Twenty Five Years of Babari Masjid Demolition : An Attack On The Constitution Of India
30 comments | by Vidya Bhushan Rawat
On August 7th 1990 VP Singh announced his government’s decision to accept Mandal recommendations that ensured 27% quota for Other Backward Communities. The Savarna students in the north India resorted to violence including self-immolation against it.Opposition Congress party played dirty politics and Rajiv Gandhi’s naivety resulted in BJP’s taking it into their hands and countering it with the religious card. Rajiv Gandhi openly opposed it in Parliament while BJP knew it well that opposition to Mandal openly would ultimately destroy their vote bank among the OBCs hence after much thought Advani decided a RathYatra from Sommath to Ayodhya with NarendraModi as his ‘Sarathi’ to what he call a campaign for Hindu nationalism and oppose ‘attempt’ to divide them on caste line. This was a move to counter Mandal because in place of a religious agenda the country had a caste agenda, which was going against the upper caste interests leading up to the formation of a strong political alliance comprising Dalit-Muslim-OBCs and non-Brahmins. Advani was arrested in Samastipur Bihar by the government of the then chief minister MrLaluPrasdYadav. The BhartiyaJanata Party withdrew its support to the V P Singh led National Front government on the pretext of the arrest of Lal Krishna Advani, in Bihar. But before the government fell on the floor of LokSabha, the BJP and its allies like the VishwaHindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena had succeeded in communalizing the agenda and vitiating the atmosphere in our cities and villages. The entries of Sadhus and Mahatmas into the political battle and the brick ceremonies (ShilaPujan) all over UP violently polarized the state of Uttar Pradesh on Hindu‑Muslim identities. Besides using the services of the so-called Sadhus, the BJP also brought in two self-styled Sadhvis: Uma Bharati and Ritambhara for campaigning. “Jo Ram KeHainwohektarafaurjo Haram kewohektaraf ho jayen”,Ritambhara provoked audience in most of her public meetings and used offensive language against Muslims. A middle class hatred directed against V P Singh and his quota policy helped BJP gain 119 seats while the tragic assassination of Rajiv Gandhi helped the Congress to become the single largest party in the LokSabha in 1991. The absolutely filthy role played by the Hindi media in polarizing the people is well documented. P VNarasimhaRao became Prime Minister in June 1991 in the coalition government led by Congress Party and Lal Krishna Advani andAtalBihari Vajpayee showered open praise on him as the truly democrat after Nehru. His finance minister Manmohan Singh was also praised for the liberalization campaign and new economic policies. There have always been doubt about P V NarsimhaRao’s secular politics and his relationship with many leaders of SanghParivar were well known.
BJP leader late K.R. Malkani in his book “The Politics of Ayodhya and Hindu‑Muslim Relation,” (released by LK Advani on October 23, 1993) quoted NarasimhaRao as having said to Mr.BhauraoDeoras“If you are to demolish the structure (Babri masjid), do intimate me”. Although the former Prime Minister has refuted it, Mr.Malkani in a letter to editor of “Pioneer” again reiterated the same charges against PV NarasimhaRao.
In January 1992, Mr. MuraliManohar Joshi set off on what he called EkatmtaYatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. This was a bid to tell the nation that BJP has other issues besides the RamTemple. The yatra, however, failed to evoke any response and Joshi was taken in a helicopter to Srinagar to hoist the tricolor at LalChowk, with the help of NarasimhaRao’s administration. One may ask why he wanted to go to Kashmir and hoist the tricolor. Was not Kashmir a part of India? How many RSS volunteers fought against terrorism in Kashmir and Punjab? Clearly the party wanted to polarise the Hindu masses elsewhere in the country suggesting that to hoist the flag in Muslim-dominated areas to ‘make’ them nationalists.
The BJP captured power in UP for the first time on a hate “Mulayam‑V.P’ wave. In the LokSabha elections, the party’s tally moved up-to 119. Advani and his mentors in Sangh had realized that NarasimhaRao government was surviving on their support and that the other opposition groups were not united. Since the Ram Mandir card was paying rich dividend and the party did not have any other political agenda, it set off for a KarSeva at Ayodhya thus involving itself in a religious movement. Advani, Joshi and Vajpayee addressed numerous public meetings in support of the RamTemple movement, with orthodox religious Hindus.
On December 6, 1992 at Ayodhya, Advani, Joshi, and other KarSewaks including ministers from Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Kalyan Singh’s government set out to the ‘holy pilgrimage’ to restore India’s ‘lost pride’ at Ayodhya, which Babar had seized centuries ago. Ironically the print media had covered this issue comprehensively and had given wide publicity to the Rathyatra. However, it reported peoples’ response to Advani and other BJP leaders during their campaign in a biased manner. In Kanpur Advani said, “We will be performing KarSeva with Bricks and Shovels’ as per a report in the Indian Express. The UP government had assured Supreme Court of India that the KarSeva would be performed according to its instructions. BJP had earlier assured the National Integration Council that it would not harm the “disputed structure”. On 5th December 1992, Indian Express correspondent RakeshSinha, reported from Ayodhya that VHP is likely to perform KarSeva as per Supreme Court instructions. The NIC had given Prime Minister a free hand to tackle the situation. In Parliament when Mr. VP Singh asked the Home Minister, as what will happen if the chief minister Kalyan Singh resigns paving the way for Karseva then the Home Minister ,Mr Shankar RaoChavan laughingly said that the government has strategy in place to tackle such an eventuality. He further said that the government would deal with it firmly.
