Guest Editorial by Dr John Dayal
The Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, which had stood 500 years with its iconic three domes as an immovable object, was demolished on 2nd December 1992 by an irresistible rag tag army of the composite Sangh Parivar, each its soldiers armed with pick or axe, hammer, travel, iron rod or skewer, the drill seemingly practiced to perfection.
Before the sun set, the mosque was torn down to its foundations, from which, within the next hour, rose a platform with a makeshift temple. The Supreme Court heard the long title dispute referred it from junior courts through to the Allahabad High court. The then chief justice said the demolition was a criminal act, before this, the placement of the idol by the district collector, was also a criminal act. Having acknowledged that, and quenching the collective conscience, the court said nonetheless, the piece of land would go to the majority community which had identified this as the spot the Lord Rama was born. I do not think this judgment will be acclaimed by doctoral students of Harvard Law for its judicial finesse, though it may hold its own as an excellent example of majoritarianism-as-law.
The Supreme Court has now told the Bench hearing the criminal case of the Babri Masjid to hurry up and conclude it by month-end or some such date. I keep this fuzzy because the junior court can plead Covid to demand an extension. Has happened all too often in the past in all too many cases in all too many states of the Union. In the Accused Box, as Hindi cinema calls the dock, stand many, the first among them the venerable Road Guide of the BJP and once deputy prime minister and Home Minister, Lal Krishan Advani who often used to tell me he studied in the Catholic-run St. Andrews school in his native Karachi, now in Pakistan. I do not know what he learnt there. The ruts of the wheels of the famous Rath he rode in his south to north Yatra still divide the nation. The bloodshed in its wake still calls to the heavens.
Keeping him company in the dock are many other worthies, visually the most recalled as an image are Murli Manohar Joshi, professor of physics and minister for education, and hugging him in victorious glee, the one and only Uma Bharati, at various times a religious nun, member of parliament, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and a minister of the Union. And, many small fry of the RSS, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal. There was another nun whose stinging tongue had egged the men on to pristine masculinity needed to wrestle with the stone and mortar. The chief ring master, Ashok Singhal, is no more.
Like others who read the flow of the wind, the judgment most likely is not going to send Mr Advani to a cell in some jail. Ditto for the other big names. Some small fry, identified, may be named. Or may not be. No longer an issue of any worth.