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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 51 New Delhi December 8, 2018

India in Peril

Sunday 9 December 2018, by SC


Today is December 6, 2018. On this day twentysix years ago “to build a temple to mark the birthplace of Ram, a mosque was destroyed by deceit”, as the founder of this publication wrote on December 19, 1992, thirteen days after the Babri Masjid was razed at Ayodhya, highlighting the false assurances given before the nation by the BJP leaders that the mosque would not be harmed. Indeed the Parliament, nation and people at large were deceived as the plan to pull down the mosque was kept a closely guarded secret. This incident evoked condemnation both within the country and abroad, but the most eloquent denunciation of this perfidious act came from none other than the then President of the Republic, K.R. Narayanan, who minced no words to describe the Ayodhya sacrilege as the “greatest tragedy” to have “overtaken the nation since the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi”.

Incidentally, December 6 also happens to be the day on which the architect of our Constitution, Babasaheb Dr B.R. Ambedkar, breathed his last in 1956 and the nation observes this day as Mahapari-nirvan Diwas in homage to his memory. What happened on that day in 1992 was also an assault on the Constitution drafted by Dr B.R. Ambedkar, whom the BJP is now seeking to appropriate, as it amounted to a direct assault on secularism, a policy-perspective embodied in the basic structure of that document.

Today the scenario is far worse than the situation that prevailed in 1992. At that point of time the Hindutvavadis were certainly on the rise but they had not yet captured the seat of power at the Centre. Despite all its limitations the Union Government, then run by the Congress, had failed to protect the Babri mosque but thereafter it took such steps like removing from power the UP Government controlled by the BJP. Currently both the Centre and the State of UP are under BJP rule and the environment at Ayodhya is being vitiated by the mobilisation of Hindu supremacists to buttress the demand of constructing a Ram temple on the spot where the Babri mosque stood till December 6, 1992. But now none is focussing attention on how abominable the act of dismantling the mosque was.

Not only that. The ground situation in UP has worsened such that in an atmosphere of impunity the cow-vigilantes have been emboldened to not just attack but even murder a police Station House Officer in the State’s Bulandshahr district. The mob attacked the SHO (who was also the officer investigating the incident of lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri village in 2015) with a blunt instrument and then shot him dead. This incident shocked the nation but the UP CM, a full-throated defender of cow-vigilantes, the “gau-rakshaks”, did not find time to either visit the victim’s family or attend his funeral busy as he was in trivial programmes. Unequivocally decrying the UP Government for showing commitment to cow protection on the one hand and impunity on the other, The Indian Express editorially observed: “The message is clear: There is support for vigilantism if it serves the larger political goal.”

To allow such an extreme form of majoritarianism to cause havoc is to invite allround disaster. Unless secular democrats of all hues unite to fight tooth and nail and defeat this majoritarian onslaught, India would soon lose its identity, image and status that we had proudly displayed since our independence in 1947. Make no mistake: India is truly in peril.

December 6 S.C.

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