From Sri Venkat
Was the Babri Masjid Demolition Justified?
(First the need is to answer: Was Godhra carnage justified? Is the forcible invasion of Islaam in Hindustan justified? Are/were riots, all began by Muslims against the Hindus, justified? Is the overnight expulsion of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir justified; is keeping them as refuges in their own country justified? Is the treatment of the majority of the people, the Hindus in India, as 3d class people by the congress Gov. justified? Is the anti-Hindu, and therefore anti majority constitution of Hindustan justified? – Skanda987)
What do Indians feel about the Babri Masjid demolition? Was it justified? Was it long time coming? Was it inevitable? What do they think about governments role in it? What do you conclude about India’s law enforcing agencies competence and capability?
I will give you a study in contrasts. Look at the story of the Somnath temple:
Somnath …The ruins were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque present at that site was shifted few miles away…
Ayodhya is equivalent to the Jerusalem for Christians and Mecca for Muslims – one of the holiest sites as far as Hindus are concerned.
Local lore in the Ayodhya has always maintained that Babur destroyed a flourishing Hindu temple, built on the same hallowed grounds where Lord Ram himself was born. This last part is important – it is an article of faith, whose historical validity is difficult, if not impossible to prove. What may be easier to prove, is that the mosque was built over an ancient temple. Recent archaeological assessments have indicated as such: wikipedia.org Archaeology of Ayodhya …The excavations gave ample traces that there was a mammoth pre-existing structure beneath the three-domed Babri structure…
So going back in history – the Indian partition was achieved after significant Hindu-Muslim tension, which included ethnic cleansing of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistani areas, as well as reprisal killings of Muslims in Hindu/Sikh dominated areas: Partition of India
Ethnic cleansing of Hindus continued in Pakistan even after it had completely broken away and became independent: 1950 East Bengal genocide 1964 East Pakistan genocide
Dialing back to 1947, Hindu pride was the order of the day, and similar to the Jews in 1947 Israel, there was an urgent need felt to resurrect the old symbols of Hindu pride – Ayodhya being the primary one, along with others like Somnath.
In Somnath, the local government faced no interference in its plan to relocate a pre-existing minor mosque, in order to facilitate the rehabilitation of a symbol of immense Hindu pride.
However, Ayodhya was smack-dab in the middle of Nehru’s sphere of geographic influence – the British United Provinces. So instead of attempting to facilitate a cooperative dialog to relocate a mosque that had no real symbolism to Muslims, he basically ignored the issue. So the local Hindu entities tried to obtain through subterfuge, what should otherwise have been achieved through full cooperation of the executive…. by installing idols into the disputed structure on the sly. Ayodhya dispute
The net result was a legal dispute, which pits Muslims against Hindus. Since this dispute has festered for so many years (originally since 1859), and since Hindus feel that the mosque itself has nowhere close to the symbolism as the site has to Hindus, the lack of a cooperative out-of-court settlement is viewed as a symbol of continued Muslim intransigence and inability to respect the religious sentiments of Hindus.
To answer your specific questions: Was the demolition justified? Slippery Slope – not sure anyone can justify a blatant disregard for court orders. But as the commentary above indicates – this is as much a religious and emotive issue, as it is a legal issue.
Was it a long time coming? If you agree with the religious/emotive sentiment, then 1859 to 1992 is a long time coming
Was it inevitable? No. Like Somnath – either a forceful executive intervention or a government facilitated co-operative compromise to shift the mosque could have avoided the demolition. I doubt if anything could have been done to change the article of faith that Lord Ram was actually born there, and therefore the temple needs to be built at that site and not at an alternate site
What do we think about government’s role in it? The Indian Central Government’s insistence to completely ignore the religious sentiment behind the dispute has led to a deep sense of “perceived” persecution in the minds of a large majority of Hindus.
