‘Babri demolition was an insult to India and citizens’

By Humra Quraishi. Dated: 8/6/2020 11:50:18 AM


“Needless to say that 2020 has been an exceptionally traumatic year for the Muslim community in the country. It started off with the anti – CAA- NCR- NPR protests. Tensions accelerated with the Delhi pogrom, followed by arrests of scholars and students, and also of the victims of that pogrom!”
One early morning as I switched on the radio it was relaying Murli Manohar Joshi’s message, which in turn was relaying all possible positives to the various yoga asanas. I sat up with a sudden start! Why didn’t Joshi practise yoga when the Babri Masjid was getting destroyed?
Nah, not a question of a Hindu or Muslim place of worship but a well-planned strategy for the destruction of a historic religious structure. That destruction impacted, as it demolished the idea of India. As the well- known historian, Professor Irfan Habib — former chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research and former Professor of History at the Centre for Advanced Study in History at AMU — had told me, “There wasn't a Hindu or Muslim reaction to the destruction of the Babri Masjid. As an Indian I felt insulted and it was a blow to the image of my country. The destruction of the 475-year old mosque brought shame and dishonor to the country. It’s not a question of Hindu or Muslim but the very destruction was an insult to the country and its citizens. An assault on the Indian secular consciousness.”
Till date I can’t forget the particular shot of Murli Manohar Joshi gleefully hugging Uma Bharti and LK Advani — the trio standing at the Babri Masjid site, as it was getting destroyed by the kar sevaks.
Needless to say, the Babri Masjid destruction came as a severe shock. It brought along a crumbling sense of confidence in the sarkar and the system it controls. Apprehensions and insecurity had overtaken, as news came in of Muslims getting targeted on running trains and also in the riot-stricken areas. Muslims were not even allowed to mourn the destruction of that masjid! Worse was to be seen and heard as I went to report from the riot-affected Seelampur — in North East Delhi. As I walked around the lanes and by-lanes, scenes of destruction stood out. Muslim families recounted that the police checked their young sons for circumcision marks! One couldn’t really believe this to be taking in the capital city, New Delhi. And as I visited Seelampur the following days, it seemed engulfed in severe gloom and mounting sorrow.
With the Babri Masjid’s destruction, fears compounded. Offshoots followed. Also, there came about a stark divide between the secular and the communal. It was not along the Hindu or Muslim format but more along the progressive liberals versus the communal. In many Hindu and Sikh and Christian homes, nothing was cooked or eaten that day —the day the Babri Masjid was destroyed. They were pained by that destruction…death like sorrow prevailed in their homes.
The Babri Masjid destruction also saw the end of an era, of respecting each other's sentiments and views, if nothing else. Undoubtedly the very turning point in India’s recent history has been the destruction of the Babri Masjid by Right-Wing brigades. Hundreds died in the reactionary rioting .Thousands wrecked and ruined as communal divisions made way. And what hit was the very callousness of the who’s who on the political and bureaucratic circuits.
Last week end, hours before the Muslim community could even start to think in terms of ‘celebrating’ Eid – ul - Adha came in news of the lynching of a young Muslim man - Luqman Khan , in Haryana’s Gurgaon.
News reports of lynching of young men , have been on and ongoing, right from 2014 . In fact, academic and publisher, Zafar-ul - Islam Khan, compiled a list of the men lynched, from June 2014 till the summer of 2017. He clarified that this list does not include names of the injured in the same or other similar incidents. And I went through the list of names of the 27 men lynched in that period, 25 names are those from the minority community!
And veteran journalist Ziya Us Salam’s book ‘Lynch Files - The Forgotten Saga of Victims of Hate Crime’( Sage) focuses on the lynch tragedies. To quote him, “In recent years, cases of mob lynching of Muslims and Dalits have increased to an alarming extent. These cases are discarded and forgotten without any justice served to the victims. The emergence of mobocracy from the roots of Hindutva and gau rakshaks has put India’s secularity and democratic constitution to test.”
Mind you , so severe has been the impact of these lynching killings, on the community that many Indian Muslims, including I, did not ‘celebrate’ Eid for the last few years. Nah, no celebrations in the backdrop of the mounting tragedies and absolute gloom spreading out.
