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Administrative attempt to communalise Ayodhya
By VB Rawat

Ayodhya: While Hindutva protagonists may well be roaring to go for a temple after March 12th, the ground situation in Ayodhya may not be favorable to them. A visit to the twin townships of Ayodhya and Faizabad suggests that all the wings of Sangh Parivar have virtually become defunct here in the town of Lord Rama. The poor response shown to the Ramrath Yatra, by the people of the state clearly reflected in the BJP’s so-called response ‘law will take its own course against the law breakers.’ The party might have realized that the issue of Ram does no longer enthuse the people of Uttar-Pradesh and hence over emphasis on them could be counter-productive.

Such apathy towards political class and particularly the BJP in the land of Rama has sent alarming signals to the party stalwarts here as one of the ministers of Rajnath Singh’s cabinet, Mr Lallu Singh, is contesting on BJP ticket from here. The administration of Ayodhya led by its District Magistrate is doing its best to provide best services for the bhakt of Rama. Speaking to people from different communities in Ayodhya makes one concerned about the future of communalization of atmosphere. Muslims of the area are under tremendous pressure and if the government continues to pressurize them and put them under various acts including POTO or Gangsters Act, then no doubt they will turn to terrorism one day. If every democratic institution is closed for them then what is the alternative for them. Mohammad Hashim Ansari is about 80 years of age and one of the oldest persons in Ayodhya. Living in front of the Ramjanambhoomi-Babari Masjid, he recalls how the local administration helped install the idols of Ramchandraji in the night of 22nd-23rd December 1949. Despite his best efforts, he could not succeed in getting them legally removed from the said place. He is not disheartened yet is sad at the turn of events even after so many years. 

Another veteran of Ayodhya Haji Mehboob is highly angry and has an equally angered response: Muslims of Ayodhya will not allow them to reconstruct Rammandir at the place of Babari Masjid. We are ready to give land for a grand temple of Lord Rama but not at the place where Babri Masjid stood. He has violent memories of December 6th, 1992 when a huge crowd of Hindutva brigade had surrounded his house, which is just in front of Thana Ramjanambhoomi at Ayodhya. Seeing many known people dead hurt him yet he is determined that Muslims of Ayodhya would not allow this act to be repeated.

At Faizabad, advocate Syed Aftab Raja Rizvi says that now the RSS and its ilk have lost all the issues hence they have to have some issues to keep them in the limelight. The issue of Rama attracts the emotions of Hindus and hence they continue to do so but how long will they befool the masses. 

Though Faizabad and Ayodhya looked indifferent to the various noises made by the leader of VHP and RSS, the Muslims of Ayodhya had reason to be apprehensive about their future. We have seen how the administration in December 1992 behaved in a partisan manner and how they were mute to our requests, said Abdul Khaliq, a social activist based in Faizabad, who has been actively involved in the community and peace initiatives in the town. There is a limit to our patience and if it is not controlled then Muslim masses who are not educated may soon become restive and uncontrollable. 

Khaliqe gives example of administration’s efforts to communalise the situation in Ayodhya and Faizabad so that BJP can easily sail through, as at the moment their condition is pretty bad. He says: The first instance was that the ‘Sant Yatra was permitted to pass through the crowded Chowk area which is predominantly a Muslim locality and where heavy vehicles and even tempos and vikrams are not allowed to ply. Why this permission was given when the same is not granted to Muslims whenever they organize their programme. Moreover, the district magistrate is a party to all this. He personally donated a big ghanta ( bell) to the Hanumangarhi temple recently.

It was early hours of the morning when I was roaming around the crowded chowk area to visit some of the libraries and scan through the day’s newspapers when a crowd of armed police men started coming in and with them were a number of vehicles with red light over their heads. The policemen were gathering near the chowk Masjid. I asked my rickshawala to rush fast and find out what was the matter. I could see the tension growing as the policemen were already posted in a very large number. To my horror, I found bulldozer was being called in the crowded locality to demolish the ‘illegally owned houses and shops. I could see people particularly women and children virtually begging the policemen and the authorities, to stop this demolition but without any positive response. I thought that the tension would grow further and did not know much about the issue hence I went back to my hotel and tried to contact some of the residents of the area. Dr Anis, an old man, full of emotions narrated the events as to how they are facing an administration which is there to teach the Muslims a lesson. What happened I asked? Mr. Rawat, he said, " they have put bulldozer on an entire area where poor Muslims were resettled in 1950s. This was a waqf land, he remarked. Long back in the 50s, after partition when many refugees had arrived here the government forced the local Muslims out of this place to make way for them. The displaced people at that time were resettled in the open land which was used as Sarai by the Nawabs. According to sources, this land was in fact a waqf land though in technical terms it may not be so at the moment." While the people were settled, the area adjacent to the Chowk Mosque had about 15 shops which were rented out to shopkeepers. The map for these shops was passed as early as on December 3rd, 1966 by the Municipal Board of Faizabad. Now the district magistrate and the Faizabad-Ayodhya authority have given notices to demolish these shops also. Faizabad-Ayodhya Development Authority came into existence in early 90s. In 1857, the property was handed over to Nuzul (management) to the Commissioner. In those days Commissioner for Nuzul and Waqf was just one person. After 1925, Anjuman Himayat-e Islam used to look after the mosque. After Independence the Masjid was separated from Nuzul and handed over to the Imam and then some shops were constructed. The people who were dislocated from the place were actually resettled by the government of UP in 1952 from Chowk area which was made available to the refugees under the name of Mukherjee market. Informed sources told this author that the district administration and local authorities have no locus-standi on the matter as the entire area was waqfed in 1790 by Nawab Hussain Raza, the Nawab of Avadh for the Sarai (Inn) purpose. The maidan where the small time vendors had set up their shops was a historical ground where movement for freedom of India was launched and many political meetings took place. It is also interesting to note that while the legally owned shops of the Muslims are being demolished, permission for temples is given without any second thought. On a visit to a Jain temple in Ayodhya, the local management of the temple informed this writer that they have got a grant of about a crore rupees from the state government for the beautification of the temple. It is therefore important to note how the local administration is behaving.

