Mandir-Musjid 1: the Bhumi Pujan

August 9, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

We must free ourselves from mind-numbing slogans like “majhab anhin sikhaata aapas men bair rakhana”, “all religions teach peace” and “all religions are equal”. They definitely teach animosity; they certainly teach strife, often violent, and they are not equal in their bigotry and hatred for others. Presently they all, particularly two major ones in India, are spreading hatred and are attacking the constitution with impunity. Exaggerated lamentations of atrocities on Muslims, snatching their rights, and ‘dara hua musalmaan’ on one side, and underplaying of Muslim belligerence and atrocities where they are more numerous, on the other, fuel this fire further. In response to such narratives the hardliners among Hindus preach their historical grievances narrative more aggressively and more vociferously. The hardliners among the Muslims thinks that their Sharia supported bigotry is either condoned or is legitimate, therefore, pronounce their threats in a more confident and venomous manner. Unless the saner elements in the nation raise their voices in a balanced manner, condemning all atrocities and all bigotry equally, this evil duet will continue escalating.

The Bhumi Pujan

The world has seen a very loud and gaudy Bhumi Pujan for Ram temple in Ayodhya on 5th August 2020. In this hyped drama we have witnessed excessive and dramatized news coverage, the victory narrative emphasized, blowing up importance of Ram to eclipse everything else in the long cultural history of India, and equating Bhumi Pujan for a temple with the freedom of India, an atrocious comparision. This exhibits narrow imagination of India, belligerence of a section of Hindu population and did away with all possibility of spirituality in the occasion. This seemed to be a fit example of reclaiming the body by losing one’s soul. One TV channel creates a whole nautanki set of Rama Mandir in its studio. Rama was proclaimed to be in the heart of every Indian.

I never understood what this metaphor means. Yes, Ram is widely worshipped, and believers have deep respect for various narratives built around him. Ram is part of the culture, in large parts of the country even the routine greeting is “Ram Ram” among the peasants, or “Jai Siya Ram” among the more religiously rooted. Respecting sentiments of people who believe in Ram is a demand of behavior in civilized society. But does every Indian believe in Ram as an avatar? Does every Indian believe even in the historical fact of existence of Ram? The answer is an unambiguous NO. And still anyone who raised these questions was painted as an enemy of Hindus and India. Ram is one deity among dozens of similar importance in Hindu-dharma.

One can still understand that devotees of Ram must be genuinely elated and may genuinely believe that a bigotedly destroyed Ram Temple is being restored. Destroying someone’s place of worship is definitely insulting, demeaning and traumatic for the devotees. Thus, a sense of restoring one’s self-respect also may be understood. But flaunting of such an event as a victory is certainly a deed of a sallow and hateful mind.

There is an ambiguity regarding the site. There is a high probability on the basis of archeological evidence that there was a temple at this site, but it is not certain that the temple was destroyed to erect the mosque. There is no ambiguity that the mosque was destroyed deliberately in 1992. Thus, this occasion demanded a civilized reconciliatory tone from supporters of Ram Mandir, not belligerence and victory narrative. The Ram devotes would have earned much more respect through a widely reported but sober ceremony, without blowing the trumpet of victory. Frequent reference to Supreme Court judgment and heart felt appreciation of acceptance of that judgment by the Muslim population of India would have shown them in better spiritual and humanitarian light. But they chose a victory narrative with belligerence.

The Bhumi Pujan and shilanyas by the Prime Minister is a new low for Indian democracy and secularism. No, I am not singing in tune with so-called secularists that Indian democracy and secularism are dead. They have a habit of declaring Indian democracy and secularism dead on drop of a hat. By their reckoning both secularism and democracy died thousand times; one wonders how do they find them alive to die the next death a few weeks later! To me Indian democracy and secularism both are robust, alive, and kicking; the unabashed maligning of India itself is a proof of that. Yes, there are aberrations from the supporters of the ruling party, as well as misinterpreting secularists to a lesser degree, but the debate on Ram Temple itself proves strength of the democratic fabric of the nation. However, it is of concern that the Bhumi Pujan of a religious place by a Prime Minister is one more act against the secular constitution, and the most damaging so far. These acts weaken democracy and secularism; and even if they are not dead yet, they are pushed a step closer to death.

Whenever a state functionary in his/her capacity as a state representative goes to Babas, Dargahs, Temples, Mosques, holds iftar parties, celebrates religious occasions; the secularism takes a hit, and is chipped a little bit. This has been competitively going on in India since independence itself. Even the very secular PM Manmohan Singh is on record participating in a temple inauguration. But Bhumi Pujan and shilanyaas of a temple by a Prime Minister are the biggest blow so far. However, I will repeat: secularism is not dead, neither because of Bhumi Pujan nor because of Ram Mandir being built where once Babri Masjid stood. Yes, it is weakened and is under serious strain, but we can still make it all powerful. But only if we recognize all forces that have reduced respect for secularism in India, Sangh Parivar is a major culprit, but by no means the only one. Islamists and so-called liberals are no less responsible.

