Ram Mandir Bhumi Pujan: the monumentalization of Muslim persecution in India

By Anwer Hussain Azad

The construction of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh was a political promise of BJP which is formally coming up as a reality on 5 August 2020. The UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath himself is taking care of the preparations for ‘Bhumi–Pujan anusthan’ (foundation stone laying ceremony) in Ayodhya, following which the construction of grand Ram temple will be carried out.

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According to local Hindi dailies, Yogi Adityanath is being hailed as the bigger Hindu Hirday Samrat than Kalyan Singh, the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. It was during Kalyan Singh’s tenure as the CM of UP on the 6 December 1992 the historic Babri Mosque’s Dome was demolished by the ‘Kar Sevaks’ (volunteers for religious cause) organized by the ‘Vishwa Hindu Parishad’ and RSS. Kalyan Singh had to resign and his government was dissolved. Later he was booked in a case related to Babri Mosque demolition. After Supreme Court’s order to the CBI court to deliver verdict in Babri Demolition case by 31 August this year, CBI Court questioned Kalyan Singh on 13 July. He pleaded innocence to the CBI Court. However, while talking to the media he said that he prevented police from using force on Kar Sevaks who were trying to demolish the structure.

BJP and radical Hindutva forces adore Kalyan Singh for enabling the demolition of the mosque. It is a historic fact that after being sworn in as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh he went to Ayodhya and vowed to build the Ram temple in the place where Babri mosque was standing. This made him a firebrand leader. Since then it has always been in the manifesto of the BJP. Consequently, he got awarded in the form of position of Governor in the states of Rajasthan followed by Himachal Pradesh. Though he could not lay the foundation of the temple that time but finally it is being built on the place of Babri mosque. He calls this event the ‘Cultural Independence of India’. According to him India was never independent fully. And now only after Bhumi Pujan of Ram temple the country will be independent in true senses. Sharing his feelings and eagerness he said that he just wanted to see the Ram temple being built during his lifetime.

This time only the Chief Minister is different i.e. Yogi Aditynath who is closely looking after the preparations for building Ram temple. He is known for his staunch Hindutva image. To boost his image, the Hindi dailies and news channels are portraying him as the biggest rising firebrand icon in Hindutva politics vested with the duty to reclaim god Ram Ji’s place of birth. It seems his stature has been raised equivalent to the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Hindutva mouthpieces have hailed this foundation stone laying ceremony as Bhumi Pujan in Ayodhya as an epoch-making event. I believe, the Bhumi Pujan of Ram Mandir by India’s Prime Minister, CM Yogi, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Uma Bharti & other BJP and RSS leaders will be the monumentalization of Muslim persecution in India.

Although the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhumi dispute was settled by the honourable Supreme Court and the verdict was said to be accepted by most of us – however, it did not satisfy the justice conscience of Muslim minorities in India. Although the Court has held the installation of idols in the mosque in December of 1949 and the demolition of the mosque on 6 December 1992 as illegal the title suit was decided in the favor of Hindu parties.

While the Babri demolition case is still pending with the CBI Court since 1992, the case has shaken the hope of Muslims on Indian judicial system. A criminal act, a historic wrong done in 1992 cannot be called correction of an alleged historic wrong. No clear evidence of a temple in the place of the mosque was excavated and the structure was given to the non-entitled party. Anything the paramount court decides becomes a law, but it being a bad law based on bad reasoning shall never be accepted to any citizen of this country irrespective of religion.

The court order is the approval of a design in which sentiments prevail over legal facts, in which myths prevail over historic facts, in which communal biases prevails over archaeological facts, and in which injustice prevails over justice. A country claiming to be the biggest democracy has failed to ensure the democratic treatment to its aggrieved minorities.

There is a prolonged history of injustice that has led to the growing unsatisfied justice conscience among Muslims. We saw Muslims being beaten and abused with communal slurs for allegedly being responsible for spreading the COVID-19 pandemic in India. We saw people from the government demonizing Muslims as sole perpetrators of a deadly virus outbreak in the capital of the country. Appeals were being made in urban societies to boycott Muslims. They were economically boycotted, targeted and thrashed for selling vegetables and fruits to feed their poor families. Muslims have not yet received justice after seeing 1983, Nellie massacre, 1987 Hashimpura massacre, 1989 Bhagalpur riots, 2002 Gujarat genocide and 2013 Muzaffarnagar killings and many more. They feel persecuted at the hand of Hindutva communalism and Hindu majoritarianism.

The Delhi riots earlier this year in the wake of protests against the amendment of new controversial Citizenship law have only worsened the wounds of the Muslims. Repeated cases of mob lynching on the pretext of beef or cow slaughter, the jailing of Muslim youths based on fake terror cases and framing of Muslim activists and politicians for protesting Citizenship law acted as final blows to the Muslim’s justice conscience and blows to the promises of protection and equal citizenship rights enshrined in the constitution.

Today we see BJP celebrating the making of a historic otherization of Muslims in India. But other political parties, who call themselves secular, are not far behind the Hindutva nationalist party. Statements and tweets are being made by prominent leaders like Priyanka Gandhi and the Congress leader Kamal Nath supporting the Bhumi Pujan of alleged Ram Janambhumi on 5 august. Priyanka Gandhi without taking into consideration the party’s secular ethos called the event an occasion of ‘national unity’. Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath went on to say that he will send 11 silver bricks to the congregation for the temple which were bought from a donation by Congress members.

By demolishing Babri mosque and permission to erect a temple in the place of the demolished mosque, a very deep and scary statement has been made against 172 million Muslims in India. With this move, India has joined the category of nations where minorities are a persecuted community. It is high time now that international communities have to raise their voices against the persecution of minorities in India before it’s too late.

Anwer Hussain Azad is an Advocate with Delhi Bar Council.