Taking you somewhat backwards, towards 2017 .It would be apt to describe the summer of 2017 as a stretch of ongoing sorrow. Ramzaan of 2017 — the month of fasting for the Muslim community — was more than tough for the Muslims of North India. Worries surmounted as hundreds of Muslim men sat not just jobless but also in fear of the so called gau- rakshaks… In fact, there had been several reported incidents of gau-rakshaks lynching Muslim men on the beef alibi. One after another, right from the day Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri, on suspicion of storing beef in his home.
And as I had travelled through the interiors of Haryana’s Mewat region what stood out was sheer poverty and together with that the scare of the police force. Meos living in Haryana’s Mewat belt told me that the ‘beef’ excuse is used to hound and harass the Meos. With parched lands, closed diaries, shut eateries, Meos looked very tense, “Our children arrested, thrown in jails …we beaten with rods if we protest. Are we animals! Are we living some enemy country! Today we can be killed on cooked -up charges of cooking beef or selling beef -biryani! Our forefathers fought the angrez for the country’s Independence but see what we are facing today!”
Haryana’s Mewat belt was no exception. Tense situation prevailed in the rural stretches of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, where entire Muslim clans sat apprehensive… There were reported cases of Muslim men thrashed and abused and humiliated, forced to swallow cow dung and drink cow urine, even hung from trees, by the goon brigades unleashed all around.
Along the expected strain, the killing and hounding of Muslims carried offshoots. A majority of the Muslims in North India, including I, did not ‘celebrate’ any of the two Eids — Eid -ul- Fitr and Eid- ul-Adha — in 2017. One could say that Muslims did observe Eid, and with that they offered namaaz in the various mosques and visited relatives but there were no celebrations. Muslims went about with black bands on their arms, upset and disillusioned with the biased system. As several put across. “We are getting lynched. And the killers not arrested. Even if caught for television shots, they are let off by the police!”
Also, the following two years — 2018 and 2019 —many Muslims, including I, did not celebrate Eid. What celebrations in the midst of the continuing political chaos and communal violence spreading out ever so steadily and blatantly.
Needless to say that 2020 has been an exceptionally traumatic year for the Muslim community in the country. It started off with the anti – CAA- NCR- NPR protests. Tensions accelerated with the Delhi pogrom, followed by arrests of scholars and students, and also of the victims of that pogrom! And then came the Coronavirus together with the communal virus, killing hundreds amongst us. To be followed by the plight of our migrant workers and mazdoors.
And in the midst of the Coronavirus, communal politics continued to be unleashed by the Right-Wing and the godi media. Targeting of Muslim families continued amidst poisonous propaganda that the Tablighi men were spreading the virus. Hate against the Muslims reached an all- time high. What, with Muslim vegetable sellers thrashed and hounded, not allowed to sell even the locally grown vegetables!
Tell me, what lies ahead….what more sorrows and killings in the midst of communal build-ups! Can human forms be left alive and spared! Can there be a halt to lynching…hate killings.
Ending with these lines of Sahir Ludhianvi, tucked in Ali Husain Mir and Raza Mir’s volume ‘Anthems of Resistance’:
‘Tyranny is but tyranny; when it grows, it is vanquished
Blood however is blood; if it spills, it will congeal
It will congeal on the desert sands, on the murderer’s hands
On the brow of justice, and on chained feet
On the unjust sword, on the sacrificial body
Blood is blood, if it spills, it takes root
Let them hide all they want, skulk in their lairs
The tracks of spilled blood will point out the executioners’ abode
Let conspiracies shroud the truth with darkness
Each drop of blood will march out, holding aloft a lamp…
That blood which you wished to bury in the killing fields
Has risen today in the streets and courts
Somewhere as a flame, somewhere as a slogan, somewhere else as a flung stone
When blood flows, bayonets cannot contain it
When it raises its defiant head, laws will not restrain it
Tyranny has no caste, no community, no status nor dignity
Tyranny is simply tyranny; from its beginning to its end
Blood however is blood; it becomes a hundred things:
Shapes that cannot be obliterated
Flames that can never be extinguished
Chants that will not be suppressed.’



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