Popular Posts


Indiae: India's search engine

Friday, October 1, 2010



On Today the 9th of May 2011,the Allahabad High Court Judgement Gets Stayed by the Supreme Court 

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday put a stay on the Allahabad high court order partitioning the disputed land in Ayodhya.

The SC said it was strange on Allahabad high court's part to order partitioning of the disputed land at Ayodhya as no party had prayed for it. The partition of disputed land has "opened a litany of litigation", it said.

"How could the high court engineer something like partitioning of disputed land on its own", the SC asked.

The court said puja can be performed on the disputed land, but banned religious activity on the surrounding 67 acres of land acquired by central government in 1993.

It said the status quo as on January 1993 will be maintained.

"We are not disturbing anything which was going on", said a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha.

The court also issued notice to all parties on Allahabad high court judgment dividing the disputed land at Ayodhya between Hindus, Muslims and Misnoig.

This was the first hearing in the apex court after the Allahabad high court's verdict in the title suit delivered in September last year.

Few Updates - Aftermath of Ayodhya (Aallahabad) Judgment, Sept 2010
[15th December 2010]

While Ayodhya verdict is under criticism from various quarters for ignoring the basic issue of land dispute, for ignoring the illegal installation of Ram Lalla idols on the night of 23 Dec 1949 and the demolition of the masjid by Sangh Parivar on 6th December 1992, a new dimension has been added to the issue. In the aftermath of the judgment, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat (30th Sept 2010) had welcomed the judgment and stated that this judgment paves the way for grand Ram Temple as court has already allotted 2/3 of land, where the mosque, is located to Hindus. Now (Dec 12, 2010) he goes further to say that division of land is unwarranted and all land should be given to Hindus as division always creates problems as in the case of Kashmir, and that all the land should be handed over to Hidus. According to him this will also be in the fitness of nationalism as it will wipe out Babri Masjid, the symbol of foreign rule. The temple will create the ‘Bharat’s self consciousness’. Giving hint of the future plans, the RSS supremo further said that it is time that we re-establish all such symbols that portend Bharat’s self-image and nature that was razed during the foreign rule.

The statement of Mr. Bhagwat is quiet in tune with the politics, ideology and agenda of RSS. Needless to say the comparison with division of Kashmir is totally warped and illogical. Kashmir was an independent state attacked by Pakistan. Kashmir acceded to India in the face of this aggression and there were clauses of full autonomy of Kashmir barring the matters related to defense, communication, currency and foreign affairs. Indian army entered Kashmir after this accession by which time 1/3 Kashmir was occupied by Pakistan army. It was not a division by any legal authority. The occupation of Kashmir by Pakistan was an act of aggression and United Nations had mandated for plebiscite in Kashmir, which never took place. And Dr. Bhagwat/RSS is worried about the ill effects of division, they can very well leave the ‘manufactured claims’ and restore the masjid pre 6th December 1992 and pre 23 December 1949. That will be an appropriate way to avoid division and solve the issue, releasing us from the vice like grip of identity issues so that nation can focus on infinite ills ailing the country.

In case of Babri masjid it was a protected monument under the Indian act and on the night of 23 December 1949 some motivated elements, hand in glove with sympathizers of Hindu nationalism installed the idols there. Then, RSS elements (Advani and co.) took over the issue in the decade of 1980 and demolished the masjid, which has been one of the biggest crimes in Independent India. It was also an assault on Indian Constitution. The Court gave the verdict in a Panchayat style ignoring the core elements of the case, also under the dominating influence of communalization of society which has been unleashed by the communal violence and propaganda. What is needed is to look at the clauses of Indian Constitution and restore the land to the Sunni Wakf Board, under whose possession that land has been for long enough time to be legally valid.

To regard the structures built during medieval period as symbols of foreign rule is contrary to the concept of Indian Nationalism. Indian Nationalism regarded British rule as foreign rule and struggled against it. Still it did not talk of wiping out the structures built by British during their rule.  RSS type ideologies never struggled against the foreign rule, British rule, and regard the period of Muslim Kings as the period of foreign rule. This again goes against the understanding of Indian nationalism. Kingdoms are Kingdoms and we can’t equate Kingdoms to nationalism. Kings of different religions have ruled for power and wealth. They were neither representative of the people nor of their religion. Since RSS ideology emerged form the declining social sectors of Hindu Kings, Landlords and clergy they have deliberately accorded to Kings’ rule the status of nationalism. Same applies to the Muslim communal ideology that accords the status of nationalism to the rule of Muslim Kings. There is a deliberate confusion between the concept of Kingdoms and Modern nation states in communal ideology. Communal ideologies imagine that all religious communities were homogenous and fighting against other religious communities.

Hindu Kings were exploiting Hindu peasants and Muslim kings were not targeting Hindu peasants just because they were Hindus. Barring few exceptions religion was not the goal of kings Also it is interesting that except initial plundering by some Muslim Kings, once they settled here in collaboration and alliance with Hindu Kings, they did not take away the wealth of this land to other places. On contrary British rule was primarily for plunder of resources of the country. The RSS, communal ideologies’ ignoring the British exploitation and harping on Muslim Kings is due to their agenda of religious nationalism, which is away from the values of freedom movement; Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. In Modern nationalism, Indian Nationalism, the past is not looked through religious angle and the main goal is to build the future on the principals enshrined in Indian Constitution. That’s how Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru emphasized on ‘new temple’ of Modern India; Educational institutes and industries. Contrary to this for RSS the temples of past when Hindu Kings ruled and applied the laws of Manu, birth based hierarchy of caste and gender, is their political and social agenda.

British deliberately gave a communal twist to the History by projecting Kings as Hindus or Muslims and sowed the seeds of division between the people. Muslim League on one side and Hindu Mahsabha-RSS on the other played a compliant role to British Policy, accepted their version of History, and spread hatred against the other community. This ‘Hate other’ laid the foundation of communal violence and Partition of India, which was the highest index of success of British policy of divide and rule, in which communalists came in handy to execute the British designs of splitting the communities along religious lines. Muslim League-RSS were ideal puppets in the hands of British. Today in India the divisive politics is again being deliberately promoted to sidetrack the core issues related to bread, butter, employment and shelter, to undermine the concept of rights and dignity of average people.
RSS Chief’s call to reestablish all such symbols is fraught with danger. Where will one stop? With rule of Hindu Kings?; some may like to go further back to the demolition of Buddha Vihars by Hindu rulers? And then what will one do with the Aryans coming to India and their dominating the native Adivasi and others? The whole country did accept 15th August as the starting point of our nation, and made it a point of departure from the past to initiate the future building of peace and progress. The ideologies and calls being given by RSS family are something alien to Indian nationalism and they need to be combated against to preserve and protect the very idea of India as it emerged during national movement and as it was nurtured by the founding fathers of India.
Ayodyah judgment also needs a relook form the same barometer of Indian legality and not RSS agenda of dividing people along religious lines. It is needed that all those committed to the values of amity of communities, and Indian Constitution, all those valuing the concept of Human rights come forward and spread the awareness about the Indian nationalism and build the bridges amongst religious communities to focus on progress of the nation in the field of education and industrialization on the basis of Human rights of all Indians, leaving the mosques and temples in peace, as they are; where they are.


Issues in Secular Politics
II  December 2010
response only to ram.puniyani@gmail.com

Ram Puniyani is a Professor in Biomedical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Powai. Apart from his teaching and research activities,
 he pursues a parallel track concerned with issues related to social problems, particularly the ones related to preservation of democratic and secular ethos in our life. He also has serious interest in the understanding the Human Rights of weaker sections of society. He is a member of EKTA, Committee for Communal Amity, Mumbai and has been associated with different secular initiatives for many years. He has also been engaged in understanding global and local changes, which have resulted in communal violence. He is particularly concerned with the adverse effects of globalisation and the rise of fundamentalism, particularly in India. Dr. Puniyani has contributed articles to various magazines and journals on these themes. He has authored three books around these subjects: Fascism of Sangh Parivar, The Other Cheek and Communal Politics: an illustrated primer. At present Dr.Puniyani is continuing with his endeavour to understand these phenomena with a focus on human relationships geared around substantive liberty, equality and fraternity.

