Let us redefine the victory in the battle for Babri Masjid

By Khalid Khan,

The rise of right wing forces has triggered the issue of Babri Masjid to the flash point inIndian politics. Right wing forces in India have successfully reaped the fruits from this issue time and again.Unlike British rulers, the democratically elected secular governments not could maintain the status quo during the last seven decades.

The post- independence period saw rise of controversy and failure of the government to protect the mosque. The first attack was made soon after the independence during the period of Nehru when Idol of Rama was placed inside the mosque. However, this issue became much more volatile during the decades of eighties when right wing forces succeeded to mobilise people which culminated into demolition of the mosque. The interesting turning point is witnessed recently in terms of changing opinion of some important clerics and scholars among Muslim community. There is no doubt that this issue may escalate violence as noted by Mr. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar recently, but the justifications given for withdrawal of Muslims’ claim are based on flawed argument. In fact, this raises some important issues (listed below) which need due attention;

Relocating Mosques is not against Islam:It is correct that there are various instances of shifting mosques in different Muslim countries from their previous places. No one is questioning this aspect of Islam as this has been done in past even in country like Saudi Arabia. However, justification of withdrawal of claim on Babri Masjid is flawed due to following reasons;

 In most of the cases relocation was done for some public purpose which was not the outcome of any battle between two communities.

 Theses relocations are isolated incidents whereas demolition of Babri Masjid is a part of larger conspiracy of destroying Muslims historical heritage.

 There no such case of demolition by a mob who were guided by the instructions for demolition and ideology for rewriting history.

[1] http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/the-wrecking-crew-in-ayodhya-demolition-and-after/article6808106.ece?css=print

 Unlike other relocation, this destruction is a step forward towards changing the ideology of State from Secularism to Hindu Rashtra.

It is the question of history:

Noted historian Irfan Habib is of the opinion that this issue should never have been seen as an issue between Hindus and Muslims. It is in fact a confrontation between the forces of secularism and humanism on one side and the forces of communalism on the other . Historians are more in favor of historicity of Babri Masjid and doubtful about Ram Manadir thesis. It is to be mentioned thatnoted historians like Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon who have been observer during the ASI excavation of site, raised doubt in past about the credibility of the ASI report itself. The ASI report itself did not provide any provide any evidence of a demolition of Mandir, and asserted the existence of a temple only in its conclusion. In fact, the whole thesis of destruction of Ram Mandir lacks evidence as there is no evidence of temple or its demolition . Given the political context, it is almost impossible to expect something favourable for Muslim community but it is also to be noted that Babri Masjid controversy is a part and parcel of a larger conspiracy as is evident from the slogan raised by KarSevaks while destruction of the Masjid;

Yeh to sirfjhankihai, ab Mathura kasha baakihai

It is to be borne into the mind that claim on Babri Masjid is claim on history. The myth which right wing forces in India are creating is that all the historical heritages associated with Muslims came into existence after destruction of Hindu site. Controversy raised on Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid, QutubMinar and many other sites clearly proves the intention prevalent in the camps of communal forces. Thus, mere withdrawal of claim, which many esteemed personalities among Muslim community are advising, is a kind of approval for communal version of Indian history. Such submission may adjourn the risk of violence in short run but will create a larger problem for coming generations of Muslims who will lose the claim on the shared tradition of Indian nation forever. Indeed, such suggestions lack vision and hence are myopic amounting to demonizing the contribution made by Muslims ruler in the evolution of the India as a nation.

[2] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Babri-not-Hindu-Muslim-fight-Irfan-Habib/articleshow/45403692.cms

[3] http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Historical-evidence-ignored-say-historians/article13481395.ece

Whatever be the judgement, victory is with Muslims

Before treating any consequence as a victory one should understand what victory stands for? The prominent version circulating in media is that if Muslims succumb to the demand of right wing forces, they will be wise enough to avoid the violence expected to escalate in coming future. If anything of this sort is going to happen and government shows its incapability of controlling the situation, then it will indeed be a failure of India as a State. If a government can’t control the law and order within its territory, then it is a question mark on the existence of the government itself.

At this present juncture of timeBabri Masjid issue is purely a legal issue. Who else than Supreme Court, can resolve this issue wisely? But the confusion is on working of rule of law in this hour of crisis, Allahabad High court judgement conveyed disappointed messages.This judgement exposed the deep rooted challenge which Indian Secularism is facing, as it looked to rely on faith instead of evidence. Theverdict by Supreme Court is a litmus test of Indian Secularism and this will shape future trajectory of India as a nation.

The question is why right wing forces which look aggressive in all issues, are in reconciliation mode in the Babri Masjid case? This itself tells half of the story. If we go by historical evidence, Ram Mandir thesis is full of contradictions. There is not a single unambiguous historical evidence to prove the exact position of birth place of Ram, existence of Ram Mandir and its destruction. This is why the only way for the right wing forces to achieve their end is resorting to negotiations and violence in case negotiation fails.

Is is being askedby some scholars among Muslims that what will Muslims do if verdict does not come in their favour?We can go one step ahead to ask what will Muslims do if government buildsMandir through Parliament, irrespective of Supreme Court’s judgement. In any case, Muslims should happily accept the decision and this will not be a defeat rather victory. If someone is really serious to understand how this is a victory, (s)he should understand the battle itself. This battle is neither for a piece of land nor for a mosque rather it is a battle for history of Muslims in India and nature of Indian nation.

Giving up claims on the land means accepting the thesis of destruction in the medieval period. Some scholars and clerics among Muslims have tried to reduce this issue upto the relocation of mosque. Unfortunately, they ignored the whole conspiracy of rewriting medieval history. Even in case of minimum possibility of favourable verdict, simply waiting for court judgment is the best decision as withdrawal of claim will be tantamount to accepting the right wing’s version of history.

Before closing I would like to recall the following question which are worth responding in the present scenario;

• Given the historical evidences if Supreme Court pronounces verdict on the basis of evidences, there is a remote possibility that outcome will be against Muslims favour. If any compromise formula comes forward from the apex court itself, will it not be the violation of principles of justice? Will it not be an alarming bell for progressive section of this country to wake up for saving secular democratic framework of this country?

• If any untoward incident happens, the way Mr. Sri Sri Ravi Shanakaris expecting, will it not expose the deep rooted undemocratic and communal fabric prevalent in Indian society which we have been trying to cover in the name Secular democratic rhetoric which is yet to get due recognition in Indian society?

In conclusion, it can be said that any unfavourable outcome devoid of logical continuity and historical facts will add another milestone to the long history of communal pogrom, minority witch-hunting, mob lynching and religious discrimination. Indeed, this will be victory for Muslim community as it will embark the message to the global community about the tough time which Indian secularism is passing through.


(Khalid Khan, Ph.D (Economics) Jawaharlal Nehru University. He can be contacted at Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)