Special Reports

Struggle for Babri Masjid to Continue

Letter from Ayodhya
Ayodhya/Faizabad: A four-hour drive to Ayodhya, situated on the banks of river Saryu, and home to Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid dispute is 8 kms inside district Faizabad which was once the capital of the erstwhile Nawab Shujaud-Daula (1753-74). And 6 Dec, 2009 was the 17th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition. The demolition-accused are yet to be brought to justice. Faizabad is around 130 kms to the east of Lucknow. Shuja-ud-Daula’s son Asif-ud-Daula had shifted the capital to Lucknow, which is still the capital of Uttar Pradesh.  

Thrice our car was frisked as Chief Minister Mayawati had imposed Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 144 in whole of Uttar Pradesh (UP). But, unlike last year, when AK-47 gun totting policemen dotted the landscape, supervised by helicopters, no such scene was found this time.

As we entered Ayodhya we had an interesting encounter at Masjid Malik Shah, Beniganj, Faizabad. The building gave an imposing impression with well built domes and standing bathed in glory. A black flag fluttered atop the domes. The ambience was stuck with the sentiment to protest the Babri Masjid demolition and the call for its reconstruction. A modest congregation of around 50 people, most of them in teens, were found sporting black flags. They looked dazed and nonplussed yet they were  busy in reciting Quran loudly in memory of those killed in the wake of Babri Masjid demolition.

Ayodhya in the immediate aftermath of demolition had witnessed 27 masjids having been burnt along with 267 houses belonging to Muslims, 16 Muslims lay dead, with no First Information Report lodged! All the masjids were later rebuilt by Muslims. An ex-gratia fund of Rs 2 lakh each was given to next of kin of the deceased by the government.

This is how BJP celeberated 6 Dec. in Ayodhya

The first halt was at Muhammed Hashim Ansari’s place. A dilapidated board ‘Babri Masjid Reconstruction Committee’ reminded the commitment. He is the first plaintiff of the Babri Masjid case. He had been sent to jail for two years, for offering prayers inside Babri Masjid in 1954, obviously for violation of law, as no prayers have been allowed, since the dawn of Dec 22/23 1949 inside Babri Masjid. Hashim Ansari is right now in Arabia for performing Hajj. A grand protest was being staged at the residence of Haji Mehboob, another witness who has deposed from the Muslim side before the three-judge bench at the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court.

Remembering a tragedy: Zafaryab Jilani and other is Aydhya; above: Black flag on the Malik Shah mosque in Ayodhya on 6 Dec.
Protest meet
Haji Mehboob stays right opposite to Ramjanambhumi Police Station. His house is within the radius of 500 metres to the north of Babri Masjid. The place was berserk with activity with more than 250 people who had gathered in his compound, joined by media from all across India. The reason being the heat generated by the ‘leakage’ subsequent tabling of Justice Liberhan Commission Report.

Nara-e-Takbir Allah ho Akbar (Allah is Great) and Nara-e-Risalat Ya Rasul-lal-lah (Glory be to Prophet Muhammed) filled the air as Jai Shankar Pandey, an Ex. MLA from Samajwadi Party (SP), Ayodhya constituency, stood up to speak. He spoke of his talk with Narsimha Rao, the then Prime Minister of India in 1992, on 3 Dec, 1992, requesting him to stall the movement of Karsevaks pouring into Ayodhya, from at least the states under the Congress rule. But his plea fell on deaf ears. Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) was the ruling party in UP then. “Today Rao stands saved by Liberhan Commission, and thus, has made us all think again if there is any law and justice in the nation. 6 Dec was the day when the Constitution was blown to smithereens. The biggest terrorism in India got personified when Babri Masjid lay demolished,” he said.

Surya Kant Pandey, took a historical note of what all has shaped Ayodhya during all the centuries of recorded and even unrecorded history. He said that whenever culture, literature and human civilisation is referred Ayodhya finds an obvious place, in any discourse across the whole world, but the event of Dec 6 has tarnished the name of Ayodhya for ever. He then referred to India’s freedom movement of 1947 and recalled Shaheed Ashfaq-ul- lah Khan, the great martyr who had dreamt of a rule where there would be equality of mankind. Obviously he was making a clear cut reference to the prevalent Bania-Marwari (capitalist) economic framework prevalent in the country. “Rashtriya Swamseval Sangh (RSS) — the rabid fascist and anti-Muslim organisation — is solely responsible for the demolition of Babri Masjid. They adore Adolf Hitler and abhor Mahatma Gandhi. Dec 6 was purposely chosen because BR Ambedkar — the architect of our Constitution, had died on the same day. They wanted to antagonise Muslims and Dalits (untouchables) with the same stroke.

“Unless Babri Masjid is reconstructed we would continue to strive with our struggle for it,” he exhorted. SR Pandey hails from Ayodhya and is an ageing political activist.

Zafaryab Jilani, the legal counsel of Sunni Central Waqf Board (SCWB), a party of the title suit of Babri Masjid took the occasion to extensively deliberate on the whole year of progress on the front of the developments in the Babri Masjid case. He lauded the undying and unflinching support of the people of Ayodhya, despite the oddest times, for the sake of Babri Masjid. He congratulated media to have played a pre-emptive role into getting the Liberhan Commission report be made public. He made a praiseworthy reference to Sheetla Singh, the veteran journalist as ‘inspirational’ for the cause of secularism in the nation. He also did make a thanks-giving reference to all those non-Muslim witnesses who have stood to depose before the full-bench and expressed his solidarity with judiciary and the rule of law.

Muhammed Sabir from Gonda, Haji Abdul Ahad, Asad and Haji Mehboob also addressed the meet. The namaz-e-zohar (afternoon prayers) was performed at Tehri Bazaar masjid, a few paces opposite to Mehboob’s place. Food prepared by Mehboob, was also served well.

“Hang me if you can”
Within one kilometer to the east of Haji Mehboob residence, at Karsevakpuram, there were rantings of Jai Shri Ram, as ‘Shaurya Diwas’ (Victory Day) was also being celebrated by Vishwa Hindu Parishad along with BJP. The Ramjanambhumi Trust Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, BJP Ex. Member of Parliament Ram Vilas Vedanti, Mahant Govind Das, Jagadguru Ramanujacharya, BJP MLA Lallu Singh, RSS Mahanagar Sangh Chalak Professor Laxmi Kant Singh were present.

Ram Vilas Vedanti, created quite a fracas, as he first burnt Justice Liberhan’s effigy before admitting that the demolition of Babri Masjid was in fact a meticulously planned execution and praised Narsimha Rao to have actually asked him to ensure that Babri Masjid was to get demolished, when he had met the latter on Nov 20, 1992 in New Delhi, and that he had overstayed in Ayodhya on Dec 7, 1992 too, to supervise Babri Masjid erased out and a makeshift temple built on its site! “Hang me if you can as this is exactly what I had committed to Liberhan too,” he would thunder waving his fist in the air. No wonder he is the first, out of 68 indicted by Commission, to have gone to confess with such turpitude. Lallu Singh made a further mockery of law by saying that all Karsevaks who had taken part in the demolition should file an affidavit ‘claiming their role’ as there is nothing to be afraid of.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2010 on page no. 17

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