About 500 meters from the Babri Mosque is a hillock that looks like a dome of a Mosque. The photograph published in newspapers shows that the Karsevaks were doing rehearsal. Indian Express photographer Praveen Jain, took various photographs about it. None of the photographers were allowed to take photograph and Jain could get in because he was wearing a saffron shirt, and was taken by BJP leader from North Delhi B L Sharma ‘Prem’ who was an important leader of the Bajrang Dal. The Central government did not ask any question to Mr. Kalyansingh, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, as to why such things were allowed to happen. At 10.45 a.m. on December 6, 1992 after leaders had addressed the meeting, the KarSevaks climbed on the dome and by 6.00 pm, they had done what in the words of noted jurist H.M. Seervai was a “Criminal act of vandalism”. In a hard-hitting article in Economic Times (10th April 1993) Seervai wrote:
“The destruction of Babri Mosque was a serious crime under Section 295 IPC which runs, “whoever destroys or defies any place of worship with the knowledge that any class of person is likely to consider such destruction or defilement as an insult to their religion shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which way extend to two years with fine or both. The destruction of the Babri Masjid put an end to all previous controversies raised by Hindu organizations about their alleged right to erect a temple on the place where Babri masjid stood. This is because no court will give any assistance to these who unilaterally by criminal acts destroyed the subject matter of the dispute and violated the constitution and Law”.
Mr. NarasimhaRao and his Government waited for six long hours, thus completely betraying the promises given to the nation and the National Integration Council. The halfhearted arrest and release of BJP leaders, the so-called ban on RSS and its allied organizations benefited them politically since the government action was not bona-fide.
In fact, it proved that Mr. Rao was in league with the forces of Hindutva. A news item in the Economic Times (6th April 1993) says “The Prime Minister in his letters to SantVamDeo and Swami VishevesharTirth of Udupi had conceded their demand for the construction of temple at Shilanyas site”.
The post December 6th, 1992Scenario in Kanpur, Bombay,Surat and Bhopal was gruesome, chaotic and free for all for the rioters. Thousands of helpless Hindus and Muslims (Non‑Maharashtrians) had to leave Bombay under threat from BalThackery, whose `goonda raj’ threw the official machinery completely out of gear in the city. BalThackery openly admitted, in an interview given to “Time” that he is proud of his Shiv Saniniks, who destroyed the Babri Mosque and he went on saying that Muslims should be thrown into the Bay of Bengal as they have extra territorial loyalties.
Nothing happened to BalThackery but SudhakarRaoNaik, the chief minister of Maharashtra had to go, paving the way for SharadPawar to head the government. But Pawar’s record in tackling communal forces in Maharashtra was dismal. He had reportedly been collaborating with the Sena to curb BJP in the North. Thackery had fielded his candidates for assembly election in the North against the wishes of the BJP. Anyone who dared speak against the Sena was assaulted. This happened with the young editor of `Mahanagar,’ Mr. NihilWagle and BBC correspondent NareshKaushik. The Editors’ Guild of India had to sit on Dharna in Bombay in protest against the assault. The result of this rapid communalization is the political growth of Hindutva forces, which still ensues. In Maharastra they outsmarted the Congress and in Haryana and Uttar-Pradesh they have taken the services of MrBansiLal of the Haryana Vikas Party and BahujanSamaj Party. In Bihar erstwhile socialists and Lohiaites are in league with them to demolish LalooYadav.
These are not healthy signals. Following the Mandal issue, the electorates tried their verdict in favor of non-Hindutva forces but they were themselves communal and casteist. Hence it became difficult to stop the March of Hindutva forces. Still pressure of Muslim community and few good people who have genuine concerns for the secular cause ensured that the communal forces remain out of power in the most populated state of India that ultimately paves way for power at the Centre. Even when DeveGowda was Prime Minister, his trusted cabinet colleague C.S. Ibrahim sought a meeting with BalThackery. Later on a meeting was arranged at Mr Amitabh Bachchan’s residence, who had become an extra-Constitutional personality. Though Mr Ibrahim justified his meeting with Thackrey saying that it was a courtesy call yet the fact is that the 13 party coalitions wanted to break the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharastra.
