As a secular humanist, I have no faith in the ‘super-powers’ of the religious structures but as a human right defender, I understand millions of people have because of inability of our state and the power elite in the society to keep people aware and provide them modern scientific education. The state have used religion for its own purposes and in the entire process villains the other religious practices.
India’s constitution allows people to enjoy their faith and propagate it. If we talk of constitutionalism then we have to stick to that and should not bring issues of ideology in discussion that.
The Hindutva fanatics demolished Babari Masjid on December 6th, 1992 in Ayodhya and the country plunged into darkness. That was an unprecedented act with active promotion by the state government of Kalyan Singh who is now governor of another state and who proudly proclaimed that ‘, for him the faith in Lord Rama was much bigger than the constitution of India’. The Supreme Court gave him a symbolic punishment of sending him for one day in jail for contempt of the court. But that does not resolve the issue. The then Prime Minister P V Narsihma Rao presided over one of the most inefficient regimes of the time who clandestinely paved the way for the demolition of the Babari Masjid. When the masjid was demolished Rao pretended as a man ‘betrayed’ by the Sangh Parivar as he was in negotiations with them for a ‘peaceful’ solution. In a broadcaste to the nation that night, Prime Minister Narsimha Rao promised the nation that the Babari Masjid would be rebuilt at the same place. Yet, none remind them as what happened to that promise.
It is not that we don’t know that if any attempt is made to built the mosque there, the Hindu fanatics are going to vitiate the atmosphere. We know political parties wont act and our courts also will try to find a middle way as they would not like to see chaos and anarchy in the street. Yet, if we believe in fair play and rule of law then before the dispute is resolved status quo ante need to be done. Can we respect our constitutional values?
The problem is in the historical misuse of law and constitution by all the parties whenever it suits them. The Hindu fanatics use it and decry if the verdict goes against them and similarly the Muslims who want to ‘accept’ the verdict but wouldn’t accept it if it goes against their faith.
How do people resolve their political disputes in multicultural societies. It is the biggest challenge. One persons hero may be others villain. One persons best book may be worst for others. One community’s best practices may be worst for others. How do we find a common way out to resolve our conflicts ? Definitely there are hundreds of commonalities between us. Why don’t we bring them together and believe in the morality of the constitution, as it is the only binding force. Dr Ambedkar wanted that we should have the constitutional morality, as it is the only force that can bind us together and bring justice.
All of us remembered Baba Saheb Ambedkar and his contribution in nation building but when issues of people come our constitution is made to fail because those who have the duty to implement our constitutional values actually have no faith in it. Their dream is India of manu’s constitution which runs in our veins and in our homes, streets, schools, colleges, hospitals and common places. It is the tug of war between Manu’s constitution of the caste forces and Baba Saheb’s modern Indian secular constitution where rule of law prevails.
We know a society and a country cannot be built on merely law books but mutual relationship between diverse communities who have been living here for centuries. India remain a nation of diverse faiths and culture therefore disputes are bound to happen and the best way to resolve them is through mutual talks. It is ironic that those who have no contribution in building up this nation today are talking of sending people to Pakistan or elsewhere. Islam and Christianity came to India much before they reached Europe. I was amazed to meet a Muslim tribal community in remote Indonesia once who told me while welcoming that they are proud that I was there as Islam came to their shores from India. If I visit to South East Asia, the Buddhists friends feel wonderful to have a person coming from Buddha land. My own understanding on Ayodhya clearly suggests how the small town could be termed as the ‘cultural capital’ of India where each one flourished. Numerous Dargahs where people of all sects go together and enjoy. There are madrasas where Hindu students too come to study. Nothing is imposed.
Why was then Hindutva fanatic so upset that they chose this day to demolish the Babari Mosque. If your memories are not lost then you must not forget the historic Mandal era of the 1990s when the caste Hindus were committing suicide to stop the government from implementation of the Mandal Commission Report. Advani was the leader of BJP and he decided that ‘Ram Janm Bhumi’ issues need to be revived as Mandal was ‘dividing’ Hindus. Secretaively, both the BJP and Congress supported the upper caste Hindus campaigning against Mandal commission report. That time the government acted hard and did not allow the Hindutva’s rabble-rousers to demolish the mosque. The price was too high and the government fell in the Lok Sabha. It was sad that a democratically elected government fell for the ‘sin’ of protecting the constitution. Congress committed the biggest crime in voting along with the BJP to bring the government down.
The Mandal forces had unleashed a heavy blow to the brahmanical hegemony in all walks of life particularly politically where our parliament now reflect India in real sense. With more job reservation we had seen a steady growth of the Dalits OBCs and others in power structure. Now the Muslims and Christians were also asking for their fair share in power structure. How can you dilute all this? Hence Narsimha Rao’s first blow to state socialism was in the form of a non political finance minister whose only job was to dilute the leavers of powers, reduce job reservation and welfare schemes. With more and more entries of private sector, Narsimharao ensured that the gains of the Mandal Commission are undone. He continued to hobnob with Atal Bihari Vajpayee and other Sangh leaders. He was trying to facilitate a Ram temple in Ayodhya through back channel process but the power games inside the Sangh Parivar thwarted that and it came in the form of demolition of the Babari Masjid. This happened when Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh had given a written promise to National Integration Council that he will do everything to protect the constitution and the ‘disputed structure’. Yes, till it was demolished, I used to call it a disputed structure but after the demolition it became a mosque.