Post Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi Verdict:
Whither Indian Democracy?
By Teesta Setalvad
17 December, 2010
December 6-8, 2010
Muktadhara, Bhai Veer Singh Marg, New Delhi
The September 30 2010 verdict in the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi case,
that began as a dispute over a title suit but escalated into a full
blown politico-religious conflict--- one that legitimized the criminal
assault on a 450 plus year old mosque as also targeted minority life
and property--- has raised serious issues for the future of Indian
democracy given the fact that the verdict was disproportionately based
on issues of contested faith and disputed histories.
A unique and well-planned three-day symposium organized in Delhi by
SAHMAT, Communalism Combat and Social Scientist brought together
academics, jurists and activists from different parts of the country
to deliberate various aspects and fallouts of the verdict at length.
Commemorating the 18th anniversary of December 6, 1992, the symposium
was jointly organised by SAHMAT, Communalism Combat and Social
Scientist. Over 200 activists, lawyers, artists and academicians
gathered to develop a deeper understanding of all the implications of
the Ayodhya verdict. Over four dozen organizations represented by
activists from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and
Uttar Pradesh participated in the deliberations. The assault on the
Baba Boudhangiri shrine in Chikmagalur in Karnataka, the vigorous
struggle against the divisive hate speech of Swami Adityanath in
Gorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh and other such struggles were also
discussed and analysed.
Over three days, many speakers made the point that the recent Ayodhya
judgement is actually an assault on the Indian Constitution and the
foundations of a secular democratic state. The Ayodhya verdict,
moreover implicitly justifies the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid
and related criminal acts and, if upheld, will have consequences for
the future of democracy itself.
Systematic decimation of the basic rational principles of the rule of
law laid down in the Indian Constitution, historiography, archaeology
and logic are the critical features of the infamous Ayodhya verdict of
September 30, said speakers Justice P.B. Sawant, Justice Hosbet
Suresh, Justice SHA Raza, Justice Rajinder Sachar, economist
Professor Prabhat Patnaik, historians Professor Irfan Habib and
Professor Shireen Moosvi, during the three-day symposium Faith and
Fact: Democracy after the Ayodhya Verdict that concluded in Delhi
today. Elucidating on the social composition of India’s judiciary as
also the inability to bring to book corrupt, casteist and communal
practices among Indian judges and lawyers, the discussions and
analyses at the symposium also highlighted the need to draw attention
to the politics within the judiciary.
Over three days of intense sessions at the symposium, the issues that
were discussed included: the consistent failure of the criminal
justice system, including non-investigation of the FIR registered on
the vandalism of the Babri Masjid on the night of December 23, 1949;
the systematic dilution of the criminal cases against the masterminds
who instigated the criminal conspiracy behind the demolition of the
Babri Masjid in 1992; and the motivated maligning of historians and
archaeologists who testified with evidence during the pendency of the
Ayodhya dispute before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court.
All these were held to be the collective reason for the passage of a
verdict that has seriously shaken the faith of the common Indian in
the administration of justice.
The deliberate and conscious absence of any substantive mention of the
criminal acts of 1949 and 1992 by the two majority judges while
dealing with the title suit was, in the words of advocate Anupam
Gupta, counsel for the Liberhans Commission for over 12 years, the
singular injustice in this verdict. The judgement goes into thousands
of pages over mythology and faith, but ignores the criminal incursions
on the Babri Masjid under law. Even worse, the evidence presented by
historians and archaeologists in court was formally recorded in
monosyllabic answers to deliberately curtail and hide explanations
that are critical in explaining historical theory and evidence. Today
archaeologists and their publishers face contempt notices served by
the Allahabad bench of the Lucknow High Court.
Inaugural Session:
Professor Prabhat Patnaik who spoke at the inaugural session outlined
the keen need for institutions of democracy to justly adjudicate
without being influenced by the politics of power, aggression and
violence. The Judiciary especially in a seasoned democracy needed to
stay aloof and distant from transparent efforts to influence courts in
the deliverance of justice.
Flawed Historiography and Flawed Archaeology
Professor Irfan Habib, senior historian from the Aligarh Muslim
University and world renowned expert on medieval Indian history
presented a 96 page critique of Justice Agarwal’s 5,000 odd word
judgement---The Judgement and the Lore of Ramjanmabhoomi¬--the Ayodhya
judgement printed into a booklet by the Aligarh Historians Society.
Mr. Justice Sudhir Agarwal aims in his judgement to prove that the
Babri Masjid was built not during the reign of Babur, in 1528, but
only under Aurangzeb (died, 1707). Relying on a little known traveler
Fr Joseph Tieffenthale who visited Ayodhya between 1740 and 1765 AD
and quoting from him about the memory of the mosque being built over a
demolished fortress called Ramcot (Tieffenthaler’s words), Justice
Agarwal has rubbished the authenticity of the inscriptions over the
The Judge has interpreted the inscriptions as later forgeries made
between say 1760 and 1810 despite these inscriptions having been
accepted and relied upon as genuine by practically every historian and
epigraphist until now, Fuhrer AS Beveridge and the Epigraphic Indica,
Arabic an Persian Supplement, 1965 (an official publication of the
Archeological Survey of India).
The Judge in his voluminous judgement uses harsh words to dismiss this
official publication and the evidence brought in thereof on the
inscriptions over the mosque entitled “Inscriptions by Emperor Babur.”
Dr Z.A Desai, then Superintendent, Persian and Arabic Inscriptions,
ASI and a great authority among India’s Arabic and Persian epigraphist
edited this volume.
This inscription that remained in position at the entrance of the
mosque until December 6, 1992 when the kar sevaks carried out their
act of demolition and if it does not exist now it is owing to that
criminal act. As to the significance of Tieffenthaler’s not mentioning
the inscriptions, it needs stressing that in history negative
inferences of this kind are hardly ever given credence. One famous
example is of
that other famous “intellectual giant and linguistic wizard”, Marco
Polo’s failure to mention the hugely ancient Great Wall of China
during his trials and subsequent writings If Applying the same logic
that Justice Sudhir Agarwal has used in his argument, if one is ever
asked to decide when the Great Wall was built, one should immediately
say, after Marco Polo’s travels, i.e. after 1300 AD!
Justice Agarwal also here overlooks the fact that about ninety
years before the Epigraphia Indica – A. & P. Supplement, 1965, both
the gate and the pulpit inscriptions of the Babri Masjid had been
mentioned in The Gazetteer of the Province of Oudh, edited by W.C.
Benett, issued as an official publication in 1877-78, Vol.I, pp.6-7.
Plate 1, Plate 2 Babri Masjid: Inscriptions and Date of Construction.
“In two places in the Babri Mosque”, it says, “the year in which it
was built, 935 H., corresponding with 1528 AD, is carved in stone
along with inscriptions dedicated to the glory of the Emperor.” It
will be noticed that this is much older than Fuhrer’s reading of the
inscriptions, but is quietly ignored in Justice Agarwal’s summary of
the reports on the inscriptions (Para 1650). Benett’s statement is
confirmed in H.R. Nevill’s Fyzabad District Gazetteer, with Preface
dated 1905 (volume reprinted, 1920). On page 179 we are told: “The
Mosque has two inscriptions, one on the outside and the other on the
pulpit and bear the date 935 Hijri. Of the authenticity of the
inscriptions there can be no doubt. Thus two official reports clearly
say that the inscriptions on the entrance and the pulpit gave the date
935 Hijri (=1528 AD) and that they belonged to the reign of Babur. One
of them goes on to attest their undoubted authenticity.
In reaching the conclusion over the allegedly later construction of
the Babri Masjid, Justice Sudhir Agarwal ignores dealing with other
crucial issues relating to the date of the building such as
architectural design and technique of construction. In the critique
presented at length by the Aligarh Historians Society what emerged was
not only that a Judge of the High Cout has spent a substantive part of
his 5,000 page judgement based on a narrow understanding of faith but
worse has misrepresented historiography and archeology especially with
relation to Indian medieval history a specific target by Hindu
communal forces since the early 1900s.
The Judge’s remarks not only on Babur himself whom he views as “a
completely Islamic person”…who….” lacked tolerance to the idol
worshippers” (Para 1563) is compounded by his (Judge Agarwal’s)
distinctly flawed understanding of medieval Indian history as a whole
which is also reflected in the judgement:
“Another surprising aspect was that the Indian subcontinent
was under the attack/ invasion by outsiders for almost a thousand
or more years in the past and had been continuously looted
by them. Massive wealth continuously was driven off from the
Country.” (Para 1611)
This sentence suggests a rather one-sided view of the history of
medieval India. Was India before the British ever governed from
outside of it, from a place to which wealth could be continuously
transferred? Whoever looted, whether Sultans or Rajas, lived within
India and moreover the wealth stayed within.
Dr S. Ali Nadeem Rezavi’s erudite presentation on the evolution of
mosque architecture over the several hundred years of Mughal rule
shows a distinction in the architecture between the times of Babur and
Aurangzeb. It can easily be established, by the style and technique
employed in a building, whether it was built in the pre-Mughal or
early Mughal times or later.
The Babri Masjid is recognizably built in the Sharqi style of
architecture (seen noticeably at Jaunpur) with the characteristic form
given to the propylon. The domes though large are very heavy. This
style became obsolete soon after; and well before Aurangzeb’s time,
light (even bulbous) domes with free standing minarets became the
hall-mark of a mosque.
One of the most critical failures of the entire process of litigation
undertaken over several decades by the High Court was brought out
eloquently by eminent historian Dr Shireen Moosvi who pointed out how
the process of recording evidence by the court, from expert historians
and arhaeologists had been reduced to a farce. Propositions of
historiography and archeology, often rather complex, needed to be
answered/explained in a couple of sentences. Yet the court by
insisting that such expert witnesses testified only in monosyllabic
“yes” or “no” reduced the business or process of recording expert
evidence within the court to a farce.
In Indian criminal law too, each witness has a right in law to record
explanations after his/her answer and the high court’s refusal to
allow this basic legal process has subverted the course of justice.
Two publications Archaeology After Demolition, Archaeology after
Excavation authored by world renowned achaeologist D. Mandal faced
contempt proceedings initiated by the very bench that delivered the
Ayodhya verdict. The deliberate act of the higher judiciary in
curtailing the academic thought and freedoms of independent historians
and archeologists on a highly charged politico-religious conflict
fomented to garner votes, albeit by using a colonial and archaic
Contempt of Court’s Act was evidence if any needed of the sinister
politics behind the process of justice subversion in this case.
Whereas Justice Agarwal has high praise in his judgement for the team
of ASI officials set up by the BJP driven NDA regime in destroying
valuable portions of the historical Babri Mosque including what
survived after the demolition, the Justices have failed to go into the
politics behind this excavation unleashed by a virulently communal BJP
led NDA regime in which the architect of the bloody rath yatra (that
has been castigated by Justice Liberhans in his report) LK Advani, a
man thereafter to become India’s home minister and deputy prime
minister and Murli Manohar Joshi the Minister for Human Resources
Development who both played pivotal negative roles.
Far from questioning the politics behind the motivated excavations,
the Judge reposes full trust in the ASI’s subsequent doctored report
that has also not in full form been made available for study by
experts. Professor Irfan Habib pointed out that the present government
at the Centre was complicit in allowing a flawed report of the
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to stand.
1949, 1992—Indian Systemic Response to Illegal Acts
Advocate for the Liberhans Commission for about a dozen years, Anupam
Gupta spoke passionately about the history of this litigation that had
failed conspicuously to deal with the illegal actions of criminal
trespass into the mosque on the night of December 23, 1949 and
placement of the Ram Lalla idols within, an action that could not be
reversed despite repeated written communications and directives of
India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the SP KKK Nayyar who
thereafter joined the Jan Sangh, the precursor to today’s BJP. He was
strongly critical of he judgement of Justice Agarwal that could spend
over 5,000 pages on the mythological aspects of Lord Ram’s birth but
had no space nor concern for the criminal actions of 1949 and 1992.
The FIR for criminal trespass lodged reluctantly by the SP at the time
and the conduct of the District Magistrate PP Pandey who therafter
also joined in the political frenzy for demolition of the mosque has
never been investigated by law enforcement agencies.
During the much publicized and widely watched kar seva of December 6,
1992 that took place in violation of undertakings made before India’s
Supreme Court by then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh,
interestingly the frenzy displayed by kar sevaks under the leaderships
of LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati – that was also
celebrated by mediamen Chandan Mitra and Swapan Dasgupta present at
the spot—did not extend to destroying the idols placed surreptitiously
within in 1949. These were carefully removed and brought back four
days later to the spot after the demolition was complete.
The role of then central government headed by prime minister Narasimha
Rao who had deployed central paramilitary forces to the spot who stood
by and watched as a mob unleashed criminal acts was also commented
upon by speakers.
Journalist Manoj Mitta detailed the deliberate dilution of the
criminal cases related to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992
especially by the NDA regime. Of the 49 FIRs lodged at the time, 47
related to attacks on journalists. Of the other two, one related to
the FIR related to criminal conspiracy and mob attack on the mosque in
which LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi had been named as the
masterminds behind the mob attack and the second related to the
venomous hate speeches delivered before, during and after the act of
demolition by them. During the five years of the NDA regime, the
central government deliberated deleted names of the three top leaders
of the BJP as master conspirators now arguing that a headless mob had
performed the illegal act. The two cases are now being heard
separately, deliberately weakened by partisan interference by the
Interestingly, the Supreme Court has itself not pursued the contempt
case against the top leadership, national and state of the Bharatiya
Janata Party that consciously and shameless broke their undertakings
to the apex court in the country.
A screening of Ram ke Naam with a discussion by filmmaker Anand
Patwardhan brought live to the audience aspects of the narrative that
had been deliberately made to vanish from the public consciousness and
criminal and other proceedings in our courts. The sudden, brutal and
unexplained murder of Baba Laldas in 1993 –the court appointed Mahant
of the Disputed site after he had openly criticized the politics of
the VHP and BJP, was one. Another was the similarly mysterious murder
of an IAS officer carrying valuable documents from the Faizabad
collectorates to the Liberhans Commission in the late nineties. None
of these crimes have been investigated.
Voices From Faizabad Ayodhya
Acharya Jugal Kishore Shastri and Magsassay award winner Sandeep
Pandey spoke at length on the manner in which democracy dissent and
syncretic worship had been stifled at Ayodhya. The murder of 17
Muslims on December 6, 1992 while the demolition was on has gone
uninvestigated, as has the deliberate arson of over 300 Muslim homes
and businesses while the Babri masjid was being brought down in 1992.
Politics of the Judiciary
Justices PB Sawant retired from the Supreme Court, Justice Hosbet
Suresh retired from the Bombay high court and Justice SHA Raza from
the High Court, Allahabad and Lucknow spoke extensively on the
politics within the higher judiciary related to the Babri Masjid
Ayodhya dispute as also majoritarian Hindutva politics in general and
its influence over the judiciary and executive.
A panel that dealt exclusively with the implications of a spate of
election petitions emerging from Maharashtra/Bombay High Court in the
late 1980s elucidiated how in one of these, a bench of the Supreme
Court had legitimized a politico-religious movement Hindutva and
deliberately confused it with Hinduism, thereby consciously or
unconsciously according judicial weight to the politics of aggressive
majoritarianism symbolized by the emergence of the Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) with over 90 seats in India’s Parliament.
Election Speeches made by Shiv Sena leaders Subhash Desai, Ramesh
Prabhoo and Manohar Joshi, during state assembly elections, invoking a
politically aggressive Hindutva and accompanying these with derogatory
statements against India’s religious minorities had been uniformly
held by the Bombay high court to violated sections of the
Representation of People’s Act, ie were held to be misusing religion
for political ends. Unfortunately however while upholding the high
court rulings in two of the cases, the Supreme Court, in Manohar
Joshi’s case legitimized the election of the man who by then had
become Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
Since then, in two cases, Abhiram Singh v/s CD Commachen and Ors and
another, the Supreme Court, holding that these contentions made in the
Hindutva Judgement (December 1995) need to be placed before a
Constitution bench, five member or seven member and re assessed.
However the apex court has since not found time to constitute the
larger constitution benches for these cases. Advocate BA Desai from
Mumbai who was instrumental in getting one of these cases referred for
review before a constitutional bench attended the symposium and spoke
at length on the distinction between Hindutva and Hindusim.
Teesta Setalvad, co editor Communalism Combat presenting her
conclusions in a paper Hate Speech and Indian Courts pointed out how
the judiciary in general but the higher judiciary in particular had
been markedly lax in developing a sound jurisprudence on hate speech.
Offences under Indian criminal law related to sections 153a, 153b, 505
and 295 of the CRPC and relate to words and speech, written or oral
meant to foment violence and hatred against sections of the
The Bombay High Court’s justification of Bal Thackeray’s rantings in
Saamna in 1992-1993 at the height of the post Babri masjid violence,
wherein they justified the venom used against India’s Muslims on the
grounds that “the words were under anti national Muslims” was not
corrected by the Indian Supreme Court (JB De Souza and Dilip Thakore
v/s State of Maharashtra). Setalvad pointed out how a nationwide
campaign urging the Supreme Court to review its decision to dismiss
the special leave petition backed by 30,000 signatures was also
ignored by the Indian Supreme Court. A campaign by citizens in May
2007 after Varun Gandhi’s venomous speeches made during the Uttar
Pradesh state elections also resulted in no effective curbs on the
candidate, by the Election Commission. Not only did the candidate win
from Pilibhit constituency in Uttar Pradesh but neither the political
class nor the executive nor the CEC nor the judiciary pursed any
logical steps to ensure that he or his part paid, punitively for the
hate and venom used by him during elections in 2007. Advocates
Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court , Mihir Desai, Bombay High Court and
Ravi Kiran Jain, Allahabad High Court made pertinent references to the
reluctance of the judiciary to intervene effectively in these matters.
A landmark judgement passed by a larger, nine member bench of the
Indian Supreme Court (Justices Pandian, Ahmadi, Kuldip Singh, JS
Verma, PB Sawant, K Ramaswamy, SC Agarwal, Yogeshwar Dayal and Jeevan
Reddy) had in 1994 itself –in SR Bommai v/s Union of India, the case
that dealt with the dismissal of the BJP governments by the Centre
following the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 and
nationwide violence against minorities--- has held secularism to be
the basic and inalienable feature of the Indian Constitution. However
this judicial landmark was ignored by the Hindutva judgement passed a
year later in 1995.
Fallout of the Politics of Faith
Participation of vibrant panels of speakers from the states of
Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh gave
grassroot level insights into the fallout of the politics of faith
since the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The serious contestation over the Baba Boudhangiri shrine in
Chikmagalur district of Karnataka has been averted by a vibrant
movement of the Karnataka Communal Harmony Forum since 1998 (Karnataka
Komu Souharda Vedike). A decade after mass mobilizations at the
district to contest the violent mobilization by the BJP and rest of
the sangh parivar, the Veddike and Citizens for Justice and Peace had
moved the Supreme Court against the illegal actions at the local
level. Though the Supreme Court had granted a stay on these acts,
subsequent moves by the government of Karnataka and the collectorate
of the district where the shrine is located that amounted to contempt
had not been seriously or severely commented upon by the Supreme
This and other matters filed under the Places of Worship Act, 1991
have failed to evolve a robust jurisprudence with the reluctance of
the higher judiciary to curb and censure criminal and illegal acts.
Teesta Setalvad pointed how, in May 2003 Communalism Combat had
reproduced exclusively a list of 30,000 temples listed and mentioned
by both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)
to capture, illegally seize 30,000 shrines that are currently minority
or syncretic places of worship.
In Varanasi on December 29.2002 the BJP MP Vinay Katiyar who built his
political career through the Bajrang Dal demanded that Muslims hand
over the Kashi and Mathura Mosque to the VHP-Bajrang Dal. Thereafter
on March 1, 2003, in Badohi Uttar Pradesh and again on March 10 2003
Praveen Togadia, international general secretary of the VHP repeated
the threats with more potent venom. The RSS too, through its
spokesman, MS Vaidya declared its full support to the VHP plan to
“free” the Kashi/Mathura shrines. Renowned historian KM Shrimali
elaborated how the Baba Ramdev shrine in Rajasthan has been taken over
by right wing majoritarian politico-religious groups. Setalvad pointed
out how the Piarana Dargah in Gujarat is in a similar way the target
of communal forces.
A vibrant citizens initiative from the minority community since 2005
has managed to curtaile the hate speech of Swami Adityanath in
Gorakhpur. Advocate Assad Hayat and Parvez Parvaaz spoke about their
successful efforts to get the judicial order of registration of an FIR
against the virulent godman who has had to rush to the Supreme Court
for a stay order.
The intellectually stimulating and rich discussions over three days
covered professional historiography, archaeology, activism, legal and
judicial precepts and the rule of law. The real motive and intent
behind the politics of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement was not for a
temple in the name of Lord Ram, but to misuse the language and
discorse of faith to politically mould the country academically and
otherwise into a majoritarian state.

Dipankar Bhattacharya
General Secretary

Allahbad Verdict Has Failed to Resolve the Ayodhya Dispute.
The Country Should Now Wait for the Supreme Court –
Need to Remain Alert against the Sangh Brigade’s Celebratory Noise and Communal Campaign

It appears that the much-awaited verdict of the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court on Ayodhya issue has failed to provide a satisfactory resolution of the dispute. Going beyond established legal considerations to settle a title suit, the verdict seems to have based itself more on political grounds. The aggrieved parties do have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court for a reconsideration of the judgement and the country must now wait for the Supreme Court with patience and restraint. The Sangh brigade has however already started making celebratory noise, and secular progressive forces in the country will have to remain alert to thwart the Sangh’s attempt to use the court verdict to fuel its long-standing campaign against secularism and democracy.

Here's the full text of a statement issued later by  Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of  the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)-Liberation.:

The Ayodhya Verdict:
A Blow to the Spirit of Modern India
On the eve of the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya, we had said the verdict would be a “test case for India’s secularism, democracy and justice.” Now, following a close look at the shocking verdict, we must say it has failed this test in every possible way. 30 September, 2010 will now be bracketed with 6 December, 1992. Eighteen years after the dastardly physical demolition of the Babri Masjid, we have now seen its judicial demolition, a verdict that flies in the face of the basic principles of justice and rule of law, and challenges the fundamental spirit of a secular, democratic modern India.
The High Court was supposed to decide on the title suit regarding the disputed site. It is well known that the BJP and its Sangh siblings were all along wary of the court deciding on this case on the plea that the whole issue concerned “faith” and there could be no adjudication over “faith”. It was clear to them that they had no legal basis for their claim and hence they chose the way of cheating the country. They assured everybody that the law of the land would be honoured, and then betrayed their own words to demolish the mosque through a communal-fascistic mobilisation in broad daylight.
Today, the Sangh is jubilant that the High Court has turned “faith” into law. All the three judges have accepted the fact that the idols of Ram, Sita and Bharat were smuggled in from outside on the intervening night of 22-23 December, 1949. Yet the judges have ruled by 2-1 majority that the “disputed structure” was not a mosque because it was apparently constructed by demolishing a Hindu religious structure and hence according to the tenets of Islam, it could not have the sanctity of a mosque! The other judge has of course differed on both counts – but the majority view prevailed.
The verdict is based heavily on two factors – the so-called ‘archaeological evidence’ marshalled by the ASI in its 2003 report (two previous ASI reports in 1970 and 1992 mentioned nothing of the sort) that there was a Hindu temple on the site before the mosque was built, and the ‘faith’ held by many Hindus that the disputed area is the birthplace of Lord Ram. The ASI report has been widely questioned and rejected by a whole range of historians and can at best be treated as a piece of speculative conjecture. The other aspect of ‘faith’ is just that – faith which can by no means be treated as an evidence to decide a title suit.
After conceding the Ramjanambhoomi claim on such thoroughly questionable grounds, the judges sought to give the whole thing the appearance of a reconciliatory measure whereby the disputed land would be apportioned into three equal parts with one part going to the waqf board. Reconciliation can only be attempted and achieved on the basis of truth and justice. In this case, both truth (at least recorded historical truth) and justice have been sacrificed at the altar of this phoney reconciliation formula and hence it is a compound travesty of all three. Can there ever be a dignified compromise by compromising truth and justice?
After Gujarat genocide, the BJP had been steadily losing ground in most parts of the country. Ever since its debacle in the 2009 Lok Sabha election – its second successive defeat in five years, the party seemed virtually clueless as to how to arrest its continuing state of demoralisation and desperation. Now the Allahabad High Court verdict has breathed some fresh life into the demoralised and desperate saffron camp. Advani has already described the verdict as heralding a new chapter in the country’s history of national integration. In all likelihood, an emboldened BJP will now reopen the whole gamut of its ‘suspended agenda’ and refuel its Hindutva campaign.
The judicial trajectory of the case will now reach the Supreme Court. It remains to be seen if and how far the Supreme Court can salvage the spirit of law and justice and heal the post-Ayodhya wound on the body polity and the composite culture of the country that has only been rendered deeper and more acute by the Allahabad High Court verdict. Every effort must be made to make sure that the glorious tradition of India’s composite culture and the secular democratic vision of modern India prevail over the Sangh brigade’s conspiracy to redefine India on retrograde majoritarian lines. 

-  I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace...................................... Helen Keller


In a statement, Justice V R Krishna Iyer (Retired Judge, Supreme Court) has characterized the Ayodhya verdict as a gimmick played by the court: The disputed land ought to go to either of the litigants. It was not proper to have the land divided to three pieces and given to three parties by three Judges presiding. One would normally expect Judges to think beyond caste and religion. But, the present act of slicing the land into three pieces would create doubts if they too are affected by communalism. 
 Further, it is unheard of anywhere else in the world that a High Court had to wait for long period of sixty years just to decide on a land dispute between two parties. That the Supreme Court had to intervene even in this belated moment, to decide when and how to to deliver the judgment  is also unjustifiable. The High Court is a forum of responsible judges and it is a shame on its part to be advised when to deliver its judgment.

It is also not justifiable to have the public life in the entire country brought to a standstill by clamping section 144 on its people. It is pitiable to have people’s freedom of movement, freedom of expression and such other freedoms restricted just in the name of ensuing court verdict on a property dispute. Ours is a country with a 5000 years old culture and maturity; hence,to deploy hundreds of thousands of police and security personnel on the wrong assumption that its people would get to fight each other on hearing a court’s verdict is a shame to this country. I request Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to bring insult to this country by resorting to such measures again.


