On November 9, 2019 Supreme Court delivered its verdict on Babri Mosque-Ram Janmabhoomi Temple dispute. In contrast to simple thinking that the dispute regarding political Ram has come to an end and there was need to move on, many people courted arrest in state like Kerala against Supreme Court verdict, and criticisms against those at higher echelons of establishment have also become louder and shriller.
Criticism of Apex Court verdict is valid. Even with good intent, people are unable to understand the sense behind the core argument of the SC verdict, after all arguments and debates, that Muslim side could not establish it’s exclusive possession since 1528 to1857. While the Court itself had observed that the verdict would be delivered not on the basis of history and belief but as a title suit of land. It is a valid aspiration that court will take cognizance of facts and evidence from the day when Indian state emerged as a sovereign democratic republic. The Court itself accepted that in complete violation of law, idols were put inside the Mosque on the night of 22-23 December, 1949 and the Mosque was forcibly demolished on December 6, 1992. The verdict also says that ASI report could not establish that the Mosque was built after demolishing a Ram Mandir.
On December 5, 1992, we, along with leaders of CPI, CPM, IPF and Ex-PM Vishwanath Pratap Singh organised the march for Ayodhya from Lucknow to save the Babari Masjid. At Ram Sanehi Ghat, District Barabanki, we were arrested. The way Kalyan Singh government was behaving and cooperating with the Karsevaks, it was clear that its affidavit in the SC that it won’t allow any damage to the Mosque was a mere hoax.
We were quite clear that through temple-mosque battle, RSS and BJP were hell bent on demolishing the democratic, secular values of the national freedom movement which is enshrined in Indian Constitution. Certainly, those who had faith in the judiciary as the last resort, are deeply shocked over the verdict. But, this SC verdict is no exception. Barring the exception of Gandhiji, political representatives of Indian ruling classes, despite its rhetoric of parity between different communities, it was always tempted to the idea of Hindu supremacy or Hindu preference. Partition of India too expresses this tragedy.
Since, as per the Supreme Court finding, both sides could not establish their ownership claims on land, the Court had this option to direct the government to build a national monument or some institution dedicated to public welfare instead of handing over the disputed land to any of the claimants. After all this has been the land of our first War of Independence. In 1857, Hindu and Muslim masses fought together against the Britishers.
RSS and BJP will continue to politicise temple or other emotive issues until they fully transform Indian state into an authoritarian state. So, instead of being overwhelmed by shock and despair, what is needed is to intensify the battle for democratisation of Indian society and state.
We must come forward to ensure punishment to the perpetrators of unlawful demolition of Babri Masjid and maintaining the status quo at places of worship as on August 15, 1947, as directed by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act passed by Parliament in 1991. Actually, this is a long drawn out battle between Democracy and Authoritarianism.
Integrating with the masses with democratic issues : agriculture-farming, jobs, education, health, environment etc. we have to strive for democratic-secular society and state. One should not expect much from courts on such issues. On such important matters, court verdicts are often more political than juridical. Court verdicts on Rafale, Sabrimala or on the false arrests of people related with movements are testimonies to this.
Akhilendra Pratap Singh, Swaraj Abhiyan