, by DR. SYED KHALID IQUBAL HAIDER
The verdict pronounced by Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute lingering on in court for the last 60 years, though acclaimed by many as ‘the only possible judgment or the best judgment ever could be,’ is more a reproof to the political leaders for a settlement than a verdict. Any other verdict would possibly have put the country in turmoil. True, the verdict’s first upshot was peaceful much largely due to Common Wealth Games, and possibly due to masses’ changed attitude of unconcern, but India’s secular image, albeit for the time being, got shaken.
The bench consisted of three judges; two of them agreeably found the land down the dome to be the birthplace of Rama while the third, Justice Khan only smacked the possibility of Ayodhya being the birthplace of Rama. But the exact place of his birth, in his own individual opinion, was also unknown.
Rama is a mythical character for three thousand BC. How could his birthplace be decided? It can maximum be surmised as is surmised about the Arc of Noha. It is purely a belief. And justice cannot be made on the basis of mere faith. And if in a country like India, it is made on the basis of one’s faith, what about its secular fabric? What about facts and evidence, genesis of any justice? Judges know better than us that justice is made on the basis of evidence and historical fact. The historical facts were: the Masjid existed there for five hundred years; Ram’s idols were installed on the historical morning of December 23, 1949 followed by an FIR with the police saying that two policemen had installed the idols; the incident led to so much commotion that Pandit Nehru had to show his displeasure to Govind Ballabh Pant, the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh; the Masjid was demolished by those whose photographs are alive in camera. They not only tore down the mosque brick by brick but violated Supreme Court’s directive to maintain the status-quo.
Who are criminals? Who connived? The court has facts and evidence. Criminals will have to be answerable one day or the other when the wheel of justice will take its course. The present verdict should be taken as an opportunity offered to the parties for amicable settlement otherwise highest court will do justice only. If it is not so, the present judgment will introduce a new trend of legitimising faith or belief instead of fact or evidence. Faith and antiquity then will take precedence over legal jurisprudence.
Even if it is proved that Babar had demolished the temple and constructed the mosque, the Indians of a secular nation don’t have the right to demolish the mosque, for Babar was not a secular king while we are a civilized secular nation; for Babar had not framed a secular constitution, and we are not invaders. The present verdict can’t stand in the Supreme Court. The Muslims need not take it negatively. The intention is amply noble manifest from the couplet of Allama Iqbal quoted by one of the judges before proclaiming the verdict: Na Samjho Ge To Mit Jao Gay Aey Hindustan Walo / Tumhari Dastan Tek Na Hogi Dastanon Mein (If you don’t come to sense, o! Indians / You will be obliterated unrecorded.)
The judgment has been given in thousands of pages. It has come from the bench of learned High Court, not from the vandals dancing on the top dome of toppling structure. It has come in the age of globalisation when efforts are on to promote a culture of giving and taking from each other, to embellish the earth for future, not to dig it to unearth the buried bones. If we begin to go back in the remote past and react in our present to redress and compensate the past deeds for the future, the whole earth will become an unworthy place to live. We are not uncivilised nor will the world allow us to behave so. Gone are the days of ‘might is right.’
No sane person, at least no prestigious institution in this commercial time would allow un-peace and disharmony to seethe into social fabric, but would rather wish and strive for a better sense to prevail. Today the tone and tenor of some of our political leaders is changed because they know that final verdict will leave them no opportunity. Yes, it is difficult to trust the versions of VHP and BJP. They keep changing. After the judgment, dispute has become ‘a religious issue’ while it was earlier a ‘political issue.’ Speaking so is to undermine Indian secularism. How would one believe the word of BJP which had claimed to build Ram temple without causing any harm to Babri Masjid structure. Now L.K. Advani some weeks ago went to the Somnathtemple to perform Puja, the same place wherefrom he had started the Rath Yatra in 1992, which had inflamed communal passion, perpetrated demolition of Babri Masjid and led to nation’s widespread riots. But 2010 is not 1992. Indians have become much mature and realistic. So these political gimmicks they understand very well.
The issue of Rama’s birthplace was raised first of all in 1853. And about a hundred years later in 1949 idols of Rama were stealthily put inside Babri Masjid. Since then it has been a disputable structure locked for both the communities but it got unlocked in 1984 during Rajiv Gandhi’s regime which plagued the body politic.
Worshipping in mosques and temples made side by side to each other has been a distinct tradition in India since time immemorial. And of course in many cities, mosques and temples are erected close by. If perpetuating this tradition had only been the motive behind the judgment, two of the judges would not have asserted that this was the place where Rama was born. They would have said at least, like Justice Khan, that Ayodhya is perhaps the birthplace of Ram but the fact is not known. I think, they have given an opportunity to the aggrieved party keeping a deliberate flaw in the judgment to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
I congratulate the Muslim community in general and its leaders in particular for making no protest and showing no reaction. They have respected the verdict as committed and shown no sign of resentment at the High Court’s verdict. It’s advisable for both the communities to better go for amicable settlement. If it is not made possible, the final verdict will come and justice will not overlook facts and evidence. No court would turn down facts and evidence and allow secularism to yield to the chauvinistic forces. Yes, the door of Supreme Court is the best place to knock at. And the Supreme Court would definitely do justice and it will not be only a ‘balancing act.