Time to forget & forgive

The mosque built by Mir Baqui around five centuries ago has been deliberately dragged into the controversy once again following the Liberhan Report leak. At the time of Independence it was a mosque and no political party had claimed anything to the contrary. As per the Constitution, the status of 1947 was to be maintained in cases of places of worship. The installation of Ram Lalla idols by deceit on midnight of 22nd Jan 1949 sowed the first seeds of controversy. Later in 1975 the dispute between two local groups was taken up by Vishwa Hindu Parishad and in 1989, BJP decided to make a political capital out of it. The tragic demolition and the making of makeshift Ram Temple there have added new dimensions to the issue.

It is around this issue that Hindu and Muslim communalists raised the emotional pitch and the tragedies which followed, the demolition, the post demolition communal violence and communalization, polarization of society along religious lines are too well known by now. The court case regarding the same is dragging for the last several years without any outcome so far.

Where do we go from here? Do we let this sore to continue to putrefy on the body politic of the nation? This may act as the trouble spot for the future. It is time that we look at all the aspects of the issue and try to bring about a peaceful solution to the issue.

The first step is to realize that it is the communal forces from both communities which have claimed that they represent the community and so they will decide on behalf of Hindus or Muslims respectively. This fact has been confirmed by Liberhan Commission report as well. The fact is that these communal groups neither represent the community nor reflect the opinion of the respective communities.  It is imperative that we look forward to the liberal sections, leadership from these communities to come forward and talk in the language of reconciliation. The liberal sections are those who have so far been ignored, but they are the ones who have talked of peace and accommodation. The election results have also shown that those claiming to represent the aspirations of a particular community have been routed in popular elections. The elected representatives of the area have a major role to play in bringing the consensus. We cannot undo the past but we can definitely chart a peaceful path for future. The peaceful talks between these sections along with the local people of Ayodhya are the central points for solution.

The people of Ayodhya have also been the victims of the demolition and other offshoots of the dispute. What they think should be done at the site has to be taken seriously. They have to be taken on board along with the liberal leadership of the communities. Today the most amicable solution has to veer around respecting Ram and Allah both. Both temple and mosque can be accommodated in the area, with equal importance and respect.

Line of Action
Along with temple and mosque in the same spot we need to bring up a museum dedicated to the great tradition of Ayodhya. Ayodhya has not only been popular for Lord Ram, but it had also been a place for Buddhists and also people of other faith as well. It has been a sort of ‘No War zone’ (A- no, Yodhya-War, Ayodhya- A no war zone), and that spirit has to be cultivated all around. The emotive and divisive appeals need to be rejected by the nation as a whole. In that light the museum-memorial has to be the one of syncretic traditions, of saints who were followed by Muslims and Hindus alike, of Sufis who again were respected by both Hindus and Muslims. While the history has been made to degenerate into hoarse shouting, a cool, reasonable and archeologically based understanding should help us to go further. The negotiations between the communities have to be encouraged to the last.

The second line of action has to be the court verdict which should be final for all of us. The formulation that faith will decide the birth place of the Lord has no place in a society governed by law and reason. The community leaders must give an undertaking to respect the court verdict and act accordingly. Those not having faith in the courts can’t be the part of the process of reconciliation as reconciliation has to be done within the framework of Indian Constitution. We have invested too much in this issue and it is time that not only this but also other such issues are not given any importance to ensure that the country and nation can focus on such vital issues as bread, butter, shelter, employment and health.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2010 on page no. 12

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