We commemorate the 29th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition on December 6th.No post-independence event so much transformed the psyche of the Indian people or escalated communal fervour at such a scale. The demolition took saffron communalism to magnitude unprecedented and Hindutva to a new height. It polarised fascism from bourgeois democracy, and exposed how in essence India was not secular. Even if formally secular Babri Masjid had its breeding ground in the pro-Hindu policies of the Congress itself with it’s genesis from days of independence or Gandhian Congress. The tempo was built up for a sustained period after Rajiv Gandhi opened the doors of the Masjid in 1986. The 2019 judgement reflected how Hindutva fascsim has penetrated the judicial system, with the criminals being exonerated and permission been granted to build a temple. The secular fabric of the Constitution has been ripped apart.
On December 22nd 1949 idols of Ram and Sita, 2 Hindu mythological gods in India`s history were placed on the site under the inspiration of Vallabhai Patel. This was the source of the Post-Independence Communal Tension that occurred. Hindu Fanatics claimed that the idols had spring from the earth while Muslims protested.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad claimed that the site had been Lord Rama`s birthplace: Vikram Aditya had built a temple to Rama at the site.
They claimed that Babar (the First ever Moghul emperor who ruled in 1528) later destroyed the temple to create the Mosque. There is little historical evidence to back this claim. However one thing we are certain that in 1949 what without doubt existed was a mosque. 4 centuries ago Ramayana(Hindu Mythological epic) historian Tulsidas made no mention of a temple being destroyed .It is most likely he would have written about it in the record books if it was a historic fact.10,000 years ago no history was recorded, so there is no evidence that Ram was born in the temple.
I can never forget my days as a youth in Mumbai, hearing about the attack on Babri Masjid.As an activist of student organization Pravis and democratic Rights Organsiation Lok Shahi Hakk Sanghatana I was regular participant of ‘Ekta Samiti’ formed in 1986, convened by reformer Asghar Ali Engineer.It coincided with the days of the declaration of the Shah Bano judgement and the Congress patronising the goal of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. However some of us expressed how such platforms have a weakness in not emphasising how class struggle only can confront Hindu communalism and not just propagating religious brotherhood like M.K.Gandhi.The traditional left parties had not extricated themselves from parliamentary electoral politics. and diffused militant approach to combat it. No doubt their cadre was most secular, heroically confronting Shiv Sena and ABVP forces, during communal riots, like in Bhiwandi in 1984.’Ekta’ Forum was progressive but adopted a reformist approach akin to that of Gandhi.The Revolutionary Marxist Leninist groups did not form a front of their won to challenge the Saffron fascist forces patronised by the Congress.
At the time of the Rath yatra of 1990, 2 memories that most linger to my mind are the 1990 poster of Lok Shahi Hakk Sanghatana highlighting the unity of the workers in confronting comunalism,which was noticeably seen by factory workers. The other was a poster by C.P.I.M.L) Red Flag addressing the ruling classes how people should fight for issues like price rise, housing, job setc ,instead of fighting for a temple. Although small. qualitative campaigns were taken out by constituents of the Al India Federation of Organizations for Democratic Rights. Very commendable work was undertaken by the Bharatiya Janwadi Agahadi in the slums or bastis,building volunteer self defence forces.Most effective anti-riot committees were built.I can’t forget how sections of Hindu workers risked their lives to save their brethren Muslim brothers in Bhiwandi or Kurla.It was also admirable how during the subsequent riots in Mumbai ,democratic revolutionary forces undertook a counter poster campaign at railway stations and distributed leaflets to confront the communal tide in slums. Very positive work was undertaken in Khagaria region of Bihar in 1989-90 confronting communal forces with secular resistance of combat forces and also in 1993 by the Bharat Naujwan Sabha and Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Samiti in regionsl ike Palamau and Jehanabad. Peasant struggle played an important role in diluting communalism during the Bhagalpur riots. Even if subjugated to severe state repression organisations like Andhra Pradesh Radical Students Union and Evolutionary Students League in Gaya initiated cycle rallies and meetings condemning the Saffron fascists. It was noteworthy that in states where the revolutionary parties like Peoples War Group and Party Unity Group led armed struggle of the peasantry in that period, communal riots never took place, like in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.
