Politics

Ayodhya Verdict: A Five-Point Action List To Follow Up On Supreme Court’s Judgement 

The Supreme Court of India. (Wikimedia Commons)
Snapshot
  • Number three: Laws that tilt in favour of the minorities be amended to ensure that rights given to minorities cannot be denied to those deemed to be a majority.

    Read the other four action points below.

The unanimous judgement of the five-judge Ayodhya bench of the Supreme Court will be parsed, analysed, criticised, applauded and scrutinised for decades. That is, assuming the case does not end up being reviewed by another bench in a future Supreme Court.

For the Hindus, the gain a just reward for centuries of fighting for their holy places. The judgment rightly gives the inner and outer courtyards to a trust that will ultimately build the Ram Mandir.

However, there is no case for any triumphalism. They should use this " victory" to build a proper dialogue with Muslims so that there is no lingering sense of hurt in the community.

For the Muslims, the judgment will seem unfair for it was enabled by the destruction of an earlier mosque built over an earlier temple. They get five acres of land, twice the size of the disputed land as consolation.

They should use this "setback" to ask themselves and their alleged benefactors some tough questions; how did we end up in this situation?

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The Left, the prime mischief mongers in this affair, will scream majoritarianism and blue murder. They should be the ones who should introspect the most, and Indians of all ideologies - Left, Right and Centre - should hold them to account for the damage they have done to secularism for giving Muslims false hopes and wrong ideas about India's past.

The chances are the historic judgment will be criticised or applauded for all the wrong reasons. This is because the judgment’s fallout is unrelated to the law of the land, but faith, emotions, history, archaeology and even the biases of the commentators themselves.

The bench was given the unenviable task of trying to adjudicate on these aspects when the constitution under which the judgment has been pronounced came into being only after 1950. It was essentially asked to pronounce on the rights and wrongs of something that happened before the modern Indian state came into being.

In the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, the three-judge bench tried to look at both the law and the fallout relating to faith and emotions by building  compromise into the verdict where two-thirds of the disputed land was given to the Hindus and the remaining one-third to the Muslims. But such compromises work only if the verdicts are mediated rather than handed down from above cloaked in the verbiage of legality.

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In a sense, the real problem that needed to be solved was how Indians, both Hindus and Muslims, were told the truth so that they could learn to live with nuanced history, where the truth was told without anyone trying to hide it from one section or the other.

If history had been taught with the nuance it deserves, with wrongs being clearly identified as wrongs and rights as rights, it would have been easier for the two communities to work out a reasonable compromise even earlier. The disputed site could have been given over to the Hindus and the mosque moved elsewhere. This is what the final judgment effectively does anyway.

Unfortunately, India’s Left historians took it on themselves to hide history from today’s Muslims, who had nothing to do with what happened in the spot where the Babri masjid was built.

This is akin to today’s Germans being told that Hitler was not as bad as others thought him to be, since no current generation German needed to carry the guilt of the past. It is also like telling today’s Hindus that there was no caste atrocity ever, and that the caste system was the invention of some mischievous outsiders who wanted to divide Hindus.

But this is exactly what we did to Muslims and Hindus both.

The Muslims were told that no temple existed before the masjid was built, and all incidents involving the temples that were demolished – including temples at the holiest of Hindu sites – were the result of the politics of that day. They had nothing to do with the religious fervours of Islamist rulers, or their iconoclastic zeal.

Any historian with an iota of common sense would know that iconoclasm has always been a key part of Islam, with the Prophet himself participating in one such bout of idol-destruction on his return to Mecca in triumph.

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Instead, the Left tried to prove that Hindu kings too broke temples and ran away with their idols. Again, commonsense was at a discount here. A king ransacking a temple and taking the idol away to establish his victory is not demeaning the faith of the temple’s followers. He is merely making a political point, that the deity is better protected by him rather than the king who lost the battle.

The Left’s whitewashing of Islamic iconoclasm and rewriting of history in the name of secularism has probably done more damage to secularism than any post-independence communal riot or bad blood between the two communities. Amity can never be built on the sand of falsehood. Only truth can build unity.

The question now is where do we go from here, apart from correcting the biases of Leftist history?

The answer is a more nuanced telling of history, where the contributions of Islamic rulers – both their good deeds and their bad deeds – are known to all in a fair rendition of the facts. It is all right to praise a Tipu Sultan for some of his political or military innovations (use of rockets), but equally one cannot pretend that he was not a bigot who caused untold grief to Hindus in Malabar and Coorg by forced conversions, rape and destruction of their places of worship.

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The follow-up actions that follow the Supreme Court verdict should include the following:

One, organise genuine Hindu-Muslim dialogues in various states, where the two communities understand each other’s sensitivities and work out compromises that will stand the test of time, with no community being disadvantaged or given the short straw.

Two, where states offer cow protection laws, they must build the ability to enforce the law, and not leave it to assorted cow mafias and protection racketeers to engage in mutual violence.

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Three, laws that tilt in favour of the minorities – articles 25-30 come to mind – must be amended to ensure that rights given to minorities cannot be denied to those deemed to be a majority.

Four, the state must ensure that the economically backward are helped without identifying communities, so that no one – minority or majority – is left out of economic advancement.

Five, the word minority must be banished from the Indian lexicon, and substituted with human rights. All rights flow from a commitment to protect the minority of one – the individual and not the community.

Minorities are contextual, and not permanent.

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