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Muslim leadership remains unconscious : Reconstruction of Babri Masjid on back foot
Reconstruction of Babri Masjid on back foot
By Husna Anjum, New Delhi

Babri Masjid, 28K

Babri Masjid’s demolition was a blot on the nation’s face. Eight long years have passed since then. Perpetrators of the heinous crime are still roaming scot-free. The case in point is an ideal example of a saying in jurisprudence: “justice delayed is justice denied.” 

It was not an ordinary mosque. It was a symbol of religious harmony, a symbol of brotherhood and tolerance. In one go they razed to the ground the very bedrock of the country.

The eighth anniversary of the demolition of the mosque is round the corner. Everyone knows the culprits behind the Babri Masjid demolition. But the long arms of the law are yet to touch them. Cameras splashed, newspapers screamed, intellectuals cried and a dazed common man realized the dangers ahead. Four hundred-year-old mosque still lays in rubbles. 

Why you talk about the perpetrators. What about the government of the day? They were more responsible for the shameful act than the criminals. They allowed Kar Sevaks to converge. At times, they helped them. On the disputed site there were not enough security forces to control them. Everyone alerted the then Prime Minister P.V.Narasimha Rao. Intelligence agencies warned the Prime Minister. Still Rao looked the other way. He trusted the belligerent Kar Sevaks. As the entire nation looked silently, the Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6,1992. 

When it was about to be demolished Narasimha Rao with his full cabinet went into hibernation to resurface only when it was completely destroyed. Even his Home Minister S.B.Chavan, who later claimed that he briefed Rao about the imminent danger, was nowhere to save the mosque. There were definitive evidences with the Centre that the mosque would be demolished. 

Demolition was not a sudden provocation as claimed by the moderates of the saffron ilk. It was a well-planned and strategically executed work. The Kar Sevaks had started swarming the disputed site from November 24 and the number swelled to 1.5 lack by December 5. On December 6 they touched the half a million mark. Though a large number of security personnel were deployed, lackadaisical approach of the government tied their hands. Rao still clung on to his favorite words: “informal discussions would be continued with the BJP and VHP leaders.”

As soon as the mosque was grounded communal fire engulfed many parts of the country. Four BJP-ruled state governments were removed and several organizations banned. Hundreds lost their life. Property worth millions of rupees was destroyed. Condemnations poured from everywhere.

In fact the demolition could have been easily avoided, if Rao regime could have done what it did after the demolition-dismissing the Kalyan government in Uttar Pradesh.

The post-demolition story is even more pathetic. Charges were filed against 40 persons, and nine more were added in that list in January 1996. After inordinate delay, hearing was completed by February 1997. Since then framing of charges by a special magistrate has been stalled by one way or the other.

The government had set up Liberhans Commission to enquire the entire incident. But little is known about its current status. Narasimha Rao government had appointed a sitting judge of Punjab High Court to head the commission. The judge was later appointed the chief justice of Madras High Court, and now he is the chief justice of Andhra Pradesh. The commission was further hampered by other logistic problems, when the judge was moved far from the Commission’s headquarters (in Delhi). The Rao government also tried to dissolve the commission in January 1994 when the commission had not even got off the ground. Between August 1995 and July 1996 the commission’s work was stalled when the Delhi High Court issued stay order on notices issued by the commission against 41 persons and five organizations. Though this stay order was lifted on July 23,1996, proceedings remained tardy. 

The commission has been in news recently. Prabhat Kumar the home secretary in the Centre who at the time of Babri Masjid demolition was state home secretary in Uttar Pradesh has appeared before the commission. Uma Bharati has also appeared before the commission and she was questioned for more than four hours by it. But the most complicated case is that of Kalyan Singh the then chief minister of the state. He is among the most important accused of the crime of demolishing the mosque, but he has not appeared before the commission despite the repeated summons. The commission has issued summons four times for his appearance, but he on the ground of some pretext or the other has not appeared before the commission so far. The commission also issued a bailable warrant against the former chief minister, but he went to the Delhi High Court against this warrant. The High Court has given a stay order in this respect. Kalyan Singh is among most important accused in the case. The commission said in one hearing in September when Kalyan Singh did not appear before it that it will not summon any other witness or issue summons to any other person till Kalyan Singh appears before it. Though later the commission summoned Uma Bharati and she came too, but without questioning of an important accused such as Kalyan Singh nothing important is going to come out. 

Muslims too have not shown any serious inclination in getting the inquiry completed. The incident is becoming old enough to be forgotten by clergy or the Muslim politicians for their own convenience. They have a number of other priorities, and they feel satisfied in living in their confined world that is sometimes restricted to their drawing rooms. They play drawing-room politics and remain confined to it.

It is not far enough when Muslim leaders as well as masses will forget all about the Babri Masjid and there will not be one who will be able to fight the case in the courts. It is also a probability that the criminals who are indeed very influential will take the same rout as taken by the Shiv Sena supreme Bal Thakre that more than three years have passed since the incident so he cannot be tried for the same crime. There is every probability that the case on being too old will not be given the same weight as it deserves.

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