A major obstacle was how the genuine Communist Revolutionary forces could not come afloat to intervene and thwart such a disaster.Inspite of waging armed struggle the erstwhile Peoples War, Party Unity, and Maoist Communist Centre could not come out of their tunnels to challenge it. The revolutionary camp outside that of waging armed struggle, too could hardly effectly challenge it be it the C.P.I.(M.L)Red Flag, the C.P.I(M.L)Janashakti,C.P.I(M.L)New Democracy ,The Central Team CPI(ML)or the Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India .A glaring weakness was the presence of democratic revolutionary secular work in the ranks of the working class or self -defence forum s built in bastis.I can’t forget how communal spirit was aggrandised amongst Hindu workers after the incident.The democratic movement failed to rally along the secular cadre of the CPI and CPM.
Sadly in the last 29 years Hindu Communalist fervour has escalated to magnitude unprecedented with Hindu communal psyche reaching its crescendo. Anti-Muslim feeling has penetrated the minds of all spheres of society at scale unmatched.
Although intentions are progressive today there is a powerful trend that feels parliamentary or Gandhian reformist trend can pose an effective challenge to the saffron fascists. They fail to comprehend the regressive aspect of Gandhian Ram Rajya ,with Santana Hinduism promoting many of the reactionary aspects of caste sytem and how so called secular parties like Congress , Janata Dal or even CPM ,collaborated with communal forces. I can’t forget VP Singh in 1989 forging an alliance with the BJP and how CPM too to gain ascendancy allied with communal parties in Kerala and Bengal. I recommend readers to study how Shiv Sena was a creation of the Congress in late 1960’s, and how Congress was so partisan with Hindus during Bhiwandi riots in 1971 and 1984,and how Rajiv Gandhi led Congress built over one thousand ramshilyas in 1989.
It’s not that the Narendra Modi regime is merely responsible.. All parliamentary parties, of all shades and ideological orientation, are equally responsible for giving the saffron fascists a prop. The regime of the Congress had patronised criminals and riot mongers like Advani and other BJP leaders. The Congress protected the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah clique from any legal consequences for their nasty role behind the anti-Muslim pogrom of Gujarat. It paved the path for the ascendancy of Narendra Modi with remorseless ease and never did any SP or BSP government in Uttar Pradesh undertake any effective action against the rioters who took Saffrom spirit to a frenzy.
I recommend readers to read past issues of ‘In Defence of Democratic Rights’ from 1986-1993 which was the organ of the All India Federation of Organistaions for Democratic Rights,which most analytically projects the ascendancy of saffron communalism. I also suggest readers read the article published in Marathi journal ‘Jasood’.,projecting how the event should have been challenged .I also feel views of Bernard De Mello are most insightful in his book ‘India after Naxalbari’.
Today in my view the most progressive analysis is done in article ‘25 Years of Babri Masjid Demolition & Rise of Hindutva Fascism’ by Tanmoy Ibrahim in ‘Peoples Review’, which underlines that only by fighting the social order at the very base and sharpen class struggle, can the enemy be challenged. It exposes how the Congress earlier endorsed Hindu communal politics, in essence. and the pretentious nature of Nehruvian Socialism. It most comprehensively highlighted the co relation between secularism with struggles of the peasantry and workers to challenge semi-feudalism and imperialism. Most lucidly it demarcates from Gandhian reformist politics and most illustratively it projects how in essence the parliamentary system is not democratic. In most methodical fashion it describes the relationship between Hindutva and the opressive socio-economic order or globalisation.
In recent times in the revolutionary camp notable work has been undertaken by the C.P.I. (M.L)New Democracy ,holding effective seminars. In the working class camp, commendable secular propaganda has been undertaken by ‘Bigul Mazdoor Dasta ‘,in basti areas of Delhi amongst Industrial workers.
