After Destruction

 

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REACTION OF INDIAN PRESS
India Tribune (Chicago)

December 12, 1992
Copyright All Rights Reserved.

Introduction

Indian dailies on December 7 strongly condemned demolition of the disputed Ram-Janam-Bhoomi / Babri Masjid structure by a frenzied mob of Hindus at Ayodhya in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on December 6 and suggested that it be rebuilt as a gesture of national unity and reconciliation. Most of the dailies from Delhi came out with front-page editorials denouncing the main opposition party the Bharatiya Janata Party and two organizations representing a section which led to the demolition.

Several dailies were highly critical of the Indian Prime Minister Mr. P.V. Narsimha Rao and said he should have dismissed the Uttar Pradesh government run by the BJP and not allowed the Kar Sevaks to assemble at Ayodhya. The BJP government headed by Chief Minister Kalyan Singh was dismissed on December 6 night and the state was brought under direct rule from Delhi.

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Indian Express

The Indian Express in its editorial said, "the outrage in Ayodhya witnessed is an affront to our national honor. India's principal opposition party now stands exposed as one only too willing to resort to deceit and dastardliness in its frantic pursuit of a religious goal." It said India's ruling party has set a new landmark in political pusillanimity. "If the Congress party had not turned its calculated ineptness into a shameful strategy of inaction, if the BJP had not hoped to gain political millage out of brinkmanship and subterfuge, India would have been spared this ominous fallout of all that has gone on in the name of mandir and masjid for these past few years," the paper said. It said the shaken confidence of the nation has to be rebuilt. The paper advocated the construction of a monument symbolizing national unity and reconciliation at Ayodhya, in an act of collective atonement.

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The Times of India

The Times of India said, "the nation now looks to the Central government to demonstrate as firmly as it can that it intends to counter the forces of fanaticism, heal the wounds inflicted on Muslim minority and ensure that appropriate obeisance is paid to Lord Ram only in the framework of the constitution." The dismissal of Kalyan Singh government is a first indication of government's will, the paper observed. It said, "note must also be taken of the appeal of Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid to his coreligionists to remain calm. Finally the enormity of what transpired at Ayodhya would be obvious from BJP's statement owing moral responsibility for the destruction of the Masjid. Many more forceful moves will have to be made in the days ahead if the republic is to be saved from the scourge of hate and bigotry," the Times of India said.

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The Statesman

The Statesman questioned that "If the father of the nation (Mahatama Gandhi) were alive today he would ask that the Masjid be rebuilt preferably by the Hindus who destroyed it and suggest that the temple of Lord Ram be built nearby and urge Muslims to help with it." Mahatama Gandhi was shot and killed on January 30, 1948. On Sunday, December 6 part of the dream that was India dies with him, the paper observed.

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The Hindu

Another newspaper "The Hindu" in its editorial said the disputed Masjid was razed to the ground with a barbaric savagery reminiscent of the crude traditions of settling scores of medieval history. The demolition of the Masjid has delivered a lethal blow to the image of a secular and democratic India, "The Hindu" noted. It suggested that the first step would be to rebuilt the destroyed Babri Masjid as a gesture towards the minority community and as a reaffirmation of an unwavering commitment to the vision of a democratic India, free of any kind of bigotry.

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The Patriot

"The Patriot" said international repercussions besides the long term effects of Indian society and polity would be grave. Bigots by their insensate act at Ayodhya have imperilled the stability of the Indian state.

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The Hindustan Times

The Hindustan Times observed that "the nation must hang its head in shame over what has happened in Ayodhya." It said the storming and destruction of the Babri Masjid by the Kar Sevaks is a blot on India's liberal tradition and tolerant spirit Hinduism has always been known for. "The nation has lost a great deal on December 6 at Ayodhya. Its national unity is indeed in danger. The world is not going to shower praises on it nor wait for it to enable it to gather its act again. No one waits for people quarreling among themselves." "Yet, this is the time when leaders of the Congress, Janata Dal, Communists -- and even the BJP -- need to sit together and find a way out before more is lost. Immaturity tendency to score petty points, political ambitions and surrender to religious passions have led to December 6 tragedy." "Will our leaders look beyond politics for a change and save the nation?" the paper asked.

Courtesy, India Tribune (Chicago), December 12, 1992.
Copyright All Rights Reserved.

 

 

EDITORIAL
(December 18, 1992)
Dr. Abidullah Ghazi

Copyright 1992, All Rights Reserved.

