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November 10, 2019

FEW events in the history of modern India have been as polarising as the 1992 destruction of the Babri Masjid in the Hindu holy city of Ayodhya.  In an episode of unabashed ugliness, a frenzied mob of thousands of Hindu extremists — including some of the leading lights of the BJP, which now rules India — stormed the 16th-century mosque and reduced it to rubble, guided by the belief that the spot where the masjid was built was Ram Janmabhoomi, the place where Hindus believe the deity was born. 
Communal riots followed the desecration of the mosque in many parts of India, while the demolition was condemned by major Muslim states.  This event has poisoned Hindu-Muslim relations in India since, and has served as a battle cry for the Hindu hard right, that has now captured state power in New Delhi. 

On Saturday, the Indian Supreme Court says that a temple would be built on the site of the razed mosque. While the apex court did say that the demolition was illegal, by allowing the building of the temple, it has, through this verdict, indirectly supported the vandalism by the mobs. It is also a tad ironic that the decision came on the day when the Kartarpur Corridor was opened for Sikh pilgrims, indicating Pakistan’s intentions to facilitate other religious communities.

Perhaps it would have been better had the court given the site to neither side, considering the sensitivity of the matter and its impact on communal relations in India. Moreover, on matters of faith and devotion, it is best if state institutions maintain a non-sectarian outlook to ensure justice for all citizens. Looking back at the events since 1992, it can be argued that the destruction of the mosque marked the beginning of the end of the Nehruvian ideal of a secular India, and the triumphal, raucous arrival of the Sangh Parivar on the national stage. Some of the most fanatical fringes of the Hindu hard right participated in the orgy of violence in Ayodhya on that December day; today, many of these elements are in positions of great power in India.

Undoubtedly, the verdict will embolden the foot soldiers of Hindutva and send a message to India’s minorities — particularly its Muslims — that religious triumphalism and violence tactics by the majority are condoned in modern India. The Indian establishment never ceases to boast about the claim that it is the world’s ‘largest democracy’. However, the post-Babri Masjid trajectory of the country has been anything but democratic, and especially with the election of Narendra Modi, it is clear that the national narrative is being shaped by Savarkar and Golwalkar rather than Nehru and Gandhi. Now, it is for the Indian people to decide whether they wish to adopt a democratic course, or build a Hindu rashtra where minorities are either hounded out, or forced to live as second-class citizens.


Abhay Kumar, The Milli Gazette Online

Published Online: Nov 11, 2019

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? 

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 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, were asked to build a mosques 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 histrorians have denied these allegations. 

Abondoned 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 huge pressure, is trying to keep "quiet". 

Muslims perceive a threat to their safety. They are also doing 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 organised by Hindutva outfits. Some of them have also appeared before media to "congratulate thier 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 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 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-day light on December 6, 1992. 

How could we forget that thousands of fanatic Hindu mobs were mobilised to demolish a centuries-old religious place of the minority community? 

How could we forget that the Ram Temple mobilisation 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 the Indian history. On that day, not only the dome of 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 law into their hands. If this happens, the attitude of the Indian state would become more aggressive and hostile towards the minorities. 

I am afraid the Ayodhya judgment may encourage the majoritarian forces to make a claim on 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 the 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 PhD 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 You may write to him at debatingissues[at]

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