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Mainstream, VOL LV No 51 New Delhi December 9, 2017

After Twentyfive Years

Sunday 10 December 2017



We have observed yesterday the twentyfifth anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, an incident in post-independence India that—like the assassi-nation of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 and the Gujarat genocide of 2002—was not only a blot on our much-cherished secular democracy but actually shook the very basis of our republic.

Indeed a day after the demolition of the mosque on December 6, 1992 activists of various persuasions owing allegiance to secularism had marched to the BJP headquarters in the national Capital shouting: ”sharm se kaho hum Hindu hain (hang your heads in shame to call yourselves Hindus).” The idea was to inject a sense of shame in the minds of the majoritarian triumphalists for having tarnished the secular values on which the Indian state was founded.

And it must also be recalled that in a TV interview some years ago L.K. Advani, the then number two in the BJP hierarchy, had blandly said that on the evening of December 6, 1992 after the demolition of the Babri mosque he was “really saddened” by the turn of events at Ayodhya. But the following day when he heard the slogan “sharm se kaho hum Hindu hain” he said he was highly agitated to retaliate: “Why should we be ashamed for what had happened?” Thus the BJP leader’s double-speak was in full display here. Don’t forget, Advani was one of those who had assured that the mosque would remain untouched on December 6, 1992. It also revealed the BJP-RSS’ diabolic strategy to mislead the public. [It is a different matter that now the same Advani has been upstaged by someone who is much more effective in this specific game of hoodwinking the people.] As N.C., the founder of this journal, wrote in this publication’s December 19, 1992 issue, “To build a temple to mark the birthplace of Ram, a mosque was destroyed by deceit.”

Following the Babri Masjid demolition many of us were stunned into silence, and soon this writer composed a poem which concluded with the lines: “I know not how to atone for my immoral silence / For History shall not forgive me.”

Those words have haunted me all these years. But to what avail?

Meanwhile something far more dangerous is being planned. As eminent human rights crusader Harsh Mander has underlined: “If indeed the BJP Govern-ment builds a Ram temple at the site of the demolished mosque, India’s secular Constitution will be shredded to tatters.”

Let us make no mistake—regardless of which way the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict may go, the prospect of such an ominous eventuality as spelt out above is growing with every passing day.

And it must also be admitted in all frankness that secularists of all hues are much more isolated now than what they were twentyfive years ago when the Babri mosque was destroyed. This gives us a measure of the regression the nation has suffered in this time-span.

That is why we must urgently take the solemn pledge on this occasion to stop the demon on its tracks and defeat it with all our might. Time is running out.

December 7 S.C.

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