The Babri Masjid verdict

By Yasmeen Aftab Ali

Justice lays buried under dust and grime in India. Secularism breathed its last. As the vultures swooped down from the red skies to fill their bellies with the carcass of brotherhood, oneness and inclusivity- one religion was declared more equal than the others.

Tracing the Babri Masjid dispute; the title dispute arose first in 1885. Supreme Court faced one question as the case developed inverted-pyramid style: who is the rightful owner of the 2.27 acres of land where stands the Babri Masjid. In 1885, Mahant Raghubar Das was not awarded permission to build a temple at the ‘Ram Chabutra’- an area that was adjacent to the mosque. So he then went to the district court in Faizabad, filing claim (right of ownership) to the land. Initial records disclosed that no such ownership existed. The site of ‘Chahbutra’ was claimed as Ram’s birthplace. It still did not include the area covered by the Babri Masjid. The suit faced rejection in 1886, and Hindus were refused permission to construct a temple on the premises. Mahant Raghubar Das lost the case in appeal as well.

The site remained a bone of contention between Hindus & Muslims from that point on. In December 1949, the night of 22nd and 23rd, the idols of Sita, Ram & Laxman were placed inside the Masjid. On December 29th same year, Faizabad district court stated the area was disputed and applied Section 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, placing it under local administration. The gates of the Masjid were locked.

It is a well-established fact that the demolition was part of a political manifestation of a movement of communal nature. Facts on ground have been trashed

The cases, differences and disputes have continued since that time on the land on which Babri Masjid stood. The latest judgment on the case giving a clean chit to all 32 involved in the Babri Masjid demolition has put in the final knife in the very value system a Secular India really stood for. But hold on, was India really secular? If it was, why was there a need felt to create a separate nation for the Muslims? Pakistan should not have been born if rights if Muslims were protected in “secular” India. As a matter of fact, the initial case instituted in 1885 of claim of title where Babri Masjid was built is an example of bad blood against the then Indian Muslims.

In this ongoing stress in India, the most lethal blow of all, was rendered by none other than under the watch of Modi. In an interesting report on emergence & ideology of BJP in India, mention of Babri Mosque and the impetus it gave to BJP to expand base is stated thus; “In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the BJP emerged as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha, storming to power on the back of pro-Hindu majoritarian sympathies that were triggered by the divisive issue of building a Ram temple on the disputed site of a demolished mosque called the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.” (April 04, 2019)

“Its conclusions are drastic and defy logic and fact. The court’s finding that the demolition was not planned in advance flies in the face of the entry of more than a hundred thousand volunteers into Ayodhya that day, armed with crowbars, spades, hoes and ropes and every implement needed to bring down a sturdy structure and clear the site. The proponents of the movement, headed by L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti among others, had positioned themselves in vantage points to witness the occasion and celebrate with pride what ought to have caused shame and disgust.” (The Hindu, October 1st, 2020).

Indian political parties have traditionally suffered from lack of ideology. BJP had something concrete to offer: an ideology. A revival of Hindu supremacy. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is an offshoot of the RSS. Under Modi’s CM-ship in Gujrat, the train at Godhra was brutally attacked & was denounced by Modi as not being part of any riots of communal hue. What followed was barbaric. Hundreds of Muslims were systematically murdered by Hindus and the Gujrat administration just stood by and watched.

In the Babri Masjid demolition case, the Liberhan Commission had clearly laid out the key takeaways. It presented its findings to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on June 30, 2009. The report’s submissions include: a) funds required to carry out these acts of violence were wired out by many Sangh Parivar organisations to different people/organization b) Many organizations are named who received funds for carrying out the act. The report names BJP, RSS and VHP who were also responsible for time and again raising funds for conducting the movement c) The amount reportedly thus transacted was huge d) the karsevaks carried out the process with detailed planning and precision first removing the idols and the cash box. It was cold headedly carried out with equipment at hand for demolition. It was neither spontaneous nor emotional e) The title of rightful ownership of Babri Masjid land being birthplace of Ram was debunked in 1885 by the Indian Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, a commission report does not have a legal binding value, and the Liberhan Commission report found its way to the storehouse of wasted papers without being read or given weightage by the court giving a clean chit to 32 miscreants who martyred the Masjid.

It is a well-established fact that the demolition was part of a political manifestation of a movement of communal nature. Facts on ground have been trashed. This coming on one page by the judiciary and the executive to write a chapter in Indian history inking it with hate and making followers of one religion more equal than others can only lead to the widening of gulf between those of different religions cohabitating in present India.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9

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About the Author: Tribune