Current Affairs

Ayodhya Ram Mandir will be finally built, Supreme Court gives verdict

Yatindra Bhatnagar

The Indian Supreme Court, finally, decided, Nov. 9, that the ‘disputed’ site where the Babri masjid (mosque) was constructed some 500 years back, and ultimately demolished in 1992, actually had a Hindu temple and should be given to a trust to build a Ram temple in the holy city of Ayodhya.

That verdict closed – should we believe? – a chapter of court conflict that itself was over 150 year-old and Hindus and Muslims laid claims over it for centuries. It had the history of invader Babar’s military General reportedly demolishing a temple for Shree Ram, at his birthplace in Ayodhya, and building a mosque.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict with all the five judges, including a Muslim, categorically said the 2.77 acre site belonged to Hindus and the government of India should set up a Trust to construct a temple there.

The top court accepted, and relied heavily on, the report of the Archaeological Survey of India that found many Hindu pillars and other artifacts at the site where the old, dilapidated and mostly non-functioning mosque stood. The structure was demolished by an enraged and exasperated Hindu crowd in 1992 as the court system kept on postponing a decision on the dispute. The ASI report was categorical that there was a Hindu temple at the site, that the mosque was not built on vacant land but did not clearly mention that the mosque was built after destroying the temple.

That was understood, but not explicitly mentioned.

In any case, the main point was decided that the site belonged to Hindus and not to Muslims, as represented by the Muslim body. The court clearly rejected the Muslim body’s claim to the site.

That verdict should have closed/settled a dispute that has been a bone of contention between the two communities and conflicting claims for a long time.

However, in their weird wisdom, the Supreme Court went beyond its brief to settle the claims, and recommended to the Government of India to give five acres of land at a prominent place in the city of Ayodhya to Muslims to build a mosque.

That is totally unfair, that was not on the agenda, and that was not mediation on a dispute. The Court was faced with a law suit, a dispute and rival claims. It called for a judicial verdict, that it gave rejecting the Muslim Board’s case and upholding the Hindu claim. That should be the end of the matter, closure to the dispute and final disposal of the case.

But the Court went further and chose to take upon itself the role of a mediator also by awarding nearly double the disputed land size to the losing side. This is unprecedented – a losing side getting a reward, and on top of it, double the size of the disputed land! For what? For losing its case? A reward for just being a litigant? A reward for earlier writing a letter to the court that it will withdraw the complaint if it would be given alternate site for the mosque?

That mediating gesture of the Supreme Court is not justice. It’s not a Judicial Verdict, it’s an unwanted mediator’s decision, an award to please the losing side. It’s clearly an act of appeasement that is not for the Supreme Court to do. The judiciary does not consist of ‘activist judges.’ It’s a Court that decides on judicial matters in a judicial way by deciding one way or the other on the basis of evidence. And the evidence was clear: there was a Hindu temple on that very site before a mosque was built.

A few months earlier the Court had suggested mediation, that it does. But mediation was not accepted by the parties. Later the Court itself appointed mediators but their report was not accepted by the litigants. And so the hearing started, arguments made, evidence presented and the verdict delivered. So where was the need, or justification, for the Court itself to act as ‘mediator’ and reward the losing side?

Hindus, in their legendary generosity have not opposed the ‘reward’ to Muslims but in the past this kind of generosity has always resulted in its misuse, taken as a sign of weakness and acceptance of the other side’s false claims and unfair acts.

The government of India would not oppose the Court’s ‘award’ to Muslims because of the possible adverse reaction labeling it as communal and anti-Muslim. Clearly the Top Court has put the government in an awkward position by its ‘un-judicial’ act.

Ayodhya has been, and is, a holy city for Hindus. Babar had no connection or claim to, or love for, the city of Shree Ram’s birth. No doubt Hindus and Muslims have lived there, would and should continue to live there in peace and harmony and share the development of their city, state and the country. They have equal rights as citizens of this great land of ours where the Hindus are still nearly 80% of its 1.3 billion population.

However, the Supreme Court’s decision coupled with terming the mosque-demolition in 1992 ‘a criminal act’ has elements of unfairness and lack of understanding for Hindus. If the 1992 demolition was a criminal act, what about destruction of thousands of Hindu temples and centers of learning in the last five centuries, and during the last five decades, in India, and in Jammu & Kashmir? And what about correcting the situation now and doing the right thing also at least in two other cities – Mathura and Kashi (Varanasi) - where there are clear examples of usurpation, imposition and replacement of Hindu places of worship?

Ayodhya can now have some justice after five centuries and certainly some other places also deserve that kind of justice, fairness and redemption.

Would the government, all the communities, and the courts make a move in that direction?

Biased reporting in foreign media

Yatindra Bhatnagar

[Related Comments on a later report by news agency Reuters about Ayodhya and Jammu & Kashmir]

Why are these people report straight news story with their slanted and biased angle spiced with, probably, their own prejudices? The action about J&K was not AGAINST Muslims; if that was the case then imposition of Article 370 and giving a special status was FOR the Muslims. Ending the special status was actually a long-needed step to bring the state at par with other Indian states and end several discriminatory practices in Jammu & Kashmir - and it was a temporary provision in the Constitution of India.

The Ayodhya verdict was a judicial issue, the government did not pressure the Supreme Court; actually Modi government did not play any part in it, and now is directed by the Top Court to do something EXTRA for the Muslims by giving nearly double the disputed land's size for a mosque. Modi government has done several things to bring Muslims in the mainstream, and the Uniform Civil Code, if and when enacted would be one of the important steps.

After independence, if there was a Hindu Code Bill (and Act) to bring the big majority of people - the Hindus - under one civil code, why not the Muslims? And mind you, the need for a common (uniform) civil code for the ENTIRE Indian people is one of the directive principles of Indian Constitution, but so far sidelined for decades. Taking these steps is not fulfilling a HINDU agenda, but an INDIAN agenda.

Despite the wish and demand of the BJP on Ayodhya and Shree Ram temple to get it done, Modi GOVERNMENT had not taken any steps for that wish and goal. It was a legal dispute decided by the Court after decades. To bring Hindu angle in everything and attribute motives to the ruling party (BJP) and the government is unfair. The government is doing everything for the PEOPLE of India. In that process if happy Muslim people also support BJP, what's the problem? Muslim women were liberated by ending of the obnoxious Triple Talaq practice (where man says Divorce, Divorce, Divorce, three times and he could leave his wife, legally under the Muslim law.) That's bringing uniformity and ending discrimination, and that's the reason BJP got more votes and seats in their second term under Modi. So, please media, report objectively and see things in their correct perspective.