But we are jumping the gone, we will come to this point later in this essay.

To be continued tomorrow ….

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9th August 2020


Babri Masjid and Citizenship Amendment Bill

December 6, 2019

Rohit Dhankar

Babri Masjid

On this day of 6th December 1992, a grave crime against secularism (and therefore, against democracy) was committed by a mob organised and instigated by some powerful people of Bharatiy Janata Party (BJP). The crime was demolition of a centuries old mosque, called Babri Masjid, in Ayodhya. This demolition happened in the face of assurance given by the central government and the state government of that time. This was breach of trust of Indian citizens in general and Muslims in particular.

The perpetrators and instigators of this crime are still unpunished. The Supreme Court since then has awarded the land on which Babri Masjid stood to Hindu parties. It seems to me that the Muslim parties had established their possession on the inner courtyard of the said masjid and therefore, they too had a right to part of this land.

I am also convinced that the Babri Masjid was almost certainly built on the site of a demolished temple of earlier times. I came to this conclusion after reading the SC judgment very carefully and referring to some books and material mentioned therein. Neither the SC not Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) say it clearly, but they also do not deny the possibility. No historian of repute accepts what I am saying. But the ASI report, age old attempts of Hindus to continue worship there and the fact that it is situated in an area which has many old and destroyed temples convinces me that it was built on a temple.

However, since we are a secular democracy since 26th January 1950 and a free country since 15th August 1947, we should have accepted what was there on that land on 15th August 1947. And that was Babri Masjid. Therefore, (1) part of the land should have gone to the Muslim parties, (2) those who demolished the Masjid and aided in this dastardly act should be punished. Irrespective of the SC judgment.

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Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB)

I have written a blog on this yesterday.

It seems most liberals consider CAB an attack on the soul of secular India. I think they are mistaken or taking a deliberately wrong stand out of ideological commitments.

Anyone who pays attention to the following, it seems to me, will come to the conclusion that CAB is an attempt to help oppressed minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and simultaneously to safeguard national security.

Points to note:

  1. People who migrated to territory of what is now Pakistan after partition did not acquire citizenship of free India.
  2. People who remained in the Pakistani territory after a certain date also lost the opportunity to acquire the same.
  3. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are Muslim majority states and Islamic theocratic states. Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians are persecuted minorities there, with lesser rights than Muslims. (I am not sure of Bangladesh, regarding constitutionally lesser rights, will check.)
  4. The history of these countries tells us that minorities are oppressed there. Liberals are very reluctant to admit that minorities are persecuted or not given equal rights in most of Muslim majority countries. However, it is true.
  5. As per the Citizenship Act 1955 any one, including Muslims, from any country can become an Indian citizen after following due procedure. This is the main act. The CAB is not restricting that part of the act.
  6. The CAB is providing facility for accelerated citizenship only for the oppressed minorities in these three intolerant countries.
  7. This is not on the basis of religion; it is on the basis of persecution. Because the procedure of naturalisation for all other countries and all religions remains the same as stated in Citizenship Act 1955.
  8. It is necessary because lakhs of such oppressed people are living in India for decades without citizenship rights. Those who are opposing the bill are turning a blind eye to these miserable people.
  9. The facility of accelerated citizenship can not be extended to Muslims from the three mentioned countries because they are not oppressed there for their religion. And two of these countries are created because Muslims wanted that.
  10. It also can not be extended to Muslims because lakhs (some estimates say more than a crore) Bangladeshi Muslims have crossed the boarder and living in India illegally. They did not come here because of any persecution, are illegal and have changed demography in many areas. They cannot be given Indian citizenship.
  11. Therefore, the bill is on the basis of persecution, is not anti-secularism and not unjust to Muslims.
  12. Liberals as well as Muslims should recognise that Islamic supremacy operates in Muslim majority countries in an open and unabashed manner. Where Muslims are in minority this Islamic supremacy changes into an ‘Aggressive Victimhood Card’(AVC). Sensible Muslims and liberals should avoid this trap.
  13. The CAB does not victimise Indian Muslims in any way. They should stop playing this AVC.

If any part of this post offends anyone please see the logic. Avoid name-calling, I am open to sensible arguments. And always admit a possibility of mistake (human error) in facts and/or argument.

Calling people Sicular, Libratard, Bhakta etc expresses an undeserved superiority or stupefy. This actually is a form of stupidity/lack of confidence generated by frustration of not finding good arguments to counter. Counter the arguments if you happen to possess any intellect. Name calling will show you to be an idiot. 😊

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6th December 2019