Ajmal Khan Yousafzai
Last week the world witnessed the Indian Supreme Court orders on the land dispute in Ayodhya, which is a small town of Uttar Pradesh state. Though, it was property case but the imporatance of this case was huge as this case was about the Muslim religious place popularly known as Babri Masjid. Like many other property cases in India, this one had been working its way through the judicial system for decades. But it may be the most significant dispute in the entire Indian history.
The dispute came over the rights to the site where Hindus claimed a 16th century mosque was built over Ram’s birthplace. Reversing a lower court’s order that the area be divided between the two sides, Judges awarded it entirely to the Hindu applicants, while saying Muslims must be compensated with land elsewhere.
The dispute is inextricably entwined with national politics and the status of Indian secularism. It exploded into the national consciousness in the 1980s and early 1990s, when both the then-ruling Indian National Congress Party and today’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party laid claim to Ram’s heritage. Congress Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had the locks on the mosque broken open and began an election campaign from the town.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders launched a nationwide “rath yatra” — a pilgrimage in a bus decked out to look like a chariot, intending to gather support for replacing the mosque with a Hindu temple. (Narendra Modi was one of the local organizers of the rath yatra). Finally, amid the escalating tensions, a mob of Hindu activists physically demolished the medieval mosque in 1992 while the state police stood by or ran away from the scene. Furthermore, BJP leaders and workers took active part in Mosque demolition. That defiant act of violence marked the beginning of rise of the BJP to absolute power in India, the BJP violent acts showed that they are group of people who believes in Hindu supremacy and abolishes other religious sites of minorities.
Recently, the Supreme Court awarded the BJP-run central government the right to set up a trust to administer the process of Hindu worship at this disputed site, it is however vital to note that the BJP succeeded in influencing the judiciary into their ideological agenda of demolishing Muslim religious site permanently. For decades, the Hindu nationalist wing of Indian politics has mobilized around certain key issues: the banning of cow slaughters, the building of a temple at Ayodhya, combating the perceived demographic threat to Hindus from migration or conversion, and denying autonomy to India’s Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Since Modi was reelected as Prime Minister earlier this year, he is constantly igrnoring other minorities while perusing Hindutva ideology. Within his renewed powers, Kashmir has had its special status revoked; a project to marginalize all “Muslims” in Assam has been concluded and extended to the rest of India, A temple will be built at Ayodhya over Babri Masjid. A national law effectively banning religious conversion may not be far off, while violence from self-styled “cow protectors” has also been widely publicized.
In his previous term Modi raised the slogan of “Build toilets before temples” but in his second term, it seems like Modi has changed his pervious slogan to “Build temples before toilets”, though the promise of toilets is yet to be fulfilled. At this stage, if Indian to be remained secular state, Modi needs to rethink on the Hindu nationalist ideology of Hindutva and focus on economic reforms. Adopting economic reforms will be vital for uplifting millions of Indians from poverty while, continuing on radical agendas of the Hindu supremacist will bring along no good but chaos. Millions of minority groups such as the Sikhs, Muslims and Moist could rebel in Modi government created uncertainty, that will be chaotic for the current Indian government. So far, it is cleared to the world that the so called Indian secularism is shifted into the back bench while, Hindu Nazi supremacist have taken front seats. –The writer is a staff member of The Daily Mail.
Ajmal Khan Yousafzai