How the Babri Masjid verdict jeopardized the future of mosques in India

Amjed Jaaved discusses how the acquittal of those involved in Babri masjid can set a trend in India where Hindu fanatics may mount attacks on other mosques.

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Though India is “constitutionally” a secular country, it is practically a Hindu country. Almost all organs of government, even the judiciary, act in tandem to persecute minorities. In a recent judgment, a civil court directed the Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India to get done a “comprehensive archaeological physical survey” of the site of Gyanvapi mosque.

It added that the department should find out if the “religious structure standing at present at the disputed site is a superimposition, alteration or addition or there is a structural overlapping of any kind, with or over, any religious structure”.

Read more: Where is secular India headed?

The tenor and tone of the judgment are akin to Ayodhya preliminary judgments. The Hindu fanatics planted idols in the mosque to corroborate the existence of a temple beneath the Babri mosque.

The courts pay no heed to provisions of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, or articles of the constitution that bar them from dabbling in religious matters. It appears to be that soon they would force the Muslims to abide by a Hindu code of worship, as a common civil code is a joint demand of the RSS and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Read more: Religious freedom a myth in “secular” India: RSS & Jesus Statue

Genesis of fake temple claim

The aforementioned Worship Act calls for maintaining the nature of all places of worship as they were on August 15, 1947. After the law was passed in 1991, some communal people filed a petition about the Gyanvapi mosque. They claimed that the mosque was situated on a piece of land where there was a temple and that there should be an investigation into it.

Laws have no retrospective effect. As such the complaint was barred. The mosque committee and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board opposed the application and the application was rejected.

Read more: India: Alternate mosque design unveiled in Babri case

The litigation went on appeal to the High Court. Despite this, a judge of a civil court has ordered a survey. Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahli criticized the court order and wondered why the matter was being raised now.

“The issue of Gyanvapi mosque and Kashi Vishwanath temple being raised now is very sad. The temple and the mosque are adjoining and Hindus and Muslims worship there… And this shows the Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb of our country,” he said.

“I feel the two structures together should be promoted as a mark of communal harmony and should not be raised as a controversy. After the Ayodhya verdict, there is no space for such issues. The honorable Supreme Court has already given its judgment in the Religious Places of Worship Act matter. Now, it is not a good practice to raise such temple and mosque issues,” Maulana Khalid further added.

Read more: Ayodhya: A hindu temple inaugrated at the site of 450 year old mosque

Biased courts

Long before the Supreme Court’s judgment, the Babri Masjid had been demolished by rath yatrees, chariot pilgrims, led by LK Advani, and several other BJP leaders. It appears the Gyanvapi mosque may have to suffer a similar fate.

All the 32 accused, including LK Advani, in the Babri Masjid demolition case, were acquitted by the special CBI court in Lucknow on September 30, 2020. The judgment was delivered 28 years after the Mughal era mosque was razed to the ground on December 6, 1992. This judgment reflects that even the courts have become the handmaiden of Hindu extremists.

Read more: Babri Mosque case: Indian courts are no longer immune to Hindutva frenzy

Instead of staying aloof from extremism, now even the courts have become Hindu courts. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was inducted as a member of Rajya Sabha (council of states) as quid pro quo for his “services” to the Modi government.

Earlier the court delivered several judgments, including one on triple divorce, which lie outside its secular domain. Expect the Hindutva judiciary to enforce a uniform religious code for all religious communities as per Bharatiya Janata Party’s agenda.

Read more: India’s Supreme Court Strikes Down ‘Instant Divorce’ for Muslims

The main point of the acquittal is that the “demolition incident was not pre-planned.” Actually, the procession was well planned to result in the death of 16 Muslims. If all the 32 accused were innocent then who was or were the culprits?

The fallacious thinking of India’s Supreme Court

Several judgments of India’s Supreme Court pander to Hindutva sentiments. The court held that “…there can be no reason to hold that a mosque has a unique or special status higher than that of the places of worship of other religions in secular India to make it immune for acquisition by the exercise of sovereign or prerogative power of the state.”

The dangerous assertion in the court’s verdict is “A mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere even in open.” This statement militates against a Muslim’s constitutional right to offer prayer.

Read more: Distortion of jihad by Hindu priests-another attack on Muslims in India?

The court formed its opinion on the “inside-outside” pilgrimage test. Hindus places of pilgrimages are all inside India. For Muslims, it is Mecca, Medina, and the Dome of the Rock. For Christians, Jerusalem, and places outside India?

This test amounts to saying India is a Hindu country for the Hindu faith and that other religions (Christianity, Islam, etc) have lesser rights. The court’s thinking was fallacious. Mansarovar temple is in China while the revered shrines of Moinuddin Chishti and Nizamuddin Auliya are inside India.

Read more: Oppression of minorities in India

Declaring mosques as inessential is fraught with dangerous consequences. Already, Hindus forbid Muslims to offer prayer in the open. Even the prayer-goers who spillover on roads during the holy month of Ramadan or during Friday prayers are brutally beaten.

