By Vivek Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, November 24, 2019: The case of Ajodhya, Babri Masjid or Ram Mandir in whatever way it may be described either in the media or in the public discourse or in private conversation relates to who has/had right, title and interest reflecting ownership over a piece of land where there was a mosque for many centuries although claims were made by Hindus that it was the birthplace of Lord Rama.

They also asserted that there was a temple which had been demolished by Babur who erected a mosque there on. The dispute seems to have originated from the middle of nineteenth century. Two significant events took place in the twentieth century – one in 1949 termed as desecration of mosque and one in 1992 which is called illegal demolition of mosque. The Apex court has decided that land in question would go in favour of Hindus and Muslims would be given 5 acres of land.

Some hypothetical questions are raised. If the Muslims would have got the decree and five acres of land would have been given to Hindus what would have been the consequences. Would Hindus have accepted it? If it would have been ordered that neither of the disputing religious groups, has clear title and ownership is indeterminable, hence the land would revert to the government, but each religious group would be allotted five acres to build temple and mosque, what would have been the consequences. Would it have been acceptable to Muslims and Hindus?

In 2019 election to Lok Sabha, NDA led by BJP got a massive mandate. BJP alone got clear majority more than what it won in 2014 polls. They had campaigned for the Ram temple over the disputed sight. Sangha Parivar had in fact asked a law (even an ordinance) to be passed to erect the temple even before the election was announced without waiting for a judicial decision.

In case of the title suit having not gone in favour of Hindus, first there would have been agitation all over places, possibly some riots and finally, in all probability, a law would have been enacted to establish the temple in the name of Ram. Therefore, the present decision of the apex court has a significant redeeming feature. It has given no occasion for communal riots and need for a law to build a temple which in any case would have been challenged like abrogation of Article 370.In other words the dispute was not merely a title suit it was an emotive issue having taken political colour based on which elections were bitterly fought. More than that rightly or wrongly events from distant past from the time of conquest of Babur were cited reminding the Hindus of how their glorious past had been robbed by invaders in all possible fora. So many riots had taken place claiming the lives of many from the time of “Ratha Yatra”, demolition and finally bomb blasts in Mumbai. Thus, in the background of history of the case, the decision of apex court has turned out to be more pragmatic perhaps coming within the ambit of doctrine of necessity.

Hypothetically, if the decision would have been fractious, majority favouring Hindus and minority in favour of Muslims, what would have been consequences. Minority views would have been ignored by most media and minority views would have found prominence only in some selected print and even smaller number of electronic media. Now that the decision is unanimous that possibility does not exist. On the contrary scope is now there for the protagonists of the temple including the ruling dispensation to laud over judicial independence more particularly when the judgement was unanimous.

Has the decision brought an end to the dispute? If a review petition is filed, the matter may or may not be resumed. Review petition on Rafael was rejected while the Sabrimala case was referred to a bench of seven.

The question now arises as to what the reaction of Muslim community in India would be and abroad. The feelings of outrage in the community in India are well known since the demolition. Those aggrieved by the present judicial decision would now feel neglected and would question the secular nature of the country. Their feeling would be that the mosque was demolished by Hindus and after twenty-seven years those who perpetrated illegal demolition got the disputed land.

Outside India in north Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East, Malaysia and Indonesia, Muslims were shocked as they never expected that in a country of Gandhi, Nehru and Indira Gandhi this could happen. Whether many would like it or not both Nehru and Indira Gandhi were highly respected in these countries. Secular character of India got a severe beating following demolition of Babri Masjid although it was not a functional mosque.

The structure was a symbol having emotional significance. Since the riots of Gujarat such feelings got more fortified. After UPA came to power in 2004 the educated and enlightened people in the Christian democratic countries expressed admiration for the diversity of India where the Prime Minister was a Sikh, the President of the ruling Congress Party was a Roman Catholic of Italian origin, the Chief Justice was a Muslim, and the Speaker of Lok Sabha was a lady of Dalit background.

Secular image of the nation was partially restored in those countries while it is doubtful whether people of Muslim countries forgot the demolition. After 2014, chain of events in India starting from lynching of innocent cattle traders, possessor of meat in fridge, rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua, all from minority community, triple Talaq, riots after Sabarimala case, Citizenship Registry rendering many Muslims as stateless, abrogation of Article 370 effacing a special status of a Muslim majority State, have given the impression that the country is becoming a full-fledged Hindu country where the minority communities have only auxiliary role. Secularism is a thing of the Romantic past. Whether one likes it or not Ajodhya would now make that feeling irreversible.

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of