Thread Rating:
  • 1 Vote(s) - 1 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

THE recent verdict in which a federal Indian court has absolved some of the top guns of the ruling BJP of any involvement in the 1992 destruction of Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid is extremely disturbing, though not unexpected.

Much before the Mughal-era mosque was brought down by a Hindu mob in a violent, vulgar display of majoritarian power, the BJP had been calling for the mosque to be replaced by a Ram mandir. In 1992, the Hindu far right got its wish as the mosque was soon turned to rubble as zealots razed it, while earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundations for the mandir as all legal hurdles standing in its way were cleared.

The latest court decision only strengthens perceptions that under the BJP’s watch even the judiciary does not have the resolve to call out the forces of Hindutva.

Clichéd as it may sound, the Babri Masjid demolition was actually the beginning of the end of Indian secularism, with the Nehruvian dream replaced by the nightmarish vision of the Sangh Parivar where all those falling outside the ideological fold — particularly Muslims — were relegated to the margins of national life. Going back to the latest verdict, the acquittal of L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and other leading lights of the Sangh Parivar flies in the face of justice.

The Lucknow court said there was no conspiracy to demolish the mosque. However, in 1990, Mr Advani had launched an infamous ‘yatra’ “to seek legitimacy for the Mandir movement,” indicating that destruction of the masjid was very much on the Hindutva agenda. Moreover, a former judge who had headed a commission that investigated the Ayodhya debacle for 17 years said that there was “ample evidence” linking the aforementioned leaders to the crime.

However, facts matter little in the Sangh Parivar’s scheme of things; brute force, distorted history and violence are the tools the shock troops of Hindutva use to silence all opposition. Even state institutions seem to be afraid of speaking the truth. Last year, the Indian supreme court had paved the way for a Hindutva victory while allowing a temple to be built at the Babri site, and calling for an “alternative site” to be given to Muslims for a mosque.

The Babri destruction was a harbinger of much darker things to come. Today’s India, where Muslims are lynched on suspicions of consuming beef, where the community is asked to prove its citizenship or be prepared to be disenfranchised, and where the Indian military machine punishes the people of held Kashmir with great barbarity, is in fact a country fashioned by those who were instrumental in bringing down the mosque. If the country continues on this grim trajectory, very soon Muslims and other minorities may be transformed into a permanent underclass and denied all fundamental rights.

KS Dakshina Murthy

The acquittal of 32 people means the destruction of the mosque will go unpunished, and to add insult to injury, a temple will likely be built in its place. India’s seemingly intractable high-profile dispute that changed the country’s political destiny – featuring a mosque and a temple – is done and dusted.  

On Wednesday, a special court acquitted all 32 people, including former federal ministers, accused of conspiring to demolish the Babri mosque 25 years ago. This comes on the heels of a Supreme Court judgment in November last year allowing the construction of a Ram temple on the site of the Masjid.  The implications of the mass acquittal are simple: No one has been punished for the destruction of the 16th-century heritage mosque built by Mughal Emperor Babur. 

Social media went berserk with sardonic comments like “No one demolished the Babri Masjid”, “The mosque fell on its own” and “Was it magic?”. The Kolkata-based Telegraph newspaper had the picture of a donkey on page 1, accompanying the story, with a comment ending in the phrase “...and now we are braying in despair.” 

The demolition of the mosque, on December 6, 1992, was by a Hindu right-wing mob which had come prepared with pickaxes and other equipment to break down the structure. The destruction unfolded in broad daylight from around noon for several uninterrupted hours.   Watching this in close proximity were top leaders of the Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) who initially gave rousing speeches in favour of a temple and then watched without intervening as the mosque came down. 

The federal Congress government at the time inexplicably did nothing to either pre-empt the demolition or use security forces to stop the mob in its tracks. Once the structure was razed to the ground, the government in Delhi under the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao dismissed the state government of Uttar Pradesh, where Ayodhya is located, and filed cases in court against the BJP leaders who were present in the vicinity of the demolition on that day. 

