Ayodhya Verdict Strengthens Indian secularism

Sagarneel Sinha
Since the announcement of the historic verdict regarding the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya by the constitution Bench of 5 Judges led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi unanimously, there have been opinions from a Section of intellectuals and some politicians that the verdict is based on faith – not on law. They allege, as the constitution of India enshrines secularism, this verdict, that is majoritarian in nature, goes against the very basic values of it. Those who untill before the day of judgement clearly viewed judiciary as the only solution to this very controversial issue that polarised the Indian politics and society, started criticising the Apex Court by saying that “Supreme Court is supreme but it is not infallible” – and are trying to forecast all those repeated “doomed prophecies of danger in the upcoming days for minorities and secularism in the country.”
But if one looks carefully to the judgement, one would find that it is a landmark one that celebrates the Indian secularism. For a section of intellectuals in India, secularism always has been the vehicle of raising issues related to only minorities, particularly religious minorities. Not to speak about the so-called “secular” parties that have been using secularism for minority appeasement to secure their vote banks. But, secularism is not only about raising the issues of the religious minorities. It is also about to addressing the concerns of the majority religious community.
There have always been allegations mainly from the majority Hindu community that often in the name of secularism their interests are overlooked. Remember a country can’t progress if it overlooks the concerns of the majority community. Same argument goes for the minority communities too. Through the historic Ayodhya judgement, the Apex Court has only tried to replace the pseudo-secularism with the original Indian secularism – which, unlike European, is not against religions.
That’s why the Supreme Court despite strongly condemning the desecration of Babri Masjid by placing idols in 1949 and ultimately destroying it in 1992 by some fanatic Hindus, gives the disputed site, which now no longer remains “disputed”, to the Centre and orders to build a trust to facilitate the construction of Lord Rama’s Temple – which the Hindu parties have been demanding for all these years. Those arguing that how two wrongs make one right cause are ignoring that those two acts can’t negate the other historical facts regarding the title suit of the place and not to forget, the land is allotted to the Government of India.
The case is mostly 500 years old that dates back to the age of Babur, founder of the Mughal dynasty, i.e, 16th century. There have been historical accounts of destruction of Hindu temples by fanatic Islamic invaders and rulers. However, a section of historians, particularly Leftists, choose to ignore that while writing history or even if they mentioned, they ignored the religious animosity as the main factor for those destructions. According to the Hindus, Babri Masjid, built in 1528 by Mir Baqi, one of Babur’s generals, was constructed only after demolishing the existing Ram Temple in Ayodhya. The Supreme Court cited the ASI report that says that the structure found underneath the mosque was un-Islamic. However, the Apex Court pointed out that the report clearly didn’t state that there was a temple and the mosque was constructed by demolishing it.
The ASI report, which was used as evidence by the apex court, did mention about finding materials that were generally used in the Hindu temples built during the period of 10th -11th century. It is widely believed that the underneath structure ceased to exist by the 12th century and the mosque was built in the 16th century. So, it is not clear whether there was any such demolition or not. But the fact that the underneath structure found was un-Islamic, contradicting the claim of Muslim parties that it was built on the ruins of an Idgah, was one of the strong reasons for the Supreme Court to rule in favour of the Ram Temple. Not only this, Muslim parties failed to produce evidences of practicing namaz in the mosque before 1856-57. On the other hand, the court noticed that the Hindus continued to worship in and out of the site that included parikramas (circumambulation) and presence of large congregations of devotees on the occasion of religious festivals. Also, even after 1856-57, when Muslims started offering prayers at the site, they didn’t use the outer courtyard – which was exclusively used by the Hindus. While the inner courtyard where Muslims did pray was contested by the Hindus too. The Apex Court noted that while the Muslims didn’t use the entire plot of 2.77 acres and only limited to the inner courtyard, on the other hand, the whole of the plot was regarded as holy by the Hindus, who continued to worship there.
It is very clear that the judgement is delivered not based on faith – but on the basis of evidence. However, as a healing to the Muslim parties, as the mosque was destroyed illegally in 1992 by some fanatic Hindus, the court gave 5 acres of land to build a mosque within the premises of Ayodhya. Those who are saying that the ruling may be a “dangerous” template as the radical Hindu elements may use it in the future in other places like Kashi, Mathura are ignoring that the judgement specifically mentions that all historical wrongs can’t be undone by citing the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 that prohibits any change of religious character of a place of worship that existed on 15th August, 1947. However, the act specifically mentioned that it shall not apply to the place commonly known as Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid of Ayodhya.
Apart from this, the Supreme Court also said that Ayodhya as the birthplace of Lord Rama, who is worshipped by 1.3 billion Hindus of the world, is undisputed – even the Muslim parties didn’t contest the claim of Hindus that Ayodhya is sacred for them. Just like Medina is for Muslims, or Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem are for Christians, Ayodhya’s importance for the Hindus is also the same. After all, it was the place where the hero of the Ramayan, one of the two epics of Hinduism, was born, who spent his childhood and later ruled the kingdom for the welfare of his subjects – the period of his reign is popularly known among the Hindus as “Ram Rajya”.
In that sense, this judgement while trying to allay the concerns of the minorities, also addresses the worries of the majority Hindus, who for long are more or less dissatisfied the way secularism is being distorted by certain “secular” parties. The conclusion is that secularism has to address the concerns of all communities – including both minorities and the majority. No doubt, this unanimous judgement will go down in the history of India and will be hailed as a milestone that will strengthen the country’s social fabric and preserve communal harmony. (IPA )