Demolition of Babri mosque

By Ved Bhasin. Dated: 12/6/2017 1:45:30 PM

How it shaped a communal narrative?

On the occasion of the anniversary of Babri mosque demolition, we are reproducing from the Kashmir Times archives the opinion of Ved Bhasin, as published on this day in 2012, much before the cow vigilantism, lynchings and the intolerant mobs assumed such brazen forms of legitimizing majoritarian communalism. The relevance of these views is much more today.

It is exactly 20 years ago that Babri mosque was torn down, an act that not only caused excessive communal polarization but also one that changed the course of history of communal fabric of the country, acting as the precursor of the ugly events that have been unfolding in these last two decades.
The demolition of the mosque and the legitimacy of this act by not just politicians of all hues but also the Allahabad high court that last year sought to put the matter to rest by a division of the land of Babri Masjid between Hindu and Muslim groups, is a major blot on Indian democracy. It is indeed a matter of shame when a secular country allows places of worship to be brought down as an act of vindictiveness or hatred for a particular community, when its powerful elite remain mute spectators and when its legal justice system is unable to nail all those who were part of the criminal act and when its judiciary simply wishes to settle the matter by stating that the Babri land ought to become a shared property of all without taking action either against the vandals who brought the monument down or those that unleashed a vicious violent pogrom against the minorities thereafter.
The problem with the Babri mosque demolition is not simply one related to criminal vandalism. It is also about the way cultural history of the country is sought to be re-written and interpreted in terms of Islamic or Christian monuments being an affront to the majority Hindus and the unproved assertions as the one in this case that Babri mosque was built over Ayodhya temple, historical evidence of which is totally missing. It is also about the way such legitimized vandalism can be used to assert and provoke the minorities.
What is even more gravely wrong about the Babri demolition is the way authorities either tend to give it greater legitimacy or prefer to submit themselves to silence, thereby causing greater rifts between communities and far greater insecurities in the minds of the minorities. It encourages communally rabid elements to take law into their own hands and do as they please with their acts of vandalism, communal violence et al, without the fear of being taken to task.
Every communal violence act in post-partition India did not begin after Babri Masjid demolition. The infamous Bhagalpur communalization happened much before and the shocking anti-Sikh pogrom in Delhi and its surroundings happened exactly eight years before the monument was brought down to be followed by a horrifying communal frenzy across the country. But the incident is more than just a symbol of communalism as it did bolster the confidence of the majoritarian right wing particularly and it are these groups that have the potential danger of setting an entire country on fire with their communally rabid discourse and their lethal acts with the tacit backing or silence of the state machinery that is seen to work in collusion at some level or the other, irrespective of which government is in power.
If the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 was sponsored and patronised by the then Gujarat government and overlooked by the then BJP-led NDA government at the centre, the Kandhamal violence only saw both the Orissa government and the central government acts as apologists of the rabid Hindutva outfits that unleashed the violence. In acts of terrorism perpetrated by these groups, whether it is BJP in power or the Congress, the immediate investigations promptly jump to the conclusion that it is a doing of Pakistan's ISI or its sponsored Islamic jehadi groups.
Legitimising acts of communal violence has become much more pronounced after the Babri demolition, without the powers that be looking for the multiple causes that lead to communal violence, addressing them and nailing the culprits. The only exception is the recent conviction of Maya Kodnani and others in the heinous communal genocide of Gujarat and this single verdict alone imbues such hopes in a rather dismal and distressing situation due to a trail of events that have followed the demolition of a historic mosque.
On the 20th anniversary of this shameful incident, the least that is required to be done is an honest introspection of where this country's secular polity is headed so that the probable damage to the country and its communal harmony can be reined in.
(Reproduced from the archives of Kashmir Times)



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