 Justice Rajindar Sachar 
(Former Chief  Justice, Delhi High Court)

RAJINDAR SACHAR A-19, New Friends Colony, Chief Justice (Retd.) New Delhi 110065(India)
High Court of Delhi, New Delhi Tel : 091-11-26847786,26830194 Chairperson Prime Minister’s High Level Committee E-Mail:rsachar1@vsnl.net
On Statusof Muslims (Ex.) rsachar23@bol.net.in
UN Special Rappoetuer on Housing Fax: 091-011-26313393
Member, U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention of Mobile : 9810009644
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (Ex.) Pan No. AATPS 1177M
President, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) India (Ex.)
Dated: 13/09/2010
Published in the Tribune on 17/09/2010

Both government and opposition and the public in general are rightly in panic awaiting the verdict on Babri Masjid by Allahabad High Court – a situation brought about by the faltering non secular stand by all the concerned governments. The High Court is to give verdict t on the following points;
1. Was the place under Babri Majid the birth place of Lord Ram.
2. Was there or not a temple on the land on which Babri Masjid was built.
Now it is obvious to the meanest intelligence that it is impossible to prove that birth place of Lord Ram was under the Masjid – it may be a matter of faith, genuine or contrived or otherwise, but that is no proof, nor can it ever be put forward as a legal ground to take away the land from the Mosque.
– 2 -
If the finding is that Masjid was not built on a temple, then the Muslims get the land back and free to use it in any way including the building of Mosque.
In the alternative it may be held that there was a temple on the land of Babri Mosque. But even with this finding the suit by VHP/RSS has to be dismissed. Admittedly Babri Masjid has been in existence for over 400 years till it was demolished by goons of VHP/RSS in 1992. Legally, speaking the Sangh Parivar would have no right even if a temple had been demolished to build the Babri Masjid.
I say this in view of the precedent of the case of Masjid Shahid Ganj in Lahore decided by the Privy Council in (1940). In that case there was admittedly a Mosque existing since 1722 A.D. But by 1762, the building came under Sikh rule and was being used as a Gurdawara. It was only in 1935 that a suit was filed claiming the building was a Mosque and should be returned to Muslims.
– 3 -
The Privy Council while observing “their Lordship have every sympathy with a religious sentiment which would ascribe sanctity and in violability to a place of worship, they cannot under the Limitation Act accept the contentions that such a building cannot be possessed adversely” and then
went on to hold “The Property now in question having been possessed by Sikhs adversely to the waqf and to all interests thereunder for more than 12 years, the right of the mutawali to possession for the purposes of the waqf came to an end under Limitation Act. “On the same parity of reasoning even if temple existed prior to the building of Masjid 400 years ago, suit by VHP etc has to fail”.
There is another reason why in such a situation, suit would fail because in common law, even a rightful heir if he kills his ancestor, forfeits his right of inheritance. In the Masjid case too, there was ‘murder most foul’ and hence the murderer cannot be allowed to take the benefit of his own dastardly deeds, whatever the legal position may be.
– 4 -
It is true that sometime some Muslims groups in a spirit of large heartedness and as a measure of mutual accommodation, suggest that if it was found that the Masjid was built on the site of a temple, they would not like to now build a Mosque on the said site because the Koran forbids Muslims to build a mosque by demolishing any other religious place. But even them, if Muslims choose not to build a Masjid on this site, the ownership and use of the land remains with them. Hindu cannot under any circumstances lay a claim to this site which was under Babri Masjid.
Some well intentioned persons come out with apparently neutral suggestion of building a multi Religious complex on the site. To me this would be surrender to rabid Hindu Communal sentiment – whatever explanation you may give, a Muslim then would feel less equal citizen if even after he has won, he is asked to share this site with the goons who destroyed the Holy Mosque. This would be a defeat of secularism and against our constitution which mandates that all citizens, whether Hindus, Muslims have equal Rights and are equal before law.
– 5 -
A multi Religious Complex or multi culture Centre or a hospital can
obviously be built by the joint free will efforts of both Hindus and Muslims. But such a complex if it is to be built necessarily must be on the land away and outside the Masjid complex, and that too only if the Muslims give their consent – obviously as vacant land belongs to the Muslims. But under all circumstances, the site under Babri Masjid must remain in the exclusive possession of Muslims who will be free to use it in any way the community decides.
I feel that the government should start doing an exercise of consultation, preparation on these lines – to await helplessly trying to anticipate what the verdict would be is like a pigeon who on seeing a cat closes its eyes with the delusion that cat will go away – the result is obvious.
Equally I feel that leaders of all communities, political parties, social workers should start planning to meet the situation, because this matter requires the involvement of people at grass root level and the matter does not brook any delay.
– 6 -
The legal position is clear. It is only the weakness of political will that is responsible for the Ayodhya imbroglio to continue as one of the most bitter disputes within the country. By keeping the Ayodhya issue alive, the country has been kept away from addressing it’s most urgent task – how to meet the challenge of the growing pauperization of the masses. And that includes both Hindus and Muslims.

  The Institutions of the State in India in the first decade of the 21st Century
  - the Road to Theocracy.
 Yesterday the roads of Mumbai were deserted by afternoon and taxis stayed off
 the road in the evening with memories of the events of December 92 and January
 93 as most  people were aware that a Judgment was to be delivered and that two
mainstream political parties and one regional party  had made their electoral fortunes
 on the issue ably assisted by financiers and hawala money  , however  if bombs
 were thrown .Unknown to them the  much maligned Commonwealth Games came
to their rescue and the alleged  "Jehadi terrorists"  the " Jamaat- e- Islami"
and Hurriyat  having  overwhelming respect for the head of the Commonwealth
their Mai /Baap are now awaiting the end of the games at the request of the political
leadership of various mainstream parties conveyed through the Anti-terrorist squads 
 and so are the Saffron terrorists who owe the beginnings to the British Raj and cannot
therefore insult the Commonwealth . This kind of loyalty with offerings from the
national budget and banking industry even for take over of companies in England
of doubtful financial viability , is not to be seen in the annals of the British Empire .
Some intellectuals seriously believe that we were hanging from the trees before
Britannia ruled the waves and that the establishment of the railways  was not for
better exploitation but an act of generosity of Imperial rule .
Even as a few  lawyers were awaiting the Judgment with as much interest
as they take daily in the visuals of the Stock market in the Bar Association which
keeps them upto date not in respect of  jurisprudence but on speculation every hour of
the working day  one of them  reflected and said to me  " I can immediately recognize
anyone who is a Dalit or a backward class from his face ". Astounded I reflected on this
much traveled lawyer and how he had managed his  entry into the first decade
of the 21st Century .Even as I moved away horrified by this remark which reeked of
the ideology of upper caste "unsociability" which we imagined had been
eradicated in India  he jumped up and said " The Hindus have succeeded ".
 Much later that night  one understood that whereas the disputed plot had
been evenly divided between three claimants ,  this had been done not on
the basis of law by the three Judges ;there was no law in the reasons advanced
by one of the three Judges for this distribution and not even a hint at law or as to
why these claims were valid after the lapse of decades if not centuries with
conclusions of the Learned Judges going back at least two thousand and seven
hundred years ago in a mix of myth , legend and a few facts ;thereafter arriving
in the 16th Century and then referring to excavations on the site again hundreds of
years ago ; still forward to the years before 1857 and then 1949.
Who was right  ?The Supreme Court and the High Courts were dismissing claims
barred by the law of limitation . In certain cases even six months delay in filling
a Writ Petition had barred a vital  Petition invoking constitutional grounds , but in
these three Judges of the Allahabad High Court , we had 'Daniels' arriving at a
Judgment .
It was left to former Chief Justice Rajinder Sachar with his few remarks despite
serious obstructions from the anchor to convey that there was neither law nor
logic in the decisions .
If not law or logic what was the reasoning based on in all three Judgments ?
The constraints of a reactionary  theocracy , we like Pakistan under the auspices
 of neoliberal economic policies of International Capital had evolved into
a reactionary theocracy . Another institution of governance stood exposed
which had not relied on law but on religious faith and beliefs .
The destruction of the  Bamiyan Buddhas and what we were doing appeared
 strangely similar .
Arundhatti Roy has proved to be right .It was not she who is a romanticist
but those of us like myself , who still believed that we had who had taken
a different path in 1947  how could we once again fragment  as a society after
the grim lessons of partition and the assassination of the father of the Nation ?
 Whereas she had already pronounced judgment as to what we had become,
 even as South Asia is targeted for restructuring  and fragmentation 
 on the basis of tribe and religion even as drones fly over the region .
The silver lining  is that if stones and pillars found on a site dating
back hundreds of years ago is evidence and that faith is the basis
of title, the tribal people who are in actual possession  of their land
and the peasantry and other working people cannot be evicted by any
 Court , as itis their faith and conviction supported by occupation from time
immemorial that they have the first right of livelihood over their
land as against Multinational Companies Indian or foreign .
 The Court has implicitly upheld the consequence of violent acts
reinforcing the view of some formations in India in the Eastern
and Central Regions  that violence is being sanctioned by the
 institutions of the State siezing their land in favour of private
interests  and that they are defending themselves .
The question remains why have successive governments not
notified the impugned  disputed  land for land acquisition when it had
disturbedthe peace  and the claim of every single party   in all title suits
had lapsed on account of limitation  on one ground or another ; whereas
land being cultivated has been forcibly seized in various parts of the
country with whole villages evacuated with physical force to
subserve private interests ??????
One more institution of the State has revealed that we have become
a reactionary theocratic state with the Constitution of India flouted
even by those who have sworn to uphold it .
It is not the three way division of the plot which is  the cause
for anxiety but the reasons advanced for the Judgment reflecting
 the erosion of India 's Republic , the Constitution of India and
the objectives of the Indian Freedom struggle for Independence.
The destruction of  justice and  a legal system logically leads
to adoption of extra constitutional means of redressal. .
This is what Arundhatti Roy recognized before we

"..The anti-minority discourse of two decades in this country, which is the fascist
discourse of  financiers  was plotted by more than one party along with India 's
 Bilderberg Club of financier and corporate sector interests .
  We have to recover India's political and social place in the spirit of the
movements led by Jyotiba  and Savitri Phule and Dr. Ambedkar when the
upper castes/classes opposed even women's education and re-marriage
and there were vibrant anti upper class /upper caste movements across
the country against religious obscurantism and superstition  used to exploit
millions by  propagating that they were inferior , unclean and untouchable.
 Philosophy yes , culture by all means , fascist religious discourse  and any attempt
 to exploit  and demonize has no place in the modern India we seek to construct
in the 21st Century .
No individual or political party which resorts to fascist discourse can be
said to act constitutionally ,these are acts not within the constitutional
framework and extra legal . If institutions of the State resort to such acts
they are per se illegal .Indian society is inclusive, not exclusive..
Our first loyalty is to the human race  all  other identities
come after this first loyalty .As being human is a fact of
birth all other identities are imposed by social conditioning.."

"What stares us in the face is more and more fragmentation in spirit
and substance ,by a seriously flawed  hegemonic political discourse
which does not represent the diverse concerns of India, economic,
social or cultural with no ecnomic manifesto for all round development,
ensuring security for livelihood even as we are to embark on carefully
considered industrialization ,without in the process creating more
misery and unemployment .
The dialogue is not on accomodation and adjustment of
competing and conflicting claims on resources  , but on
elimination and suppression.How far can we go with this
 approach ????????"

Siddharth Varadarajan’s critique of the Judgement:
http://www.hindu.com/2010/10/01/stories/2010100163711400.htm To quote:
The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court has made judicial history by deciding a long pending legal dispute over a piece of property in Ayodhya on the basis of an unverified and unsubstantiated reference to the “faith and belief of Hindus.”
The irony is that in doing so, the court has inadvertently provided a shot in the arm for a political movement that cited the very same “faith” and “belief” to justify its open defiance of the law and the Indian Constitution. That defiance reached its apogee in 1992, when a 500-year-old mosque which stood at the disputed site was destroyed. The legal and political system in India stood silent witness to that crime of trespass, vandalism and expropriation. Eighteen years later, the country has compounded that sin by legitimising the “faith” and “belief” of those who took the law into their own hands….
Tulsidas wrote his Ramcharitmanas in 16th century Ayodhya but made no reference to the birthplace of Lord Rama that the court has now identified with such exacting precision five centuries later.
The “faith and belief” that the court speaks about today acquired salience only after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party launched a political campaign in the 1980s to “liberate” the “janmasthan.”
the High Court has taken a small step towards the restoration of the religious status quo ante which prevailed before politicians got into the act. But its reasoning is flawed and even dangerous. If left unamended by the Supreme Court, the legal, social and political repercussions of the judgment are likely to be extremely damaging.

Commit the Crime and be rewarded: Ayodhya Dispute Verdict

Ram Puniyani

Nation heaved a sigh of relief following the three judges delivering the verdict on Ayodhya case (30th Sptember 2010). There was no violence anywhere, something which was feared very much. The day passed off peacefully and the fear that violence will engulf parts of the country proved to be wrong, thanks to the maturity shown by large sections of population. As such the judgment was an exercise of sorts trying to do a balancing act, between all the parties involved, Ram Lalla Virajman, Nirmohi Akhada and Sunni wakf board. The title of the land has been divided into three each sharing one part. Also court has declared since Hindus believe the ‘birth place’ of Lord Ram to be below the place where the central dome of the mosque stood, that place should be allotted to Hindus. In response RSS chief in a jubilant mood proclaimed that now the path for a grand Ram temple has been opened at the site and all the parties should cooperate in this “national” work.
As Mulayam Singh Yadav has correctly put it, the Muslim community is feeling betrayed. First their mosque is entered into by miscreants who install the Ram Lalla idols there. Then in a well orchestrated assault RSS combine demolishes the Mosque and now the court operates on the RSS theory that Lord Ram was born at that spot. It seems if matters go the way they are going there is no need for scientific disciplines of History, Archeology and others as a section of political force can gradually build up the faith, act upon that and then the court will legitimize the criminal acts in the name of faith of a section of society. The law of the land will come to such a pass is beyond the imagination of those who wish to adhere to the values of freedom movement and the Constitution of India.
Just to recall RSS combine, more popularly known as Sangh Parivar, picked up the issue of Ram Temple in Ayodhya in the decade of 1980s and later orchestrated the faith of section of Hindus that Lord Ram was born precisely at the spot where the mosque is located. Interestingly the trend of Lord Ram being regarded as the core deity of Hindu religion came up in the medieval times, more particularly after Goswami Tulsi Das wrote the story of Lord Ram in the popular Awadhi language. Till that time Valmiki’s Sanskrit Ramayana was the major one prevalent in the society and being the language of elite, worship of Lord Ram was restricted to a section of Hindus. Tulsidas was pulled up by the Brahmins for his writing the story of Ram in Lok Bhasha, Avadhi, as Brahmins were supposed to be using Dev Bhasha; Sanskrit only. Tulsi Das was around thirty years old when it is claimed that the Ram Temple was demolished. The demolition claim is unlikely to be true as had such a demolition taken place Tulsidas must have mentioned this in his writings.  As such the later interpretations of Ram have been so different for different people.
One understands that Kings had been ruling for the sake of power and wealth and victor kings many a times destroyed the defeated king’s holy place to humiliate the defeated king. The British introduced communal historiography aiming to pursue the policy of ‘divide and rule’ propagated that Muslim Kings destroyed Hindu temples to insult Hindu religion. This type of Historiography spread hatred amongst communities and became the foundation on which the communal violence started taking place in due course. As such Babri Mosque was a protected monument, under the custody of Government of India. Government failed to get the illegally installed Ram Lalla idols removed from the site and also failed to protect the mosque form the onslaught of RSS combines’ attack on the mosque in 1992. So de facto, with this judgment the RSS agenda of dividing the nation along communal lines is being legitimized by ignoring the fact of installation of idols and by turning a blind eye to the Babri demolition, coordinated by different wings of RSS combine. The crimes done by this stream have  been richly rewarded by this verdict!
Now RSS and its progeny is taking the line that Muslims should hand over the land of their share to RSS front, to see that the aspirations of ‘Nation’ are fulfilled and a grand Ram Temple is built there. It is not only Hindus who constitute the nation. All the Hindus of the nation do not hold any such belief about the birth place of Lord Ram. All the Hindus do not want a Ram Temple there. As such majority of Hindus have kept aloof from this issue, many of them have looked with horror and disbelief the way the faith of people has been manipulated to catapult BJP to the seat of political power. Since the issue was highlighted and brought to the electoral arena; Hindu majority have never voted for the agenda of Ram temple. No doubt a section of Hindus has been won over to the Ram temple agenda; the majority of Hindus have not approved it as the results of elections show. The latest surveys also confirm that it is not an issue for most of the Hindus, but is an issue only for a handful of Hindus. Moreover the younger generation does not have anything to do with these types of identity related issues and that too imposed upon the nation through criminal means, the crime of installing Ram Lalla idols and the crime of demolishing the Babri Mosque.
Congress is calling for a negotiated settlement. What can be a negotiated settlement? One; it has to be based on justice, recognizing the due rights of each party involved and there has to a spirit of give and take. Do those calling for compromise will promise that the matters related to equity and security of Muslim community be granted? The Muslim community has been sliding down on the scales of social and economic indices. Will Sachar Committee- Rangnath Misra Committee reports be implemented in right earnest? Will RSS support such a ‘give’? Will Muslim community be able to live in security hereafter? India has 13.4% of Muslms in the population. In the communal violence, more than 80% of victims are Muslims! Will RSS withdraw the ‘Hate spreading books’ from its Shishu Mandirs? Will its Shakhas stop doing the ‘Hate Propaganda’ against the minorities?
For a moment one feels like supporting a compromise formula. Sure and that’s a good thing. One may be willing to talk of give and take, negotiation if the battered Muslim minority and also Christians are promised equal status as citizens, the baseless propaganda against them is held back, and the Congress takes it upon itself to fulfill the promise of Manmohan Singh that Muslim minorities have the first right to development resources as they have been left behind due to the social-economic discrimination and due to the politically motivated violence against them. Will all the guilty of communal violence be punished? Those behind Delhi anti Sikh massacre, Mumbai violence and Gujarat violence are roaming with their bloated chests; can they be brought to book before a negotiated settlement is talked about? In a way can we trust the state for abiding by the rule of law to protect its citizens before demands of sacrifice from them are articulated?
One can very well say that the very politics of Communalism is using Ram Temple issue to violate the Indian Constitution and the amity amongst the communities. One can appeal to the minority communities to make some sacrifices but one knows that they will get nothing in return. The way communalism has seeped into the very vitals of our society and polity it has created situations where minorities are being treated as ‘second class citizens’. The dominating ‘Religion based nationalism’, the politics of Hindutva with the agenda of Hindu Rashtra, will not let them live in peace and dignity. For RSS combine the matters of bread butter and shelter are secondary and imaginary constructs culled out from mythology form the base of their identity politics, the politics of Ram Temple, Ram Setu, Cow slaughter ban and what have you. We are in a catch 22 situation.  
 The communalization of polity and society is so much that now faith, systematically constructed by a section of political stream is becoming the basis of law. As noted Film maker Anand Patwardhan pointed out on the day of Ayodhya verdict, it is ‘Victory of Hindu Sharia: A sad day for India’. One hopes the younger generation, and all those believing in the Indian constitution will try to move on from the identity politics, politics which abuses faith for short cuts to power and paves the way for a sane society concerned about the human justice, and affirmative action for weaker sections of society.   

