OPED

It is over three months that the Article 370 has been abrogated. The procedure laid down by the law has been given a go bye and through a majority in Lok Sabha, bypassing the people of Kashmir the act has been done. While many a falsehood has been promoted, lately two such surfaced yet again. Paying tribute to Sardar Patel on 31st October, Sardar’s anniversary, Narendra Modi, dedicated the abolition of this article to him. Interestingly it was Sardar who was crucial part of the Committee which had drafted the said article. Also it was Sardar Patel who had moved the resolution of Article 370 in Constituent Assembly as Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, one dealing with the issue as External Affairs minister, was away to US at that time.

With lapse of time not only the ancient and medieval history is being doctored to suit the communal politics, even the recent history is also under mutilation by likes of Modi who are currently ruling the roost. The other point which the Prime Minster and the other top officials are harping strongly is that it was this article due to which terrorism was getting a boost! The point they want to make is that with the abrogation of this article terrorism will be controlled in the troubled state. As public memory is short it is necessary to recall that while hurling the disaster of demonetization on the country, similar claim was made that counterfeit currency is fuelling the terrorism and demonetization will wipe out the militancy in Kashmir. As the matters turned out along with other claims about merits of demonetization even this claim turned out to be totally hollow and false.

As a blockade has been put on Kashmir, normal life brought to standstill, local leaders arrested and national leaders not permitted to visit the valley, in a very clever manner a delegation of some European right wing MPs has been put together by some business person, in the name of an NGO. The invitation to the MP, Chris Davies, who said that he will like to meet the local people on his own; was withdrawn right away and the compliant MP’s did come for a the trip. Their job was to give the ‘All is well’ certificate to the Modi Governments move after the ‘conducted tour’, which they enjoyed.

During this period despite the presence of military in large numbers, despite the claims that the abolition of this article will curtail terrorism in the valley, already disturbing killings have been taking place. In one such tragic incident five migrant workers from West Bengal have been done to death, shot dead in Jammu Kashmir’s Kulgam. Prior to this there was attack on people related to fruit trade. In another shocking and painful incident one person died and fifteen injured in a grenade attack in Srinagar, in a vegetable market where vendors were targeted.

On one hand the people of J&K are feeling humiliated as their state has been demoted to a Union Territory and on the other there are boasts that this is what was the dream of Sardar Patel!

The false hood that India has eliminated one big reason behind terrorism is totally away from truth. This understanding negates the facts of history and builds the narrative to suit the politics being pursued by BJP. Why was militancy there in Kashmir? As such the story begins with Pakistan’s attack on Kashmir, in the form of Kabayalis (Tribal), who were backed by the Pakistan army. Since Kashmiri people did not want to succumb to the “Two Nation Theory” propagated by communal elements, since they were more for secular democracy, they did request Indian Government to quell the Pakistani aggression. The complex process leading the treaty of Accession and later article 370 through Indian Constituent Assembly has been dealt with extensively by serious commentators.

The efforts of likes Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to put pressure to forcibly merge Kashmir with India, the rise of communal politics in India sent the feeling of disenchantment to Sheikh Abdullah in particular, the one who as such was instrumental in accession of Kashmir to India. To cut the long story short, Sheikh’s apprehensions were answered by putting him in the prison and this is what sowed the seeds of alienation among people of Kashmir. This alienation of Kashmir people duly supported by Pakistan is what has been the root cause of terrorism in Kashmir. Article 370 was the protective cover which by giving the autonomy to the state of J&K was a big obstacle to the proliferation of terrorism as such. Of course the global situation where by America sowed the seeds of Al Qaeda to fight against Russian army added on to the problem as the Al Qaeda and its clones, after defeating the Russian army in alliance with anti Soviet Forces, made their entry into the troubled state, and communalized the militancy. Thirty years down the line now the picture is being presented in an obverse way.

What was needed was to instill more democracy in the state and involve the disgruntled elements into the process of dialogue. Of course the negative role of Pakistan, backed up thoroughly by America has been the major factor. The problems can be solved only when the correct diagnosis of the issue is made. The warped understanding of recent history by communalists, is dictating the current politics and so the blame of militancy is being put on article 370. Article 370 has also been blamed for lack of development in Kashmir.

The truth is that in social development indices Kashmir’s indices are better than many states and above the national averages. Time alone will tell how Pakistan behaves, how the cancerous Al Qaeda type elements will be tackled within the state. An all round process of dialogues on the issue is a must. Strengthening of democratic process seems to be the only way to restore peace and overcome the violence which is the tormenting the people of Kashmir!

