By Ram Puniyani
The verdict given by Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court (Sept 2010) has been a landmark of sorts. On one hand it is culmination of the process of demolition of Babri Masjid, now that illegal act of demolition has got a legal sanction. On the other this judgment is the one based on every other consideration than the legal one. It has no rooting in the values of Indian Constitution, no guidance from the directive principles of the Constitution and no grounding in the law of the land. Despite this glaring fact a large section of the popular opinion went on to keep quiet about it, or criticize it in a muted way. The atmosphere has been created that it is a balanced judgment pleasing all; it has been the best option in the present circumstances etc. We do need to recall that there was heaviness in the atmosphere before the judgment. The Hindus were apprehensive that if by chance there is violence and they or their near and dear ones are caught in the melee, it will be a disaster. Muslim minority on the other hand feared the destruction of their properties or loss of their lives in case the violence breaks out. Fortunately those who orchestrate the violence, as shown by the inquiry committee reports time and over again, chose not to unleash ‘celebratory violence’, as they had done in the aftermath of Babri demolition on 6th December 1992. This time while probably the RSS combine and communalized sections of society felt more jubilant then before, still they had restrained themselves from creating a situation where the violence takes place.
Muslims on surface felt a bit relieved that they do not have to suffer another cycle of violence and its aftermath. But they also felt let down by the court. They did feel that this judgment is a symptom of Hindu Rashtra in the offing. While there is a spectrum of opinion amongst Muslim community, now there is a feeling that even the law cannot protect their just rights. Deep frustration, anger and dejection are the response from large section of the Muslims who dared to speak. The atmosphere created by communal propaganda has pushed them to the wall and ‘we should move on’ is the thinking of a section of Muslim community. The unevenness, the contrasting situations of ‘two sides’ of the dispute is very obvious, one side which is dominant got more than it could dream of and the other side feels betrayed once again..
While RSS combine is joyous that a path has been paved for the national sentiment of Bhavya (grand) Ram Temple, and has asked Muslims to contribute in the ‘national’ agenda. One knows that we are dealing with the contrasting notions of nationalism. The Nationalism RSS is talking is the anti thesis of secular democratic nation, the aspiration of freedom movement, the nation enshrined in the Indian Constitution. What else can one expect from this political outfit, RSS, which aims to transform our democratic polity into a Hindu nation, with all past political-social ideologies presented in newer language? RSS combine is already feeling that their agenda has gone one step up, as the illegal act of installation in 1949 and the criminal act of Babri demolition has been legitimized and has also ‘quietly’ become part of social common sense.
The reaction of Congress has been very pathetic. One knows that so far in the communal violence which has stalked the streets it has kept quiet, and many a times a section of its Chief Ministers and other top leaders have presided over the carnage. When communalists have been on their ’job’ of massacring and maiming the innocent populace, the Congress has been looking the other way around. Congress reaction has been no different in the aftermath of this judgment. Congress is happy that ‘peace’ is prevailing; it is immaterial for them that this is not the peace of harmony but the peace based on injustice. In their electoral calculations to speak as per the Constitutional values and adherence to law has been dispensed with long ago. Sticking to principles does not suit Congress opportunistic communalism. There are still some voices of protest and introspection which are deeply disturbed by this judgment. This section does feel that the judgment is a big jolt to the values of pluralism, democratic law and all that the idea for which India stands.
The bureaucracy and the other arms of state apparatus are satisfied as what matters for them is the apparent calm. The preservation of the law of the land is not their deeper concern. As such a large part of this machine called Indian state has been heavily coated with the paint of divisive ideology and it has imbibed the propaganda of the Hindutva, masquerading itself as the representative of all Hindus. In the steel frame of Indian state a section swears by Hindu nation openly and still larger section is the quiet accomplice in the process of erosion of democratic norms due to multiple factors. These factors are the ceaseless communal propaganda, adverse effects of globalization and the accompanying cultural changes. So the question is, in this situation who is the guardian of Indian Constitution? If the political leadership is happy with the apparent clam and unconcerned about justice, the future of values of Indian Constitution and principles of justice seem to be threatened as never before.
The judgment and the reaction to it is a matter of serious and severe concern for all those who want to adhere to Indian Constitution and abhor the concept of Hindu nation. It is the communal common sense which is dominating the day. The legitimacy being conferred on bypassing of legal foundations of India is a matter of much more serious concern then the previous assaults on the Indian Republic, the murder of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, the anti Sikh pogrom, the Babri demolition, the burning of Pastor Graham Stains, the Gujarat pogrom, and the Kandhamal violence. One sees barring in the anti Sikh program, the common link in all these attacks on the idea of secular democratic India, is the ideology of Hindu nation, the political agenda of RSS. In this phenomenon, assault on Indian Constitution by RSS combine, the Congress plays an opportunist role of an accomplice, letting the things take place. In that sense it plays a supporting role in the violation of all whatever the founding fathers of Indian nation stood for. One is reminded of an analogy from the world of cricket. In this analogy Indian Constitutional values are batsmen, RSS-Hindutva politics is the bowler, Congress the fielder, communalized social common sense is the Umpire raising his finger at every appeal by the bowler and the section of state apparatus is the one deliberately overlooking the mischief of those preparing the pitch suitable for this bowler.
It is also reminiscent of the Nazi Germany where the demonization of Jews, Communist, Trade unionists, the erosion of popular culture and its impact on all the wings of state got seeped by the fascist values, values of suppression of minorities and other weaker sections of society. One knows the painful fact that every episode of violence takes the communal politics one notch up. The disturbing point is not just that the judgment has by passed the law of the land, but also that this has got such a welcome reception from all those powers which matter.
The progressive forces and secular movement has a lot of thinking to do. If secularism is being attacked by RSS combine, if secularism is not being honestly protected by the party in power, Indian National Congress, then what is to be done to protect it? How will idea of India, Indian Constitution be saved and by whom? The progressive liberal and democratic forces have to wake up that. It is a ‘do or die’ situation for Indian democracy. The prevalent social common sense, the erosion of democratic norms, the bypassing of Indian law by the Courts, is a matter of serious concern.