Babri Masjid Issue

India's "Aastha" & faith of a secular democratic nation

Peace without justice can never be enduring. It would be rather a time bound compromise by the weaker side. The brief before the Allahabad High Court verdict on 30th September was that of a title suit on Babri Masjid and Ramjanam Bhumi dispute.

The honourable three judge bench, comprising Justice Dharam Veer Sharma, Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice SU Khan, converted themselves into some kind of arbitration panel and provided a new twist to the modern Indian history. They have opened a new Pandora's Box causing a never ending debate on Aastha – belief versus secular democratic constitutional ethics. And it is all done in the name of justice and peace.

It would be shortsighted to accept their convoluted verdict and feel that they have helped reducing the tension between Hindus and Muslims by any degree. To me the verdict has rather made the issue more complicated and took it farther from any amicable solution in near future.

A mature secular democracy in a country stands by its own constitution only and remains peaceful without going into the majority or minority Astha – feelings. For the first instance the Ayudhya title verdict was largely delivered on the majority basis on the basis of Hindu belief. Out of three, two judges of the honourable High Court have gone with the majority Astha thus the dispute was decided according to majority judges' astha.

Justice DV Sharma and Justice Sudhir Agarwal have agreed on two major points with slight textual differences in their judgment. The very crucial issues which should be considered as benchmark for all succeeding judgments are (a) the disputed structure – Babri Masjid, is the birthplace of Lord Rama "as per faith and belief of Hindus". And (b) the disputed building – Babri Masjid was constructed 'over' or 'after demolishing a Temple' according to Archeological Survey of India.

Justice SU Khan, the minority judge, did not base his judgment on Astha or any belief though his findings are unconvincing to many Indians. An NRI living in the US, Mr. Kaleem Kawaja argues: Justice Khan acknowledges in his finding No. 6 'That the Babri Masjid was built a long time ago and was used as a mosque for prayers by Muslims until 1949. He also acknowledges that the Hindus started to use the space outside the mosque building but within the compound of the mosque in about 1855. Thus Muslims used the building of the mosque for about 350 years. Hindus put the idols of Rama at night between 22nd and 23rd December 1949 inside the mosque building. Thus Justice Khan acknowledges that the mosque (disputed) structure was not used by Hindus until about 60 years go when idols of Rama were installed there surreptitiously.

But in his finding No 11 he directs that the land that was earlier under the central dome of the erstwhile Babri Masjid be given to Hindus only. According to Mr. Kawaja finding No 11 of Justice Khan which is the order of the learned judge contradicts his own finding No 6 where he says that the mosque building was not used by Hindus for prayers until the Lord Rama's idols were installed there 60 years ago.

Mr. Ghulam Mohammad, a Mumbai based scholar, say that 'the Muslim claim on Babri Masjid is akin to their claim on their own Indian identity. All secular people should not succumb to the Sangh Parivar pressure and rogue tactics and try to find solution in the mirage of a court judgment flawed so thoroughly as to be a blot on the name of justice.'

Mr. Kashiful Huda, the editor of popular observes that the thinking is near unanimous among Muslims; Babri Masjid verdict should be appealed in the Supreme Court. Indeed, the case should go to India's highest judiciary body and all arguments should be made and heard because Allahabad High Court's faith-based ruling has implications for not only Muslims but for India as a whole. For this, the pleading group in the Supreme Court doesn't need to be a Muslim group only.

The verdict delivered by the Honorable Allahabad High Court on the Babri Masjid Ramjanam Bhoomi title dispute, many believe, sets a serious precedent and it has implications beyond this case. Tomorrow some goons may put idols inside the Taj Mahal, Qutab Minar or Delhi’s Jama Masjid and keep them there by force for a while to substantiate their claim on the basis of 'place of birth.

This argument cannot be undone saying that it is just a hypothesis to create fear psychosis among Indians. Rather the thesis got some rational even before the Ayodhya verdict while the verdict has changed it into a real concern for the secular democracy of India. To confirm this concern one may visit Qutab Minar today and find small idols kept or curved with in the premises and are abandoned! Visit the Taj Mahal and buy cheaply available 'Taj Mahal ki Itihas' in Hindi from book vendors out of the premises and enjoy reading an entirely different and extraordinarily fabricated history. Similarly one can just do rewind a few of the audio visuals produced by the RSS and VHP during nineties and know about their stand on various historic masjids including the Jama Masjid of Delhi.

So it is the turn of the highest court of the country – the Supreme Court to make history – decide where does actually stand the Astha of a secular democratic country? By all means Muslim would and should not come to the street even if they lose whole of Babri property. Let the court only make a difference between faith and facts.

M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is director of Mumbai based Markazul Ma'arif Education and Research Centre and editor of Eastern Crescent magazine. He can be contacted at   Read also from MG Archives: Gospel of hate calls for the apex court’s urgent attention 16-31 May 2002
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