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Why not have a symbol of India’s secularism?

Saturday, July 11, 2009 10:33:15 AM, Nilofar Suhrawardy

Babri probe panel submits report, 17 years after demolition: Seventeen years and 48 extensions later, the Liberhan Commission probing the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya Tuesday submitted its...Read Full

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Political storm raised over Ayodhya issue following the submission of report by Liberhan Commission certainly marks the beginning of another debate on the issue, but paradoxically without much substance. Let us accept it; people and media have never really been unaware of the mosque’s demolition, the key figures responsible for the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign and the communal riots fuelled over it.

The debate over the issue and/or the commission’s report has little linkage with whether those allegedly responsible for the demolition receive punishment and the victims’ compensation or not. Considering that the Congress party was in power at the Centre and the BJP in UP at the time of Babri Masjid’s demolition, neither party can claim to be above board. If the Congress is of the opinion that this is just the appropriate time to target the BJP and its associates for the 1992 case, it is certainly not yet fully in tune with the people’s mind. The same may be said about BJP leaders musing over whether to seize on this opportunity to play an Ayodhya card for building a temple at the disputed site.

The leaders need to reflect on the changes that have taken place in the country between 2009 and 1992. It was not difficult then for master political strategists to gamble on communally sensitive issues for electoral gains.

Today, the small screen has reached even homes of poverty-stricken people living in slums. They, like millions of other viewers, have the choice to watch news, a religious programme, educational item and/or some entertainment show or not. If politicians assume that Ayodhya issue still has the potential to excite religious passions along communal lines, their political as well as socio-religious priorities are certainly misplaced.

Gone are the days when mob frenzy could easily incite communal violence between two religious groups. There was a phase when newspapers refrained from publishing detailed reports of incidents. There prevailed the fear that even a short report could fuel communal violence in another part and/or rest of the country.

Every Indian Hindu has religious right and freedom to feel concerned about a temple. So does every Indian Muslim about a mosque. Yes, at Ayodhya.

Interestingly, an interaction with a cross-section of Indians revealed that rather than have the country divided over Ayodhya issue, they would prefer a university, stadium or some other institution that can contribute to nation’s development. With inflation and the economic recession staring at the common man harshly, all the noise made over Ayodhya is least likely to distract him from his tension.

Let the legal battle over Ayodhya continue, and it may perhaps never end. But it is time politicians gave a serious thought to actually resolving the issue as the people desire. Why can’t Ayodhya be home to perhaps the best temple at the spot where Hindu God Rama is believed to have been born, and also a mosque, even a church, a gurudwara and other places of worship Indians believe in? The issue can be resolved without hurting religious sentiments of the involved communities. If politicians are keen on gaining media coverage by raising the issue on communal lines, then they may well expect least possible attention from the average Indian.

The Liberhan Commission’s report carries little relevance for today’s India and its citizens. Had the report been submitted before the revolutionary changes in communication technology had spread the network across the country, the situation would have been different.

Practically, continuous access to events taking place across the country and the world has made everyone far more foresighted and practical than the politicians can think.

Why should those Ayodhya memories remain a dark spot on India’s image when it is possible through construction of a temple as well as a mosque or museum to turn the same place into one each and every Indian can proudly point to as a symbol of our secularism?

(courtesy ExpressBuzz)



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