In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court in a 2-1 majority verdict refused to refer the Dr. Faruqui verdict to a Constitution bench. This said verdict had stated that the mosque in not an essential part of Islamic practice. In the recent judgment, the dissenter judge felt that the matter needs to be referred to the seven judge Constitution bench. There was a feeling that “mosque not being a part of essential Islamic practice” might have had an impact on the 2010 Allahabad Court verdict which had divided the Babri mosque land into three parts, and be given to the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara, and the party representing ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’. The argument in favor of the Faruqui case was that Namaz can be offered in an open place as well, so the mosque is not an essential part of Islamic practice. On the other side the argument was: there are so many mosques worldwide, why are these mosques there if a mosque is not a part of Islamic practice? Surely this point did deserve a deeper consideration as it has larger implications for society.
Now the path is paved for the hearing of the land dispute related to the Ayodhya case. Though the Allahabad High Court had divided the land into three parts, the basis of that was not land records but the faith of large number of Hindus—that Lord Ram was born there. How do we solve land disputes—through land records or through the faith of the people? This faith has been an outcome of the political campaign for Ram temple orchestrated by the RSS combine, led initially by VHP and later by BJP. Can this faith determine the direction of our judicial system?
As regards the claim of Ram temple having been destroyed in Ayodhya over five centuries ago, this is very doubtful. One recalls that at the time when the Ram temple was supposed to have been demolished, one of the biggest devotees of Lord Ram, Goswami Tulsi Das, was living in Ayodhya. He has not recorded it in any of his writings. On the contrary Tulsi Das, in one of his couplets, writes that he has can very well live in a mosque. The faith that Lord Ram was born in the said Ram temple and that it was demolished and Babri Masjid constructed in its place has been constructed over a period of time, and this has intensified during the last few decades.
One of the great documentary film makers of our times, Anand Patwardhan, in his classic documentary Ram Ke Naam (In the Name of Ram) shows many Pujaris (Priests) of many Ram temples in Ayodhya claiming that Lord Ram was born in their particular temple. This clearly proves that the claim that Lord Ram was born in the place where Babri Masjid had stood is a myth that is being deliberately propagated by the RSS combine for its vested interests.
There are other problems too that are related to this dispute. One is the crime of installing Ram Lalla idols inside the mosque, which is very well recorded. We know that efforts to remove the idols immediately were thwarted by the district magistrate of the region, K.K. Nayyar, who after his retirement joined the BJP predecessor Bhartiya Jansangh. The second crime, the one of demolition of the mosque in broad day light, despite the undertaking given by the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh to the Supreme Court, is very well known. The Liberhan Commission which went into the issue tells us that it was a conspiracy. BJP leaders Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati who were on the stage from where Kar Sevaks were being incited were rewarded for their crime as they later became ministers in the Central Government. Whatever happened to the dictum ‘punish the guilty’?
The nation was witness to journalists being beaten and their cameras being broken when they were recording the act of crime. Surely, the crime of demolition must be punished. Secondly, the land dispute needs to be resolved on the basis of land records. The land has been in possession of the Sunni Waqf Board for centuries. In 1885, the Court did not permit Hindus to construct a temple on a raised platform (chabutara) near the mosque. Even now the land records should be clear on the issue.
There are attempts by some people for a ‘peaceful’ ‘out of Court settlement’ of the issue. This initiative fully articulates the wishes of the RSS combine. They are asking Muslims to forgo their claim on the land and allow the temple to come up there. In lieu of that they are being promised that they will be given land to build the mosque somewhere else. There are also threats that when the BJP gets a suitable majority in Parliament, the temple will be constructed there through a legislation of the Parliament.
Reconciliation is a process wherein both parties are listened to, and with some ‘give and take’ on both sides, the issue is undertaken for resolution. This formula that the Muslims give up the land for temple construction is a very highhanded attempt to browbeat them into a total submission. What we need is an honest attempt to punish the guilty and abide by the law to solve the problem. There can’t be peace without justice. The crime of Babri demolition is being valorised as ‘Hindu Shaurya Divas’ (Hindu Bravery Day) by the RSS combine. As such, it a shame on our democracy! It is an outcome of divisive communal politics, and is pushing our society into the dark abyss of stagnation and diversion. Our core issues are actually bread–butter, shelter and employment. The RSS combine has built its social and political strength around emotive issues like Ram Temple and Holy Cow at the cost of the genuine issues of society. We do need to built hospitals and schools; we do take measures to generate employment. In place of debating on this, the coming up of the Ayodhya issue just when elections to several states and the Centre are due, is so unfortunate. Rather than discussing the core issues of society, the question of Temple and Mosque will take the centrestage during the elections! How can we as a nation bring back the people’s agenda to the centrestage should be the central concern for all those committed to marching towards a society that has justice, equality, democracy and secularism as its central focus.
Meher Engineer: A Requiem for a Man of Reckonable Height Meheryar Hosang Engineer was born on December 20, 1940 in