A Year After Babri Verdict: It Paved Way for Ram Temple and Acquittal of Advani, Others

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Muslims were greatly disappointed by the judgement. However, they stuck to their prior commitment of accepting the court verdict even if it went against their expectations

Shaheen Nazar | Clarion India

IT was this day, 9 November, last year that the much-awaited verdict on the title suit of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhoomi land dispute case came. The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi handed over the hotly-contested site in the ancient city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh to those who were blamed for its demolition on 6 December, 1992.

The court decreed that the land measuring 2.77 acres be handed over to a trust and ordered the Government of India to create such a trust whose job would be to build a Ram temple. The court also ordered the government to give an alternative 5 acres of land in another place to the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board for building a mosque as a replacement for the demolished Babri Masjid.

Though the judges decided the case in favour of Hindus, they agreed that 500 years ago the mosque was built on a barren land, meaning there was no proof that a religious structure was demolished to construct the mosque; that the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid and the 1949 desecration of the mosque was in violation of law; and that from 1885 to 1949, Muslims have been offering regular prayers at the mosque.

The Muslim community was greatly disappointed by the judgement. However, they stuck to their prior commitment of accepting the court verdict even if it went against their expectations. On the day of the verdict, the government had made elaborate security arrangements throughout the country fearing violence. Thankfully, no untoward incident happened and the nation heaved a sigh of relief.

But the anger of the Muslim community was evident a month later when the government came up with a controversial law called Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and a plan to launch a National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout the country. It was another controversial provision that had already upset an entire population in Assam.

Both CAA and NRC were viewed by Muslims as yet another attempt to humiliate the community. The protest which started from Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh soon spread all over India, especially in the North. Though the sit-in agitation attracted other communities as well, the burqa-clad women protesters became a prominent feature of the agitation.

Since the 9 November, 2019 verdict, two major developments took place that caused considerable consternation in the community but, on both the occasions, Muslims kept their cool. The credit for this goes to the Muslim religious leaders as well as the community at large.

The first provocation came on August 5 this year when no less than the Prime Minister of the secular republic laid the foundation stone, with big fanfare, for a grand Ram temple on the ruins of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. While Narendra Modi was offering pooja as part of the ceremony, Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the extreme right-wing organisation devoted to the cause of converting India into a Hindu theocratic state, was by his side.

Muslims made no reaction.

Another provocation came last month when a special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) acquitted all the 32 people accused of criminal conspiracy to demolish the Babri Mosque on December 6, 1992. The court said that the accused, including top- ranking BJP leaders like L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh, didn’t conspire to demolish the structure and actually appealed repeatedly to those indulging in the demolition to withdraw. The court also found no evidence of the involvement of the RSS or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in the demolition, though the latter had mobilised the kar sevaks (volunteers) from all over India to Ayodhya.

After the 9 November judgement that paved the way for the construction of a Ram temple, the case against the demolition had, anyway, become infructuous. Hundreds and thousands of documents running into several pages were provided to the Supreme Court before, during and after the Congress-led UPA government’s ten-year tenure.

Yet, not even a shred of evidence could be produced to conclusively prove the conspiracy and complicity of Advani and his team members who have never criticised the demolition. Rather many of them have taken pride in committing the crime.

Muslims once again gave no reaction.

In between, one more development happened that reflected badly on the 9 November verdict of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who gave the judgement a week before his retirement, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha soon after.

The VHP-led Ram Janmboomi movement for the construction of a Ram temple and the Babri Masjid Action Committee-led movement to defend the mosque have changed the course of Indian politics. Ever since the mosque’s doors were unlocked through a court order on 6 February, 1986, India’s politics has never been the same.

The issue has dominated all the seven Lok Sabha elections that took place since then. It was only in the 2019 elections that the issue was not expressly discussed following an order of the Supreme Court which had formed an arbitration committee for an out-of-court settlement between the claimants. Even though no one raised this issue in election rallies, the mandir-masjid question was on everyone’s mind.

 

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