Ayodhya -An Authentic Decision

| Friday, October 1, 2010
The most significant feature of the much-awaited Allahabad High Court verdict is that it has overturned the only other judgment of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute: a Faizabad district court verdict of 1886. At that time, confronted by litigation that arose from Hindu-Muslim tension over the issue, district judge FEA Chamier ruled in March 1886: "It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that occurred 356 years ago, it is too late to remedy the grievance."
It's a day the country has waited for months, years, why even a generation. And when it finally came, it turned out to be one that is truly secular in character. While seeking to settle the issue once and for all, the honorable judges have decreed that Lord Ram was indeed born at that particular spot and that it should be handed over to the Hindus. But at the same time, the court kept open the issue of ownership of the place.

On Thursday afternoon, a majority decision of a the three-bench court disagreed with the fundamental premise of Chamier. It held that because the Babri structure was built after demolishing a pre-existing Hindu temple in 1528, it couldn't really be regarded as a legitimate mosque, at least theologically. As such, it had absolutely no hesitation in endorsing the belief among large numbers of Hindus in the Awadh region that the disputed site was indeed the rightful inheritance of Ram bhakts. The High Court said that, ideally, the 70 acres of so of disputed property should be split three ways but that the Ram lalla (child Ram) idol should be allowed to remain at the site of what was earlier the central dome of the Babri Masjid.
The unambiguous verdict of the High Court was, to say the least, unexpected. Till Wednesday evening, the so-called secular forces and the Muslim leadership were insisting that the verdict would establish the majesty of the Constitution and the highlight the non-negotiable nature of the rule of law.
After the verdict, their enthusiasm is distinctly less pronounced. It has been suggested that the verdict is a tacit legitimization of both the installation of the idols inside the Babri Masjid in December 1949 and its dramatic demolition 43 years later. If the Babri structure was a non-mosque since its construction in 1528, the crime of the kar sevaks was the desecration of a medieval monument and not a place of worship.
Undoubtedly, this interpretation of the dispute is going to be contested in the Supreme Court. That a section of the Muslim community is unhappy with the judgment is obvious. But far more significant than that is the fury with which the judgment has been greeted by the secular modernists. Apart from contesting everything that the "eminent historians" have been suggesting about Ram being born in Afghanistan or somewhere else and about the Babri structure having been built on vacant rock, the judges have attached greater weight to the Archaeological Survey of India report and to the weight of local tradition.
As for the Congress party, it was deeply apprehensive of what the judgment might be. They must be happy now as the BJP does not get to use the Ram Temple issue in future electoral contests to polarize the voters. The most immediate impact of this would be in the campaign for the Bihar elections.

But I am a bit disappointed by the statement of Zafaryab Jilani that he intends to appeal against the judgment in the Supreme Court. No question that he has every right to go to the higher court but i think Muslims as a community should realize that this is the rarest moment in the history of Free India and they will present a really historical example by accepting the decision as it is. History does give us rare moments to rise above the level and set the example for future generations. If they decide not to appeal, it will really be the greatest and proudest moment for all those who have strong belief in secularism and Sarva Dharma Sam Bhav.
This affords political parties the opportunity to fight for the transfer of the land for the construction of the temple and the mosque, thereby opening up a new issue even as it settled one. The judgment is a step forward but a very small one and it is difficult to predict now the complications that lie ahead. Yet it was gratifying to note that the rabble-rousers on either side were conspicuous by their absence.

There are no doubt maximalists on both sides who seek total victory for themselves and a total defeat for their adversaries. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has many such elements in its leadership. Its demand, made only a few days before the verdict, that Hindus must have unhindered possession of all 70 acres of the disputed site and that no mosque should be located within the municipal limits of Ayodhya, suggest an astonishing degree of narrow mindedness which is dangerous for the country. If these bigoted elements start interpreting the verdict according to their convenience, it will be only a matter of time before the whole atmosphere of India is vitiated and the Hindus lose the moral advantage they have at present.
It is important that quick steps are taken to allay all the misgivings of those who see themselves as the defeated side. There will be enough politicians and general busybodies who will suggest that the High Court verdict has menacing implications for all minorities—quite forgetting that the Places of Worship Act of 1991 make it impossible for an Ayodhya-type dispute to emerge in the future. There will be appeals to Muslim victimhood and the sinister suggestion that the community can never expect justice from a biased Hindu-dominated judiciary.
For the Hindus, the High Court verdict was a significant victory. Statesmanship demands that it shouldn't also be translated as a landmark Muslim defeat. The High Court verdict on Ayodhya should end a very troubled chapter of India's history and not initiate a new discord.


For me the most important fact has been the peaceful, mature reaction of the people of India. They have risen above the nightmares of the past and taken a historic stride towards our dreams for the future.But on 30th of September 2010 India proved to itself that as a society, as a democracy and as a grouping of ethnic diversity, it has reached that point where the anfractuosities of its blood-splattered history can be straightened by the obvious apathy of goal-oriented, forward-looking, self-centred young India of today and tomorrow.It is important to note that the judgement will come into force only after three months and the Centre will continue to hold the property as Receiver.It is a transparent and clear verdict over a 60-year-old complicated case. Now, it is up to the people of India to make the best of this historic verdict for peaceful coexistence. For me the most important fact has been the peaceful, mature reaction of the people of India. They have risen above the nightmares of the past and taken a historic stride towards our dreams for the future.


PRATEEK PATHAK
Student B.A in Media Studies www.pathakprateek.blogspot.com , www.prateekallahabad.blogspot.com

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