Even a prayer goer wearing a prayer cap may be picked up on a lonely street by a fanatic Hindu and beaten or killed. Haryana state has formally forbidden congregational namaz on roads or on vacant plots.

Responding to the debate, the Chief Minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar, a staunch member of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh, argued that although law and order should always be given priority, “there has been an increase in offering namaz in the open”, and that “namaz should be read in mosques or idgahs rather than public spaces”.

Read more: Muslim persecution in India disguised under fake ‘encounters’

In stark contrast, the courts consider temples essential to the Hindu religion. They allowed menstruating women to pray at Sabrimala Temple.

Myths and hearsay

Hindu religion has no prophet according to Encyclopaedia. The court relies on Hindu myths. How could a court determine the birth of Ram millennia ago? There is no evidence about Babur constructing a mosque in Ayodhya after demolishing a temple there.

All sources are mute, be it Babur’s memoir Baburnama, Humayunnama by Babur’s daughter Gulbadan Begum, Abul Fazal’s Ain-i-Akbari, or Tuzk-e-Jahangiri. The first reference to Babri appears in a travel account by a Jesuit priest, Joseph Tiefenthaler, in 1768.

The inscriptions, inside the mosque, often quoted in books on Ayodhya or Babur, were fake. The inscriptions show that the mosque was built in 1528–29 CE (935 AH) by Mir Baqi, on orders of the Mughal emperor Babur (after whom it is named). But these inscriptions were fixed in the mosque 280 years after its supposed construction in 1528.

Read more: Op-Ed: Demolition of Babri Mosque is an act of Hindu revenge

Babur did visit Gwalior temples. But, neither he nor his commander Mir Baqi (distinct from Baqi on masjid inscriptions), ever visited Ayodhya. Mir Baqi of the Baburnama was never governor of Ayodhya.

Property or Ram birth at stake?

BJP President L K Advani himself admitted on September 30, 1990: ‘No one can prove that it was the birthplace of Shri Rama.’ It was a matter of belief. Can this belief receive judicial sanction to the point where it can override the moral and legal rights of others?

In a letter to Prof. Hiren Mukerji, on 5 June 1989, BJP prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee admitted: “It is not possible to pinpoint the exact spot where Ram was born”.

Read more: NASA does not think Sun chants “OM”: BJP activist schooled for lies

The RSS supremo M D Deoras said: “This is not a case in which the judiciary can pass a judgment. What type of evidence are the Hindus expected to produce? That Ram was born and that his birthplace is Ayodhya?”

That is why the BJP in its Palampur resolution declared: “Litigation certainly is no answer” (11 June 1989). Even the excavations done by the Archaeological Survey of India, under orders of the Allahabad High Court in 2003, failed to support the claims by the Hindu extremists about the remains of a temple under the Babri Mosque.

Read more: Op-ed: Modi’s Hindutva ideology has failed India’s secularism

Mosques under threat

Determination of title to ownership based on excavation opened up the Pandora’s Box of further excavations on flimsy grounds. Anyone may any time complain to a court about a temple having been converted into Masjid hundreds of years ago.

BJP’s legislators have already demanded the excavation of 3000 to 5000 mosques, including Delhi’s Grand Mosque. MP Sakshi Maharaj even offered to be hanged if idols were not found underneath the staircase of the Jamia Masjid.

At a press conference in New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh BJP’s president Vinay Katiyar said, “The court has shown the way. Why should we confine (ourselves) to Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura? Why not talk of 5,000? All sites should be dug up to verify the claims on the pattern of Ram Janmabhoomi”.

Read more: Muslims in India continue to suffer at the hands of Hindu nationalism

Those still enamored of secular India’s democracy should wake up. Babri masjid’s verdict and outlawing of mosques in India have threatened the survival of mosques. During the British raj or Moghul period, Hindus did not call into question the existence of mosques.

The court accepted the preposterous claim that god (Ram) was born at Babri site millennia ago. Shankaracharya’s Nyas (trust) originally owned only one acre of land near Babri site, the rest of the land (additional 42 acres of so-called undisputed land) was given to it on lease by then chief minister Kalyan Singh (acquitted accused) government in 1992 to develop a Ram Katha.

Read more: Indian Secular roots have shattered: Modi turned it into “Hindu Rashtra”

When Jinnah left India for Pakistan on 7 August 1947, Patel said, “The poison had been removed from the body of India.” He added, “As for the Muslims they have the roots, their sacred places, and their centers here. I do not know what they can possibly do in Pakistan. It will not be long before they return to us.”

The Babri case should make one thank ‘poisonous’ Jinnah for his vision and legacy, Pakistan. All those involved in rath yatra were acquitted by courts. Emboldened by Babri victory the fanatic Hindu now claim that there are over five thousand temples, including Tejomahalay Shiva temple (Taj Mahal) that were converted into mosques by the Moghul.

Read more: Kisi Kay Bap Ka Hindustan Nahin Hay: Indian Muslims assert!

Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been writing freelance for over five decades. He has served the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan for 39 years. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies and magazines at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka et. al.). He is the author of eight e-books including The Myth of Accession. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

 

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