Now, Where Do We Go From Here?
In this concluding article of his three-part series on Liberhan Commission Report Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam discusses the future course of possible action on the Babri Masjid issue.
Now that the Liberhan Commission Report is on record, and in public domain, everybody is wondering what is going to be the future sequence of events. There are more than a single set of players involved. Hence, it would be naïve to expect a single line of action.
Among the major players are the state (especially, the executive and the judiciary), the Sangh and its numerous organisations, Muslim organisations (especially those working for justice on Ayodhya and Ayodhya-related violence), civil society organisations working for constitutional values, justice, human rights and civil liberties. The last, but not the least, are the people of India, most of whom want a peaceful, fair and stable order.
The Indian state, particularly the executive arm that has the administrative authority to decide on issues and enforce its will, is obviously the most important actor. Sadly, it has so far not done anything to indicate that it is going to take stringent action against the Sangh’s stalwarts indicted in the report for breaking law. The report has clearly and unambiguously said that the indicted people unleashed the Ayodhya terror after cool calculation and deliberation. Hence the Sangh’s (which, here means all the members of the conglomerate: RSS, BJP, VHP, ABVP, Bajrang Dal and myriad others) dishonest position that the demolition of the Babri Masjid was a “spontaneous” event (whatever that means) stands exposed as an unconvincing lie.
Now, with such clinching proof available (which, in any case, has been common knowledge for the last 17 years) in black and white, the government has more reason to act against the conspirators who are out to destroy the Constitution and rule of law. However, any meaningful action is yet to come from the government. That makes us leave the government aside for a while in this discourse.
When we get down to the Sangh organisations, they remain unchanged, unrepentant. The RSS Sarsanghchalak (chief) has repeatedly said that the RSS has no regrets on the demolition. Naturally, it implies that it has no regrets on the killings that preceded and followed the demolition, and were part of the entire devilish plan.
These organisations are adamant on moving on to the next stage of their plan: construction of a temple after the demolition of the mosque, on the same site. There is no change in that. Every Sangh person is agreed on that, including the honourable Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, who said on December 5 (as stated in my earlier article) that the Babri Masjid site would have to be “levelled” (samtal banana padega). Within hours of that the mosque was demolished. These people have not changed, will never change.
They will not change because they want to teach Muslims a lesson. Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, whose men were part of the demolition squad, is on record saying the Ram temple was not the issue, teaching Muslims a lesson was. Ashok Singhal, too, is on record talking in that language. Togadia, Rithambra and Uma Bharti are among others who have been talking in that language. They are the norm, not exception in the Sangh combine. The lesson-teaching (or, at least, attempts at lesson-teaching) will continue, Babri Masjid or not. They will always have some alibi or the other to keep on teaching Muslims a lesson. You cannot talk to people inspired by Hitler, people who see Muslims as equivalents of Jews in Hitler’s Germany.
Now that leaves us with the handful of Muslim organisations that are actively involved in a legal, fair and just settlement of the Ayodhya issue, including the pursuit of justice for the victims of organised and well-orchestrated violence.
It is amusing to see some of the Muslim leaders, organisations and individuals daydreaming about a “compromise” with the Sangh on Ayodhya. Some of our well-meaning intellectuals are even talking about Sulah-e-Hudaibiya (the Treaty of Hudaibiya) between Muslims, led by the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) and their the Prophet (PBUH) and their Meccan enemies. It accommodated all the demands of the opposition, rejecting everything advantageous to Muslims.
Still, the holy Quran says God saw it as advantageous to Muslims. I would like to tell my friends that they are putting the Treaty of Hudaibiya in an inappropriate context. The Muslims of today’s India are not the Muslims of Medina of 6th century and the mosque demolishers are not the Kafirs of Makkah of that time. Their attributes are different, their situation totally different. This line of argument is irrelevant and not worthy of consideration.
The only sensible, practicable and pragmatic course left to Muslims is to wait for the state (in this case, the judicial arm) to take its course. Now that nobody can do anything—the government would do nothing, the Sangh would not relent, Muslims do not have the wherewithal, civil society organisation do not have the authority of enforcement, the larger society as such is powerless – all that is left there is the law of the land. The judiciary is the only resort left.
Incidentally, our well-meaning Muslim friends referred to above have a rather strange argument. They say there are chances that Muslims will lose the title suit on the Babri Masjid land. So, it is better to have an out-of-court “settlement” with the Sangh. Then they say, even if Muslims win the suit they would not be allowed to rebuild the Babri Masjid. And, even if they got it built they would not be allowed to pray there. That is a rather pessimistic argument which is against the optimistic spirit of Islam as well as against the idea of India’s constitutional order. We need not be that pessimistic.
My take on the issue is something like this: Muslims did not break the Babri Masjid, the Union government was responsible for it with its acts of omission, and the UP government with its acts of commission. The two governments have to rebuild it, not we.
Now the other point. If the highest judiciary says the land does not belong to us, we will look at God and say: “This far we could save your House. We now surrender to your will as You have indicated it through our highest judiciary”.
If we win the case, it is for the state to rebuild the mosque and ensure that we exercise our constitutionally-mandated freedom of worship. All that is the state’s business, not ours.
Finally, my advice to our well-meaning friends: wait for the judiciary’s verdict. This is also the opinion of civil society leaders I know, a majority of Muslim organisations and of a majority of Indians. (Concluded) g