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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Babri remembered
Demonstration  in Parliament Street New Delhi
Demonstration  in Parliament Street New Delhi
Demonstration  in Parliament Street New Delhi
Demonstration  in Parliament Street New Delhi

Above: Demonstration at Parliament Street 
New Delhi, (below) Ayodhya

By Zafarul-Islam Khan

Fatigue seems to have set in. North Indians, both Muslims and Hindus, are no longer much intrested in Masjid/Mandir. "6 December" was coldly observed by both sections in their special ways: Muslims mourned the martyrdom of the historic mosque at the hands of the Hindutva hordes while “Mandir wahin banayenge” group celebrated it as a "victory day". 

The scene in Delhi was pathetic on 6 December morning. Four "Muslim" groups held four different demonstrations and sit-ins. Leftists, led by Javed Akhtar, had their own demonstration near India Gate while three Muslim groups congregated near Jantar Mantar but they failed to unite to offer a single demo. About a dozen Delhites sat at a corner under a "Shia-Sunni Front" banner meters away from another few dozens from an unknown political party. I asked the Shia-Sunni Front wallahs: why you are sitting at a distance from the other group? They were sitting under their banner, came the reply. I asked them to join the other group to offer a semblance of unity. They did not budge or even cared to reply. I lost my temper and told them: Babri was demolished because of this attitude and more Babris will be demolished because of this attitude. Yet no response from the “one-and-a-half brick-mosque” wallahs. 

At a distance on the Parliament Street there was a bigger group led by Tamil Nadu Munnetra Kazhgam's president Prof. Jawahirullah who had come all the way from Chennai with dozens of his volunteers to demonstrate in front of the national parliament demanding the rebuilding of the martyred mosque at its original site. TMKK initiative intended to remind the Centre to fulfill the promise made by the former Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, after the demolition of the mosque. The demonstrators asked the Centre to take suitable steps to correct the flaw in the FIR filed against LK Advani and others. They wanted the Centre to ban all activities of the VHP in this regard. Prof. Jawahirullah later met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and submitted a petition pleading for early construction of the mosque in Ayodhya. TMMK held another massive demonstration in Chennai on the same day when 600 of its supporters were arrested by the police. In Coimbatore, the communally-sensitive area of the state, about 1000 activists of the TMMK were arrested on the same day for trying to take out a demonstration. In Salem, another town in Tamil Nadu, 300 volunteers of the Tamil Nadu Towheed Jama'ath were taken into custody. Similar arrests were made in Erode, Tanjavur and other parts of the state. 

It was a welcome sign that while north Indians felt fatigued, south Indians came forward to embrace the cause. A number of important personalities like members of parliament Abu Asim and TR Balu as well as INL general secretary Muhamamad Sulaiman took part in the Delhi demonstration.

Elsewhere in the country small demonstrations came out to remind the people that the martyred mosque remains on the agenda of the community until justice is done in the crime which led to the death of more than 3,000 people in the riots that followed the demolition.

All-India Muslim Personal Law Board had appealed to the Muslim community to observe 6 December as “Black Day.” Speaking to the press in Hyderabad on 4 December, Abdul Rahim Qureshi, Secretary, AIMPLB, demanded revamping of CBI and said that the agency, which was 'saffronised' during the tenure of NDA Government, had committed “irregularities” in its probe of the Babri Masjid demolition case. He said 423 people were arrested in connection with the demolition of Babri Masjid, but all were released. "It is astonishing to note that not a single person's name was mentioned in the chargesheet," he said. «

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