National

Babri Masjid Ramjanmbhoomi Dispute: Need for Justice

After the long wait, the Supreme Court Chief Justice J.S. Khehar opined that the long pending dispute of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid should be settled out of court (March 2017). He even offered to himself mediate in the matter. Uniformly most of the spokesperson from RSS Combine welcomed the move, while large number of Muslims and other elements have been surprised as the court was approached for justice and not for a compromise formula.

This is in the backdrop of the judgment of Lucknow bench of Allahabad Court (2010). As per this, the three-judge-bench had said that the land should be divided into three parts. As such, the judgment was an exercise of sorts trying to do a balancing act between all the parties involved, Ram Lalla Virajman, Nirmohi Akhada and Sunni Wakf Board. The title of the land has been divided into three, each sharing one part. Also the court declared that since Hindus believe that the ‘birth place’ of Lord Ram to be below the place where the central dome of the mosque stood, that place should be allotted to Hindus. In response, RSS chief in a jubilant mood had proclaimed that now the path for a grand Ram temple has been opened at the site and all the parties should cooperate in this “national” work.

For larger sections, this judgment came as a matter of dismay. The Babri Mosque has been there from last nearly five hundred years and it was in possession of the Sunni Waqf Board. The dispute was created for the first time in the nineteenth century. In 1885, even the court, headed by a Hindu judge, had denied Hindus to build a shed on the platform outside the mosque. It was after the forcible installation of Ram Lalla idols in December 1949 that the matter went in an adverse way. Through a conspiracy, the idols were installed and despite the insistence of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, to remove the idols, the UP administration did not comply.  The gates of the masjid were sealed. It was in 1986 that Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, got the doors of the Masjid opened under the intense pressure of Hindu Right wing forces.

Lal Krishna Advani took up the issue from VHP, which was agitating for Ram Temple until then. With Advani, the President of BJP taking up the issue its political impact started deepening and widening at the same time. It was made the major polarizing issue around which consolidation of the Hindu vote bank began. The mobilization for Rath Yatra planned for the temple movement took a more dangerous turn in the aftermath of Mandal Commission implementation. Those who opposed reservation for OBCs came forward in large numbers in the mobilization for the Ram Temple.

While BJP did not show direct opposition to the Mandal Commission, it diveted the opposition into the Ram Temple issue. Mandal versus Kamandal (holy water pot, religiosity), is how some framed it.

This issue came up to torment the delicate thread of peace prevailing in the society. The culmination of this campaign was in the form of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. In the demolition, RSS combine mobilized large sections of people and Narsimha Rao colluded in this scheme. While the local administration collapsed, Kalyan Singh of BJP, who was then Chief Minister of UP, facilitated the assembly which was to demolish the mosque. He did this despite his solemn promise to the Supreme Court that he will protect the mosque. Narsimha Rao who locked himself in his Puja room, while the mosque was being demolished, later promised that it will be built precisely at the same spot.

The matters took a turn for the worse as BJP-led team of ‘archeologists-Kar Sevaks’ tried to prove that there are remnants of Ram Temple below the mosque. Archeologically this is not tenable. That there was no convincing proof of Ram Temple underneath becomes clear from the fact the High Court Bench had to resort to ‘faith of Hindus’ to allot 2/3 of the land to Hindu groups. The demolition of Mosque might have been the biggest crime in India and it was well planned. Despite that, the leaders of demolition squad have not been punished so far.

Liberhan Commission did point out the nature of the underlying conspiracy but unfortunately the Commission report took too long to submit its report. To add salt to the injury, Advani and company became stronger after this crime against the nation. The demolition also unleashed massive violence against Muslims, particularly in Mumbai, Bhopal and Surat along with other places. The guilty of this violence have also been let off totally or with minor reprimand.

Courts are made for justice. Here, in the matter of this dispute, the ownership of the title has been the real issue. The High Court based itself more on ‘Faith’ than on the records of ownership of the land. The Supreme Court as the highest legal body needs to see the total issue from the legal angle and needs to set right the wrongs done so far. Only concrete legal aspects should determine the outcome of the case. Instead, to call for a compromise out of court in the present circumstances is overlooking the aspect of justice. In out-of-court settlement already the Hindu groups have said that Muslims should leave the place for Ram Temple and another suitable land will be given to them for mosque across the Saryu river. The two sides are not evenly balanced as far as their power is concerned. 

There are threats from the likes of Subramanian Swami, BJP MP, and others that if Muslims don’t give up their claim, a bill will be brought through Parliament once BJP has bigger strength. Whatever that be, threats of this type are immoral, all parties should be given justice. Already there are claims on so many mosques to convert them into temples! In the out-of-court settlement, the Hindu nationalists are more assertive and dominant while the representatives of Muslims are being pushed into a corner that does not augur well for the health of our democracy. Effort to revive the issue of other mosques is unwarranted and intimidating to minorities. That needs to be stopped.

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