India is, constitutionally, a secular country. A Constitution is a fundamental law from which other laws emanate. But the Indian government and its courts have a long history of dabbling in religious matters. August 5, 2020, marked the bhoomi pujan of the Ram temple, under government’s tutelage, in Ayodhya. The day marked demise of secularism in India.
Indian courts recognised Sharia-based Muslim Personal Law while claiming to be secular? Central and State governments took over the management of Hindu temples? They codified and modified Hindu personal law? A court ruled a mosque is not essential as a place of worship. Then there are decision like the one one on triple divorce, Sabrimala temple, and so on.
Government remained a silent spectator while the Hindu majority was being tutored in tales of brutality of the Muslim. The government did nothing to tab brewing anti-Muslim/Christian sentiments.
Babri mosque demolition was the outcome of those tales. No one questioned authenticity of those tales. Or questioned how you could pillory present-day Muslims for ‘atrocities’ by Muslim conquerors.
It will not be long before they return to us’ Babri case should make one thank ‘poisonous’ Jinnah for his vision and legacy, Pakistan.
Tales drilled into Hindu memory
The Arab governor of Sindh, Al-Junayd, first destroyed the Somnath temple in 725 CE. After it was rebuilt, it was destroyed during the invasions of Mahmud of Ghazni in 1025. It was rebuilt but destroyed yet again by Allauddin Khilji in 1299. The temple was once again restored only to be destroyed by the Muslim governor of Gujarat, Zafar Khan, in 1395. In 1451, Mahmud Begada, the Sultan of Gujarat, desecrated it. Aurangzeb pulled it down in 1665. Kashi Vishwanath: the commanders of Mohammad Ghori destroyed the original Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi temple in 1194. After being rebuilt, it was again wrecked during the reign of Sikander Lodhi in the fifteenth century. Aurangzeb razed the temple and built the Gyanvapi mosque in its place.
Similarly, Aurangzeb also destroyed the ancient Keshavnath temple in Mathura and built the Shahi Idgah mosque on its plinth. Three of the holiest sites of Hindus—Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura—were all destroyed and rebuilt as mosques. Ahmad Shah Abdali’s army captured Maratha women for the Afghan harems. Often, when non-Muslim women were captured and impregnated, they were left with no alternative but to convert to Islam’.
Alauddin Khilji decreed that those who did not pay could be legally enslaved and sold in cities where there was demand for slave labour. Firoz Shah Tughlaq ordered that Hindus who converted to Islam would be exempted but those who chose to stay Hindu would pay a higher rate of jizya.
Some historians consider the Goa Inquisition to have been one of the most merciless and cruel ever. It was a machinery of torture and death. Under a 1559 order, Hindu children could be seized and converted to Christianity even if one of the parents died.
Parental property automatically got seized when a Hindu child was taken. Hindu temples were demolished in Portuguese Goa and the community was prohibited from repairing them or building new ones. Any man, woman or child living in Goa could be arrested and tortured for simply whispering a prayer or keeping a small idol at home. Many languished in special inquisitional prisons, some for several years at a time’.
Hindutva psyche of judiciary
All the 32 accused, including LK Advani, in the Babri Masjid demolition case have been 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 ground on December 6, 1992. This judgment reflects that even the 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 treple divorce, which lie outside its secular domain. Expect the Hindutva judiciary to enforce a uniform religious code for all religious communities as per Bharataya Janata Party’s agenda.
The main point of the acquittal is that the `demolition incident was not pre-planned’. When the mosque was demolished through a well-planned procession, 16 Muslims were killed? If all the 32 accused were innocent then who was or were the culprits?
Indian courts recognised Sharia-based Muslim Personal Law while claiming to be secular? Central and State governments took over the management of Hindu temples?
Myths and hearsay instead of legal issues
How could a court determine 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. 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 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 PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee admitted: “It is not possible to pinpoint the exact spot where Ram was born”. 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 remains of a temple under the Babri Mosque.
Determination of title to ownership based on excavation has 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 a Masjid hundreds of years ago. The acquittals have opened up the Pandora’s Box of demolishing all mosques through `unplanned’ attacks by mobs. Anyone may any time complain to a court about a temple having been converted into a Masjid hundreds of years ago. BJP’s legislators have already demanded 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.”
August 5, 2020, marked the bhoomi pujan of the Ram temple, under government’s tutelage, in Ayodhya. The day marked demise of secularism in India.
Masjid Shahid Ganj versus Babri Masjid
The cases of the two mosques bear a marked contrast. Sikhs and Muslims acrimoniously contested the Shaheed Ganj case (Lahore). Muslims’ claim was rejected for laches (time bar). The Gurudwara Shahidganj stands with aplomb in Lahore as it did before 15 August 1947. Hardly any Sikh visits it now.
Yet no Pakistani Muslim ever tried ever to desecrate or demolish it. But the Babri Masjid became a heap of rubble even before India’s Supreme Court declared it to be a temple.The arguments in the two cases concerning property and longevity of possession were similar, less the myth of birthplace of Indian god Ram.
Those still enamoured of secular India’s democracy should wake up. The claim that god (Ram) was born there is fictitious. No claim by Hindus during Mughal or British Raj was made. Shankaracharya’s Nyas originally owned only one acre of land, the rest of the land (additional 42 acres of so-called undisputed land) was given to it on lease by Kalyan Singh (acquitted accused) government in 1992 to develop a Ram Katha
When Jinnah left India for Pakistan on 7 August 1947, Patel said, ‘The poison had been removed from 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’ Babri case should make one thank ‘poisonous’ Jinnah for his vision and legacy, Pakistan.