Ayodhya verdict

Kashmir Times. Dated: 11/11/2019 2:54:03 PM

Majoritarian faith takes precedence over legality

The verdict over one of the most contested and long pending disputes, with potential to evoke and sharpen communal fissures and even unleash communal violence, finally came on Saturday. It not only remains contested as opinions are divided on what its actual import would be. It also brings to end one of the most disgraceful chapters in contemporary history to an end where justice remains elusive and pragmatism remains the essential determining focus. To some the decision of giving the Babri-Ramjanam Bhoomi land entirely to the Hindus for construction of the Ram temple and allot compensatory 5 acres of alternate land to the dispossessed Muslims may seem like a fine balance and a closure. But this simplification skirts several vital questions which are necessary to engage with and realise that the shameful chapter of the dispute has ended in an equally shameful manner. The judgement is based on insufficient evidence and details provided by the Archaeological Survey of India about existence of a 12th century Hindu pillared structure below the Babri mosque and the contention that Muslims have offered no evidence to indicate that they were in exclusive possession of the inner structure prior to 1857 since the date of the construction in the sixteenth century. This is ironical since the court acknowledges the illegality of the exclusion of the Muslims from worship and possession took place in 1949 when the mosque was desecrated by the installation of Hindu idols and the complete demolition of the mosque in December 1992. On basis of this evidence, the court has averred that the Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years ago. This is an acknowledgement that the structure was a mosque throughout its lifetime and thus, by definition, should have belonged to the Muslim community. But while the court has gone into the question of Muslims' exclusive possession of the structure, it has not questioned the exclusive possession of the Hindus. It is also pertinent to mention that historians have punctured the claims of the ASI about the existence of a pillared structure and no evidence has been offered to suggest whether the Babri mosque was built more than four hundred years ago over these purported pillars.
The verdict is clearly based not on legality but on faith and belief of the majority community. Faith has superseded history, antiquity and law. By giving the land to the plaintiff's who were virtually responsible for demolition of the mosque, which the court itself has held as an egregious violation of law, is not just contradictory, it appears the verdict is guided by majority sentiment and thus creates a dangerous precedent. Not only does this verdict jeopardise the security of many other monuments but also all the minorities, particularly the Muslims, as well. The Ayodhya dispute has been settled but the Pandora's box has been opened in a country where the Hindu right wing has already begun making claims to several places of worship. The court verdict has boosted the morale of the Hindu right wing, which is in power and is further likely to be bolstered by the reading of this judgement. In the backdrop of the partisan manner of rushing through National Register of Citizenship together with mooting an even more partisan Citizenship Amendment Bill, this spells disaster for the country's egalitarian principles. The lack of pure logic and evidence applied to this case can be applied to many others that the Hindutva ideologues have already raked up or could rake up in the future. The verdict then does not mark a closure, it may well be the beginning of a major disaster waiting in the wings to unfold. By adjudicating the manner in which it has, the apex court has completely disregarded one of the core foundational basis of the Indian constitution and democracy - secularism.



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