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

Babri Judgment and Portents for Future

Ram Puniyani
12-11-2019

The Supreme Court judgment on Babri Mosque-Ram Janmbhumi dispute gave the verdict that the whole land where the mosque stood from 1528 to 6th December 1992 be given to the ‘Hindu Side’, Ram Janmbhoomi Nyas, set up by VHP. Just to recall it was demolished in broad day light by the RSS combine led by Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati on that day. As per verdict Government should make a trust which should supervise the temple construction and Muslims, Sunni Waqf Board, should be given five acres of land in a prominent site in Ayodhya. The SC conceded that the Namaz was being conducted at the site right till 1949 when the Ram Lalla idols were installed in the mosque in the middle of the night in a criminal way. The logic of SC is that from 1856 the place was associated with birth of Lord Ram. The evidence for this is not cited, the only basis here is that Hindus regarded it as the birth place of Lord Ram! The Court has held that the claim of Muslims on land of inner court yard is not amenable to adverse possession in favor of mosque. And that Muslims have not been able to present the evidence that they were in exclusive possession of inner Court yard, prior to 1857. As per the Court “Hindus have established a clear case of possessory title to the outside Courtyard, by virtue of long continuous and unimpeded worship at Ramchabutara and other aspects of religious significance.” And so the judgment!

Prelude to Judgment

There was a great mobilization of armed forces, police in anticipation of violence, either celebratory or due to protests against the judgment. Fortunately there has been no violence. One recalls that after Babri demolition in 1992, the violence was triggered in Mumbai by the celebratory procession led by Shiv Sena. While from ‘Hindu Side’ the likes of Lal Krishna advani, are feeling vindicated, the most Muslims have to reconcile to the Court verdict for more reasons than one.  As far as the nature of judgment, the one former judge put it in a bet possible way.  Retired Justice Ganguly put it “As a student of Constitution, it is difficult from me to accept it.”  Legal luminary Faizan Mustafa, Vice Chancellor of NALSAR Law University, states that “Ayodhya Judgment is a setback to evidence law.”

Seen in the long well documented history of the Babri Mosque it becomes clear that the judgment does not match to the known history of the Mosque and the happenings around it. While one concedes that this judgment will bring to a closure one long and painful chapter of contemporary Indian history. The hope is that other such mosques which have been on the demolition list of RSS combine will not be taken up for such a treatment.

Background

A brief recap of the dispute is in order to understand the mechanism of how the Babri Mosque issue was made controversial, how a huge mobilization was made to demolish it and what had been the political fallout of this well planned demolition, undertaken as a part of Hindu nationalist agenda. This criminal act of demolition was a move which has been built around the faith that it was a birth place of Lord Ram.

As such Babri mosque was built in 1528 by Babar’s General Mir Baqi. There was no dispute around it till 1855, when the clash took place between Bairagis and Muslims on the issue of Chabutara (raised platform) outside the Mosque. The British made a barricade between the inner Courtyard with three domed mosque and the outside area where many Hindu deities were located. The matter never came up during freedom struggle when whole nation was coming together to fight against the colonial forces.

The issue in current times begins on the night of 22-23 December 1949, when some elements forcibly broke the locks of the mosque and installed Ram Lalla idols in the mosque. Till around this time Namaz was being offered there. After installation of the idols in an illegal manner, fearing future trouble, the then Prime Minster Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to the UP Chief Minister G B Pant to get the idols vacated. The local District collector K K Nayyar did not comply and Pant did not take suitable action on this. Same Nayyar later went on to join the BJP’s previous avatar, Bharatiya Jansangh.

Decade of 1980s: Issue comes to fore

In 1980s the RSS Combine became more active and Ram Temple issue was brought to forefront. Reversal of SC judgment on Shah Bano gave it a boost. The locks of the mosque, which were put when the idols were installed in surreptitious manner in 1949, were opened under different political pressures. This was one of the biggest fallacies of current time which paved the way for further moves by RSS combine. VHP took up the campaign of construction of grand Ram Temple at the site, claiming that Lord Ram was precisely born at that spot. Through Ram Shila Pujan and other campaigns a faith was constructed all over. It was propagated that Lord Ram was born at that spot, there was a Ram Temple there, which was demolished by Babar to build the mosque. We can see right in current times as to how faith can be constructed for political for goals. This faith was constructed through political and social maneuvers.

Whether Ayodhya, where Lord is supposed to have been born is the same Ayodhya, where mosque is located is a matter of doubt. Topping it all even in current Ayodhya there are many a temples which put forward similar claims which have been built at the birth place of Lord Ram.

It was popularized that the Babri mosque is a symbol of the ‘foreign rule’ and of atrocities against Hindus by the Muslim rulers. This is further derivation of communal historiography which looks at the rule of Kings through the prism of religion. This historiography was introduced by British to pursue the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. The Will of Babar to Humayun clearly spells out Babar’s policy towards Hindu temples. He advises to his son Humanyun not to break Hindu temples as majority of the subjects are Hindus.

