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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Another Babri Story In Offing

After three decades of relative calm post the Babri Masjid demolition, events in the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute have taken a swift turn. The latest development is the apparent ‘manifestation’ of a ‘Shivalinga’ during a court-mandated survey, following which the local Varanasi court has ordered for that portion of the mosque to be sealed. The Supreme Court has removed the restrictions on offering Namaz imposed by Varanasi Civil Court while protecting the spot where the plaintiff claimed a ‘Shivalinga’ was found. Three years before, in the Babri Masjid case, the Supreme Court had delivered an ambiguous judgement, trying to balance competing claims of faith, history, and law

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After three decades of relative calm post the Babri Masjid demolition, events in the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute have taken a swift turn. The latest development is the apparent ‘manifestation’ of a ‘Shivalinga’ during a court-mandated survey, following which the local Varanasi court has ordered for that portion of the mosque to be sealed. The Supreme Court has removed the restrictions on offering Namaz imposed by Varanasi Civil Court while protecting the spot where the plaintiff claimed a ‘Shivalinga’ was found. Three years before, in the Babri Masjid case, the Supreme Court had delivered an ambiguous judgement, trying to balance competing claims of faith, history, and law. While it acknowledged that Muslims were wrongfully deprived of their 450-year-old mosque, and condemned its destruction as a ‘serious violation of law’, it concluded that Hindus have a ‘better’ possessory claim of the title of the land. Among other arguments, SC took into account the faith of Hindus in the birthplace of Lord Rama and the need to ensure ‘peace and tranquillity’.

Even though the SC judgement in the Babri Masjid dispute left many Muslims disappointed, there was a little overt protest. One reason was that SC treated Babri Masjid dispute as a special case while making it clear that the Indian state protects all existing Muslim places of worship. It categorically rebuffed the notion that a court of law in a secular democracy could be an instrument for correcting perceived ‘historical wrongs’ against Hindu temples. Further, it reaffirmed the validity of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, which prohibits the religious character of a place of worship to be changed. The only exhibition contained in this was the Babri Masjid. Thus, the case against tinkering with the Gyanvapi Mosque is clear. But, of course, the Gyanvapi dispute, like the Babri Masjid’s dispute, is essentially not about law, nor even history, but about the need for contemporary politics.

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The motor fuel of Hindutva is imagined grievance. As BJP has taken office in most of the Hindi belt, the wellspring of present-day Hindu grievances has been substantially drained. The charge of Muslim appeasement does not carry the same resonance as the political power of Muslims. It has declined precipitously. Laws on subjects such as cow slaughter and ‘love jihad’ have ensured that the sentiments of Hindus are already seen to command political primacy. In this respect, BJP is even more dependent on history to provide an extension to provide an inexhaustible reservoir of Hindu grievances. The mosques in Varanasi and Mathura, among other places, are sought to be presented as disputed areas. Thus, RSS and BJP are content to lie in the shadows, encouraging Hindutva proxies to gradually soldier on with the next frontier of historical claims — Varanasi, Mathura and beyond. Petitioners in the current iteration of the Gyanvapi dispute are linked to the Vishwa Vedic Sanatan Sangh. The ultimate goal of this organisation, according to its president Jitender Vishen, is the establishment of ‘Hindu Rashtra’, much like the goal of RSS. But these Hindutva surrogates coughed as devotees, helping the political establishment to maintain a plausible distance. It is a fraught task, even in western countries, to disentangle politics from faith and history. But it is the mark of advanced nations that justice is not beholden to majoritarian sentiments or historic grievances. As the Supreme Court expressly noted in the Babri Masjid judgment: “For any person who seeks solace or recourse against the action of any number of ancient rulers, the law is not the answer.”

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
Welcome to The Hills Times, your trusted source for daily news and updates in English from the heart of Assam, India. Since our establishment in 2000, we've been dedicated to providing timely and accurate information to our readers in Diphu and Guwahati. As the first English newspaper in the then undemarcated Karbi Anglong district, we've forged a strong connection with diverse communities and age groups, earning a reputation for being a reliable source of news and insights. In addition to our print edition, we keep pace with the digital age through our website, https://thehillstimes.in, where we diligently update our readers with the latest happenings day by day. Whether it's local events, regional developments, or global news, The Hills Times strives to keep you informed with dedication and integrity. Join us in staying ahead of the curve and exploring the world through our lens.
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