Jihad will become so dangerous for women in love, was not anticipated a decade ago. The cleverly crafted ‘Love Jihad’ campaign is based on the patriarchal notions, which are one of the core ingredients of communal politics. As per this communal thinking the notion of ‘Our women’, their women’ guides them. Woman is regarded as the property of man and is symbol of community honor. In precipitating communal violence rumors based of threat to ‘our women’ is put at the forefront, Mujaffarnagar violence being the prime example of the same. At the same time violating the modesty of women of other community comes as a badge of honor in this scheme of things. The love jihad issue began with Coastal Karnataka, where inter religious marriage were targeted, particularly when the girl was Hindu and the boy was Muslim in most cases and occasionally Christian. As such in an open society, social interaction among people of different religions does provide the ground for inter community interaction. This is something which can be the strong cementing factor in the concept of Fraternity in the triad of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

During freedom movement, people like Gandhi and Ambedkar proactively talked about the role of intercommunity marriages in promoting abolition of caste, and to extend the point inter religion marriages are the ground on which communal harmony and national integration find deeper and solid base. This is what the trajectory of things in democratic society should be. With the clouds of communal divisiveness coming up on the horizon, the patriarchal notions and attempt to control the lives of women have become stronger. In India Hindu communalists in particular have been floating organizations to discourage such alliances and to break them to when such unions take place.

One recalls the notorious Babu Bajrangi whose prime role was to attack inter community couples. In West Bengal the case of Priyanka todi and Rizwan Kausar is a painful reminder of the malady taking deep its roots in the society. While patriarchal values are there in other social ideologies also, in communalism, fundamentalism these are absolute in degree. While there are glorious examples of marriages, Hindu boy Muslim girl and vice versa, it seems the intimidations of the likes of Hadiya and Shruthi are being taken to absurd limits to set example in the society to dissuade others. Yoga Centre’s as decoy for breaking inter-caste marriages is sad news. Here deceit is the tool to break the spirit of girls involved in the process. The torture of the spouse involved in these cases has not been much recorded. As such love knows no boundaries of caste, class, religion and nationality. One can say inter religious marriages can also be an index of communal harmony and transition to a society where Gender equality is respected and striven for!

These two incidents have abundantly demonstrated that here in Kerala apart from the bogey of CPM’s attacks on RSS cadres love jihad is a big propaganda issue raked up during last few years.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED