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EDITORIAL: 16-31 December 2000

Babri tangle

Prime Minister Vajpayee's latest statement that the Ram Mandir is still an 'unfinished task' should be an eye opener for people who had all these years claimed that he was a secular and reasonable person among the extremist lot of the RSS and the BJP. This is the second shock after his last US trip when he had spelled out similar thoughts in a Parivar gathering. No doubt the PM's media managers, or 'spin doctors' as they are called these days, will try to twist and turn his latest statement as they did last time round.

Babri Masjid, which has become a symbol of India's secularism, commitment to rule of law and our unity in diversity, was razed to the ground on a fateful day eight years ago. The BJP alongwith innumerable organizations of the Sangh Parivar, some solely created for this purpose, were responsible for this heinous crime. They did not try to hide their hand but went to town to the extent of printing a list of honour of the participants in the demolition work in the RSS's Hindi mouthpiece, Panchjanya. Shiv Sena's Bal Thakray publicly owned the responsibility for his sainiks' role in the demolition.

The CBI in its charge-sheet against the 49 people responsible for the demolition, that include Home Minister LK Advani, HRD Minister MM Joshi and fire-brand Sports Minister Uma Bharati, has said that it has charge-sheeted these people on the basis of what these people have been saying openly in the media and in their public addresses. But when it came to facing the law and appearing before a fact-finding commission these crusaders disowned all responsibility for their 'historical feat! In front of courts they claim that they had no role and go to any length to obtain bail orders and avoid summons to appear in front of the commission of enquiry or courts.

As if this was not enough they have come up now with a novel theory: that they were actually trying to protect the mosque from being demolished! One of their ilk (KR Malkani) even claimed that the ISI demolished the monument! Had he been alive, Machiavelli would have loved to take a lesson or two from these people. As this too was not enough a so-called 'Gandhian' was found to speak to a newspaper, itself a mouthpiece of these very people, to substantiate what they are claiming now. The so-called 'Gandhian' claimed that these people were trying to resist the efforts of some hooligans trying to demolish the mosque and actually it was a bunch of some committed people who had come with complete planning to demolish the mosque. But courage fails this 'Gandhian' to name these people and she has deferred this task until after her death.

If it was so and these people, including Uma Bharati and the other two peace-loving gentlemen were trying to resist the hooligans they themselves had invited to Ayodhya by touring all over the country, then who was it who demanded: Ek Dhakka Aur Do, Babri Masjid Tod Do! No doubt a save-the-mosque call in their jargon…

Recently the Liberhan Commission has summoned these people to appear before it not as accused but only to testify in order to open some new vistas in the probe. This commission was set up following the demolition to probe the reasons and circumstances leading to the demolition of the martyred masjid. It had asked Advani, Joshi and Narasimha Rao to appear before it. It is already in the process of examining Uma Bharati. Prabhat Kumar, the former home secretary of Uttar Pradesh, who was later elevated to the post of home secretary at the centre and was recently rewarded with the gubernatorial post in the newly created state of Jharkhand, has already appeared before this commission. 

In the meantime the opposition parties during the current session of Parliament have pressed the trio to step down from their respective posts. Only recently the ruling party had asked a central minister to step down for being charged in the case of the murder of a policeman during the reservation riots in Gujarat in 1985. Another Gujarat state minister was made to step down on the same grounds. This government no doubt suffers from double standards when it comes to the party top brass. This kind of behaviour was never observed in any earlier Indian government since Independence. With such people at the helm the future of the nation can never be termed as bright and promising.

There is another disturbing aspect to the current scenario: the indifferent attitude of the leaders of the community. Our leadership seems to be a disgruntled bunch of an unruly lot. Either these people have no perception of the severity of the issues or the importance of unity. There has not been any effort to bring our leaders on a single platform to face the challenges. This does not auger well for the community when it faces grave challenges from a highly organized octopus.
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