Ayodhya Verdict 2010: Whither Indian Constitution!

Ram Puniyani (30-10-2010)

The verdict given by Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court (Sept 2010) has been a landmark of sorts. On one hand it is culmination of the process of demolition of Babri Masjid, now that illegal act of demolition has got a legal sanction. On the other this judgment is the one based on every other consideration than the legal one. It has no rooting in the values of Indian Constitution, no guidance from the directive principles of the Constitution and no grounding in the law of the land.

Despite this glaring fact a large section of the popular opinion went on to keep quiet about it, or criticize it in a muted way. The atmosphere has been created that it is a balanced judgment pleasing all; it has been the best option in the present circumstances etc. We do need to recall that there was heaviness in the atmosphere before the judgment. The Hindus were apprehensive that if by chance there is violence and they or their near and dear ones are caught in the melee, it will be a disaster. Muslim minority on the other hand feared the destruction of their properties or loss of their lives in case the violence breaks out. Fortunately those who orchestrate the violence, as shown by the inquiry committee reports time and over again, chose not to unleash ‘celebratory violence’, as they had done in the aftermath of Babri demolition on 6th December 1992. This time while probably the RSS combine and communalized sections of society felt more jubilant then before, still they had restrained themselves from creating a situation where the violence takes place.

Muslims on surface felt a bit relieved that they do not have to suffer another cycle of violence and its aftermath. But they also felt let down by the court. They did feel that this judgment is a symptom of Hindu Rashtra in the offing. While there is a spectrum of opinion amongst Muslim community, now there is a feeling that even the law cannot protect their just rights. Deep frustration, anger and dejection are the response from large section of the Muslims who dared to speak. The atmosphere created by communal propaganda has pushed them to the wall and ‘we should move on’ is the thinking of a section of Muslim community. The unevenness, the contrasting situations of ‘two sides’ of the dispute is very obvious, one side which is dominant got more than it could dream of and the other side feels betrayed once again..

While RSS combine is joyous that a path has been paved for the national sentiment of Bhavya (grand) Ram Temple, and has asked Muslims to contribute in the ‘national’ agenda. One knows that we are dealing with the contrasting notions of nationalism. The Nationalism RSS is talking is the anti thesis of secular democratic nation, the aspiration of freedom movement, the nation enshrined in the Indian Constitution. What else can one expect from this political outfit, RSS, which aims to transform our democratic polity into a Hindu nation, with all past political-social ideologies presented in newer language? RSS combine is already feeling that their agenda has gone one step up, as the illegal act of installation in 1949 and the criminal act of Babri demolition has been legitimized and has also ‘quietly’ become part of social common sense.

The reaction of Congress has been very pathetic. One knows that so far in the communal violence which has stalked the streets it has kept quiet, and many a times a section of its Chief Ministers and other top leaders have presided over the carnage. When communalists have been on their ’job’ of massacring and maiming the innocent populace, the Congress has been looking the other way around. Congress reaction has been no different in the aftermath of this judgment. Congress is happy that ‘peace’ is prevailing; it is immaterial for them that this is not the peace of harmony but the peace based on injustice. In their electoral calculations to speak as per the Constitutional values and adherence to law has been dispensed with long ago. Sticking to principles does not suit Congress opportunistic communalism. There are still some voices of protest and introspection which are deeply disturbed by this judgment. This section does feel that the judgment is a big jolt to the values of pluralism, democratic law and all that the idea for which India stands.

The bureaucracy and the other arms of state apparatus are satisfied as what matters for them is the apparent calm. The preservation of the law of the land is not their deeper concern. As such a large part of this machine called Indian state has been heavily coated with the paint of divisive ideology and it has imbibed the propaganda of the Hindutva, masquerading itself as the representative of all Hindus. In the steel frame of Indian state a section swears by Hindu nation openly and still larger section is the quiet accomplice in the process of erosion of democratic norms due to multiple factors. These factors are the ceaseless communal propaganda, adverse effects of globalization and the accompanying cultural changes. So the question is, in this situation who is the guardian of Indian Constitution? If the political leadership is happy with the apparent clam and unconcerned about justice, the future of values of Indian Constitution and principles of justice seem to be threatened as never before.

The judgment and the reaction to it is a matter of serious and severe concern for all those who want to adhere to Indian Constitution and abhor the concept of Hindu nation. It is the communal common sense which is dominating the day. The legitimacy being conferred on bypassing of legal foundations of India is a matter of much more serious concern then the previous assaults on the Indian Republic, the murder of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, the anti Sikh pogrom, the Babri demolition, the burning of Pastor Graham Stains, the Gujarat pogrom, and the Kandhamal violence. One sees barring in the anti Sikh program, the common link in all these attacks on the idea of secular democratic India, is the ideology of Hindu nation, the political agenda of RSS. In this phenomenon, assault on Indian Constitution by RSS combine, the Congress plays an opportunist role of an accomplice, letting the things take place. In that sense it plays a supporting role in the violation of all whatever the founding fathers of Indian nation stood for. One is reminded of an analogy from the world of cricket. In this analogy Indian Constitutional values are batsmen, RSS-Hindutva politics is the bowler, Congress the fielder, communalized social common sense is the Umpire raising his finger at every appeal by the bowler and the section of state apparatus is the one deliberately overlooking the mischief of those preparing the pitch suitable for this bowler.

It is also reminiscent of the Nazi Germany where the demonization of Jews, Communist, Trade unionists, the erosion of popular culture and its impact on all the wings of state got seeped by the fascist values, values of suppression of minorities and other weaker sections of society. One knows the painful fact that every episode of violence takes the communal politics one notch up. The disturbing point is not just that the judgment has by passed the law of the land, but also that this has got such a welcome reception from all those powers which matter.

The progressive forces and secular movement has a lot of thinking to do. If secularism is being attacked by RSS combine, if secularism is not being honestly protected by the party in power, Indian National Congress, then what is to be done to protect it? How will idea of India, Indian Constitution be saved and by whom? The progressive liberal and democratic forces have to wake up that. It is a ‘do or die’ situation for Indian democracy. The prevalent social common sense, the erosion of democratic norms, the bypassing of Indian law by the Courts, is a matter of serious concern.
A Judgement Based On Populist And Political Sensitivities
By Dr John Dayal
01 October, 2010
The judgment of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High court today on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute is patently based on populist and political sensitivities, rather than on points of law.
The judges have given a legal cloak to popular Hindu mythology that the Lord Rama was born at the very spot where the mosque was built over the ruins of a Hindu temple sometime in 1528 AD during the reign of Emperor Babar.  Though the fractured judgement does not bring a closure to the dispute, Hindu groups, who see the demolition of the mosque on 6 December 1992 as the natural outburst of an injured majority sentiment, have hailed this as a victory and the RSS chief Bhagwat has called upon all Hindus and others to join in a national campaign to build a Ram temple at the spot. All sides have three months to move the Supreme court.
Jurists and law scholars have been left numb at the bench’s effort to play “village mediator” and divide the disputed land in a three way distribution – one part to the Muslims and two parts to two different Hindu groups. This has surprised most because it was not even a prayer by any one of the many litigants over the last sixty years. But perhaps it also provides the way to future peace with a temple and a mosque coming up, this time lawfully, in the future.
The Muslim wakf board will almost certainly move the Supreme Court asking for clarification on their suit that the property be declared at a mosque which is owned by the board – an argument partially refused by the high court.. Even some Hindu groups may contest the decision, demanding that the entire land be handed over to them.
There is no doubt that a jubilant Hindu majority will sue for peace, and this could see their right wing religious groups ensuring that there is no trouble. The onus is also on the Muslim community to ensure that its extreme elements do not rebel against the judgment. “We will not surrender”, a Muslim leader, himself a lawyer, says, quite reflecting the rather depressed mood of the community.
For other minority communities, there are disturbing signals from the judgement. The courts are not ruling on points of law, but on the feelings and faith of people, which gives the majority community an extraordinary power in a multi cultural nation such as India and can have serious implications in other disputes of this nature.
What has been salutary in the existence of the past few days has been the preparedness of the Union government and the state governments to take the most strict precautions so there was no flare up violence between the communities. The Indian army, the Air Force and hundreds of thousands of state militia and police forces were mobilised across the country, extraordinary precautions including a modicum of censorship of SMS and mass mailings were taken, and thousands of people taken into protective custody on the eve of the judgement. This decisiveness is welcomed by the minorities who, unfortunately still have more faith in central armed forces than the local police for their security.
The disputed land is currently in the custody of the Union government, as is the final responsibility of maintaining peace in a land that seen so much bloodshed over the last 19 years since the former deputy prime minister, Lal Krishan Advani, led a religious crusade across the nation, his land march leaving tens of thousands dead in Hindu Muslim riots which reached their culmination in the demolition of the Babri mosque in the afternoon of 6th December 1992.
Dr John Dayal is Secretary General, All India Christian Council

Ayodhya Verdict: Musings Of A Now Hardened Agnostic
By Yoginder Sikand

01 October, 2010
As neither a Hindu nor a Muslim, but, rather, now a hardened agnostic who suspects there is an invisible force behind the universe but is fully distrustful of all religions, I could not be bothered in the least if a temple or a mosque or a profane structure—or, indeed, nothing at all—is now to occupy the disputed spot in Ayodhya. As far as I know, the force that I want to believe exists and pervades the entire universe and beyond is supremely indifferent to who the new owners of the contested spot are to be. This force knows no distinction of religion, caste, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and so on and so forth. For all I care, you can smear your head with ash and fall flat in front of the toy-like idols that now stand on the disputed spot and mumble mantras in incomprehensible Sanskrit, or you can don a skull-cap and bend and bow while muttering phrases in Arabic of which you understand not a word if the mosque that once stood on the spot is reconstructed. The universal force I sort of suspect exists is, I know, supremely unaffected by what you do on that measly bit of earth.
That said, I must confess that the judgment of the Allahabad High Court on the Ayodhya imbroglio struck me as deeply disturbing, to put it very mildly. Numerous critics have argued that the Court appears to have accepted the claims of Hindus who share the RSS vision of the world as normative and historically valid, and to have been guided by these possibly wholly untenable claims in making whatever decision it did. That this logic bodes ill for the future of secular democracy in India is a complete understatement. As a friend of mine, a fellow agnostic, brilliantly expressing my own reaction to the judgment, quipped, ‘Are we now to be governed by Hindu shariah?’
At the same time, however, I must also confess my immense relief at the Court turning down the claims of the Sunni Waqf Board, not because I believe that the Board’s stance is wholly without any merit at all, but, rather, simply because had the Court favoured the Board (which is what many of my Muslim friends had rather naively expected) it would certainly have provoked Hindu hordes into unleashing yet another massive reign of terror against hapless Muslims all across the country. Had the Board been declared as the rightful owners of the contested site, rebuilding the Babri Masjid, which is what the Board has been demanding all along, would inevitably have had to entail demolishing the make-shift temple that was hurriedly set up on its ruins in 1992. And that would certainly have been at once pounced upon by Hindu fanatics as an excuse to whip up anti-Muslim violence on a scale hitherto completely unprecedented.
This is why I think the move on the part of some Muslim outfits (who never tire of falsely claiming to represent all the Muslims of India—this being as horrendous a lie as the Hindutvawadis’ claim that they speak for all Hindus)—to approach the Supreme Court for redress is, I believe, sheer idiocy. Supposing the Supreme Court overturns the Allahabad High Court’s ruling and decides that ownership of the contested space in Ayodhya be granted entirely to the Sunni Waqf Board, as the Board hopes it will. What then? Is it at all conceivable that the Board can actually begin building a mosque on the disputed spot, even if this—miraculously, for there can be no other way—does not involve tearing down the make-shift temple that presently stands there? The spot, the mullahs and the other ignoramuses in the Board and the Babri Masjid Action Committee must surely know, is not somewhere on the outskirts of Mecca-Medina or in the hills of Tora-Bora in Afghanistan, where the task could have been easily accomplished and no opposition would have been brooked. I dare say that not a single of the self-styled Muslim leaders spearheading the movement for rebuilding the Babri mosque would, for all their foolhardy, rabble-rousing rhetoric, be so bold as to venture even a hundred miles from Ayodhya leading a team of zealous ‘mujahideen’ to restore the mosque even if the Supreme Court were to rule in the Board’s favour. Not one of them would, I bet, are so eager for martyrdom. The tryst with houris that they believe are promised to shaheeds can wait for a bit more, I am sure they feel.
To come back to the High Court’s judgment, although, as I said, I find it, to put it mildly, disappointing in a very fundamental sense and cannot help disagree with the logic that informs it, its recommendation that the contested space be shared by Hindus and Muslims (although disproportionately) is, I must admit, hugely compelling and entirely welcome—simply for the symbolism of it. I have absolutely no idea as to how the two are going to arrange for this to actually happen. I suspect this will not be at all easy, particularly given the Hindutva fanatics’ dreams of constructing what they repeatedly term as a ‘ really grand temple’ on the spot, a prospect that would not exactly inspire Muslims with confidence to build, and worship in, a mosque in its shadow. But, anyhow, as far as I am concerned, as I said at the outset, while some Hindus and Muslims will continue to believe that occupying that particular piece of ground in Ayodhya and knocking their heads on it in prayer is of immense, indeed cosmic, significance, I am confident that the force that pervades everything knows otherwise.
Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion at the National Law School, Bangalore 

A Kashmiri friend on Facebook asked what I think has been the most
pertinent question of all after the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High
Court gave its ruling. To quote directly, “what do you think of the Ayodhya
verdict? Does peace after the verdict show that India is now a mature
country, or the verdict itself has shown to the world that India is still
not so mature that it can pronounce clear cut verdicts?”

by Seema Mustafa

The question forced one to pause for thought. Really which of the two aspects highlighted Indian maturity, the peace that prevailed after the verdict, or the verdict that at best was a juggling act by beleaguered judges? To answer the first question, perhaps it is necessary to go into the second. Clearly the verdict is a mixed one, with the three judges having to give three different orders that ran into hundreds of pages. It has been
left to those interested to pore over the fine print and try and make sense of the words although at first glance it is clear that the Sunni Waqf board petition has been dismissed, and yet the land has been divided between the three parties to the dispute on a one third each basis. A judge also held that the idols had been placed at the disputed site and had not appeared
there as ordained.

If the Sunni Waqf Board petition, staking claim to the site has been dismissed then why has one third of the land been given to the Muslims? And if the idols have been placed there deliberately, then why has the Bench
accepted the Hindu claim of a temple and given the petitioners one third of the land? Clearly, the judiciary decided to play the role of the executive and rule more according to supposed “sentiments” of the people than by the strict book of law. The effort was to work out a compromise that had evaded the petitioners for nearly two decades. After going through the tortuous history of the Babri mosque, the Bench clearly decided to reflect a “consensus” that does not really belong to the courts of law but to out of court negotiations and settlements. In that if the Hindu and Muslim conservatives involved in the case had been able to come to some sort of a negotiated settlement, it would have looked largely like this. One third of the land to each of the main parties so that all could go home in peace.

The court was not expected to go into passions and sentiments, it was expected to give a judgment based on the law. This has not happened and the confusion is evident in the several contradictions that are visible at first
glance in the operative portions of the three rulings released to the media. The judiciary has hid behind the confusion of legal words, and might have ensured some level of peace for now, but this does not seem to have
strengthened the concept of Justice.

It should not have been too difficult for the learned Judges to determine through the process of law whether the site was a mosque or a temple as surely it could not have been both. And now that it has ruled it was a
temple (as well?) the demolition of the Babri mosque on December 6 1992 has to that extent been justified. The court has also ruled that to construct a mosque over a temple is against Islam. So in that sense, even if the mosque had existed, it never really did as it could not be a mosque as it had been built over a temple, although not at the time the temple had been razed but much later !! So goes the judgement….

Is this the law? Perhaps, but then to answer the second part of the Kashmiri friends question. There is peace today because the verdict was a compromise. To add a question, and is this a good way of moving ahead? No, as brushing issues of Justice under the carpet do not work. This only adds
to the anger and the frustration, and at best delays the inevitable. Maturity is reflected in the independent and efficient working of institutions. A clear cut decision with a peaceful acceptance would have been the real hallmark of a mature India.
By Seema Mustafa

The verdict on Ayodhya: a historian's perspective
Romila Thapar

ROMILA THAPAR: We cannot change the past to justify the politics of the present.