Still I feel we must exploit contradictions sharpening amongst ruling classes to build the united front to combat fascism, with BJP being the main danger. Today it is complex, with the Muslim minority completely marginalized. Most cautiously arguably on a tactical basically with progressive Muslim forces etc.Efforts must be initiated to link the anti-Brahmanic caste struggle with the secular movement. However I also feel that intellectuals must be vary of blindly attacking Hinduism as being fascist, and not paying respect to features which are positive. Remember the contribution of Swami Agnivesh and those who wished to reform Hinduism. Preaching Bhagavad Gita is not the same thing as Hindutva. In my personal view there could be even progressive forces who even if supporting Hinduism,posess scorn for the agenda of Hindutva.Today Hindu religious thinking encompasses the nation.Ofcourse a cultural movement must be built to rebuke the evading of Moghuls in history books or glorifying RSS leaders like Veer Savarkar.
In recent times I can never forget a secular rally against the monopoly of the saffron fascists at August Kranti maidan in Mumbai in January 2019, where secular spirit simmered at a boiling point. It reminded me of the secular feelings portrayed after the 1993 riots in Mumbai and the Godhra carnage in 2002.I can never forget the sheer disgust on many a student or youth, and their enthusiasm sin undertaking relief work. The programmes in Delhi in January 2019 of peasant organizations condemning NRC-NPR, shimmered secular spirit like a prairie fire being lit. It is also imperative for the farmers movement to integrate with the movement protecting the rights of Muslim minority and build a bulwark against Communal fascism.
Historical Background and culmination of events that led to Babri Masjid demolition.(With reference to journal ‘In Defence of Democratic Rights”)
In 1984 the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a communal all-India Organisation claiming to fight for the liberation of the Hindus began their movement for `The Liberation of Ayodhya”. They were greatly boosted by their success in the 1983 Nationwide Ekatmata Rath Yatra. Nationwide leaflets were distributed showing Ram behind the bars and calling Hindus to liberate the temple. It was particularly predominant in Uttar Pradesh.
On December 19th 1985, on Ramayan Mela day the chief minister visited Ayodhya. The Chief minister asked for the file and found no court order requiring the shrine`s closure. A month later a Faizabad lawyer moved the District Judge`s court for the temple`s unlocking on the grounds that there was no specific order opposing it. The collector testified that he had not come across any document which demonstrated that preparations could be made for maintaining law and order if the locks were opened. The District Judge then ordered the locks to be opened and the devotees to be allowed in the temple. However well before the Judge`s order the Provincial Armed Constabulary had been massively deployed around the State.
The Congress was massively employed in communal organisations both Hindu and Muslim. The president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad himself was a Congress -I member of the Uttar Pradesh legislative Council. The head of the Babri Masjid Action committee was Maulana Hussain Kachauvi, a Congress-I Politician.In every town of Uttar Pradesh The Vishwa Hindu Parishad were patronised by the State in holding rallies propagating communal politics. On the walls they wrote “Hindu Hindu ko Jodenge,Janma Bhoomi Ka Tal todenge” (Hindus will unite and break the locks of the Babri Masjid) and “Jis Hindi ka Khoon na Khaule, Khoon Nahi, vo Pani Hai.”(The Hindu whose blood does not boil, actually has water in his veins, not blood) The police remained silent spectators when such slogans were raised.
Hypocritically ,the U.P. Government stated that it could not interfere with religious affairs as the case was proceeding in the Court. The only reason the gates of the Babri Masjid could be unlocked was the State`s intervention in the Court Case. On February 14th 1986 Riots began in Delhi as well as Varanasi, Lucknow, Meerutand Jaunpur. It even spread to Jammu., where 120 people were injured through heavy rioting.
In 1989 in September a giant Rath Yatra was held from Sitamarhi to Ayodhya.Communal leaflets were distributed throughout the India calling for Indian people to liberating the temple from the Muslims and erecting a temple for Ram. In Bhagalpur riots broke out with 1,000 people being killed. It was the worst carnage since the 1984 Sikh massacre.
To win the elections Rajiv Gandhi advocated `Ram Rajya Rajiv Gandhi began his campaign from Ayodhya to win the Hindu votes. The Congress deployed 5 lakh Ramshilas)Statuettes of Lord Rama to win over the Hindu people`s sympathies) in villages as propaganda. Rajiv Gandhi personally laid Shilanyas (Idols of Rama) at the Ayodhya Site. In Bihar heroic resistance was organised in Khagaria district where in towns democratic forces thwarted communal elements explaining the true historical facts.
