SATURDAY’S FIVE-MEMBER Supreme Court bench order must have surprised everyone except the Sangh Parivar. The apex court had earlier surprised many when it upheld the Emergency, considered Hindutva as a way of life and hanged Afzal Guru in the Parliament attack case to “satisfy the collective conscience of the nation”.
Under the current judgement, not just the Muslim, even the original Hindu claimant Nirmohi Akhara’s claim has been jettisoned. The VHP/RSS outfit Ramjanambhumi Nyas, floated by the Sangh Parivar in January 1993, that is, after the demolition of the historic mosque, has been given the whole 2.77 acre land. In other words, the people who demolished the historic mosque have been amply rewarded for their crime.
Muslim organisations had since long been saying they will accept the final Supreme Court judgement while Hindu parties had said that they will not accept the verdict if it went against them. Only a few days before the judgement date, Hindu parties led by the RSS started preaching the virtues of peace and harmony. No one had heard them earlier condemning or disowning the lynch mobs of the Sangh Parivar. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is yet to utter the “sorry” word for the Gujarat riots of 2002 perpetrated under his watch, joined the gang of preachers.
Muslim organisations were coerced into holding umpteen meetings and issuing a deluge of totally unnecessary statements to the masses to uphold peace and accept the judgement whatever it was.
According to press reports, the SC judgment said the mosque was built on the site of a mandir although it also said that the ASI report did not conclusively establish this fact. Also, while saying that it is beyond the court’s scope to see if a belief is valid, it nonetheless maintained that the land belonged to Ramlalla Virajman, and that there is no evidence to show that the faith of the Hindus is not genuine. It accepted the claim of the RSS-affiliate while saying that the Muslim side failed to establish possessory rights on the disputed property while accepting that the mosque was built by Mir Baqi during the reign of Emperor Babar.
The Supreme Court has been generous enough to allocate five acres of land in Ayodhya for the Sunni Waqf Board to build a mosque there. Incidentally, this land too belonged to Muslims and was acquired by the VP Singh government in October 1990. Being a government institution, the Sunni Waqf Board may accept this generosity but it is unlikely that the Muslim community will ever accept it. This is why I instantly declined when an invitation came for a meeting and lunch on 10 November at NSA Ajit Doval’s residence.
In anticipation of the judgement, large parts of north India were placed under prohibitory orders, Ayodhya was converted into a garrison, around 6,000 persons in UP were given “red cards” and at least 60 persons were arrested. Identities of these people are not known as of now but my hunch is a majority of these are Muslim. Schools and colleges in UP were closed with the news that some of them are being prepared to serve as detention centres for (Muslim) miscreants.
For weeks, there were indications that the khichdi has been cooked. UP CM Yogi Adityanath stated on October 5 that “very good news awaits all”. The next day, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj said that the building of the temple will start on December 6. Union home ministry asked states to take security measures two days before the announcement of the verdict.
It is clear Indian Muslims have no choice but to keep quiet at this Himalayan injustice. Even their democratic right to peacefully register their protest has been snatched away with threats that even social media posts will attract prison terms and arrest under National Security Act! The best course for Indian Muslims is to be patient and pray to Allah to bestow wisdom on all.
The Muslim Personal Law Board is saying it will appeal to a larger bench. Whatever the outcome, the current judgement should still be welcomed because an old festering wound has been addressed. This outcome is certainly not to our liking or expectations, but putting this vexed issue behind us will be good for the community and the country.
We realise that even if the disputed land was given to the Muslims by the court order, there was no chance that a mosque could ever be allowed to be built there under the present extremely charged atmosphere in the country. A better solution would have been for the apex court to convert the place into a museum of communal harmony or a children’s park.
Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan is Chairman of Delhi Minorities Commission. Views expressed here are personal.