For the BJP, which is in power today in Delhi, the Ayodhya dispute is arguably the singular issue that has jockeyed it into the dominant position it finds itself in. Until 1985, the BJP along with its ideological fountainhead and mentor, the self-styled social service organisation, RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), never managed to make the cut among India’s voters. 

From the time of India’s independence in 1947 and the first general elections in 1950 the BJP’s predecessor, the Jan Sangh remained a marginal player in electoral politics. A major stain for the outfit was the assassination of India’s father-figure and leader of the freedom movement Mahatma Gandhi. The assassin Nathuram Godse was linked to the Hindu right-wing and by extension, the RSS. 

In the decades after the assassination, the RSS which was also banned briefly for it found it near-impossible to play down the mass aversion people had for it due to the killing of Gandhi. Except for minor wins here and there, the Hindu right-wing could hardly match up to the Congress party that strode India’s political landscape. 

After the suspension of fundamental rights and the declaration of Internal Emergency from June 1975 to March 1977 by the then Congress government under prime minister Indira Gandhi, the Jan Sangh merged with a broad coalition of political formations to form the Janata Party.  This proved successful and the Congress was defeated in 1977. The Janata Party that came to power broke up in a couple of years as there were too many disparate ideological strains within it. The erstwhile Jan Sangh re-emerged as the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980. 

Again, try as it might, the BJP could not get an electoral break. In the first elections it faced four years after its formation in the new avatar, it managed to win just two seats out of a total of 543 in India’s lower house of Parliament or the Lok Sabha. 

The rise of the right

The leaders of the party at the time, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lal Krishan Advani, desperately tried to figure out the winning formula. Vajpayee, the more liberal of the two, viewed economic strategy as a possible way forward. But it was Advani who managed to grab the magical nerve of India’s electoral pituitary, by opting to rake up the dormant demand for the construction of a Ram temple on the disputed Babri Masjid site at Ayodhya. 

Under pressure from the BJP, in an attempt to win Hindu support, Rajiv Gandhi did not challenge the order of a local court that ordered the opening of the Babri Masjid complex that had been sealed since 1949.  Advani, a shrewd politician with roots in Pakistan’s Sind province, went for the kill. Backed by the RSS, Advani organised a nationwide movement to reclaim the site of the Babri mosque to build a temple in that exact same spot for the Hindu deity Rama – where the mythological king Rama was believed to be born, by some accounts, 7000 years ago. Rama, a popular deity has been worshipped by all Hindus, from ancient times. 

The Ayodhya movement turned out to be the spark that lit India ablaze electorally. The dispute aggravated dormant social prejudices against the minority Muslim community, including blaming it for India’s partition. 

To add grist, the right-wing accused the Mughal Empire in pre-colonial times of subjugating Hindus. Ayodhya’s Babri mosque was touted as an example of this oppression. The BJP alleged that the Babri mosque was actually built on the site of a Ram temple that had been destroyed by Emperor Babur. 

From a mere two seats in 1984, the BJP’s electoral tally in the 1989 elections jumped to 85. 

Not losing momentum, Advani who was a federal minister in the 1989 coalition government, set out on a nationwide rally to seek support to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya. He encountered opposition in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Violence ensured and several activists of the umbrella Hindu formation, the Sangh Parivar, were shot down by police. This worked to the advantage of the BJP in the elections that followed. In the 1991 federal election, the party won 121 seats. It also swept to power India’s Uttar Pradesh state. 

Other states too landed in the BJP’s kitty, particularly in northern India. Once the Babri complex was opened, the BJP and affiliated organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) kept the pressure on by conducting rituals on the Babri site.   In parallel, the dispute was under litigation right from the 1950s, with Muslim and Hindu groups fighting for a court-mediated settlement. 

In December 1992, when the Hindu groups asked the court’s permission to conduct rituals, they were legally asked to promise the safety of the Babri structure. It was only then they were then permitted to go ahead. On December 6 as the leaders of the BJP, including Advani who had promised the court, watched the mosque was brought down. Riots between Hindus and Muslims broke out across the country. 