In the case of demolition of the shops of the vegetable vendors and other small businessmen which include Hindus also, the government did not give any prior notice. No assurance was given to them regarding their settlement. Crying women and children did not melt the heartless administration, which destroyed hundreds of small time owners, all in the name of beautification of the city. Just behind this so-called beautified place is one of the dirtiest places of Faizabad where the entire garbage of the town is thrown. The government had set-up a slaughter house here for which sources informed that the local authorities have about fifteen lakh rupees yet nothing was done to clean the place. The local residents are annoyed at this: First they claim that they are beautifying our place but just behind is the huge garbage. They never made any attempt to take it elsewhere. But because we are Muslims and need to be taught a lesson, hence all the dirt should be here. The beautification of the city must be at the cost of Muslims and Dalits. Isn’t it an irony that the place which was once ruled by the Nawabs is being reduced to a dirty and highly communalized zone.

Even the mosques are attached by the district administration at Ayodhya. Some of the Muslim leaders complain that to catch a gangster, the property of another fellow with same name was attached. This fellow was a tenant in a mosque property but the administration did not hesitate in attaching the mosque itself. He was arrested under the Gangsters Act and later on found to be innocent. Many more cases of harassment of the minority community are coming in from Ayodhya and Faizabad. The fear of Gangster Act and POTO is mainly there in the Muslim localities. One wonders what will happen to the community if they are continuously pushed to the wall. Says, Abdul Khaliq : The patience of Muslims in the city is running out. Our community is not educated and it is difficult to preach patience to them at the moment when all the roads for them are blocked. On the one hand every Muslim feels threatened and on the other hand those spreading hatred are roaming and threatening the government. Muslim community has reacted very carefully to recent war cries as well as the issue of POTO and Ram temple. They know that the Sangh and the Hindutva forces are testing their patience and purposely trying to communalise the atmosphere in the region. Most of the Muslims in Ayodhya and Faizabad vouched that it is not the local people who are communal but the outsiders who want to play politics in the name of either Babari Masjid `or Ram Janambhoomi. This fact was proved from a talk with a local Muslim leader who happened to be hardcore when he said: unfortunately, the people here are sleeping while people outside Ayodhya and Faizabad are very much interested in building a mosque." The man was speaking some truth but not the entire truth. Most of the Muslim masses in India have reacted in a very dignified way so far and the leaders have virtually become disinterested at the moment. It is in the same way as the Sadhus and so-called Sanyasis are without work except for the purpose of Ram temple which keeps them busy.

The matter of demolition did not end here. After their demolition work was over, local MLA and state minister Lallu Singh came over to the area and asked for stoppage to this illegal demolition. Sources close to the minister say that after this blow to the city Muslims it was important for a bargain in the assembly elections where the Muslims have to play a very decisive role. Secondly, despite all their efforts the matter has not been communalized. Ayodhya and Faizabad remained calm and peaceful hence there is need for them to target Muslims and their sources of income so that they come to talking term with the Hindutva brigade and are used for their vote bank politics. The Muslims of the city are adamant to fight their battle legally. Says one veteran social activist: " Muslims have suffered a lot from partition of India. Their problem increased instead of decreasing. The political leaders played their politics and left the masses to fend for themselves. Though the frustration is growing among the ordinary masses yet we are trying our best to make the people believe that Muslims in India can fight their battle only through the legal process. We have full faith in the law of the land. Let the Sangh also say that it would welcome any judgement of the Supreme Court on the issue of Babari Masjid-Ramjanambhoomi". True, but are the Hindtuva’s Sadhus ready to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court? Those who believe in Manu’s code are not supposed to adhere to civilized and democratic behavior which are antithesis to Brahminical code of conduct which Manu defined. And incidentally, UP for the first time is witnessing an organized campaign by those who believe in caste hierarchy under the Manuwadi party. Perhaps, the Hindutva proponents would do well to clarify their position on each issue confronting the nation so that there is no need for any one to expose them. Do they believe in Indian Constitution and Parliament? If not, then what prohibits the Government of India to take strict action against them in the same way in which it is pursuing religiously against the minorities particularly the Muslims under the garb of ISI and war against terrorism. War against terrorism cannot have two standards. VP Singh rightly mentioned recently in an interview to Hindustan Times that the first act of terrorism in India was committed by Hindutva forces. Nathuram Godse is the first terrorist, he said, who killed Gandhi. True, time has now come for the government to be clear and firm against those who take law in their own hands and exploit the religious sentiments of the people. People of Ayodhya and Faizabad are not interested in outsiders vitiating the atmosphere there. Hence it is the duty of the administration to strictly follow the law and ensure that the writ of Constitution is enforced in these cities. Another important message here is about the so-called beautification drive during the election period. Is it not a violation of the code of Conduct of the Election Commission? UP government and Faizabad administration should respond to this.
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