At that time the Janata Dal Government gained victory in the elections. They verbally opposed communalism but their leader V.P. Singh although personally secular was unable to prevent the Vishwa Hindu Parishad from carrying out the bricklaying ceremony.(A Hindu form of Worship) Earlier V.P. Singh had promised to come to Ayodhya to offer Satyagraha against it. The Janata Dal Government came to power with an electoral alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Bhatiya Janata Party had openly supported the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. What also was of particular significance was the special clearance given to a ceremony at Ayodhya despite the Allahabad High Court Order that the site for the Vishwa Hindu Parishadwas `in dispute” and hence status quo should be maintained. The Congress government in fact encouraged the brick worship and patronised their processions all over India, despite riots in North India.
In 1990 the Vishwa Hindu Parishad led a Rath Yatra (A Hindu communal march propagating the liberation of Hindus))to Ayodhya. Even in Janata Dal rule` States like Bihar their propaganda was allowed.
In 1992 on December 6th finally the Vishwa Hindu Parishad achieved their long-cherished mission. At 11a.m.that day Kar Sevaks pulled through the police cordon and rushed towards the 464 year old Babri Masjid. They were equipped with wielding pickaxes, hammers, shovels and iron rods. At that time the Police superintendent of Police D.B.Rai, told the press. “It is all under control. Go and relax. You are wasting your time. “At 11.50 the Kar Sevaks scaled one dome. By 12.05 the 3 domes were covered with Kar Sevaks. By 12.15 all journalists and photographers at the site were attacked and equipment smashed so that no record could be maintained. At 1.55 a.m. the dome collapsed. At 3.00 p.m. Sadhvi Rithambara began singing, dancing and repeating “Break the Babri Masjid”. At 4.49 the Mosque was reduced to rubble.
In celebration Kar Sevaks started attacking the houses of Muslims. For 5 hours the Central Government watched on-25,000 strong paramilitary force remained spectators. With the ruling Congress Government`s patronage the Babri Masjid was demolished. Riots broke out throughout the Country and it seemed that communal flames were burning the entire nation. The masses of India were trapped by the communal monsters.
In February the bomb blasts occurred in Mumbai and this led to the worst communal carnage since Independence. Being a Muslim in those days was like being a Jew in Hitler`s regime and the Shiv Sena (Communal party which claims to be fighting for the liberation of the MahaMaratha Community and for all non -Maharashtrian communities to be driven out of the state of Maharashtra) forces had become the equivalent of the S.S. in Hitler`s days. The Shiv Sena Criminals responsible for the riots have still not been brought to the book by the Srikrishna commission.
The sequence of events after the demolition of the was almost indescribable. In Kurla, in Mumbai, stabbings took place, a mathadi worker was also attacked. On 31st December a Muslim employee was attacked with choppers and an electronic shop was burnt. Police officers tried to create communal disturbance with the help of anti-social elements. In Bhandu, a Muslim ration shop owner was attacked. A Hindu was stabbed in Bhindi Bazar. In Dongri, Kurla, Pydhonie and South Central Mumbai clashes took place.7 Maha Artis were held in the city at the Hanuman Temple, Kalachowki, Lalbag. On December 28th the Faizabad district administration allowed 70 devotees to have` Symbolic Darshan of the idols at the Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. Large-scale looting and Arson took place throughout Mumbai City. In Dhravi, mobs burnt 10 handcarts, houses as well as killed a Muslim For their political gains the B.J.P. incited communal trouble.
As an excuse to attack Muslims Shiv Sena and R.S.S elements started stone -throwing.929 incidents of Arson took place. An Exodus of 1.25 Lakh residents ,mostly Muslim, had to leave the City. Big Builders used the riots for the purpose of Land-grabbing. The city was also divided on communal lines. Muslim workers were terrorised in their areas of Work. To ensure safety managements had to send Muslim workers on leave. In oberoi towers, Larsen and Toubro, Bombay Dyeing Etc Muslim workers were threatened by Sena Unions that they would be removed from work. The riots also made the religious organisations more powerful.
