Millennium Post

Bury the mandir-masjid hatchet

The top court cannot leave everything to the government and vice versa. A show of spines is in order, writes Sushil Kutty

There stood once a Mandir. There stood once a Masjid. Today, neither is there a Mandir nor is there a Masjid. Now, tell what should be there, Mandir or Masjid? One set wants Mandir. The other set says Masjid. The question repeats itself, again and again. Without fail. In private. In public. In court. In Parliament. In cabinet meetings. In newspapers. In television studios. In tea stalls. In drawing rooms. Now, tell what should be there, Mandir or Masjid?

Litigation. Strife. Death. Destruction. Still, the question is asked: Now, tell what should be there, Mandir or Masjid? The Supreme Court appointed panel's brief is to mediate an answer to the question. Not that mediation hasn't been tried before. Three or maybe four times. Every time a failure. The top court believes one more try will not hurt anybody.

Not everybody's convinced. But everybody's going along because it's the honourable Supreme Court's decision and the honourable Supreme Court cannot be wrong, ever. The best thing is for the honourable Supreme Court itself to make the decision to the all-important question that repeats itself. But, then, it runs the risk of being reduced to dishonourable by a section. Unthinkable!

The problem is the honourable Supreme Court does not want to find itself in such a dishonourable situation. That being said, the issue has been hanging fire for so long, only a dishonourable (to one party to the dispute) decision can bust the Catch 22. It appears the honourable Supreme Court isn't anywhere in that dishonourable class.

So, the three-member panel to mediate a dishonourable compromise (dishonourable to one party) of sorts. Let's call the spade a spade. Not beat around the bush. Stop being politically correct. Not act shy, coy! One of the parties to the dispute will have to back off and accept a dishonourable exit.

Will it happen? Already, dishonourable voices are being raised. If somebody doesn't like the presence of one particular individual in the panel, somebody else is insisting the mediators shouldn't miss that there's one irrefutable parameter paramount to the dispute. That a Mandir existed at the spot and 'Mandir Wahin Banayenge'.

The guy who's talking of the irrefutable parameter is Hindu. The chap who doesn't like one particular panel member is Muslim. This second gentleman is a barrister of law and the other one is a pretender in law, an economist never economical with words. Both have inserted themselves into the dispute and are capable of raising hell if one of them doesn't fancy the final decision. Mediation is not their cup of joy. They share qualities: Intransigent. Stubborn. Obdurate. Unbending. Obstinate. Inveterate. Rigid. Unbending.

The Mandir-Masjid issue is essentially a title dispute into which archaeologists dug deep and found more than dirt. But the intransigence and unyielding obduracy is so deep, even proof of existence did not make a difference. A high court took the bull by the horns to try and break the conundrum, but then there was the remedy – the honourable Supreme Court. Ha! The honourable Supreme Court is playing safe. It doesn't want blood on its hands. It is refusing to do its duty. Lay it out in black & white.

The chap with the irrefutable parameter and the guy who doesn't like one of the mediators because he has a couple of Hindu prefixes to his name, both should be made to pipe down, forced to make dishonourable exits, put on their compromising hats. But then, there is the article Freedom of Expression. So, the top court's hands are tied. How about posting a posse outside both these gentlemen's pads? To keep an eye on them and, at the same time, provide them protection!

They cannot raise Cain over that, can they? The point is, now that it's been ruled that mediation will act icebreaker, perceived hell-raisers, like the two gentlemen, should be taken care of, gently reminded that they will be held to account for making irresponsible statements with the entitlement of Freedom of Expression. The top court cannot leave everything to the government and vice versa. A show of spines is in order.

The icing on the cake is if the mediators succeed and both parties agree to one party making a dishonourable exit for the honourable apex court to make a decision that will be honoured, then this stubborn issue of incalculable obduracy, unpersuadable tenacity, will be settled once and for all and no political party will be able to use it for electoral advantage. The discomfort is already there for all to see on the faces of spokespersons of this and that party. It's time nobody asks ever again the question: "Now, tell what should be there, Mandir or Masjid?"

(The views are strictly personal)

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