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Babri Masjid demolition set the tone for India – a future of violence

Sanghamitra Baruah
Sanghamitra BaruahDec 06, 2017 | 14:29

Babri Masjid demolition set the tone for India – a future of violence

In school, politics was my favourite subject. It still is. After all, I belong to a generation which attained political puberty way back on December 6, 1992 - a date we now mark as Babri Masjid demolition day, and will perhaps keep doing so for decades to come.

When Babri Masjid was demolished 25 years back, the Hindu militants also murdered my faith in the existence of secularism brick-by-brick. There was no noise. It was a finely executed murder of trust. From then on, the political identity became a religious affinity.

Indians of my generation grew up on discussions ignited by fiery political leaders who burst into the Indian consciousness with violent episodes like demolitions of monuments and fanning of communal riots.

Our whole idea of politics and political India was based on the edifice built by leaders like LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and numerous other small and big Sangh names who got unleashed in every nook and cranny of India. Their number kept growing bigger and their tentacles stronger. And then, years later, Narendra Modi happened to us.

babri_120617021248.jpgPhoto: AFP

As I grew up, I watched how politics and religious identity became almost synonymous. How even killing someone in the name of faith numbed our collective conscience.

After that chilling December 6 of 1992, Babri was no longer a symbol of religious belief. It made a fast-track entry to the lexicon of bloodbath, a synonym for riots.

Although I was far away from the place of the crime, the coming down of the structure came as a rib-breaking thud on my understating of love for God, allegiance to religious beliefs. The remote state of Arunachal Pradesh (where I grew up) was geographically cut off from such mainland clamour over religious sentiments, but the seeds were certainly sown.

I remember a well-educated Mr DL Srivastava, who was serving the government of Arunachal at the time as an assistant engineer in the Public Works Department, telling my father, “Good evening Sir, Bahut bada din hain aaj. Chaliye offciers’ club chalte hain.” As I stood looking at him to break the news behind his happiness, I had no clue it was the demolition of a monument by an enraged crowd. The next morning, the celebratory mood of one of my schoolteachers, who hailed from Haryana and was a practitioner of the RSS ideology, made the picture clearer to me.

I almost started hating religion from that day. Like all others of my age, I started to feel if one’s love (read fanaticism) for a particular religion leads to killing of peace; I don’t need a community, a religion to discover a sense of belongingness.

Post-Babri demolition, the flare-ups in specific pockets managed to engulf the entire nation, more particularly my generation. All our conversations and debates started to revolve around religious politics. In the entire process even the peace-loving ones would end up getting agitated in the middle of some debate over inane political leaders. The mighty Right wingers and their equally caustic opposition did everything to leave us scarred with their lacerative politics.

babri-2_120617021355.jpgPhoto: AFP

The result: Birth of an entire generation of "atheists".

Nobody wanted to admit in public they believed in God. Love for God suddenly became a forbidden emotion and was equated with violence and fundamentalism. It took me years to come out of that shell and openly declare that I'm a god-fearing person. After all, god is not about religion, it’s all about beliefs, provided those beliefs are not blind and laid on the right foundation. I can’t deny that for lot of people from my generation God and religion are still inseparable.

So, who do I blame for killing my faith in God? To all such atheists, I want to say something - it's not religion that spread the hate, it's the people who preached hatred. So, your shunning religion is not the solution. Shun the preacher. Condemn him publicly, expose him. You can perhaps still afford to keep silent or ignore him because your name is not Mohammad Akhlaq or Pehlu Khan.

The Babri episode fanned a spate of riots over religious concerns for years to come. The flames are still leaping high. After Babri, we accepted meekly that politics is nothing but a dirty game of power played by people brandishing religious beliefs. We weren’t wrong. In fact, they have been busy proving us right till date. Bruising religious sentiments became a nationalistic norm. They still haven’t been able to acquire a new weapon. Cutting across political lines, all parties take refuge in religion for votes. The only difference is some call themselves secular and others want to believe there is just one religion in this world – Hindutva.

The demolition of Babri Masjid set the tone for future – a spate of violence. I heard it many times during those profane discussions on Indian politics that the unubiquitous shadow of terrorism that engulfs present-day India is a direct outcome of that black Sunday. Maybe yes, maybe no, but all I can say is that the political puberty my generation attained on December 6, 1992 came at the cost of profusely bleeding innocent hearts.

Last updated: December 06, 2017 | 17:57
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