As pointed out, that there was a temple at the spot, as such was part of the British introduced communal historiography. Mrs. A F Beevridge a British officer, while translating Babar’s memoirs had put a foot note that there may have been at least a part of temple on which the mosque was built. (From S. Gopal, Anatomy of Confrontation, Penguin) This is the core seed which later on was blown for making the full fledged claim of temple, temple of Lord Ram, Temple of birth place of Lord Ram was there. In a way demolition of this mosque in 1992 was the culmination of British policy where by Muslim Kings were selectively presented as temple destroyers. Incidentally many Muslims Kings also gave lots of donations to Hindu temples which have been undermined and unstated in the prevalent notions of History.

BJP Takes over Temple movement: Lal Krishna Advani

Duly, BJP took over the campaign from VHP and Advani started a Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya. The Rath Yatra was followed by communal violence en route. The polarization in the society started deepening the hatred against Muslims increased. One can say the polarization among the Hindus and Muslims was taken to higher level by the Ram Temple issue and the consequent Rath yatras and other programs undertaken by RSS and its affiliates. During Rath Yatra; Advani was arrested in Bihar by Lalu Prasad Yadav. Still many volunteers reached the Mosque and to prevent the damage to mosque; Mulayam Singh Yadav, the then Chief minister had to get the firing done, leading to tragic death of many. Mulayam Singh Yadav was presented as Mulla Mulayam, after this episode which was triggered as a culmination of Rath yatra.

Huge propaganda followed against the atrocities of Muslim kings. In the aftermath of Mandal commission implementation by VP Singh in 1990, the response to Ram Temple campaign started going up. Advani himself stated that the temple campaign is a political one. The faith of birth place of Lord Ram at Ayodhya where Babri Mosque stood is of recent origin, only few decades old. The plan was made to do Kar Seva (i.e. demolition of Babri Mosque) on 6th December 1992, under the guise of Kar Seva. Interestingly 6th December, the anniversary of Bhimrao Ambedkar, was chosen for the demolition.

Demolition and Violence

The UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh of BJP; had given the written undertaking to protect the mosque.  Nearly three lakh Kar Sevaks assembled in Ayodhya to do Kar seva, at the same time nearly twenty thousand Kar Sevikas were also mobilized for cooking and cleaning. As Kar Seva began the police and other forces withdrew from the site and in a planned way the mosque was demolished in broad day light in five and a half hours. Congress has its own share of blame in this demolition as the then Prime Minster Narsimha Rao locked himself in Puja room as Mosque was being demolished. In a show of sorrow, shedding crocodile tears same Narsimha Rao, after the demolition woke up and stated that Mosque will be restored at the same place.

During demolition the cheering crowd led by Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati gave the slogans, Ye to Keval Jhanki hai Kashi Mathura Baki hai (This is just the beginning, Kashi, Mathura will follow) A makeshift Ram Temple was built there illegally.

The crime of Babri demolition was investigated by Liberhan Commission, which opined that it was a planned act led by Advani and company. The guilty of Babri demolition have not been punished so far.

This demolition was followed by massive violence particularly in Mumbai and also in other cities like Surat and Bhopal. Over thousand innocent lives were lost, majority victims being Muslims. The BJP started becoming electorally stronger after this. It had two MPs in 1984 elections. As Yatras around the issue began, Babri demolished and violence started going up, BJP’s electoral power started zooming up, leading it to the seat of power in 1995 and in due course it become the largest political party in the country. That Ram was born at that spot became such a part of people’s faith that even the Allahabad High Court in its judgment in 2010, kept this in mind while dividing the land into three parts.

Since 1992 demolition in every subsequent election, Ram Temple has been the part of BJP’s electoral agenda. With BJP assuming power, its parent organization RSS also started expanding at double the speed. Ram Temple campaign changed the national priorities. The priorities of health, education, employment, dignity have been replaced by identity issues like Cow-Beef, Ghar Wapasi and love jihad.

Portents for Future

Where do we go from here? Will Muslims accept the five acres of land as compensation? There are some voices in the community to reject this offer, while some others are arguing that the land should be accepted and a College or Hospital should be built at that site. While one of the leaders of demolition squad Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi is saying that Kashi and Mathura should not be taken up, there are others in the RSS combine like Vinay Katiyar, who are invoking that now Kashi and Mathura issues should be brought to the fore. Can one pray and hope that such issues should not be raked up, as such history is mired in different confusions and there also incidents where Buddhist Viharas were demolished by Brahmnical reaction against Buddhism. Country can’t afford such agenda as the children dying in hospitals for lack of oxygen, youth not getting suitable employment and farmers worsening plight urges us to focus on the issues of present and not to create issues which retard the social progress and divide the society. The Constitutional guarantees of equality and status quo in matters of places of worship need to be followed. The whole episode of idol installations to Babri demolition to the accompanying communal violence and polarization should never be repeated is the optimistic hope. The country will adopt the path of communal harmony as represented by likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Maulana Abul Kalam and focus on issues of average people will be taken up in the right earnest.    

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED