the 6th of December,
the axes, the hammers,
that would dismember
a mosque and a nation
that has since then –
only walked on embers. – Akhil Katyal
Indian democracy has seen multiple black dots in its 70 years of history. From emergency declared by Indira Gandhi to 2002 Gujarat riots, one event that stands out in this period is the demolition of Babri Masjid. On 6th December 1992, thousands of Kar Sevaks mobilized by Hindu outfits like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Shiv Sena, entered the mosque and brought it down to the ground in the name of building a Ram temple at the site.
It has been three decades since BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani began the original Ram Temple movement. Babri Masjid was demolished 26 years ago. The recent attempts at resurrection of the Ram Temple movement must be understood with the context of events in early 1990s. Eminent activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad presents a ready reckoner on the origin of the movement and its re-birth, 26 years later, in 2018.
In the last few months, BJP has kick-started its election campaign for the 2019 general election by invoking the ghosts of 1992. The Saints are back in the front seat for the ruling party as it furthers communal polarization on the ground for political dividends. There has been a continuous legal dispute over the ownership of the Babri Masjid land since last 5 decades. In September 2010, the Allahabad High Court awarded two-thirds of the Ayodhya site to Hindu parties and one-third to the Waqf Board. Since then, the case is in the hands of the Supreme Court which is set to start the hearing in January.
The right-wing groups have latched on this “delay” in the hearing of the case and have called on the Modi government to pass an ordinance in favour of constructing a Ram temple in Ayodhya. The complete disregard for Supreme Court that BJP displays in the case of Ram Temple lawsuit are similar to its reaction to the Sabarimala verdict a few months ago. After court decided in favor of the women entry into the Sabarimala temple, BJP-RSS with help from their friends in the Congress has carried an extremely regressive campaign with anger against the Court and particularly, the left-front government in Kerala.
Babri Masjid was demolished on 6th December. 6th December is also the death anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. It is striking that the violent actions of the Kar Sevaks that day and the subsequent communal riots across the country where more than 2000 people lost their lives are a blot on the values of justice enshrined in the constitution drafted by Ambedkar. In the last 26 years, RSS and its sister groups have continuously attacked the constitutional values of secularism. The frequent calls to re-draft the constitution is in line with what RSS said when the constitution was passed. The recent political appropriation of Ambedkar by BJP shouldn’t blind us to the fact that RSS rejected the constitution when it was passed and batted for a Manusmriti form of doctrine.
The recent calls for building Ram Temple are also a strategic ploy by BJP to hide its monumental failures in last and a half years of its governance. Farmers are on the march for the gross neglect of the agrarian crisis by the central government. The promises of employment to youth, bringing back black money etc. have also turned out to be hollow Jumlas. The central government has further added to the woes of the people with its disastrous policies such as demonetization and poor implementation of GST. In all this, the ‘Vikas-Purush’ is no longer talking about ‘Vikas’. As Vikas rhetoric is shown the door, BJP leaders have fallen back to what they do best: divide the society on the communal basis.
In all of this, we must remember 6th December for what it was. It was an organized criminal act against a minority which has been systematically sidelined. It was a case of failure of law and justice to protect those who need it the most. In future, we may see the ghosts of 1992 in TV studios, nightly debates, and political rallies. We may also see more incidents like these on the lines of Muzaffarnagar riots. The free-hand given by the government to Gaurakshaks across North India is an example of the political design of BJP and RSS. This constant othering is an active propaganda tool. Those who stand for the constitution, who care for an inclusive and secular idea of India, must resist such propaganda and choose harmony over hatred.