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Why we can't let courts decide on Ram Temple issue

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Balbir Punj
Balbir PunjDec 16, 2017 | 10:28

Why we can't let courts decide on Ram Temple issue

While Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi was making a desperate bid to pose as a practising "Janeudhari Brahmin" in the wake of the Gujarat elections, another important leader of his party and noted lawyer Kabil Sibal was arguing against an early hearing of the Ram temple case in the Supreme Court, a move clearly aimed at cultivating the Muslim vote-bank.

Flashback

Appearing for the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board, Sibal asked the Supreme Court to postpone the hearing of the case till July 2019. An absurd request considering the fact that appeals against the Allahabad High Court verdict in the case have been pending for the last seven years! In fact, the litigation on the vexed Ayodhya issue is over a century old.

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On January 29, 2018, it will compete 133 years! Still, Sibal questioned the court about the “hurry” to hear the matter now and pleaded for the hearing to be postponed till July 2019. This is "secularism" in action in India. Keep such emotive issues alive and communal cauldron boiling.

A flashback: On January 29, 1885, Raghubar Das, Mahant of the Ram Janmasthan, filed a civil suit seeking permission to construct a temple over the Ram Chabutara spot. The Mahant’s plea was opposed by Muhammed Asghar, mutawalli (guardian) of the Babri mosque.

The Faizabad sub-judge dismissed the suit on December 24, 1885. On December 23, 1949, idols of Hindu gods were installed in the “disputed structure” and puja was started. Meanwhile, the civil judge, on January 1, 1950, passed an ad interim injunction restraining the removal of the idols. The puja continued. The public was allowed darshan from beyond the brick-grill wall.

In 1985, came the Shah Bano judgment and then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi gave in to the Muslim fundamentalist pressure, overruling a secular court’s decision that the divorced wife Shah Bano was entitled to alimony from her ex-husband. Rajiv enacted a law abolishing the alimony provision in conformity with the Shari’a.

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Within months, Rajiv Gandhi tried to restore the balance. In 1986, the Faizabad district fudge on an appeal by an advocate, Umesh Chandra Pandey, allowed the public to have the darshan from inside and ordered the respondents to remove the locks on the brick grill wall. Rajiv Gandhi's hand was clearly seen behind the court order. However, merely unlocking was not good enough for the Hindus, who have been aspiring and struggling for centuries to build a grand temple at the Janambhumi site, befitting the stature of Lord Rama in Hindu tradition. So the agitation for the temple continued.

On the fateful day of December 6, 1992, a frenzied mob tore down the Babri edifice and hurriedly put a temporary tented structure on the demolition site under which an idol of "Ramlalla" sits till this day.

babri-copy_121617093255.jpg

Agitation

There are irrefutable historical records that the Hindus had repeatedly attempted to recover the Janambhoomi — in 1735, 1751, 1756 and so on. In 1767, Austrian Jesuit traveller Joseph Tieffenthaler noted that in spite of the Mughal King’s efforts to prevent them, the Hindus were worshipping and celebrating Ramanavami under the Babri structure

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Why has the issue remained unresolved for so long, even after the departure of the British? One, the "secularists" of various hues who have been in power for most of the time in post-independent India, have a vested interest in keeping the dispute alive. And both, the pro and anti-Ram temple parties, too have failed to grasp the issue at stake.

The fight has never been for a piece of land or against a mosque. Twenty-five years ago, on December 6, the mob which demolished Babri, did not touch any other mosque either in Ayodhya or neighbouring Faizabad.

The Babri structure was brought down because a Ram temple could not be built at that very spot without doing so. What the agitated karsevaks demolished was not a mosque, but a symbol of humiliation forced by a ruthless foreign victor over the vanquished.

Incompetence

Demolishing a temple, highly revered by the locals and replacing it with a mosque on that very site, was a political statement by the barbarous invader. The response to this historical injustice too should have been political and not legal — a la reconstruction of Somnath temple in Gujarat, undertaken at the initiative of Sardar Patel after Independence.

Courts are a poor mechanism to deal with issues, which carry long-standing historical baggage concerning faith and have political underpinnings. Reservations for schedule castes and tribes, and later for OBCs, was a political decision to undo the injustice of the past. Can you expect a court to decide whether reservations are needed or not?

The pre-Independence leadership gave into black-mailing of Muslim League and agreed for the partition of the country. In January 2015, Shireen Dalvi, editor of Awadhnama, was arrested for reprinting the controversial cartoon of Prophet Muhammad. Works of noted authors such as Taslima Nasrin and Salman Rushdie were banned in India, even before any one in India had even read them.

In none of these cases, the executive or the affected parties waited for a judicial intervention or sought opinion of the courts. In Ramjanmabhumi case, the legislature and executive should have taken the call. But with the likes of Kabil Sibal deeply embedded in the system, obviously it is not that easy.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Last updated: December 16, 2017 | 10:28
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