How political parties betrayed Dalits-OBCs
NarsimhaRao’s politics with the Hindutva actually decimated Congress in the north India. Subsequent failure of the non Congress government and their continuous dillydallying tactics brought BJP to power under AtalBihari Vajpayee. The SanghParivar still wanted but that time too they just kept quiet under the pretext that they would welcome the court verdict. Unethically, Lal Krishna Advani was made home minister who has to boss over the CBI and other department investigating his role in the Ayodhya demolition case. After the loss of BJP and then a 10 years phase of Congress nothing concrete happened as far as political parties are concern. Uttar Pradesh exiled the Hindutva forces and was being ruled by Samajwadi Party and BahujanSamaj Party but things slowly started changing. With initial coalition to later state full majority government, people in Uttar Pradesh gave with full hand to both BSP and SP but tragically, both the parties changed their track. While nothing much was expected from Brahmanical Congress which on a high speed land grabbing spree, opening up economy, privatizing things and dislocating Adivasis from their lands, the Mandal forces were slowly dying. They forgot their own issue and failed to raise the issue of farmers, Dalits, Adivasis and others. BSP went from BahujanSamaj to SarvSamaj trying to appease the Brahmins while Samajwadi Party too engaged in that. BJP continued with using the contradictions between various Dalit OBC communities. They knew it well that a majority of the communities in Uttar Pradesh though are politically conscious yet deeply religious hence political consciousness of the communities was nullified by false creation of their ‘identity’ and ‘golden past’ which was threatened and erased by the Muslims. Now, these narratives carefully developed by the brahmanical forces went to the Dalit OBC communities who may not be politically powerful yet aspiring to be so and were left out by both the Samajwadi Party and BahujanSamaj Party. Despite all the support from many of these communities, Uttar Pradesh politics was handed over to a Thakur Adityanath and a big participation in the cabinet came from Brahmins and other upper caste communities.
The 27% quota for OBCs remain unimplemented in most of the states. Violence against Dalits increased and due to caste considerations political leaders would keep quiet on particular issues otherwise what stops both Maywati and AkhileshYadav to speak on the Chandrashekar issue.
Importance of Ram Mandir
Sangh Parivar realize that Ram Mandir alone cannot bring them vote hence they have bring other issues but the importance of Ram Mandir is to establish the brahmanical supremacy again. It is too easy to say that they got vote for Ram Mandir but the entire campaign of the Ram temple was to crush the growing Dalit OBC assertion and their alliance with Pasmanda Muslims. Unfortunately, nothing concrete was done by the political parties and their ideologues to cement this unity. Dalit Muslim unity would have become great but it needed social and cultural alliance and not a photo opportunity that leaders get during political campaign. Contrary to this, the entire focus of the SanghParivar and their alliance was targeting towards Muslims. We must not forget that SanghParivar revived this campaign to counter Mandal process and hence the entire campaign was unabashedly anti OBC in terms of their rights. A majority of the urban middle class votaries of the Ram Mandir including the English speaking campaigners in the TV studios have deep rooted anti Dalit and anti OBC sentiments. They hate reservation so how these two things happen but the SanghParivar can has very cleverly trying to manage these contradictions by persistently weaving an anti-Muslim narrative. Muslims have become victim to inner mechanism of the brahmanical system that wants to crush the rising Dalit assertion at any cost.
Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court gave a split verdict. Now Supreme Court is beginning to hear the petitions from next year. We hope they do it all honesty not allowing the hate groups and political parties to use the occasion. It is basically a land dispute of the area which need to be settled first. Subsequently, the court can take a decision calling for different parties of what to do. There are many other people too who wish to be a party. Why shouldn’t Buddhist be a party to it. If the Sanghis want to dig India and correct the historical wrong then they would be on the wrong side. I can bet, they will only find Buddha Viharas and Jain temples destroyed by the Hindu rioters in the past. It is important to understand that history cant be corrected. We can only learn from history. History is basically a chronology. Many of the Sanghideolgoues said that Babari Masjid is a symbol of slavery so they wanted to correct it. Now there are so many buildings and structures in India, many of which are occupied by the political leaders, governors as their residence. Should we all ask to rebuild them ? The Supreme Court has a duty too. The issue of whether a Ram Temple should be built in Ayodhya or not will come later as the first question to settle is as late H.MSeervai said as who demolished the Babari Masjid and whether the criminals will get any punishment or whether they continue to roam around, deliver hate speeches and become ‘responsible leaders’.Babari demolition was a clear assault on our constitution, that give right to people to choose and follow their faith and protect their religious institutions and in case of dispute the verdict of the court would be final. In civilized societies, people’s disputes are amicably resolved by the civil courts and not by the rioting mobs. No country will survive if mobs are allowed to do instant justice on the ground by taking law in their hand. World is watching us. India’s democracy and its autonomous institutions will have to stand and respond as per the constitution of India to protect not just our secular plural fabric as well as the unity and integrity of India as well which our constitutional forefathers so laboriously built.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com twitter @freetohumanity Email: firstname.lastname@example.org