The BJP, by then, had used the collateral benefits of the issue to emerge as a party that projected itself as the saviour of Hindus and one that fought for their rights and privileges. And, to the surprise of the nation’s secular and left of centre groups, the BJP’s Hindu-centric posturing attracted a wide following that has only grown exponentially since then. 

The BJP came to power briefly for the first time in 1996 for 16 days in the immediate aftermath of the Babri demolition. This was followed by a 19-month rule in 1998 and for a full five-year term from 1999. Though it lost power in 2004 and in 2009, the party returned in 2014 under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was re-elected in 2019 with a bigger majority, and a more pronounced pro-Hindu tilt. 

As for the Congress, and the country’s secular credentials, the Ayodhya issue has caused a massive setback to the point where there are concerns over the survival of pluralism and inclusiveness, considered a hallmark of free India.   Moreover, notions of Hindu victimhood, perceived Muslim appeasement and belligerent nationalism have managed to encroach on India’s democratic space that has steered the nation on an uncharted path, towards a destination that can only be described as uncertain and foreboding.   


An Indian court on Wednesday acquitted Hindu nationalist leaders, including former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani, in a case over the demolition of a mosque at a disputed site 28 years ago, citing a lack of evidence. 

A special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Lucknow in its Wednesday ruling said that the demolition was not pre-planned and that the people who demolished the mosque were “anti-national elements”.

The court pinned the blame on miscreants mingled among the crowd instead, adding that leaders such as Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, another former cabinet minister, had tried to keep the mob from turning violent.

Handing down its verdict after a lengthy legal battle, the court said there was not enough evidence to directly tie any of the accused to the violence, defence lawyer Manish Kumar Tripathi said. “The court did not accept the evidence, it was not strong enough,” Tripathi told reporters at the courthouse.

The court had ignored all the evidence in Wednesday's case, said Zafaryab Jilani, a lawyer for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, adding that it planned to appeal to the high court against the decision. “We will seek remedy,” he added.

'Indian judiciary miserably fails to deliver justice again'
Reacting to the verdict, Pakistan strongly condemned the "shameful" acquittal of those responsible for demolishing the historic Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.  "Taking almost three decades to decide on the criminal act which was televised live and happened as a result of well-planned Rath Yatras and on the instigation to mobs by the accused BJP, VHP and other leaders of Sangh Parivar, tells the world that the Hindutva-inspired Indian judiciary miserably failed to deliver justice again," said a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"The demolition of the mosque had resulted in BJP-led communal violence leading to thousands of killings. If there was a semblance of justice in the so-called largest ‘democracy’, the individuals, who had boasted of the criminal act publicly, could not have been set free.  "The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-BJP regime and the Sangh Parivar are responsible for the continued desecration and demolition of mosques in India in an organised manner as they did during the Gujarat massacre of 2002 and Delhi pogrom in 2020."

Pakistan urged the Indian government to ensure safety, security and protection of minorities, particularly Muslims and their places of worship and other Islamic sites "on which the Hindu extremists and zealots have laid claims".

Conversion to temple
Advani, who was then BJP chief, was among 32 people accused of criminal conspiracy and inciting a mob to tear down the 16th century Babri mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya in 1992.  The mosque stood on a site revered by devout Hindus as the birthplace of Ram. Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for a Hindu temple to be built at the site, after the Supreme Court paved the way last year, in a decision that also ordered land to be allotted further away for a mosque.

Pakistan, called the top court verdict "a flawed judgement", had said: "A temple built on the site of a historic mosque will remain a blot on the face of the so-called Indian democracy for the times to come."

Messages In This Thread
RE: HOW GLOBAL ANTI-MUSLIM BIGOTRY BECAME ACCEPTABLE - by globalvision2000administrator - 10-03-2020, 05:05 PM

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 2 Guest(s)