The verdict is a political judgment and reflects a decision which could as well have been taken by the state years ago. Its focus is on the possession of land and the building a new temple to replace the destroyed mosque. The problem was entangled in contemporary politics involving religious identities but also claimed to be based on historical evidence. This latter aspect has been invoked but subsequently set aside in the judgment.
The court has declared that a particular spot is where a divine or semi-divine person was born and where a new temple is to be built to commemorate the birth. This is in response to an appeal by Hindu faith and belief. Given the absence of evidence in support of the claim, such a verdict is not what one expects from a court of law. Hindus deeply revere Rama as a deity but can this support a legal decision on claims to a birth-place, possession of land and the deliberate destruction of a major historical monument to assist in acquiring the land?
The verdict claims that there was a temple of the 12th Century AD at the site which was destroyed to build the mosque — hence the legitimacy of building a new temple.
The excavations of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and its readings have been fully accepted even though these have been strongly disputed by other archaeologists and historians. Since this is a matter of professional expertise on which there was a sharp difference of opinion the categorical acceptance of the one point of view, and that too in a simplistic manner, does little to build confidence in the verdict. One judge stated that he did not delve into the historical aspect since he was not a historian but went to say that history and archaeology were not absolutely essential to decide these suits! Yet what are at issue are the historicity of the claims and the historical structures of the past one millennium.
A mosque built almost 500 years ago and which was part of our cultural heritage was destroyed wilfully by a mob urged on by a political leadership. There is no mention in the summary of the verdict that this act of wanton destruction, and a crime against our heritage, should be condemned. The new temple will have its sanctum — the presumed birthplace of Rama — in the area of the debris of the mosque. Whereas the destruction of the supposed temple is condemned and becomes the justification for building a new temple, the destruction of the mosque is not, perhaps by placing it conveniently outside the purview of the case.
Has created a precedent
The verdict has created a precedent in the court of law that land can be claimed by declaring it to be the birthplace of a divine or semi-divine being worshipped by a group that defines itself as a community. There will now be many such janmasthans wherever appropriate property can be found or a required dispute manufactured. Since the deliberate destruction of historical monuments has not been condemned what is to stop people from continuing to destroy others? The legislation of 1993 against changing the status of places of worship has been, as we have seen in recent years, quite ineffective.
What happened in history, happened. It cannot be changed. But we can learn to understand what happened in its fuller context and strive to look at it on the basis of reliable evidence. We cannot change the past to justify the politics of the present. The verdict has annulled respect for history and seeks to replace history with religious faith. True reconciliation can only come when there is confidence that the law in this country bases itself not just on faith and belief, but on evidence.
( Romila Thapar is a distinguished historian of Early India.)

Ayodhya's Voice
By Asghar Ali Engineer
[09 October, 2003]

 visited Ayodhya recently along with the Magasaysay awardee Mr. Sandeep Panday who has been working here for quite sometime to bring peace to this strife torn town. It is so interesting to talk to people of this place. I had to hold a workshop on communal harmony for Ayodhya and Faizabad towns and Sandeep was helping us in this connection. We met a cross section of people to hear their voice.

The country hears only the voice of Sangh Parivar and their most aggressive members like Singhal and Togadia. The media also has no time to project the voice of people of Ayodhya. Perhaps it does not sell. What sells is the powerful voice of Sangh Parivar and this Parivar has convinced the world that it is most authentic voice of 800 million Hindus of this country.
The communal forces always tend to homogenise the whole community as if millions of people belonging to a community speak one voice and surrender their minds and bodies to one individual or one party or one clique of persons. It is this one individual or party or group which takes all decisions and others simply endorse it. No dissent is ever tolerated. It is violently suppressed if it ever raises its voice. Before partition Jinnah also projected himself as the sole representative of Indian Muslims. All others had to endorse his decisions.
The Sangh Parivar always maintains that all Hindus want to build the Ram temple at Ayodhya and that it is historical fact that a temple stood there and Babar demolished it and build a mosque in its place. It is a 'proven fact' and no one can question it. And the one who does, is an 'enemy of Hinduism'. The communalists have sole right to understand and interpret history.
It is miracle of modern day propaganda through media that has converted a non-existent problem into the most potent problem. What did not exist has not only become a powerful problem but has also become the cause of killing of thousands of innocent people across India. It was on account of Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid problem that 59 people were set afire in Sabarmati Express in Godhra on 27 February 2001 and more than one thousand people killed most cruelly in retaliatory act in Gujarat from 28th February onwards and continued for more than six months.
And it was on account of this non-existent problem that BJP rode to power though it had repeatedly failed to do so before. Shri L.K. Advani's rath yatra in 1990 failed to lead to Ayodhya as planned but did lead to Delhi as intended. The rath may not reach Ayodhya in near future but it does help retaining Delhi. The raths in medieval period helped win wars so the modern Toyota rath led the BJP to power in Delhi.
The people of Ayodhya know this better than anyone else. They have paid heavy price for it and still continue to pay. And they have been as helpless so far as other people of India have been. They have silently borne the brunt of Sangh Parivar's aggression for years. They are, it seems, no longer prepared to do so. Every time the VHP leaders announce their programme of 'kar seva' or sant yatra or Ram Lalla darshan the people of Ayodhya have to shut their shops. Lakhs invade the town disturbing their normalcy and often inviting prolonged curfews. Every citizen of Ayodhya shudders to think of VHP programmes in their town."

Irfan Engineer:

"The Sangh Parivar led mobilization did succeed in getting the Allahabad High Court to frame the issue of ‘whether there was a Ramjanmabhoomi temple prior to the construction of Babri Masjid’ for trial of the Title suit. The issue is otherwise irrelevant in deciding the Title suit. That is why the Archeological Survey of India was ordered to dig Masjid precincts and their report has been submitted to the Court. However, it is doubtful if anything was found. Judgments of courts in secular states are not given on the basis of faith. If faith is made central to governance, conflicts will increase due to religious and sectarian diversity that exists in India"


Towards Peaceful Solution

An E-Digest

Essays/Articles by Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, Prof. Ram Puniyani and Adv. Irfan Engineer


Anand Teltumbde: 

 "Ayodhya verdict is one more instance of 'Design Justice'. The first time I used this term was for the verdict pronounced by Bhandara court in Khairlanji case. Nowadays, the courts have also become market oriented and sensitive to what sales. Like you have design sarees, shirts, so is there design justices!"

Retrograde Judgement Rewards Hindutva Zealots
By Anand Teltumbde
04 October, 2010
The parallel may not be palatable to everyone but the recent verdict of the Allahabad bench of the Lucknow high court may be compared with a case that was decided some eight decades ago in a small colonial court of Mahad in Maharashtra. Like this one, which has great implication to our secular fabric the Mahad judgement pivoted the future of a nascent movement launched by the Untouchables for securing their civil rights. The case was filed by the orthodox Hindus of Mahad to block the move of the Untouchables to perform Satyagraha at the Chavadar Tank in Mahad in December 1927 with the contention that the tank was their private property and hence the Untouchables could not trespass it. The court of the sub-judge of Mahad granted them temporary injunction on the eve of the proposed Satyagraha. Although the Satyagraha therefore was suspended, the case was zealously fought by none other than Dr Ambedkar and won. Just imagine if the court had relied on the faith and belief of the majority Hindus as the Allahabad judges did, what would have been the fate of the case and consequently that of the entire social reform movement in India. Surely, the faith and belief of the Hindus would have certainly considered the Chavadar tank as theirs to keep the Untouchables away in the first quarter of the last century.
Those were the colonial times. Nearly a century later, the independent India swearing by so many lofty ideals in its Constitution and aspiring to be a global superpower, we have gone back to faith and belief of the Hindus to decide the most important aspect of our national character, secularism, which represents a social contract this country had with its minorities. On many other aspects too, it would put us into reverse gear. Just imagine, if the courts were to take faith and belief of the Hindus for deciding cases, the decadent customs like sati, child marriages, untouchability, caste atrocities, etc. will all get validated and perhaps the Manusmriti may replace our Constitution. This judgement needs to be read in this perspective and seen in its potential danger to the basic premises of our nationhood.
Surely the Ayodhya judgement has miserably failed us on these counts. As such, it was a simple case of deciding property right over the disputed land around the spot on which the Babri masjid once stood. In absence of the clear title deed to the contrary, the court had to go by the physical evidence that the masjid existed there. There is a principle of possessory provision in the law which entitles land title to those who have uninterrupted and unchallenged possession of an area for twelve years or more. Surprisingly, the court dismissed the case of the Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara claiming titles to the Inner Courtyard (where the Babri masjid stood) and Outer Courtyard (where the Ram Chabutara was located) respectively. It was indisputable that the masjid was at the spot uninterrupted, from 1528 until 1949 (when the namaz was last read there) and also the Ram Chabutara of Nirmohi Akhara, where puja, bhajan-kirtans were performed uninterrupted since 19th century. As regards the claim to the area under the central dome, as the birth place of Ram Lalla, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had already ruled in 1994 that it was incapable of legal determination while responding to the Presidential Reference sent to it after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. There was thus a legal position of the highest court of the land to guide the three judges of the Allahabad court on that issue.
But the learned judges chose to seek archeological evidence to see whether there existed a Ram temple as contended by the Hindus. How was it relevant? Even if archeology came out with an evidence to show that there was indeed a Hindu temple, can it be construed that the land belonged to the contending Hindus? It only proved that before the mosque was built, there existed a Hindu temple and nothing more. There is no way to find out the property transaction that took place while constructing a masjid there. But our court has seen what even archeology could not see. The Archeological Survey under the then NDA government led by BJP, which spearheaded the Ram Temple movement, came out with the finding that there existed a place of worship at the place where the mosque stood. This evidence also was not incontrovertible, having been widely disputed by experts. But did it prove whose place of worship it was? It could well have been the Buddhist or Jain temple? Even assuming it was a Hindu place, could it be proved that it was a Ram temple and beyond that it was a place where Ram was actually born? However, the judges transcended all boundaries of reason and tended to accept the spot under the central dome as the birth place of Ram.
It is not uncommon in the countries like India having old civilization to get some remains of old structures beneath the exiting ones. As a matter of fact, India does not have even archeological evidence for its claim of being an old civilization beyond Mohonjodaro and Harappa. The next living evidence after a dark period of a millennium and a half that one gets belongs to the Buddhist period which extended well until 9th century. It is during this period the historians tell us that entire India was dotted with Buddhist viharas, monasteries, and Buddha idols. Very little of that is seen today. It is a known fact that the Hindus had decimated Buddhism, and usurped most of these viharas to build their temples in medieval times. If the mosques were built at the site where temples stood, it is equally true that the temples were built at the site where the Buddhist viharas stood. Incidentally, when the Babri masjid contention was hot such a claim was feebly proffered on behalf of the Buddhists by the late Dr Savita Ambedkar, the widow of Dr Ambedkar. Indeed, if the court is inclined to go into archeology, it will have to logically take cognizance of such a claim of Buddhists for the simple reason that Ayodhya figures more in the Buddhist (and also Jain) literature as the important religious place than in any of the Hindu text as the birth place of Ram. Not even Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas, written in the 16th century in the same province has any mention of Ayodhya being the birthplace of Ram. In fact there is no incontrovertible evidence for Ram being a historical personality. The mythology takes him back to 17 lakh years and the pseudo science of the Hindutva ilk to the 7000 odd years. And still the judges have gone to establish the exact spot under the central dome of the destroyed Babri masjid.
Indeed, there is something very weird about the Ayodhya judgement and even the reactions it evoked. The judgement forsook the principle of hard facts and reasoning in taking cognizance of nebulous notion such as faith and belief. Even on that count, it may be contestable that what is construed as belief of the majority of Hindus, is really the fabricated notion by the unscrupulous politicians hammered into the minds of gullible millions in recent times. If it was the belief of the majority of the Hindus, the history would have provided evidence of some disturbances during the five centuries of existence of the Babri masjid. The entire controversy started only after the idol of Ram Lalla was placed under the central dome surreptitiously by some miscreants in 1949 in the frenzied communal context of those times. It was ostensibly a political move, which launched a lasting communal contention that eventually culminated into destruction of a historical structure and created countrywide mayhem devouring thousands of lives and most importantly the social contract between the country and its minorities, which has been the basis of our nationhood. Leave apart the majority of Hindus of India, even their majority in Ayodhya also does not believe that Ram was really born under the central dome. There are many temples in Ayodhya which are known to be the birthplace of Ram. It is only the Sangh Parivar which initiated and propagated this notion for mobilization of Hindus for its political objective.
This judgement has validated that evil politics by accepting that it was the “place of birth of Lord Ram as per faith and belief of the Hindus” as Justice Agrawal wrote and “The disputed site is the birth place of Lord Ram … Hindus have been worshipping the place…and visiting as a sacred place of pilgrimage since time immemorial” as Justice Dharam Veer Sharma wrote. The main slogan of the Hindu zealots, “mandir vanhi banayenge” (we will build the temple at the same spot) is enabled by the judgement, vindicating their stand that it was the birthplace of Ram. The least that could have been done by the judges is at least to grant the Babri mosque site to the Muslims. It is futile to say, as Chidambaram observed that it has nothing to do with the act of demolition of the Babri masjid on December 6, 1992. Once this judgement validated the basic claim of the vandals that the masjid was an illegitimate structure built after destruction of the Ram temple, the criminal case gets automatically weakened. The award of the title of the desired land to them accorded moral justification to the vandals’ act in retrospect. Even without this judgement, it was inconceivable that someone like Advani would be convicted for the vandals’ act. With the judgement, all those provocations of Advani and party that led the frenzied mob to raze the domes to ground get transformed into quasi truth.
The Judgement is falsely defended as reconciliatory. It does not reconcile anything, when it openly gives out the Hindus what they even could not expect themselves. The fact that there was no adverse reaction to the judgement from people anywhere is no proof that it was accepted by all the communities. In any case only the Hindutva forces have been the trouble mongers; Muslims just expected a fair deal from the court. They had kept calm when someone installed a Ram idol right at the centre of their masjid; they maintained it when the locks were put around the idol and later opened allowing the Hindus to perform pooja in their masjid; they preserved it even when they were communally abused all over the country during Advani’s Rath Yatra; they controlled it when it was demolished by the frenzied mob and rather suffered in its aftermath. Babri masjid, as it were, was more important to the Hindutva zealots than ever to the Muslims. They were hurt not as much by the loss of the masjid as by the breach of trust by the Indian state. Still they reposed faith in Indian judiciary but have now felt even betrayed there. The Muslims are in no position to take combative posture and are trying to display magnanimity even to the extent deciding not to appeal to the Supreme Court or to help Hindus build Ram temple at the allotted site. Actually, Mohammed Hashim Ansari, a nonagenarian leader of the Sunni Waqf Board proposed negotiated settlement with Mahant Gyan Das, who as the head of Ayodhya’s Hanuman Garhi temple and the Akhara Parishad, is said to have good influence over Nirmohi Akhara. The only hurdle they both perceive is with the Ram Lallawallahs, supported by the Hindutva gang.
It is the Hindus, particularly Ram Lallawalahs who having got what perhaps they had not expected are belligerent and want to appeal to the Supreme court. There was no question of any mischief this time for several reasons: one, the state did not want it because of the commonwealth games among others, and the Hindutva forces had lost their steam to recreate the mass frenzy as they did in 1990s. Even in their hey days, as many political observers would agree the Hindutva forces would not have been as successful as they did without the tacit support of the state. This time the political equations were not the same. In order to keep the issue alive, the Hindutva forces will certainly go for an appeal. Probably all the parties would. The dispute would take another ten years and until then the site would be a veritable minefield ready to explode any time. The government will have to cordon off the area with heavy security and consequent inconvenience to the local population. Therefore in practical terms the judgement would not serve even the purpose of paving the way for reconciliation as some commentators imagined. Chidambaram is right when he termed the judgement as “not operational”.
“I believe that the Ayodhya judgment will mark the start of a new chapter for national unity,” Advani told reporters in his first reaction to the Ayodhya verdict. By now everybody knows the Hindutva definition of ‘national unity’. It means that if the non-Hindus wish to live in India, they will have to live as per the terms of the Hindu majority. Advani could not hide his glee when he said, “It has affirmed the right of Hindus to build a temple at the sanctum sanctorum.” Indeed, that’s the crux of the Ayodhya judgement. But its import is not limited to just that. By allowing faith and belief to overtake reason it has pushed the jurisprudence back into darker times, portending a big threat to the Constitutional vision of India.
Dr Anand Teltumbde is a writer, political analyst and civil rights activists with CPDR, Mumbai.

Giving The Law Into Our Own Hands
By Mirza Yawar Baig
02 October, 2010
Muddled thinking is nothing new of course but the emails flying across cyberspace seem to have taken it to a new height. Aided and abetted of course by newspaper headlines which for once correctly reflect the confusion of the people. ‘Land Divided, India United’ screams one. Others say the same thing with different wording, making it clear that a ‘rose by any other name smells just as sweet’. Though the exact nature of the smell in this case depends on who is smelling.
For people to take the law into their own hands is illegal and must not be done. If done, it does not change the law. The law will still prevail, once the dust has settled with the additional fact that those who had taken the trouble to step outside the purview of their authority will now become culpable and punishable in law. This is entirely just and proper if one is to have rule of law in the land and not hand over law and order to those who are capable of strong arm tactics alone.
But what if the august personages of the representatives of the law, themselves hand over the law to the people to change it as they will, by passing judgments based not on what is just and provable legally but on what the litigants want to see? And the argument in favor of this strange action is that to do otherwise would have adversely affected the law and order situation in the land. The question then arises, ‘Is it the job of the judiciary when passing judgment in a matter to worry and be concerned about how the litigants will take it, or to pass a judgment according to what is just and proven and leave the litigant’s reaction to those agencies whose job it is to preserve law and order?’
It is almost as if the honorable judges said to themselves, ‘Leave facts and proof alone, let us see what will be acceptable by the people (in this case the majority of the people).’ If that logic is applied, then actually it makes the life of the judiciary very easy. In any matter in dispute, just ask, ‘What does the stronger party want?’ and pass judgment in their favor. Will save a lot of time and money. And after all, who cares what the weaker party thinks? It doesn’t matter what they think. The stronger party then need not take the law into their own hands because it would have been duly handed over to them.
In the case in point, idols were placed inside the mosque (the judgment itself calls it ‘in a surreptitious manner) in 1947. Then the ownership of the mosque was disputed because some people suddenly claimed that specific place to be the birthplace of a divine person. Then in 1992 the mosque was demolished in an entirely illegal manner and thousands of people lost their lives in massacres related to the incident thereafter. Now suddenly we have a judgment which says, ‘Alright boys, you take one piece and you take the other piece and like nice boys go home.’ Truly a holy judgment. As my Guyanese friends say, ‘It is holy because it is so full of holes.’
Naturally the point is, if that is all that there was to it, then why go through 60 years of litigation? Why the Archeological Survey of India’s excavations and the excavations of other independent archeological experts (which seem to have simply been ignored in the judgment)? Why all the evidence collected? Why anything? Sixty years ago it could have been said, ‘People believe that this is the birthplace of the deity they worship and so whatever it is that is on that spot must be demolished and a place of worship of that sect/community/group/ must be built.’ That would have been much simpler and quicker. Would it have been just? Well, that does not seem to be an issue at all anyway, isn’t it? What about other such claims in the future now that the door has been officially opened? Well, we’ll come to that when it happens.
How is all this supposed to unite India as our mindless newspaper headlines and all the confused garbage floating on the internet claims? Taking away property that rightfully belongs to someone by force and then passing a judgment legitimizing that action is a unifying force? I am sure there are a lot of people of all hues who are delighted at all the avenues that have now been thrown open to them to do what they used to at least have second thoughts about doing in the past.
What about history? Who is she?
What about facts and evidence? Who are they?
Justice? Well we know what that is. It is to do what will maintain peace at any cost. At the cost of fact. At the cost of history. At the cost of justice itself. And if we shout loud enough, ‘Land divided, India united,’ India will indeed become united.
What about all those who died? The dead don’t talk.
What about the future? That will be after I have retired.
Truly in the land of Bollywood and fantasy, anything is possible. Jai Hind.