Narsimha Rao felt betrayed and on that night he promised that the mosque would be rebuilt. It was the promise by a prime minister. It was a promise to the world that India stand for the rule of law and the Hindutva elements were just fringe but today we see that the fringe have become mainstream. India stands to lose if we do not take action against those who indulged in the crime. Tragically, none of the politicians speak anything on it which was a constitutional promise made by the prime minister. Contrary to this, those who demolished the mosque and should have been in the jails facing sedition charges are today shouting atop of their voices and now bringing back to the issue of Ram Janam Bhumi as we know elections are approaching in Assam, West Bengal and later in Uttar Pradesh. Despite their failure in Bihar, the Sangh continues with its vicious agenda. Will the government stop them?
Everyday, stories are being planted in the media, through social media and public meetings. Lal Krishna Advani, the man who made Modi leader of India through his chariot said that Babari Masjid was the symbol of ‘slavery’ and they can’t allow it. It is not merely Ayodhya, the loud chant during the demolition was,’ Abhi to bas ye jhanki hai, Kashi, Mathura baaki hai’. This is just a trailer, We still have Kashi and Mathura. If history is to be corrected this way then India wont have a place to live. Like Talibans we will be ending up demolishing every good thing that our ancestors have built and our political leadership was able to protect despite all their faults. If history is to be corrected through digging then that will only be problematic for the brahmanical elite as more it dig, it will only find Buddhist places demolished by the Hindu brahmanical kings. Will it be ready to return the Buddha Viharas to Buddhists which the Hindus have illegally grabbed including the historic shrine of Bodh Gaya ?
The demolition of the Babari Mosque created an unprecedented crisis as the country suffered from a credibility crisis. It was not the demolition of a mosque but absolute disregard to the Constitution of India. Why was the December 6th chosen to demolish the mosque when each one of them knows that it is a sacred day for millions of Dalits in India who consider Baba Saheb Ambedkar as their liberator and emancipator? How could such ghastly crime be committed on the day when we all remember the man who gave us this modern constitution? But then the Sangh agenda was clear to break the unity of the Dalits with the Muslims so Ambedkar’s writings were used selectively and attempt are being made to appropriate him. The first shila pujan in Ayodhya was done through a Dalit. How can Dr Ambedkar and Ram go together? Ambedkar, who wrote so eloquently about the two gods of Hindus and asked his followers not to follow their path. If the Sangh so much love Ambedkar, why the Gujarat government withdrew the Ambedkar’s biography from the schoolbooks because it objected his 22 vows.
The fact is we need to understand that Dr Ambedkar was a humanist, a rationalist who challenged the status quo and asked uncomfortable questions. His Buddhism is not that of the Dalai Lama or those who engage in big rituals but Navayana as he called it was a way of life well defined in his 22 vows. He was much ahead of his time and spoke eloquently on the problems faced by the country. At the time when none questioned Gandhi or India’s Gods and Goddesses, Ambedkar had the courage to philosophically and politically challenge them. Sangh’s attempt to appropriate Ambedkar are bound to fail as Ambedkar cannot be used by them philosophically and politically due to his unambiguous writings on communalism and brahmanism and therefore they will try to appropriate him through worshipping him and erecting his statues. People of this country have given enormous love and affection to Ambedkar and knows the wider game plans of the Sangh. Fortunately, today, huge numbers of Dalits-Bahujan intellectuals, writers, socio- political activists have emerged following Amedkar’s path and that is the strength which will make things more difficult for the right-wings fundamentalists to appropriate Ambedkar. It is the people’s power and not the power politics, which before 1989 was not keen in even taking his name. For years Ambedkar remained an outsider in the India’s parliament but today the situation is changed and these parties and leaders who never subscribe him actually have to sing his songs. Yet, hopefully, people know what Dr Ambedkar stood for and his ideas to see a republican, inclusive Prabuddha Bharat.
On this solemn day we have to pledge that we will not allow this constitution to be bulldozed by those who are today swearing in its name. In their heart they wish a rule of Manusmriti and divide people on the communal lines to maintain the status quo in favor of the caste Hindus. Babari Masjid was razed to protect Brahmanism, which would have died under the assault of the asserting Dalit Bahujan communities. It got a lease of life for some time and it is trying different ways and means to protect its hegemony. Unfortunately, in the multicultural society like ours smaller contradictions among communities are becoming handy for the brahmanical power elite and hence Muslims became direct target to cobble together all the Dalits and Bahujans as ‘Hindus’ in their ‘common’ struggle against Islam. It was dangerous. It has succeeded many time and many places and failed at other like Bihar. We have to be active and try to resolve our small internal differences. It is time those differences are democratically resolved. The Dalit Bahujan alliance will only succeed when it is ‘programme based’ and include all like-minded people. Politics never succeed on extremism. It needs to be inclusive. The social movements should continue to build an India beyond Mandir and Masjid, beyond mullahs and Brahmins. An India where every one of us focus on right to life, right to health, right to education denied to all the communities under the elite pressure in the post 1990s ‘liberal’ governments.
As I said Babari Masjid’s demolition was an affront to the constitution of India. It was clever attempt to polarise India between the two communities and hand them over the priestly classes to lead, which were under the threat from the Mandalisation of society. Even in Islam the pasmanda muslims are now seeking their dues. Fight for rights and social awakening must continue and we should put pressure on the political class to have strength to speak truth and demand justice for the people. Will those who demolish Babari Masjid and killed thousands of people in the aftermath of the engineered ‘communal’ disturbances be punished? We want to see what punishment those people who defamed India, demolished its constitutional values and ashamed all of us get?
Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com twitter @freetohumanity Email: firstname.lastname@example.org