Why shouldn't the demolition of Babri masjid be forgotten?
'While it's advisable to forget, a few incidents remain etched in the collective psyche of acommunity or race that has been at the receiving end. Can Jews ever forget the Holocaust? Can Japanese people ever forget what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 respectively? Never. Bitter and painful memories have a tendency to stay forever because it's the bitterness that keeps telling and prodding that all is not honey and ambrosia in this world.........'
Long back I read these profoundest of words by a columnist with 'The Spectator' , London. His piercing words got seared on my mind and have stayed with me since then. On the 20th occasion (I won't call it an anniversary, as anniversary has a ring of happiness to it) of the demolition of Babri mosque, that happened on December 6, I feel betrayed and stabbed. I'm no Muslim. Neither am I a Hindu or a Christian. I'm a human being and therefore all the more ashamed of the mindless act of my fellow human beings, my brethren. Years have elapsed, yet I've not been able to come to terms with the demolition of a place which a certain group of people deemed to be sacrosanct.
By demolishing Babri mosque, a wedge was created that can never be bridged, however hard one may try to reconcile the followers of two faiths. This cataclysmic event in the modern history of India shouldn't be seen as a mere demolition and vandalization of a sacred place, it must be seen as a metaphor, a metaphor of difference and a metaphor of hatred. Kar Sevaks didn't destroy a mosque. They destroyed faith and sullied the image of Ganga-Jamuna composite culture. Look at December 6 as a day when mutual trust suffered and humanity touched the nadir. An abandoned mosque became a bone of contention for the fanatic Hindus, who believed their putative Ram lalla was born at the very place where Babar built this mosque 500 years ago. It was the day, Muslims realised that they were truly unwanted in a 'Hindu Rashtra'. It was the day when state's assurance of the safety of the minorities turned out to be a fib and fig-leaf of perceived equality and egalitarianism.
As I've already stated that we must see Babri Masjid issue as a metaphor because a metaphor has far-reaching ramifications. The very incident demolished an entire community's hope and faith. The myth of Hindus being a peace-loving community received a severe jolt on December 6.
But in a sense, the whole episode served the Muslim community in good stead. It unmasked the fanatic face of Hinduism and demystified many beliefs. It showed that Hindus were and have always been as violent as the followers of any other faith. Those, who doubted the historical accounts of Hindus demolishing Jain Vihars and Buddhist monasteries to establish the hegemony of Hinduism, had to accept that the history didn't lie on this count. Adi Shankaracharya justified the killings of Jain and Buddhist monks. That violent streak percolated down to the Hindu consciousness to manifest itself on the fateful day of December 6 and further degenerated into Gujarat pogrom exactly a decade after the demolition of Babri mosque.
Let me wind it up with an apposite couplet by an anonymous Urdu poet , 'Eent-o-patthar ki masjid gira di / Tumne yaqeen-o-ittihad ki neev bhi hila di' (By breaking the mosque made of bricks and stones/ You've shaken the foundations of trust and bonhomie to). So true.