ASI Is The Handmaiden Of Hindutva
By Omar Khalidi
Omar Khalidi

02 October, 2010
The ASI's role in marshalling dubious evidence in support of the existence of a Ram temple at Ayodhya is the right occasion to assess its activities as a handmaiden of Hindutva, says Omar Khalidi
As India reinvents itself through archaeology and tourism, official organisations such as the ASI, state archaeology departments and tourism bureaus lend themselves as the handmaidens of Hindutva, points out Omar Khalidi
Justice DV Sharma's judgment in the Babri masjid case given on Thursday claimed that 'the disputed structure was constructed on the site of the old structure after demolition of the same. And that the Archaeological Survey of India has proved that the structure was a massive Hindu religious structure'.
What Justice Sharma was referring to was the ASI's report of 2003 of dubious value on Ayodhya. What the ASI claimed were the base of pillars which held up the temple, were in fact not pillar bases at all. The Siva shrine at a lower level adds no strength to the claim of a Ram temple. The terracotta from different levels has been so jumbled that it can be linked to no particular stratum and period. Moreover, the presence of animal bones and glazed earthenware found at the site makes it difficult to claim that a Ram temple existed on this site between the 12th and 16th centuries.
The ASI's role in marshalling dubious evidence in support of the existence of a Ram temple at Ayodhya is the right occasion to assess its activities as a handmaiden of Hindutva.
Four traits that mark archaeology
Four characteristics mark Indian archaeology since colonial times: it is a monument-specific archaeology based on geographical surveys, literary traditions and Orientalist scholarship. These characteristics combine to form a traditionalist, location-driven excavation agenda that privileged some sites to the Hindus without regard to the historical provenance of any site or monument.
Taken together, the four characteristics privilege ancient references to monuments, whether in legend or literature, as authentic, while all medieval and modern ones are perceived as tales of depredations.
The ASI's colonial origins are transparent in its philosophy and operation. Mortimer Wheeler, director-general of the Archaeological Survey of India between 1944 and 1948, advised Indian archaeologists that 'Partition has robbed us of the Indus Valley… We now have therefore no excuse for deferring any longer the overdue exploration of the Ganges Valley. After all if the Indus gave India a name, it may almost be said that the Ganges gave India a faith."
His student BB Lal (ASI director, 1968 to 1972) took his advice. He excavated the Gangetic sites in search of evidence for the mythical periods described in the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana identifying two kinds of pottery -- painted greyware as an indicator of the former and northern black polishedware of the latter. He then attempted to match archaeological sites with places named in the epics.
The ASI used this "evidence" to propagate the myth that underneath the 16th century Purana Qila built by Sher Shah Suri lay the site of Indraprastha, city of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata. This theory of Muslim rulers building over Hindu structures has certainly gained ground. By the 1990s, most publications about India's capital describe Indraprastha as the first of the 'seven cities of Delhi'.
Lal used similar 'evidence' at Ayodhya to support his claim of the identification of Lord Rama's birthplace, which was used as justification for the demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992. The story of Ayodhya then became the prototype for Hindutva claims on innumerable mosques, mausoleums, dargahs, and idgahs, all of which were to be reclaimed as former Hindu sites or temples.
In ASI terminology, the term Hindu is a catch-all, homogenised category for all schools of Sanatan Dharma -- Buddhism, Jainism, Saivism, Vaishnavism and the cult of Shakti. The ASI deploys such a convenient term to efface the long and bloody Hindu sectarian wars or Saivite appropriation of Buddhist sites. The ASI's methods serve to perpetuate the Hindutva groups' myth of Muslim depredation of Indian heritage.
Hindu temples under monuments
The ASI has been looking for Hindu temples under every medieval monument. The unearthing of Jain idols in the vicinity of Fatehpur Sikri in the 1990s was the occasion to blame Emperor Akbar for destroying temples. When the annual meeting of the World Archaeological Congress in New Delhi coincided with the second anniversary of the Babri masjid demolition in December 1994, its two Indian organisers barred discussion of the event, since they were closely associated with the Ayodhya movement.
Numerous examples of the ASI's role in transforming medieval heritage can be seen across India.
> In 2007, the ASI cooked up history at Chittorgarh, a fort near Udaipur, Rajasthan , by signposting an underground passage as the location of Padmini's jauhar or self-immolation, based on the myth of Emperor Alauddin Khilji's alleged atrocities. Numerous modern temples abound in the medieval fort.
> In 2003, the ASI virtually converted the 15th century Kamal Maula mosque in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh , into a temple by allowing Hindu worship in it.
> Since 1977, the ASI has allowed the construction of three new Hindu temples in the precincts of Sher Shah Suri's mausoleum in Sasaram, Bihar. These bathroom-tiled temples with their calendar-art frescos mar the magnificent mausoleum's vistas.
> In 1970, the ASI allowed a kumkum sprinkled stone on the southeast corner of Charminar in Hyderabad to be converted into a full-fledged Bhagya Laxmi temple. A modern temple is protruding out of a major medieval monument in defiance of the ASI's own rules.
> At the turn of the 21st century, almost all the grand gates in historic Golconda fort and Hyderabad are riddled with Hindu temples, signs and icons flying in the face of the ASI's preservation mission.
> In 1948, the ASI converted the Jama Masjid in the Daulatabad fort near Aurangabad into a Bharata Mata Mandir (Mother India temple). The very name is so candidly, crassly contemporary as to make a mockery of a medieval site.
ASI's impact on heritage tourism
The ASI's representation of India's archaeological legacy in Hindu terms has had a direct impact on heritage tourism. Unlike ecotourism, medical tourism and such like, heritage tourism has had vast appeal to the increasingly rich, upwardly mobile, tech-savvy upper caste Hindus at home and abroad.
The ASI's representation of Indian archaeological sites as essentially Hindu is revealed by a close scrutiny of the web sites and printed tourist guides and promotional literature. In the Indian tourism ministry and state tourism department web sites and literature, India's past is invariably described as the 'Hindu golden age' and all subsequent eras until the colonial era as the age of Muslim tyranny. Such representations of India as Hindu is most blatant and obvious in the Incredible India promotion directed toward the diaspora in North America, Europe and wherever it is the rich live.
When tourists come to the sites and monuments, they learn who they are and where they come from. If they come through the promotions by the tourism ministry and state tourism departments, they learn that they are Hindus and the Muslims caused all the depredations. To anyone who has been a tourist in India, the various self-appointed touts and guides at the sites are ubiquitous. They provide a spicy supplement to the official narrative of Muslim vandalism.
The wide appeal of Hindutva among the Indian diaspora can be partly explained by their experiences at tourism sites. The ASI and the official tourism bureaus' characterisation of Indian archaeological sites as the focus of Muslim vandalism reinforces what was learnt through biased textbooks. The growing Islamophobia in the West further adds to the mental images of Muslims as violent bigots.
As India reinvents itself through archaeology and tourism, official organisations such as the ASI, state archaeology departments and tourism bureaus lend themselves as the handmaidens of Hindutva.
Omar Khalidi, independent scholar and staff member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is also the author of Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India and Muslims in Indian Economy

Retrospective sanction of 1992 demolition on questionable grounds makes mockery of secularism and rule of law in India
Sandeep Vaidya

THE verdict of the Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court on the Ayodhya dispute, delivered on Thursday, will be remembered more for its extra-judicial impurities than as a citable case of immaculate jurisprudence. Immediate impact of the pronouncement without untoward fallout, amid hyped fears about its grave
consequences, is perhaps a more significant development than the judgement itself. By and large every section of public, political and religious opinion responded with commendable restraint which if sustained over the next few weeks could be a really great achievement.

However, that is a million dollar question, given the past record and known tendency of the extremist fringe to exploit every possible ‘opportunity’ of this kind. The content, context and wisdom of the puzzling judicial verdict lend itself to diverse and contradictory interpretations. There has been no dearth of opinions from hailing it as an act of ‘judicial courage’ to condemning it as a ‘panchayat raj decision’. To a layman, both seem almost equally convincing. Indeed, the 10, 000 page judgement written by the three judges of the high court is so full of confusing conclusions that their individual interpretations become stretchable all too
easily. For instance, the court was asked to pronounce on the ownership of the plot of land at Ayodhya. Instead of answering the simple question in clear cut terms, as judicial verdict is supposed to do, the judgement in this case is fraught with ominous implications. On the one hand it has ousted the claim of
the Sunni Waqf Board but on the other it upheld it by awarding one-third share of the disputed property to the Board. Judicially, this position is irreconcilable, as much as it defies logic.

Similarly, the judgement holds that the birth place of Lord Ram is exactly under the central dome of the destroyed 3- dome structure (Babri Masjid) but relies on what is patently questionable inconclusive finding of the Archaeological Survey of India. Yet it is this dubious part of the judgement that tilts the balance of not only the ownership dispute but the entire gamut of its political and ideological dimensions. The judgement looks to be an odd mixture of facts, mythology and principles. Perhaps the saving grace lies in that part of the judgement which by consensus of all the three judges says that status quo will prevail at the disputed site for next three months and that leave to appeal against the verdict is instantly granted to litigants. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement rightly emphasised this point while counselling patience and restraint. There is no doubt that the case will land in the lap of the Supreme Court of India sooner than later. Obviously, the judicial process is yet to be exhausted in the six decade old dispute. All that can be said at this moment is that the last word has not been said in the case, mercifully. The Allahabad high court judgement has created a piquant political situation for the central government. It was the Congress government, of PV Narasimha Rao, in New Delhi when the Babri Masjid was demolished in December 1992, in gross violation of rule of law, civilised behaviour and political propriety.

The demolition marked the culmination of politically-motivated communal frenzy. Now when that act has virtually been ‘santified’ by the Allahabad court verdict there is again a Congress government
at the centre. Deeper analysis of the judgement delivered on Thursday brings out a highly disturbing feature of Indian polity. It sanctifies lawlessness propelled by communal frenzy. Nobody can deny that the ideological packaging of LK Advani’s Rath Yatra in the early 1990s that culminated in wanton destruction

of over 400 year old Babri Masjid was antisecular, anti-constitutional and it mocked at rule of law. The court verdict has virtually justified the 1992 demolition by declaring, on questionable findings, that the birth place of Lord Ram was indeed where the Hindu’s believed it to be and that the Babri Masjid had been built over the site of a demolished temple. The BJP whose stalwarts are facing criminal charges in the demolition case had every reason to exude satisfaction beyond their expectation. Given the propensities of the Sangh
Parivar, it is only a question of time when they launch a more determined offensive to ‘to recover’ 33, 000 sites of ‘demolished temples’ across the country. Ex-post judicial approval of the demolition at Ayodhya in 1992 is a boost to the campaign for ‘restoring’ temples identified by the Parivar.

The politico-ideological fallout of the Allahabad high court judgement is going to pose toughest challenge to the Congress party and its government. The minority community’s faith and confidence in the ruling party’s will as well as capability to defend secularism and rule of law is now in more serious doubt. One Congress government connived in the demolition of the Babri Masjid and another one failed to prevent the dastardly act from being sanctified with judicial approval. Muslim minority has reason to be more fearful after the
verdict, notwithstanding restrained initial impact of the judgement. Triumphalism lies at the root of the Saffron ideology. And Muslims have always been at its receiving end.

Teesta Setalvad, Mumbai:
While the cursory attempt of the Court to reconcile this dispute by dividing the land threeways may be welcome, a disturbing question remains.
...What was being decided here was the civil dispute over land ownership alone--not matters of faith-- while the two criminal cases over the illegal and unConstitutional demolition of the Babri Mosque on 6.12.1992, in full public view, provoked by political and religious leaders are still pending. How have the Judges justified their silence on the criminal acts of 1992, acts that were bloody as they cost human lives apart from wilfully destorying a Mosque and 1949??
What will the impact of this verdict be on what were clearly and blatantly a violent and illegal act?Related to this is the critical question, can and should Courts adjudicate on matters of faith?
I recall Baba Laldas' interviews in Raam Ke Naam, a film by Anand Patwardhan when he analysed the motives behind the movement, the kind of violence that led up to He was mysteriously killed in 1993...He was the Court appointed iMahant who's bodyguard was removed by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh...His suspicious death has also gone judicially unaddressed...The Judgement has given legal sanction to a brazenly barbaric politics of majoritarianism.

Satya Sagar:

 The Allahabad High Court’s judgment on the Ayodhya dispute has once again highlighted the disproportionate influence upper caste Hindu men from Uttar Pradesh in high places wield on the Indian republic. In the name of a ‘compromise’ the judgment is patently a complete debunking of the Indian Constitution and for that matter every principle of justice ever conceived by humankind.
It is basically raw Hindu prejudice masquerading as law and should be recognised by anyone with some sense as the ‘second demolition’ after Babri Masjid 1992. To give Lord Ram a ‘juristic’ persona and accepting any living human being as his ‘representative’ is a lunatic and indeed criminal act for which these dishonourable judges should be sacked. Will they also accept a ‘juristic’ persona for Ravana and give his representatives the right to take Ram to court for an ‘encounter killing’?
If the politicians and the corporate media are coy about calling a spade a spade it is time for others to speak up. To be silenced by the muscle of the Hindutva brigade into accepting this monstrous judgment in any form will mean accepting a fascist coup that spells the end of whatever weak democracy modern India represents. Wake up and smell the coffee guys- the cup of India brims over with sheer poison.


Rajinder Puri:

Will Babari Patch-up Work?

1 October 2010
It would have been more appropriate if five instead of three judges had delivered the verdict on the Ayodhya dispute. After all panchayats normally have five members, don’t they? The judgment does not appear to be legal. If the dispute was about a title deed then Babar was not very relevant, was he?
If, for argument’s sake, a temple was demolished to build the mosque, even that may not be deemed illegal. It could well have been in conformity with the prevalent law. The judges perhaps attempted with the best of intentions to defuse a national crisis through application of a judicious view. Alas, this kind of judicial attempt at the cost of strict law seldom brings the desired result.

Recall the recent Supreme Court “order” to distribute rotting foodgrain free to the poor. It was not followed and what happened? The SC was left tongue-tied. Recall the botched up Jain hawala case. Many other examples can be summoned of the courts straying into alien territory to end up with egg on face.
One does fervently hope though that good sense prevails and a final reconciliation is achieved. I still think the best chance for that to have happened was if the ownership of the land by Muslims had been recognised by the court and Muslims voluntarily after that surrendered it for construction of the Ram temple. Failing that, the most appropriate alternative would have been for the political proponents of the Ram temple to withdraw their claims before the court. They could more honourably have campaigned across India to achieve an absolute majority in Parliament for making a law to acquire that land for the purpose of building a temple.

Now both these options do not exist because of the judgment. One can only hope that the direction indicated by the judges would infuse protagonists on both sides with sufficient spirit of accommodation to achieve a final settlement that ends this dispute once and for all. It remains a faint hope, no more.

Mukul Dube:
1 October 2010

Easily the most striking thing about yesterday's judgment on the Ayodhya matter is Other Original Suit No.5 of 1989. In this suit the plaintiffs are not humans but "... deities of Bhagwan Sri Ram Virajman and the Asthan Sri Ram Janam Bhumi ...". The first is an anthropoid meta-divinity and the second is another divinity in the form of a physical space.
We can now look forward to more of the pantheon entering the courts to fight legal battles amongst themselves. I propose to represent (as "next friend") my neighbour (and yours too, because he is everywhere,
right?) Bhakta Hanuman, engineer and contractor, in his action against Shri R. Virajman, military tourist, seeking overtime for the duration of the alleged bridge building.

2 October 2010

PUDR is deeply disturbed by the underlying basis for the majority view of the three-judge bench in the Ayodhya case. One of the three judges held that the part of the disputed area is the “place of birth of Lord Ram as per faith and belief of the Hindus” (Justice Agarwal, para 4566[i]). Another held that “The disputed site is the birthplace of Lord Ram … Hindus have been worshipping the place … and visiting as a sacred place of pilgrimage since time immemorial”. (Justice Dharam Veer Sharma, Issues for Briefing, Nos. 1, 6).