India At The Cross-Roads
Human Rights for All Citizens
The Role of Indian Muslims Abroad

India At The Cross-Roads

The events of December 6, the destruction of historical Babri Masjid, its consequent national and international reaction, and still continuing tension and violence in India, has placed India at a crossroad. What is needed now is decisive action. Whatever the shortcomings of the Central government may be in letting this tragedy happen, and there are some legitimate and illegitimate excuses that must be recognized, the government of Mr. P.V. Narsimha Rao must be commended for doing what it has done since. He has received wide Indian and international support for his actions, but he faces a serious and concerted opposition in India from extremists which must not be underestimated. His actions might as well boomerang and bring Hindu backlash. Unfortunately in either case, it is the Indian Muslims who will suffer. This is one of the most critical tests for Indian Muslims since the Independence and requires dispassionate thinking and planned and calculated actions on their part and on the part of other democratic Indians.

One hundred and fifty million strong Indian Muslim community is the largest Muslim minority in the world. A history of more than one thousand years of coexistence with non-Muslims and interaction with Indian cultures have given Indo-Islamic civilization its own distinctive texture, which can be seen in its arts, touched in its crafts and architecture, tasted in its food, heard in its music, read in its literature and poetry and felt in its general ethos. The socio-cultural contribution of Muslims in India far outweighs their numbers and adds richness to the multi-cultural dimensions of India's social life.

The independence of the country in the wake of partition created a very difficult situation for Indian Muslims. Separated by its majority areas which constituted a separate Islamic state, Pakistan, the community's resources were further depleted by migration to Pakistan and then to the West. New opportunities in the Middle East opened avenues of financial well being but they also deprived Indian Muslims their best talents. More serious and threatening challenge to the healthy growth of the community comes from the growing discrimination and increasing violence against their social existence. Each passing day poses new challenges and offers new threats.

The rise of Hindu Chauvinism led Bharatiya Janata Party and promoted by Vishva Hindu Parishad and systematic organized hatred of fascist organizations such as Rashtriya Sevak Sangh, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal now not only threaten the safety of Muslims but challenge the democratic and secular fabric that has been the bulwark of Indian independence and a hallmark of its futuristic vision.

There is an even more serious challenge that Indian Muslims have faced and continue to face, one that comes from within the community and not from outside of it. The challenge is the Indian Muslims' lack of concern for an objective understanding of their own situation, absence of a long term strategy for future and indecisiveness in making a concentrated effort for attaining these goals. This challenge more than any other factor threatens the existence of the Muslim community and mars its progress.

Indian Muslims, since independence, have lived on day to day basis encountering immediate threats and spending their energies for shear survival. The seriousness of immediate threats have no doubt sapped much of Indian Muslims creative energies and they are forced by circumstances to live from one crisis to another. This situation has made Indian Muslims one of the most backward communities educationally and economically. Whenever and wherever there is a sign of Muslim economic recovery anti-Muslim violence is a foregone happening. A stream of blood flows from Jabalpur to Ayodhya and, unfortunately there is no end in sight. The situation may worsen before it gets better if at all.

To add to the misfortunes of Islamic existence in India is the growing belief among large sections of Hindus, that Muslims are in fact a privileged community and can have their own way whenever they want. No grim statistics on anti-Muslim violence, harassment and discrimination can convince them otherwise. Even the worst anti-Muslim violence is reported in the press in vague terms, and statistics are so generalized that no one knows the truth, even if one wants to know. This is a real shame, since India has an excellent pool of social scientists who could present statistics on Muslim employment, their numerical strength and political or economic clout. There are also enough fair-minded Indians who would appreciate the situation and try to ameliorate it in the interest of the nation.

Then, there is the existence of the self-righteous belief, even among Indian liberals, that declaration of India as a secular state and existence of "religious fundamentalism" in neighboring states provides India a moral superiority, which discounts for all injustices. The uprising among religious, cultural, caste, and linguistic minorities and the level of violence it has generated in recent years does not make serious minded Indian think about the erosion of Indian values enshrined in the Indian constitution of secularism, equality and justice.

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Human Rights for All Citizens

There is a certain basic minimum that a civilized society expects from its citizens and government, and that is:
Security of life, property and place of worship.
Freedom of conscience and religious beliefs and religious practices.
Equality before the law.
Protection of rights by government and law enforcement agencies.
Equal opportunity for employment & economic development.

A government that cannot provide these minimum safeguards has no right to rule. Indian constitution is one of the finest legal framework adopted by enlightened fathers. However, in its implementation past governments have faltered. While it is heartening that each Indian government has had the courage to reiterate these principles and Indian high and supreme courts upheld the traditions of justice, these are but only a few silver linings, because every day life of Indian Muslims has continued to deteriorate. And that now it faces the most formidable challenge since independence.