In 1947, Muslims had a genuine fear that accepting a “climb down” on Ayodhya would lead to repeated claims on other Muslim mosque properties. This is no longer tenable. By some estimates, close to 300,000 functioning mosques exist in India, along with significant land holdings for many many more. 10 facts about India (Sorry for the poor source – but trust me that they are numerous) Sachar wanted Indian Wakf Service; govt. rejected it without any reason …Wakf boards across India have land holdings of more than 6 lakh acres
So the Government should be able to drive some sort of grand compromise. For instance, full completion of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, in return for a shifting/relocation of the Babri masjid as well as a commitment from Hindu groups to abandon similar historical claims at other sites (e.g. Kashi and Mathura).
The failure to drive such a compromise is a failure of the government – both at the local/state level as well as at the central level. This issue could and should have been solved in the 1950’s itself. In fact, multiple Muslim groups have repeatedly called for some sort of compromise along these lines mentioned in the paragraph above. However, by taking a strictly legal view of the dispute, the government has abdicated it’s responsibility for solving the dispute, and passed the “hot potato” to the Indian courts and India’s legal system.
What do you conclude about India’s law enforcing agencies competence and capability? The law enforcing agencies are firmly in the control of the executive. Law enforcement is a state subject. The central government can intervene only in exceptional conditions – for instance, there is a provision to disband a state government if it fails to uphold the constitution.
In the Ayodhya case, the central government had no legal basis to intervene pro-actively. You cannot remove a state government on a hypothetical assumption that it is not going to uphold the rule of law. Till the actual date of the demolition, the state government had followed all laws and judgments of the Indian courts.
On the day of the demolition, you can fault the state government for not providing sufficient forces (likely deliberately) to prevent the (extremely large) mob from storming the mosque premises.
However, as with many other instances, the law enforcing agencies were in no position (either materially or numerically) to prevent the demolition. So the actual demolition should not lead to a overly negative view on the competence and capabilities of India’s law enforcing agencies.
When given sufficient political support/leadership and requisite materials/numbers, India’s law enforcing agencies have been extremely successful in enforcing the rule of law.
Hypothetically, if Islamic invaders had ransacked the Sistine Chapel inside the Vatican and built a mosque in its place, and a few hundred years later, Europe decided to rebuild the Sistine chapel by tearing down the mosque – I am fairly sure it would face very little opposition.
The demolition, in my humble opinion, was one (not very democratic) way Hindus cried out against oppression in their own homeland where they constitute an overwhelming majority. What we’ve largely forgotten due to 500 years of Islamic invasion, 200 years of British Raj and 50+ years of Nehruvian minority appeasement is that India is Hindu country and it is as sacred to Indian Hindus as is Mecca to Islam and Jerusalem / Vatican to Christianity. Islam came to India in the form of invaders of our land, pillagers of our riches, rapists of our women and murderers of our armies. As if this was not brutal enough, the invading armies built symbols of Islam (mosques) on the desecrated ruins of Hindu shrines to showcase their alleged superiority. One such mosque was built over Ram temple in Ayodhya. That this mosque was used purely as a symbol of “Islam trumps Hinduism” is proved by the fact that the mosque wasn’t even used as a place of worship by the Muslims of Ayodhya and was largely deserted.
My personal opinion therefore is that the Hindu demand for demolishing the mosque built over the holy birthplace of Shri Ram is justified, however the means to achieve the same could have been different. One must caveat that by saying, given the appeasement mentality of the congress-nehruvian government, a judicial process would likely have not yielded the desired solution.
I am an Indian Hindu – my reason for anonymity is that people (and friends) often confuse my pro-hindutva views as implying islamophobia, which is simply not true. It would be hard for anyone who has read history to deny the brutality with which Islam came to India. That said, I have no issues with Islam and Islamic practices in the Middle East, North Africa, etc., where Islam is the dominating religion and where the religion originated. Similarly, Hinduism is deeply entwined with the very concept of India and therefore cultural and historical symbols of Hinduism in India should be protected from foreign ideals and forces.