We are concerned that key parts of the judgement and the consequent division of the disputed area are based not on historical fact or undisputed archaeological enquiry, but on an interpretation of faith. The issue is not only that the extent or intensity of faith is difficult to define or determine. The key issue is that faith, whether majoritarian or minority faith, cannot be the basis of an enlightened jurisprudence in a modern democratic polity. By endorsing faith as the basis for the pronouncement, this judgement is deeply regressive, even communal. It is an implicit endorsement of a majoritarian politics that we deeply abhor, and which people’s movements have fought against for years. By foregrounding faith, it sets a dangerous precedent whose implications we cannot even anticipate and which we may suffer in the future.

We, like innumerable people in this country, welcome the fact that this order has been received with circumspection and not immediately resulted in senseless conflict. The key issue, however, is whether justice has been served by this judgement. PUDR believes it has not.

Moushumi Basu, Asish Gupta
Secretaries, PUDR.

Babri Masjid Verdict: Justice Still Not Done
By Dr. Satinath Choudhary
04 October, 2010

Even though the Bill No. 124-C of 1991, known as “Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991,” does not apply to Babri Masjid, because of the technical reason that the matter was subjudice and hence was excluded from the purview of the law passed in 1991, well before the crime of demolition was committed, it (the law) was basically enacted to prevent conflicts arising out of facts and fictions related to history of places of worship. The court should have read the sense of the parliamentary vote and acted accordingly: It should have acted to “prevent conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto,” as clearly stated in the law book.
After all why was the “Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991” passed? It was passed because there is no end to conflicts related to places of worship, particularly when the side creating such controversies sees political gain out of the ruckus. So the status quo of places of worship should be restored back to what it was prior to the criminal act.
Not being a lawyer I do not know if the judge in a title suit has the jurisdiction to enforce rebuilding of an illegally destroyed building by culprits. However, my common sense says that the judge should be able to levy appropriate fine on the culprits and use part of the same to get the demolished structure re-constructed, in addition to the compensating the victims for the cost of litigation and pain and suffering inflicted upon them. This much should be done in the title suit itself, notwithstanding the criminal penalty that the criminal court would and should impose upon the perpetrators of the heinous crime. The crime committed was not simply the act of demolishing the structure of Babri Masjid but it was done for the express purpose of sparking off a riot and deriving political wind fall out of the same.
The latter intent is so clear from the huge writings on the wall of logic that even the stupidest person can read. The phenomenal rise in the votes collected by BJP stands as a testimonial to the real political gains accruing out of most communal controversies and riots in India. Everybody including the perpetrators of the communal disturbances have stated and reiterated the political gains accruing out of such disturbances in justification for such policies on their part. Even looking at the statements of various Sanghi politicians, including that of Narendra Modi, one can see that they themselves attributed BJP victory in Gujarat to the pogrom there prior to the riots, and Modi is on record for having stated that (the events of) Gujarat need to be repeated all over India. In view of such a clear cut connection between communal riots and political wind fall to one of the parties, it should not be difficult to guess who the culprits are behind most such riots; and unless severest punishment is imposed upon the culprits, the communal riots and additional demolitions of places of riots are bound to continue.
In the case at hand, the two judges giving majority verdict were probably fearful that the hooligans have become too strong and that a judgment against them would bring them to the streets and cause a lot of grief to everybody. Well, I am afraid this kind of mixed compromising judgment is not going to put any kind of restraint on the hoodlums. Instead, it is only going to encourage more of such acts of wanton terror on the part of criminals.
Romila Thapar has rightly said: “The verdict has created a precedent in the court of law that land can be claimed by declaring it to be the birthplace of a divine or semi-divine being worshipped by a group that defines itself as a community. There will now be many such janmasthans wherever appropriate property can be found or a required dispute manufactured. Since the deliberate destruction of historical monuments has not been condemned what is to stop people from continuing to destroy others? The legislation of 1993 (most probably she meant 1991) against changing the status of places of worship has been, as we have seen in recent years, quite ineffective.”
She has further gone on to say: “True reconciliation can only come when there is confidence that the law in this country bases itself not just on faith and belief, but on evidence.” Here I would take liberty of adding that in this case it was neither faith nor belief regarding the place of birth of Rama that led the political mobsters to demolish the Masjid, it was a clear calculation of causing a large scale communal riot and ensuing political windfall that led them to demolish the mosque. It does not take big understanding of political or psychological or historical theories to see the connection between the all acts of communal disturbance, including the act of demolition at hand, and electoral gains. The only way to break this connection is via noting the said connection (judiciary, media and other politicians) for the gullible public to see and understand and imposition of appropriate penalty upon the perpetrators of political/communal crimes. Anything less will not only aid communal riots, it is bound to abet the same.
There are some who suggest “magnanimity” on the part of Muslims and seek acceptance of the clearly wrong verdict. Well, here is a sort of story that comes to my mind: A ruffian comes and demolishes a poor man’s abode (let’s leave aside the malicious political intent behind the crime for a moment). A judge awards two third of the piece of land where the poor man lived to the hoodlums responsible for demolition of his hut. And then these advocates of magnanimity are advising the poor man to be magnanimous and be happy that he got at a third of his land to reconstruct his hut!
I would say that first of all make the man feel that justice has been done – his land has been restored back to him, his demolished hut has been ordered to be erected back with fines charged of the culprits, and appropriate punishments meted upon the culprits for the injuries, pain and grief inflicted upon the victim. It is only after such a judgment has been passed that one can ask the poor and weak man to show some magnanimity and seek recommendation from him for the judge to be a little lenient in the imposition of various penalties. He could even be advised to invite the culprit and accommodate him on the little piece of land control of which has been restored back to him. Instead the legal system has joined the strong bullies, saying: yes, yes, two third of the piece of land belongs to the rogues. And the purveyors of peace and amity and magnanimity are clapping for the blatantly unfair judgment as if it was one of the greatest balancing act done by the justices.
It is clear that what the thugs are really interested in is confrontation with the minority communities, as that is what gets them some votes. In fact, even if the Muslim community were to completely relinquish their claim on Babri Masjid, the rogues would not be satisfied. They would go to Kashi and Mathura to start new imbroglio, according to their own officials. In view of these obvious facts, the court should, instead of rewarding the rogues with any piece of land, should try to make it obvious for the gullible public that all of these charades about Ram Lalla and Ram janambhoomi are being performed for none other than political reasons; and that they need to pay for all kinds of damages and grieves that they have inflicted upon innumerable people. Only after justice has been done for the aggrieved, the proponents of peace and conciliation would be in a position to suggest ways of reconciliation.
There can be innumerable ways a middle ground can be found: The ardent worshipers of Ram could buy a plot of land some place liked by the rightful owners of Babri Masjid land for whatever the latter would like to construct on that piece. The rightful owners could take their time and decide to construct a replica of what existed there but place Ram Lalla as well as possibly all kinds of gods and goddesses in it and hand over the structure to the government for anyone to visit and offer any kind of prayer or whatever. The rightful owners of the land could perhaps simply plant a tree for reconciliation and remembrance of those who have perished in the unnecessary riots caused by the demolition. They may decide to open an international library and research center for peace ways of conflict resolution; and so forth. Building massive Mandir or Masjid would be shear waste of money and effort.
Lastly but not the least, just as a judge is supposed to recuse himself or herself in cases involving relatives or friends, s/he should be required to recuse himself/herself in cases involving religion. As such, this and other future cases involving religion or communal riots should be adjudicated by judges none of whom have allegiance to either of the two religions between which the confrontation is being propped up.

Dr. Satinath Choudhary
Formerly college professor in the USA
Currently activist in Delhi & New York

Ayodhya Akharas: The Politics And Culture Of Conflicts

By M. Hasan

16 October, 2010


New Ayodhya has, perforce, become a metaphor of miseries, discords, collusive administration and hamstrung judiciary. An image and a question remain inerasable in mind. My San Francisco-Syracuse flight TV showed a frenzied crowd clawing up with axes on the Babri Masjid domes on 6thDecember 1992. I was hurt and ashamed because of an organized barbarian vandalism of a national monument in sacred Ayodhya, a no-war zone. I write from this perspective. When next day Prof. Tej Bhatia and I were sadly talking about the event, Prof. James Duncan, a close friend, came by and asked with smile: “Oh! you both are still talking?” Not an ignoramus of the resilient Hindu-Muslim unity, yet his stunning humour was a painful pointer. In October 1990 a high profile kar sevak, Prof. MN Arora, a university colleague in Jodhpur, died in police firing. His bust in the city painfully reminds a trail of tragedies he left behind. His wife feels cheated by his party.

I am not a historian, or a lawyer, nor member of any political/cultural organization. As a stakeholder in peace and communal harmony, I find the present politics and culture of conflict unacceptable making Ayodhya an akhara ‘free for all ground’, hampering foundations of ‘temples’ of development, equity and justice. Indian stakeholders in peace and harmony must be counted and heard.

Our Independence and Constitution defined the Indian society and state as secular. They have been redefined dangerously, de novo, by the events of 1949, 1984, 1986, 1992, 2002 and the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ramjanmbhumi-Babri Masjid dispute. Muscle, money and manipulation have subjugated the rule of law. The verdict, not accounting for saffron muscles and tricks, is fiction and faith-driven, not legal facts. Litigants don’t care if the judges read Islamic/Hindu scriptures, ‘understood’ national psyche, and were ‘aware’ of the ‘landmines where angels fear to tread.’ They have defaulted on law, creating dangerous precedents. Have they really cleared the land mines? The verdict casts ominous shadows on Kashi, Mathura, and shrines of syncretism. Satan invents mischief, throws dust in eyes, misguiding the faithful! Babri Masjid as a ‘disputed structure,’ Ramjanmbhumi and Ramlalla ‘Virajman’hai’ are Goeble’s ‘truths.’ Sabei bhumi Gopal ki ‘all lands belong to the Lord’ is a mantra for solution, provided Ayodhya ceases to be an akhara of myths and manipulations.

Whether sacred or not, a disputed site to a court is a parcel of land. Similarly, a prince, priest or pauper for a court is an ordinary litigant. Mass hysteria, ethnicity, media, government or political outfits can’t influence an independent judiciary. Who wins or loses isn’t the concern of majesty of the court of law. Yet, Bars and litigants often talk about ‘favourable Bench’! We hear an organization felicitating a judge after this verdict.

Mediaeval mentality is anathema to modern India on the move. Ours is not a Hindu or Islamic state. It is a constitutionally defined contractual society, endowed with rich multicoloured ethnic tapestry and secular democracy where good governance means rule of law: equal protection of life and property of all.

Vandalising a national monument is punishable crime. So is spreading communal enmity/ hatred. However, we tend to be a soft state kept hostage to communal forces. The verdict, though not operational, reinforces this perception..."

Ayodhya Controversy A Conspiracy Against Composite Culture,Take The Issue To The Supreme Court: Jugal Kishore Shastri 
 By Syed Mansur Agha
21 October, 2010
(article from countercurrents.org)


Ayodhya is a symbol of India’s composite culture, and the people of the town want to live in harmony and peace. The Ayodhya controversy has been created and is being perpetuated by people and forces from outside the town who want to sabotage India’s shared tradition and heritage. If these outside forces stop interfering, the issue can be settled at the local level. So insisted the head of a monastery in Ayodhya, editor of the Hindi magazine ‘Ayodhya Ki Awaz’ and noted social activist and crusader for inter-communal harmony, Jugal Kishore Sharan Shastri, at a press meet recently organized in New Delhi.
Shastri insisted that the recent judgment of the Allahabad High Court on the Ayodhya issue should be challenged in the Supreme Court. ‘The judgment is based on the religious beliefs of some people, and this will prove to be immensely dangerous for the future of the country. There is danger that such questions of people’s faith will begin to crop up everywhere and then nobody’s places of worship will be safe,’ he warned. He added that if the Allahabad High Court’s judgment was not challenged and overturned it would be tantamount to surrendering before Hindu extremism.
Debunking the court’s use of ‘faith’ in its judgment, Shastri insisted, ‘A belief leads to hatred for people of other faiths and threatens the unity of the country and brutally assaults humanity is not a holy one. Rather, it is terrorism, pure and simple. It is oppression. It is animalism. Forces fanning communal hatred are using this question of belief to assault basic human values and promote barbarism. They can in no way be rewarded. Rather, they must be punished.’
Shastri argued that the verdict of the Allahabad High Court was greatly ominous in that it did not at all punish the perpetrators of oppression, lawlessness and terrorism who were behind the destruction of the Babri mosque in 1992. Rather, he claimed, it had rewarded them. It had, he said, also given legal legitimacy to force and coercion. This, he said, was unfair and unjust. ‘Those who argue that the judgment be accepted are encouraging these forces of terror that want to destroy the country,’ he opined.
Referring to the destruction of the Babri mosque, Shastri said, ‘6 December 1992 was the biggest terrorist assault that India has ever witnessed, which was perpetrated by Hindu extremists. It entailed not only the destruction of a mosque, but also represented a heinous assault on the Indian Constitution, on our common heritage, on India’s self-respect, and on the Dalits and other oppressed and impoverished communities and minorities of the country.’
Shastri argued that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which was spearheading the campaign for a temple at the spot occupied earlier by the Babri mosque, was not even a party to the legal dispute over the land. Nor, he added, was it representative of the Hindus. It was, he argued, a creation of a handful of people who falsely projected themselves as leaders of the Hindus and who had used the issue of the temple in order to garner a vast sum of money. 80% of the ‘Hindus’ of India, Shastri said, were Dalits and from other such oppressed castes, and they had almost no representation at all in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Shastri stressed that speaking out against the verdict of the Allahabad high Court and struggling for a just settlement of the dispute was not something that concerned access to justice for Muslims alone. Rather, he said, it concerned every citizen of India who wanted to preserve and salvage India’s unity and communal harmony.
[Translated From Urdu by Yoginder Sikand]

Ayodhya Verdict: Implications for Indian Democracy
Ranu Jain
Tata institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Much has been said about the Ayodhya verdict especially on the legal technicalities and historical loopholes. This comment is not on these aspects but on the socio-political implications of the verdict.
To recapitulate, Allahabad High Court on September 30, 2010, has given judgment on the six decade old title suit on the land in Ayodhya. A mosque, popularly known as Babri Masjid, stands on this land since centuries, however, the land is claimed to be the birth place of a Hindu deity Rama, by certain Hindu groups, and in the year 1949, the idols of Rama and Laxman have ‘appeared’ in the mosque. In the said case, three litigants have claimed ownership to the land. The three judges deliberating on the case have pronounced to divide the disputed land into three equal parts among the litigants namely, Ram Lalla represented by Triloki Nath Pandy; the Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Waqf Board.  Details of the case can be found on the website < http://elegalix.allahabadhighcourt.in/elegalix/DisplayAyodhyaBenchLandingPage.do>
The verdict, at least in the initial stage, was appreciated for reconciling a long lasting and sensitive controversy in a democratic manner. It was considered a judgment that would, perhaps, result in constructing ‘a wall of harmony’ among the Muslims and the Hindus – a wall that would not separate but harmonize a Hindu temple and the Muslim mosque in close proximity.
A few intellectuals appreciated the ‘matured’ reaction of people including Muslims, to the verdict. They felt that the reaction reflected faith in the institutions of democratic India especially in the judiciary. Absence of riots after the judgment corroborated this interpretation. However, as later developments show, the judgment has not reconciled the issue and all the three litigants have expressed their plans to challenge the judgment in the apex court.
Conversely, I wonder whether the judgment can be taken as democratic at all. The query gains significance especially if democracy is not taken as a number game but as a process of decision making including those processes that take into account concerns and requirements of all the contesting parties and arriving at a decision through consensus. As aptly put by Jilani[1] and confirmed by almost every one, “The honourable judges have arrived at findings not on the basis of facts or evidence but on the basis of faith and belief. In other words a new category has been introduced into the judicial process”[2].  Ashgar Ali Engineer has discussed implication of this process of arriving at a judgment in India, a country of multiple faiths. To quote him, “…all three judges have invoked values of peace and reconciliation rather than constitutional values of democratic India. Law is and must be indifferent to the faith of litigants and even of judges and the judgment, in a democratic country like India which has maintained its independence of judiciary and constitutional values for last sixty years…. Tomorrow other judges motivated by their faith may use this judgment as a precedent and deliver other judgments invoking faith….Thus, stretching the argument … in a democracy after all numbers count and so faith of majority community will play greater role than faith of minority community and court of law will thus become majoritarian in their attitude and all the legal values and protection of minorities and their faith in the constitution may be ultimately subverted”.[3] Yet another reaction to the judgment is seen in the planning of a group of Dalit rights activists to demand that the Buddha and Jain viharas (place of worship) that have been converted to Hindu temples should be returned to the original owners.[4] In short, the judgment may increase communal tension and marginalization of the minorities in the nation.
The judgment based on ‘faith and belief’ can be taken as going against the principle of secularism whether defined in terms of distancing State from religion or giving equal space to all religions. The statement gains significance when one recapitulates that as far as the case of Babri Masjid is concerned, the then prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru ordered removal of the statues in 1950, but the contemporary district magistrate of Ayodhya declined to follow the instruction pleading law-and-order situation in the city. Again, when a lawsuit against the mosque was filed in the district court in 1950, the secular state government of Uttar Pradesh assured Muslims that the lawsuit would be dismissed and categorically submitted in the court that the building had never been a temple and was always a Muslim place of worship[5]. The present judgment reflects the changing nature of Indian judiciary. The submission can be supported by revisiting the case of Afzal Guru where capital punishment was granted to Guru in order to satisfy the ‘collective conscience of the society ’. The judgment stated,[6] “The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.”
The rhetoric employed in both the cases, assuages the collective ‘national’ conscience, creating a dent in the image of India as a secular multicultural country. As expressed by many Muslims or empathetic individuals in their private spaces, social networking sites or blogs, the judgment is majority oriented and has legitimized the rightist claim that India belongs to the majority community of the Hindus (assumed as a monolith). It not only justifies the rightist claim for priority in the cultural and religious spaces in Indian democracy but also vindicates their stand. Modi[7] has called it the first step towards Ramrajya, implying less or no space for the ‘other’ cultures and faiths in the Ramrajya, “VHP has made it clear that Sangh Parivar outfits will not rest with the ownership of only 110/90 feet of land but will want the entire 67 acres to be handed over to them”.[8]  They have expressed a desire to make a Bhavya Mandir or grand temple on the premises and have demanded the Muslims to forego their claim on the land.[9] The essay in the Frontline is appropriately titled, “Hard line is back”.  I would like to add “more aggressively so”.
The silence or the ready acceptance of the Muslims has popularly been interpreted as ‘matured’, but I feel it expresses a feeling of insecurity as well as lack of faith and trust in Indian democratic institutions and processes. The judgment has reduced Muslims to second grade citizens in India, projecting faith and beliefs of the Hindus more worthy of consideration, not giving any space to the faith and beliefs of the Muslims. Babri Masjid demolition, Mumbai and Gujarat riots as well as acquittal of the rioters by the Indian courts appeared to have dwindled faith of the Muslims in Indian democratic institution and processes.  They appear neither to ‘trust’ the Indian State to save them nor hope for justice to their causes and needs. Many Muslims including the first litigant, Mohammad Hashim Ansari, have expressed appreciation of the verdict because it would not lead to rioting by the rightist groups. Muslims appeared to have foregone demand for justice for a space to live/survive without constant fear of violence or losing one self and the dear ones - survival in hegemonic terms, giving them a subjugated position but perhaps allowing them to struggle to acquire ‘roti, kapda aur makan’ (food, cloth and accommodation). They do not trust State machinery to protect them in case of a judgment favourable to their cause. The reaction of Muslims reflects their alienation from the State.  
The famous social philosopher Charles Taylor has talked about the need of ‘a high degree of cohesion’ for sustaining democracy. This cohesion thrives on trust that emerges due to the process of participation in decision-making. To quote Taylor, “If… a sub group of the ‘nation’ considers that it is not being listened to by the rest, or that this rest cannot understand its point of view, it would immediately consider itself excluded from joint deliberation. Popular sovereignty demands that one should live under laws that derive from such deliberation. Anyone who is excluded can have no part in the decisions that emerge; consequently, these lose their legitimacy for him or her. A sub group that is not listened to is in some respect excluded from the ‘nation’, but, by this same token, it is no longer bound by the will of that nation.”[10] An alienated population can withdraw or migrate out of the nation taking away with it human and non-human resources. Frustration and helplessness can also be expressed in violence and aggression; in self demolition and demolition of others. It is the responsibility of the nation-state then to assuage alienation and enable conditions for reconciliation by providing free and fair justice as well as stake in governance. While conducting studies on Sikh extremism, Deepankar Gupta found that “to a large extent the voice of terrorism was being deciphered only by those who felt that the state was no longer the fount of the law and an impartial arbiter.”[11]  Gupta feels that conflict between two parties can be restrained by the legal and judiciary system. When this system fails then such disputes cannot arrive at a reasonable conclusion. “From then on you only have the inarticulate ‘cry’ of the terrorist.”

