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Whom the gods wish to destroy...

The editor of The Statesman, an Indian national daily publsihed from Kolkata and Delhi, wrote this piece in the paper’s edition of 17 June 2001

If at some stage, Home Minister, LK Advani decides to write his autobiography, he must not forget to record both the happiest day of his life – 30th October, 1990 when saffron flags were hoisted on the Babari Masjid and the most painful day of his life, when the same Babari Masjid was demolished on 6th December, 1992.

The Liberhan Commission have the RSS/BJP leaders over a barrel and is forcing them into errors by simple pursuit of truth. On his last appearance before the Commission, Advani deposed that on 18 October 1990, VP Singh spoke to him on the phone and told him that some ray of light is visible, why can’t we convert it into full light? Then you and I can perform kar seva. This is after he accused VP Singh of losing the chance to solve the Babari Masjid issue in 1990. How? Because says Advani, he withdrew the Ordinance to acquire land surrounding the Masjid and hand it over to the VHP for temple construction.

VP Singh has asked to appear before the Commission again to clear his position but he has already answered Advani. No one needs to strain intelligence to understand that if land around the Masjid were made available to the VHP, access to the Masjid would be blocked. As for the offer to do kar seva, VP holds that there was plenty of space to build the proposed temple in Ayodhya. He said if the temple were built away from the mosque he would join Advani in performing kar seva there. Why Advani, a very clever politician, should make such a mistake is not clear except that perhaps he is expansive, secure in the knowledge that the criminal prosecution is virtually at an end with the refusal of the BJP government in UP to issue another notification correcting the earlier one.

Emboldened by Rajnath Singh’s refusal, Advani now says he is proud of his association with the great Ayodhya movement; at the same time he describes the demolition of the structure as unfortunate. He denies it was a mosque because idols of Ram were installed inside it and puja was going on there by a court order. The facts, not in dispute are the following:–
a) the Masjid was a functioning mosque and namaz performed regularly until the night of 22 December, 1949.
b) That night, idols of Ram were surreptitiously introduced into the mosque thus desecrating it. As a result namaz stopped. That did not make it a disputed structure.
c) The affidavit of the UP government confirms all this. It adds that the Masjid stood on Wakf land; mosque and land were notified as a Sunni Muslim Wakf by 1944.
d) The local magistrate locked the doors of the Masjid to prevent a communal clash over the installation of the idols within. Rajiv Gandhi in quick succession agreed to appease fundamentalist Muslim opinion by reducing the Supreme Court's landmark judgment in the Shahbano case to a nullity, while appeasing fundamentalist Hindu opinion by removing the locks and allowing puja be-fore idols illegally and surreptitiously installed.
e) On these facts it is not understood why the Rao Government's White Paper should insist that all references to the Babari Masjid should be to Ramjanmabhoomi- Babari Masjid structure or complex.

To sum up, the Babari Masjid was a fully functioning mosque registered as such in administrative records until it was desecrated in the darkness of night, by deceit and fraud. No Hindu, proud of his traditions of tolerance, fairness and decency would claim that in these circumstances the mosque suddenly became a disputed structure or as Advani earlier maintained, a de jure temple. Or as some clown has suggested, two domes of the Masjid should have gone to Hindus and the third to Muslims! This is akin to dividing up the carcass after a murder.

The Masjid’s ownership was never disputed. Assuming, for the sake of argument that it was, who claims the right to demolish it on that ground? Under what provision of law is disputed property fair game for anyone so minded to demolish it? Can I have an answer please?

Advani describes the forcible and criminal destruction of the Babari Masjid as unfortunate. This must be the understatement of the century gone by.

As I suggested in the Caveat published on 13 April 2001– Misuse of Religion is Endemic! – it is cowardly and unworthy to misuse religion. The excuse may be the approaching elections in UP. The Election Commission say they will be held in February 2002. Will this lunacy have a free run for the next eight months or is Rajnath Singh planning to go to the electorate earlier, in October?

I do not know why this is happening. Can it be that those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad!
- CR Irani
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