In this current situation, the extremist forces have the advantage of organization, expertise in propaganda, and influence in security apparatus. Unfortunately, they also have an ally in Muslim emotionalism, lack of leadership and increasing illiteracy. Muslims at this juncture must make a full and thorough examination of their situation, evaluate the options, develop long term strategies and align themselves with secular and democratic forces to build a United India as a humanistic society for all. The polarization of the situation between Hindus and Muslims on the basis of religion is the most fatal blunder the Muslims could make.

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The Role of Indian Muslims Abroad

The Muslims in India are not a small minority. They have their faith, history, culture and resources. The basic optimism of Islamic faith, historical dynamism of Indian Muslims, India's democratic framework and the support of many rational minded countrymen, offers Indian Muslims many opportunities to grow and prosper and defeat the forces of annihilation and oppression which threaten both, Indian Muslims and India's long cherished values of peaceful co-existence.

Indian Muslims must rise above the immediate concerns, serious though they are, and plan a future strategy of development in spite of existing conditions. Such a course of action would obviously come from the rank and file of Muslims in India, but an important role in this direction may also be played by an economically advanced and intellectually gifted Indian Muslim community in the US, the West and the Middle East.

The Indian Muslim community abroad must, primarily concern itself with the Muslim's educational and economic development as a means to their cultural and social advancement, to enable them to play their historic role in Indian society. We must aim to mobilize the resources of the Indian Muslim community abroad and in India and to find avenues of cooperation with other fellow Indians for the common cause of peaceful co-existence, national development and spiritual fulfillment. We must cooperate with all Muslim and Indian organizations which have common objectives.

The issue in India is not Muslims versus Hindus but Extremist Hindus versus Indians. In this struggle Muslims are not a minority but a majority provided they work with other like minded Indians. We must learn how to present our case and how to take care of our community needs. There is no ideal secular state in the world, all of them have their own limitations. We must recognize our limitations as a minority and the limitations Indian government as a proponent of secularism and plan for the next twenty-five years for educational advancement and economic development. The planning for future needs lot of thinking planning and working. It is not easy but it must be done. Once we lay down clear objectives we may have to ignore many immediate and emotional issues in order to achieve our long term objectives.

As far as the Muslim community in USA and in the West is concerned, we must start serious thinking about our rule in the community development in India and that is not possible without full participation in social, economic and political development of the country. We have not unfortunately committed our human, intellectual and financial resources to the task of building our Muslim society in India or Indian society in general. Our participation in the development of India's development in general has been minimal, if at all.

For any intelligent analysis, planning and action we need information; scientific information instead rumors, whims and social beliefs. There is no place in the world where we can find information on Indian Muslims. It is only scientific analysis of authentic information that can provide us true nature and extent of our problems and help us find solutions. Such information and research centers are needed at every level in India but let there be to begin with at least, one in India and another in USA. North American Muslims have both financial and human resources to initiate this work and learn about ourselves and inform others about us.

I urge all Indian Muslim organizations working in USA and intelligent and affluent Indian Muslim community to coordinate their efforts, and establish a Resource Center on Indian Muslims. The Resource Center must have a database, a library, a paper clipping section on Indian Muslims and on India. We need social scientists to analyze the data, journalists to disseminate information and community workers to devise plans to achieve defined objectives.

We need information to arrive at intelligent conclusions. We lack such information both in India and USA. We must also spend considerable time thinking, analyzing and dismissing the issues and formulating various alternatives. I urge a regular monthly meeting in various areas to brainstorm on specific issues to arrive at achievable goals and derive concrete action plans. We have not even done this so far. Let us start now.

Remember! In the effort to regain Babri Masjid over the last few decades, we have seen the demolition and burning of hundreds of mosques, destruction of millions worth of Muslim property killing, injuring, dishonoring of our women and small girls.

We must decide whether we should continue on a course of confrontations and let our enemy play its game or wisely adopt a policy whereby even if we lose something we gain more, or at worst, minimize our losses. In order to win a war many a wise generals have had to retreat. A great general is one who knows how to minimize his losses in retreat, and be generous in victory.

I have no answers to the dilemma the Indian Muslims face today, what I am suggesting is to let us think before responding emotionally. Whatever may be our answer to this situation it must be well thought out and have long range planning. The situation is more serious than most of us imagine. And yet, it is not a lost cause that it may invite desperate reaction and irresponsible action; it is a cause well worth living for and, if need be, dying for. And we cannot claim to have a serious commitment for a cause unless we commit our resources, of wealth, health time and expertise on it.

Courtesy: Indo-Islamic Foundation of America. This editorial appeared in "The Babri Masjid / Ram-Janam-Bhoomi Dispute: History, Religion and Politics," December 18, 1992.


 

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Last updated: January 15, 2001 .