Felt sad, sat forlorn after hearing the Ayodhya Babri mosque verdict. Tried distracting myself but couldn’t holding back all those memories connected to December 6, 1992 — the day the Babri mosque was destroyed in a seemingly well-planned and systematic way. Nostalgia tightening its hold. Spreading out to this day the connected build-ups and, of course, the aftermath. Perhaps, I could call it one of those turning points in my life, for that destruction snapped that vital trust in the establishment. Snapped lay my trust in the very system. It left me feeling emotionally very hurt and bruised, with that constant thought nagging me all through — the sarkar incapable of protecting minority structures, human or otherwise.
In 1992, I was residing in a sarkari residential colony of New Delhi. And days before that fateful day, apprehensions were growing for the Muslims, to the extent that the Muslim civil servants were packing their families to their ancestral places / mohallas /clans …We decided to stay put, though the scare was mounting, with direct or indirect relays to the violence witnessed during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, when the police machinery couldn’t protect the Sikh civil servants residing in official bungalows in Lutyens’ Delhi, so if goon-brigades attack the Muslim civil servants, then what! We removed the name plate as it carried a Muslim name and then sat all too worried… And when the actual news of the mosque destruction came through it hit hard! Something or everything snapped and crumbled. At first one couldn’t believe that in a democratic country, religious structures could be so very systematically destroyed in the presence of hundreds and thousands of eye-witnesses. Not to overlook the so called security bandobast.
Stress levels compounded as news came in of the police force firing and killing and hounding Muslim protestors—all those who were protesting against the mosque demolition. As though to mourn or protest against that destruction was also not permitted by the State. Not to overlook the fact that Muslims were targeted rather too ruthlessly on running trains and buses, also Muslim homes were marked before getting attacked. Back to those horrifying Partitioning times!
And in the following days as I’d set out to Delhi’s Seelampuri locality to report from the area where Muslims faced the worst possible police atrocities, I was left numb with shock as several Muslim men told me that the level of police brutality extended all limits—circumcision marks were checked by the cops and after affirming that they were Muslims the torture inflicted on them furthered.
That mosque destruction brought the communal elements to the fore. I am talking of the so called educated and liberal class, who’d mouthed the worst possible comments…not just in social get-togethers but even in official meets and in classrooms. And yes, they got away with it! Why wouldn’t they–after all, if L.K Advani and all the kar sevaks could get away with all that mosque destruction and the series of destruction that followed, so why couldn’t the rest of them.
Do you remember that one telling picture of L K Advani and Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi gleefully hugging or clasping each other at the mosque demolition site? I cannot erase that picture, more so as instead of facing any trial or punishment or imprisonment for that act of destruction, the three were amply rewarded—LK Advani was made the Deputy Prime Minister of the country, Murli Manohar Joshi was made the Union HRD minister and Uma Bharti chief minister and later, of course, a Union Minister!
This, when LK Advani’s rath yatra was solely responsible for bringing in poisonous divisive forces, dividing communities for times to come. Communal characters together with their poison-dripping speeches came to the fore, yet there was no halting. Mind you, these political opportunists were not labelled terrorists, though they terrorized an entire minority community. Ironically, this terror striking lot were made the new rulers of the land! What a dangerous relay…you destroy a religious structure yet no punishment awaits!
The Babri masjid destruction bared some very ugly truths. Saddest, it demolished the idea of India. As the well- known historian Professor Irfan Habib, former chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research and former Professor of History at the Centre for Advanced Study in History at AMU, told me, during the course of an interview—
“There wasn’t a Hindu or Muslim reaction to the destruction of the Babri masjid…as an Indian I felt insulted and it was a blow to the image of my country. The destruction of the 475 year old mosque brought shame and dishonour to the country. It’s not a question of Hindu or Muslim but the very destruction was an insult to the country and its citizens; an assault on the Indian secular consciousness…and the then prime minister Narasimha Rao who’d promised to protect the structure had just looked the other way.”
Today Muslims are sitting quiet and sad. Silent they are…apprehensive of the build ups. Their worries are compounding on two accounts – what happens to the other mosques in the country, especially those particular mosques in Mathura and Kanshi, which the right-wing parties have been voicing claim; that those mosques were once-upon-a-time temples. What’s going to be their fate!
Also, what’s in store for Musalmaan of the country, in terms of that vital feeling of security. That dent on their identity could be furthering, and this in itself is worrying. The ground realities are turning darker and murkier, with the right-wing brigades and private senas holding sway.
Today’s Musalmaan is well aware of the RSS Agenda. With that apprehensions compound for him…He is well aware that the BJP is an offshoot of the RSS. To quote from academic Shamsul Islam’s book ‘Know The RSS – based on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Documents’ (Pharos Media)—
“BJP not independent of RSS…The RSS leadership keeps on harping that BJP is an independent political organization and does not work under the dictates of the RSS. It is pertinent that one compares this information with the facts available in the official publications of the RSS. The central publication house of the RSS, the Suruchi Prakashan, has published a book, Param Vaibhav Ke Path Par (The Road to Glory) in 1997 giving details of more than 40 organizations created by the RSS for different tasks. The BJP as a political organization figures prominently in it, clubbed with the ABVP, Hindu Jagran Manch, Vishva Hindu Parishad, Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Sanskar Bharti…In this book the BJP figures at number three in the list of prominent organisations created by the RSS. This book discusses the creation and development of the BJP under the aegis of the RSS in full three pages.”
Shamsul Islam also focuses on this—
“There has always been a conscious attempt to create confusion about its different fronts which provide RSS with the opportunity to dissociate with any of these as per its convenience. For instance it used Hindu Jagaran Manch(HJM) for attacking Christians in the late 1990s and when public opinion, media, and Parliament seemed to turn against it, RSS denied any relation with HJM…When nefarious designs of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Dharam Sansad were exposed before the nation, RSS announced that they were independent organizations. Interestingly, it was often seen mediating between the BJP led government (1998- 2004) and these fronts…It will be interesting to know that many of these organizations have been organized in a clandestine manner, a characteristic of a Fascist set-up.”
The picture gets sharper if one were to read Professor Jyotirmaya Sharma’s book ‘Terrifying Vision—M.S. Golwalkar, The RSS and India’ (Penguin). To quote from Sharma’s book
“The Ram janambhoomi movement, the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Gujarat riots of 2002 are just a few examples of the impact Golwalkar’s legacy has had on the move towards a certain brand of radical Hindu nationalism …In Golwalkar’s mental universe, there are two permanent enemies, the Muslims and politics. These two are the greatest impediments in the way of the Hindu Rashtra regaining its power and glory.”
Professor Sharma has also quoted Golwalkar in his book. This provocative quote of Golwalkar—
“Within the country there are so many Muslim pockets, i.e, so many ‘miniature Pakistanis’ …such ‘pockets’ have verily become centres of a widespread network of pro – Pakistani elements in this land . …The conclusion is that, in practically every place there are Muslims who are in constant touch with Pakistan over the transmitter …Right from Delhi to Rampur to Lucknow, the Muslims are busy hatching a dangerous plot, piling up arms and mobilizing their men and probably biding their time to strike from within when Pakistan decides upon a armed conflict with our country.”
If only we could hum along these lines of Baba Bulleh Shah, from our bruised hearts …
“Masjid dhaa de, Mandir dhaa de, Dhaa de jo kuch dhenda,
Par kissi da dil na dha vee, Rab dilla wich rehnda hae
Destroy a mosque, destroy a temple, destroy everything in sight.
But don’t break a human heart, for that is where God resides.”