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Babri imbroglio: Muslims taken for a ride
By Zafarul-Islam Khan

Singhal shows the spot where they want to built the mandir

New Delhi, March 9: It is clear now that the Indian Muslim leadership has been taken for a ride. A charade of negotiations was enacted during the last few days in order to deflect attention from the Gujarat pogroms while the central government had made its mind all along to allow ‘symbolic' puja (prayers) on the sub judice disputed land of and around the Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya where the government is duty-bound to maintain status quo until a final judgment is issued by the court. All restrictions on the convergence of the so-called ‘Rasmsewaks’ (temple volunteers) have been withdrawn now. A 'symbolic' puja will be held as planned by the World Hindu Council (Vishwa Hindu Parishad - VHP) all along and the actual construction will commence on 2 June according to the VHP mandir (temple) plan which includes the Babri site and pinpoints the martyred mosque's mihrab as the garba griha (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple. If Indian Muslim leaders think otherwise they are living in a fools paradise.

The current BJP government, which has already trampled upon all norms of democratic and civilised behaviour, could not be trusted. But naivity and vested interests played havoc with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) whose leaders hurried to meet the Kanchi Shankaracharya, one of the four Hindu pontiffs, who was government’s emissary to facilitate the VHP’s task. Naive AIMPLB leaders thought that the government was indeed serious and readily agreed to talk, while the VHP had no intention to respect a court order and its vice president, Archarya Giriraj Kishore, was clear about this the very next day. Thus the AIMPLB’s uncalled for trust was quickly punctured while unauthorised persons speaking in the name of Indian Muslims played the government’s game and made its task easy.

Ever since the legislative assembly elections were announced two months ago Hindu extremist outfits, led by the VHP, had fixed March 15 as the date to commence the building of the proposed temple at the site of the demolished mosque. Now that date has suddenly been declared as ‘inauspicious’ and the auspicious date has been advanced to June 2. A make-shift temple already exists at the site ever since the mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992. The issue is raked up every time elections are announced in order to polarise Hindu voters. 

This time this trick failed to benefit the BJP which has been trounced in all the four states where polls were held. But the Temple deadline remained although the extremists are barred from effecting any change to the status quo by the order of the Supreme Court of India until the court case about the dispute is settled. And this order covers all the land around the mosque site which was taken into custody by the government at the request of the Supreme Court in 1993 and this includes land owned by a Hindu trust (Nyas) which was registered to build the temple. Extremists now say that they want to start construction only on the 'undisputed land' which includes not only the Hindu trust lands but also Muslim Awqaf land including Muslim graveyards. 

The current flare-up in Gujarat is also a spill-over of this crisis. The so-called volunteers who were killed in the train incident, which triggered the riots, were returning from Ayodhya, after taking part in some on-going rites prior to the construction. Such volunteers were coming to the town from all over the country in a bid to mobilise the Hindu society everywhere. Continued

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