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Eight years on, Babri remains extremists’ albatross
By Zafarul-Islam Khan

Babri Masjid, martyred by Hindutva extremists eight years ago, continues to haunt the perpetrators of one of the biggest crimes in modern India. The saga goes on despite the fact that the extremists' political arm, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), now rules India heading a coalition government. 

The country witnessed a complete political stalemate for about two weeks since the demand for the resignation of the Babri-tainted ministers was made in parliament by the Congress Party on 4 December. Ever since the opposition parties demanded a discussion on the Babri issue in Parliament and the resignation of the three ministers who have been charge-sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for their role in the demolition of the ill-fated mosque. The government had to give in to the opposition demand to discuss the issue under clause 184 of parliamentary procedure which allows for voting at the end of the debate which took place on 14 December and the government won by a clear majority (291 to 179)but it faced a defeat in the upper house (Rajya Sabha) when the opposition won the censure motion 121 to 86 on 19 December. This is the first time since 1978 when the Morarji Desai government was defeated in the Rajya Sabha that a government lost a censure motion in the Upper House. In a small climb down in the BJP's stand, Mr. Vajpayee said there can be unconditional talks between Hindus and Muslims to resolve the Ayodhya dispute.

The controversy was further complicated due to a controversial statement made by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 6 December, the 8th anniversary of the demolition, that 'the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya is an expression of national sentiment which is yet to be realized.' This statement was a clear denial of earlier official statements that the Mandir issue is not part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) agenda. Moreover the BJP itself has been reiterating time and again during the last three years that the temple issue is no longer part of its political agenda. This stand had helped it cobble together the NDA which enabled the BJP to rule the country despite being a minority party in terms of its strength in Parliament.

The BJP government has made it clear that the three charge-sheeted ministers (Home Minister LK Advani, Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and Youth & Sports Minister Uma Bharati) will not resign. The BJP claims that they have committed a 'political' offense and not a 'criminal' offense and that the mention of their names in the CBI charge-sheet does not hinder them from discharging their constitutional duties.

Extremist spin doctors have fabricated some new 'theories' about what happened on the fateful day when the mosque was brought down by the fanatics. The new theory is that the three ministers were not taking part in the demolition or cheering the crowds. Rather they were trying to prevent it! Recorded history belies this theory as photographs and statements of these leaders prior to the demolition, during the course of the demolition and shortly after the demolition are recorded on the pages of newspapers and on video tapes and clearly refute this new claim. It does not come as a surprise from people who have falsified the history of not only the Babri mosque but of hundreds of other mosques and Islamic archeological sites in India and now demand their restoration to Hindus. The new theory reminds us of what one of their ilk, Member of Parliament KR Malkani to be precise, proclaimed a few years back that it was the ISI (Pakistan army intelligence) which demolished the Babri Mosque!

Another 'theory' has been propounded a few days back by Mr Sudarshan who heads the RSS, that Hindus did not demolish the Babri mosque, rather it collapsed as a result of a bomb explosion inside the mosque. The CBI which investigated the demolition has refuted this theory and has said that it investigated this angle also when it started investigations shortly after the demolition. Days later the same RSS chief claimed in front of the Liberhan commission (20 December) that a Muslim called Anis Ahmad Gehlot blasted the mosque! At about the same time the mouthpiece of his outfit claimed that it was the then defence minister Sharad Pawar who administered the demolition job (Organiser, 24 December 2000, p. 4).

These leaders, who celebrated the 6th of December as 'Shauriya diwas', i.e., day of bravery, fail to muster the courage to own up and be answerable for their 'brave' deeds. They speak in many tongues: one for their masses, another in the courts of law and a third for political discourse. 

With these theories and claims, the extremists aim at the falsification of history, and to confuse public opinion at home and abroad as well as to protect the skin of their top leaders who are being tried and investigated for their role in the demolition of the mosque despite solemn pledges given to the Supreme Court and the National Integration Council. If they are found guilty by the court of law or implicated by the Liberhan Commission of inquiry, which is probing the case, their political life will be over. 

The Hindutva outfits are slated to heat up the issue in preparation of the forthcoming UP elections.

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