Millennium Post

An uneasy verdict

A core value of Indian democracy is that the will of the majority prevails with due respect to that of the minority. The Ayodhya verdict is the latest embodiment of this value, albeit in a way to bring some uneasiness to a non-majoritarian-leaning secular mind. This decision may be thus democratic but the question crops up: how Constitutional is this? A historical heritage taken away from a minority community and compensated inadequately to meet mere legal requirements but leaving unanswered the deeper questions of how to heal the hurt sentiments—of both the minority community as well as those upholding constitutional values. Although it may be argued that the minorities have been met with a less than fair November 9 verdict with the Supreme Court's final pronouncement in the contentious Ayodhya case on, the centuries-old Ayodhya Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute has been effectively decided by giving the disputed land to Ram Lalla. In the light of this verdict, Retired Supreme Court Judge AK Ganguly has been assertive in his disagreement with the apex court's decision of giving the land to the Centre for the construction of Ram temple; and he explicitly says that the minorities have been "wronged". Mr. Ganguly said that "I am perplexed and disturbed. The Constituion gives the right to every one and justice has to be given to everyone but in this case the justice has not been done to minorities." It is sufficiently established that the historical Babri mosque was demolished by sheer act of vandalism and in an outrageous disregard to law and order. The Supreme Court, too, acknowledges that it was a gross violation of rule of law and act of vandalism, but mere acknowledgement does not set right the wrongs. What was compromised in the 1992 act of vandalism was the faith and religious sentiments of a highly politicised minority community and compensation with a piece of land does little to restore one's faith in India's secular democracy. It is also argued that it has been established that the mosque was not built on the ruins of a temple as there is no archaeological evidence of temple under the mosque that then existed. Given this, a question mark arises on the belief that the owner of the land is Ram Lalla. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi puts it most appropriately that "the Supreme Court is Supreme but not infallible".

The demolition of Babri Masjid in December 1992 in Ayodhya of Uttar Pradesh state is without a doubt a blemish on the Indian democracy and polity. The perpetuated debate surrounding the precise site of Ram Janma Bhoomi in the ancient times and construction of a mosque by a Mughal general there in the medieval period took politically volatile overtones rather predictably in modern times. Mobilising mobs to retrieve the birthplace of Ram has been electorally motivated and is seen to have no cultural significance whatsoever. The promise of Ram Mandir has featured in successive Lok Sabha manifestos released by BJP since 1996—the first Lok Sabha polls since the Ram Janmabhoomi movement of 1992 which eventually led to the demolition of Babri Masjid and drove BJP to electoral success. The obvious question that always persisted and that still has not died down is: how does the construction of a temple or demolition of a mosque bring common good and general welfare? On the other hand, from a more politically motivated perspective, majority appeasement is a more gainful pursuit but the aspect to draw greater criticism is the further slight to the minority community. However, it is not the development motive but communal aspect that is inevitable given how the Indian society in general has chosen not to be progressive. It is decided that the disputed property at Ayodhya will be managed in Lord Ram's name by a temple trust that has to be set up by the central government within three months, under the provisions of the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act 1993. The trust will have the responsibility for managing the site, construction, maintenance and management of the Ram temple. Further, the Supreme Court withheld the release of 'undisputed' 67 acres that had been acquired by the Centre in 1993 and this additional land will also be handed over to the trust for the temple. All this while the Sunni Waqf Board is dished out 5 acres of land in Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque. However, it has been left to the BJP government at the Centre and state level to decide where this land will be allotted- whether part of the 77-acre 'mandir-masjid' area will be given, or would they be granted land in some other "prominent place" in Ayodhya. The violation of law and order committed with impunity in 1992 is far from restored but in the spotlight is: does this compensation suffice? Well, all is well that ends well but if it has indeed ended, it is a less than fair verdict as miniroty sentiments have been relegated to a secondary position.

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