Police inaction was predominant at the time of the riots. In fact the police unleashed a reign of terror by breaking into homes of Muslims falsely claiming that they were going in to curb riots. They remained silent spectators when Shiv Sena and R.S.S elements were raiding or attacking Muslim homes. In fact the police used curfew as a means of keeping Muslims Indoors. ‘
Correct political approach and Practice towards combating saffron fascism (compiled from ‘The Comrade-organ of the Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India’)
“Unlike conventional communalism.and religious fundamentalism, communal fascism confronts the people to apolitical challenge an require to be treated in tandem with major political tasks in the movement. I t is so because ,it goes beyond playing a mere diversionary and divisive role and acts as a major channel of the unfolding class offensive of he ruling classes against the people. Because of that, the struggle against Communal fascism gets bound up with the anti-feudal and anti –imperialist struggles of the people.”
“A platform of opposition to Hindu Communal fascism has to be a consistently secular platform, so much so tat even he issue of security and dignity of Indian Muslims must be addressed from a secular platform,it wont do to pit an anaemic liberal bourgeois secularism against Hindu Communal fascism thathas aweigt of social orthodoxy and reaction behind it.
I t has to be a platform of secular defence of people’s democracy against the dictat. coercion and tyranny of socio-political and religious hierarchies, a platform of secular opposition to national chauvinism for the defence of just national concerns s of the Indian people, collectively and severally. Only then can it be a militant, as –based secular platform that can go into apolitical offensive against Hindu communal –fascism.”
“The main deviationist trend in the revolutionary Camp is over-estimating the prospects of Hindu Communal –fascism and seeking affront with ruling class parties to counter it .
There is also and erroneous concept that propagates that Communalism can be fought fighting for economic-partial issues of the people. During the Mumbai riots the Working Class Centers did not effectively react,not to speak of emerging a bulwarks of resistance.
In fact it was only elements of the workers and their sections, howsoever small in numbers, who initiated some optional moves by forming democratic secular anti-communal Fronts. They realised the necessity of politically responding and in factories and bastis protected Muslim workers , thwarting communal elements.”
“The democratic and revolutionary forces, will have to build a political offensive against Hindu Communal fascism by organizing peoples self-defence on secular line sand democratic basis.It wold be difficult o implement his in urban areas. Shirking from such a task would be inviting the wrath of Hindu Communal fascism, particularly when the power of Hindu Communal fascism is on the rise.”
“The movement has to be built up by combating the overall, economic political attacks and stepped p violence of the ruling classes. The growing process of degeneration and loss of prestige and credibility of the Indian state is paving the way for the advance of the Hindu Communal fascism trend; it is doing so still more for the India revolution. Let only revolution overtake the advance of fascistic reaction.”
“Only by developing combat forces, enhancing class struggles sharper and sharper and building mass struggles can we isolate such forces. We need to strengthen the unity of the common masses in day to day movements and class struggles against the ruling class and the fundamentalist agents, develop combat forces amongst the masses, in mass struggles under the leadership of revolutionary forces.”
Quoting 25 Years of Babri Masjid Demolition & Rise of Hindutva Fascism’ by Tanmoy Ibrahim in ‘Peoples Review’ article by Tanmoy Ibrahim .
“To be a truly democratic and progressive modern nation, India needs a drastic and revolutionary change in the way it’s run. Until the country will be ruled by the boot-licking lackeys of comprador and crony capitalists, arch-reactionary feudal landlords and their master, the foreign monopoly and finance capital, there cannot be a truly secular and democratic system functional. Democracy comes handy with justice and it brings egalitarianism. The approach of the liberals, who pretend that the system is right but the demolition of Babri Masjid is an exception is wrong. It must be understood and agreed upon that the Babri Masjid demolition was a pre-planned act, which had state-endorsement. The culprits are the ruling classes and until the time they keep ruling India such heinous acts will be repeated and communal elements like Yogi Adityanath and Narendra Modi will ascend to power. The only way to stop these vanguards of communalism and unthrone them lies in the strenuous task of uniting the people and leading them with a long-term vision to achieve democracy and establish socialism and secularism, the two powerful weapons that can weed away the scourge of communalism and bigotry from India. Without marching on the path towards these goals, there is no shortcut or easy substitute available for the country and its people.’
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai..Toured India, particularly Punjab . Written on Mass movements ,,Massline,Maoism on blogs like Democracy and Class Struggle and frontierweekly Active in anti-communal organisations and programmes in Mumbai from mid 1980’s to early 1990’s. like Lok Shahi Hakk Sanghatana.