TEN YEARS AFTER THE DEMOLITION: M YUSUF KHAN (previously published in The Pioneer)

The people of Ayodhya would like to forget the tragic events of December 6, 1992, which struck at the root of the secular principle of our Constitution. But the rest of the nation seems to be in no hurry to do so. Nothing can be more absurd than observing the anniversary of an event in one form or the other that should have been allowed to lie low.

While the Muslims have been faithfully observing "black day" on December 6, the VHP and its cohorts have been celebrating it as "victory day".

Such a trend does not portend well for the country. Most Indians do not approve of it, yet not enough protesting voices are heard. For the last one decade, speculations get rife as December approaches. The administration and the intelligence agencies, whose job is to gather information discreetly to thwart any attempt to create trouble, go public in airing their concerns and their views on how elaborate is the bandobast. This makes a good news story. And a matter that should have been given a quiet burial is resurrected by the Government agencies themselves. TV coverage and a replay of the past footage only serves to heighten social anxiety.

No doubt the Muslims carry the scar of the demolition. By and large they have come to realise that the best solution is the legal course. They are willing to accept the court verdict. In their heart they know that the place where the mosque once stood, would remain a mosque. Its status cannot be altered and neither can that piece of land be gifted away. That is their belief. They also know that the remedy lies within legal and constitutional means. They cannot take the law in their own hands, despite the rhetoric of some leaders. Their faith requires them to abide by the law of the land.

The Urdu press is where the Muslims' views are aired comparatively freely. There is a general perception among them that the issues related to Muslims and their views do not find place in the country's English newspapers. Therefore, one has to feel the pulse of the community only through the Urdu press.

It was interesting to read two articles in Urdu Rashtriya Sahara (December 12) to mark the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The authors were well-known people, and of course Muslims. One was a cleric and the other an established journalist. The journalist leaps into history back and forth to remind the Muslims of their glorious past asking them to ponder what has relegated them from the position of being the "rulers" to the "ruled". He also asks them why the Indian Muslim is so helpless as to be a mute spectator when his place of worship is demolished. Then he wonders how the backward Hindus have marched ahead of the Muslims in every field after 1947. The crowning glory is when he reminds his readers that no "living community" ever forgets the assault on its identity. One has rarely come across such outlandish claims in print before. In his eagerness to not let go of a subject so topical, he has got totally carried away, paying scant regard to history, sensibility and above all the present day reality. In a democracy, living in this century, if one talks of being ruled in the idiom of the past, it shows intellectual bankruptcy.

In one place he goes on to say that Muslims should be strong enough within themselves so that no one dares cast an evil eye on them. It was difficult to understand what the writer was driving at, when he delivered the googly in the next sentence. He said this would be possible only through modern education and farsightedness. With these two weapons, Muslims will be able to face the challenge of the present world and will be able to ward off possible events like December 6. He does not elaborate how that will happen.

The second article by a maulana is very balanced. He has things to say to the present Government and to the anti-Muslim forces. But his advice to the community is very sound. In his view the expression of Muslim anguish should be through peaceful means. According to him, protest does not mean confrontation or retaliation. The bottom line is to remind the Government that the community feels wronged and it seeks justice. But his most emphatic advice, which may not go down well with those politically inclined, is that the Muslims should remain patient and take recourse to supplications in the face of such adversities.

The fact is there are groups with vested interest that would like to keep the issue alive for their motives. And the Muslims would be doing their bidding if they keep stoking the embers of Ayodhya with their rhetorics.








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