Succinctly, to sustain democracy, a nation-state requires a strong neutral legal and judiciary system – a system that generates faith thus having capacity to restrain contesting groups, keeping their vested interest under control. Till now, with whatever shortcomings that the Indian judiciary and legal system have shown, it has been able to retain faith of the people. This faith, however, appears to be wilting. A weak judiciary is a threat to democracy as it opens other avenues for settling scores, putting at stake the interest of the nation. Need is to insist and ensure that justice is delivered to all including the minorities in accordance to the Constitution of India over-ruling shadows of religion and politics. Only a strong legal and judiciary system will rejuvenate trust of the citizens on Indian national institutions, with a high possibility of reducing communal tensions and riots.


[1] Lawyer of Sunni Waqf Board
[2] Frontline, October 22, 2010

[3] Asghar Ali Engineer  (2010): “Ayodhya judgment – triumph of faith or constitutional legality?” accessed on 19th October on http://www.csssforum.org/default.aspx?g=posts&t=4

[4] The Telegraph  E-paper, Saturday , October 9 , 2010
[5] Gulf News ( Sep. 22, 2010) Interview of Zafaryab Jilani by Bobby Naqvi at http://gulfnews.com/news/world/india/interview-jilani-fighting-a-long-and-messy-legal-battle-1.685470
[6] Afzal Guru was awarded capital punishment by the Supreme Court for carrying out attack on the Parliament.

Indian Express (2008): “Will go by SC verdict (death penalty) on Afzal if we come to power: Advani” accessed on 20th October, 2010 at http://www.indianexpress.com/news/will-go-by-sc-verdict-death-penalty-on-afz/290092/

[7] Indian Express (2010): “Ayodhya verdict is like Gandhiji's blessings: Modi” accessed on 20th October, 1010 at http://www.indianexpress.com/news/ayodhya-verdict-is-like-gandhijis-blessings/691548/
[8] Frontline (2010:12), October 22

[9] DNA (2010), October 16: pg 17.

[10] Taylor Charles, 2002, “Democracy, Inclusive and Exclusive”, in Madisen R. et.al. (eds), Meaning and Modernity: Religion, Polity and Self, University of California Press, London.
[11] Gupta Deepankar, 2002, “Limits of Tolerance: Prospects of Secularism in India after Gujarat”, Economic and Political Weekly, Nov. 16
-- You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Secularperspective" group.
To post to this group, send email to secularperspective@googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to secularperspective+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com.
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/secularperspective?hl=en

“Muslim claim would lie even if all Muslim plaintiffs withdraw”

Mushtaq Ahmed Siddiqui is confident that justice would certainly be done, to the Muslim side, in the Apex Court of the country.
Mushtaq Ahmed Siddiqui is one of the main figures behind the Babri Masjid case since Feb 1, 1986, when the Babri Masjid locks were opened up. He was present in the Faizabad Court then, and is thus, privy to the most primary nuances to all what makes the imbroglio of the Ramjanambhumi/Babri Masjid dispute. He is too overtaken by the shock and disbelief after the Sep 30 verdict at the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court. Counsel to Misbahuddin and Hashim Ansari etc, the plaintiffs in the case, is also otherwise, known as a hard core constitutionalist whose zeal towards the case is just unflagging. Arduous and persistent in his endeavour he has never let his attitude skip a waiver. Eight hours a day, he is devoting to 'read' the 8500 pages order and is confident that justice would certainly be done, to the Muslim side, in the Apex Court of the country. MG’s Haider Abbas spoke to him in Lucknow to know as to what had happened inside Court No. 21 and on other ensuing issues.

Please tell us about the atmosphere inside the Court?
Ans. As a built up to Sept 30, there was a canard spread against me by some mischievous elements that I had called Lord Rama an imaginary figure. Pamphlets were stamped all over the High Court. I had an inkling that Muslim side counsels were to be manhandled. But, that did not happen.

Q-What happened inside Court No. 21?
Ans. Never could I have in the wildest of dreams conceive that the three judges bench of Justice SU Khan, Justice Sudhir Agarwal and DV Sharma could give such a judgement. I was too overtaken by emotions and broke down well inside the court. Faith had pervaded all evidence. Religious belief had overtaken all concepts and canons of law. In my exasperation I sought for Certificate of Fitness (COF) from the court for the appeal.

What is this certificate like. Please elaborate this aspect?
Ans. It is a legal term. The Constitution of India, under Article 132, 133, 134(A) empowers the grant of COF by the HC to appeal in the superior court. But, the Court gave an undertaking that the Muslim side can appeal in the Supreme Court (SC) under section 96 of Code of Civil Procedure (CCP).

Q-How was it to help?
Ans. Thankfully, this has added a fillip to our position. Now it can be safely argued that impliedly the HC was of the opinion that the matter involves important questions of law which need to be decided by the SC. Appeal under section 96 of CCP is a continuation of suit as provided in Section 107 of CCP and each and every even the smallest point concerning facts can be raised. Pleading can be amended, further evidence, can also be led. This is much better than COF.

Q-Sunni Central Waqf Board case has been declared barred by time as per the verdict. Would you contest this?
Ans. It is not so at all, as per the judgement of SU Khan, our suit is not barred by limitation. He has held that our suit is within limitation. The legal position is a matter of continuing cause of action. Conclusion of J. Agarwal and J. Sharma that there was no necessity of seeking a relief of possession because the property was custodia-legis (under attachment by the courts order) and the suit for declaration was barred by time is self-contradictory as once the property is custodia-legis, which as per judges, ensures the benefit of true owner, meaning thereby, our right continues, and once the right continues, there can be no bar of limitation. If such a suit is dismissed, on account of limitation then the aggrieved party has the right to file a fresh suit as per provisions contained in Order 7 Rule 13 (CCP). It is indeed ironic that the 1996 order of the SC, filed by us to support our stand, was overruled. In that 1996 case the SC has held that once a fresh suit is filed there is no question of the suit being barred by the limitation.

Q-What exactly is the case of limitation in this suit?
Ans. In order to avoid undesirable litigation the legislature has provided a time limit that 'within such time' a suit of this nature has to be filed and once the suit is filed it has to stand the test of the law of limitation, thus saying, that the law helps the vigilant and not indolent. The period for a suit of recovery of possession is 12 years. The period for suit of declaration today is three years. In 1961, when SCWB had staked its claim, it was six years and this is also to be seen that from which day the period of limitation, will start running, in a particular matter.

Q-The central dome of Babri Masjid has been assigned for deity as a 'perpetual minor'. Your stand on it?
Ans. This is the stand of the first friend of Bhagwan Shri Ram Lala Virajman. It was first pleaded by (late) Justice Deoki Nandan Agarwal. One third of Babri Masjid has been given to this party. As regards the deity to be perpetual minor, in this case, the primary question is whether there was a deity and this question in itself is highly debatable. There is no finding still that there was a deity, and at which place since when, however, the saying that a Hindu deity is a perpetual minor and its right never comes to an end is absolutely incorrect.

Q-Why incorrect?
Ans. As regards question of minor, the limitation act, conceives of a minor who is expected to attain majority, sometime-thereafter. The protection to such a minor is afforded by law. A deity which is never expected to attain majority is not covered by this provision. On this point judgements of Privy Council of 1904 and 1910 were cited by us. One of the judges had agreed with the same that a Hindu deity is not a perpetual-minor.

Q-Please elaborate more?
Ans. Going to the root cause of the matter as per doctrines of Hindu Law, vis-à-vis BK Mukherjee and Others, a Hindu deity is not a perpetual-minor, in accordance with the concept of Shastras. There are disadvantages also of being a perpetual-minor, as making a Hindu deity a perpetual-minor, amounts to reducing its status like anything almost nothing and as such the considered opinion of jurists is also that vesting of the property in a Hindu deity and treating it as a perpetual-minor is only for the namesake.

Q-Why was this argument forwarded in the first instance?
Ans. In 1528 in order to save the suit from bar of limitation the argument that Hindu deity is a perpetual minor was advanced by the other side. One learned counsel took a little different path to get rid of the same. He argued that after enforcement of the Constitution, the religious right of the Hindus got revived and all acts from 1528 to Jan 25, 1950, including judicial orders became a nullity by virtue of Article 13 of the Constitution of India. This was not accepted by any of the judges. We had cited many number of decisions that provisions of Article 13 were not at all retrospective. They operate from Jan 26, 1950.

Q-How do you consider partition of the disputed site in three parts? What actually has to be trifurcated? What is the Muslim position to it?
Ans. As regards partition of the property allowing one-third to Muslims by the two judges, it is within the area, including outer courtyard of Babri Masjid, comprising approximately 120 by 80 feet. Mention of 2.77 acres by certain persons, at this stage, is absolutely a misconception. This 2.77 acres was acquired by Kalyan Singh in 1991 which was quashed by the full bench on my writ petition and at this stage it has got absolutely no consequences.

What about Muslims getting one-third despite SCWB claim dismissed?
Ans. This has to be seen in the light that amongst the three judges J. Sharma has dismissed the claim of Muslims in entirety. J. Khan has upheld the suit in time and decreed for one-third. The third judge J. Agarwal held the suit barred by limitation but allowed one-third has to be justified on the premise, as the judges, had held the suit to be a suit of partition under their inherent powers. The judges converted the suit for declaration into a suit of partition. J. Agarwal dismissed our case on limitation and allowed one-third as a defendant in the other suit-filed by the Hindu side. In a partition suit even the defendant stands on a position of plaintiff and as per this proposition of law the allotment of one-third has to be seen.

There have been efforts for an out-of-court settlement. What is the legal position to it?
Ans. There are six plaintiffs in this case. Misbahuddin, Hashim Ansari, Mehfooz-ur-Rehman, Muhammed Farooq, SCWB and Hafiz Siddiq. If anyone withdraws then there are others. Even if all the plaintiffs withdraw the Muslim claim would still lie as duty would be cast upon the Court to invite other persons to conduct the suit. This is because of the fact that the suit is of representative nature. Law permits such suits to be filed by two persons and to be defended by two persons if the right of innumerable persons is involved.

How do you look forward for the case in the SC?
Ans. We are drafting the memo of appeal as per principle of pleadings and at the time of hearing, the facts as well as law, will be placed before the SC. It is solely the prerogative of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to constitute a particular bench, for a particular work and assign the case to such a bench. CJI also reserves the sole power to assign a particular time limit for the case to he heard and be decided. All eyes are now on CJI. But, let me also add. In 1993 we had initiated a contempt petition against the (late) PM Narsimha Rao for his involvement in the Babri Masjid demolition and the case is yet to be listed.
This article appeared in The Milli Gazette the print issue of 1-15 November 2010 on page no. 5


Dear All,
Invitation to the Seminar on the
Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Judgment
12 October 2010, 4.00 p.m., Bhupesh Gupta Bhavan

The judgment on the Ramjanmabhoomi- Babri Masjid Land Title Suit, was delivered by the Allahabad High Court on 30 September 2010. It may be recalled that on 6 December 1992, Babri Masjid – a 500-year old structure that stood on the disputed site at Ayodhya – was violently destroyed by a political movement in the name of Hindu faith and belief, in open defiance of the law of the land.  The judgment thus, has far-reaching consequences for the Indian polity, its secular and democratic fabric, rule of law and good governance.  By raising our voices and airing our views, concerned citizens are accused of attempting to destroy the fragile peace.  We are convinced that this is yet another attempt to bury justice at the altar of peace.

The supporters of the judgment, including diverse ruling parties in New Delhi, the states and organizations affiliated to the Hindu right, are gloating on justice having been done and “a window of opportunity for peace and reconciliation”.  On the other hand, many concerned citizens have expressed their disappointment at the judgment and deep concern for its larger ramifications. To name a few: Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, while referring to the judgment, said: “This is panchayati justice which takes away the legal rights of Muslims and converts the moral sentimental entitlements of Hindus into legal rights.” Dr. John Dayal, Secretary General of All India Christian Council and a human rights defender, termed the judgment as “patently based on populist and political sensitivities, rather than on points of law.”  Romila Thapar, an eminent historian, has categorically stated that we cannot change the past to justify the politics of the present.   Siddharth Varadarajan, a senior journalist, has expressed the view that if left unamended by the Supreme Court, the legal, social and political repercussions of the judgment are likely to be extremely damaging.

All India Secular Forum’s Mumbai chapter proposes to organize a public meeting on the issue on 12th October 2010. All India Secular Forum (AISF) is a loose network of concerned groups and individuals working on secularism, human rights, equality, justice, peace and communal harmony. 

The event aims at comprehending the contents and consequences of this judgment, and at deepening our collective understanding of the same. The event seeks to address the legal, political, historic and social aspects of the judgment and its ramifications through an eminent panel of speakers, that include Dr. Asgarali Engineer, Dr. Ram Puniyani, Ms. Pushpa Bhave,  Adv. Mihir Desai, Justice H. Suresh* amongst othersAfter the deliberations and discussions among the speakers and the participants, the meeting will end with an action plan for the near future. We look forward to your presence and active participation in this event.

In solidarity,

Saumya Uma, Lynne Henry, Akram Khan and Neha Dabhade
Convening Committee – Mumbai
All India Secular Forum


Venue: Bhupesh Gupta Bhavan,
85 Sayani Road,
Near Siddhivinayak Temple,
Opp Shaman Fordd,
Mumbai - 400025
Contextualizing the Judgment: opening remarks
Historical background of the conflict
Legal content and implications of the judgment
Future action

(highlights / formatting done to some of the original texts for emphasis)

few thought provoking chat-bits,reported by my blogger friend:
Anu: third hindu epic is 10,000 pages long. seeking english to sanskrit translators.

Bobby:  the next title suit should be about the ownership of Kerala - created by Parasuram's axe - but owned once upon a time by Mahabali and taken by stealth from him by Vamana!!!!!! Wonder who all would be parties to this litigation!!!!!
Bindu:  appalled again that proclaimed democracies are just theocracies in disguise. from yesterday, not even in disguise, i guess.

Sandali: Breaking News: Now that the existence of Lord Ram has been proven, Sita's descendants have moved the Lucknow bench of the High Court (since that's where his birth was proven yesterday) seeking intervention in the abandonment of Sita by her chauvinist and masochistic husband that eventually led to her unique suicide in the end.

a few links for interesting reading and discussions :  
 Opening the Pandora's Box

(Nivedita Menon)


1 comment:

  1. If we accept the present Lucknow bench judgment of the Allahabad High Court on the Ayodhya case to be fair, it will probably mean just not that our convictions about Secularism, Constitution and the Rule of Law may be just skin deep, but also that we are not pained so much about a more recent trend in our system of administration of justice,which is being yielded to a set of neo-liberal players hell bent on realpolitik.


Search This Blog


  • 08
  • 08
  • 08

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo

always want to defend peace, justice, peoples' right to love each other and live with dignity,struggles against parochial visions and hatred;instinctively a defender of socialist and democratic values