Rubbing salt into the raw wounds of Muslims, police arrested thousands of Muslims across India on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the demolition of the historic Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. When Muslims commemorated December 6 as a ‘day of mourning,’ by flying black flags on rooftops, coinciding with the destruction of the sixteenth century mosque in 1992 by Hindu fascists allied to the current-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India, thousands more were arrested.
The largest number of Muslims were arrested in Uttar Pradesh (UP), the state where Ayodhya is located, and in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Last year, a number of explosions on November 29, in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, a week prior to the Babri mosque anniversary, were blamed on Muslims without proof. This led to several days of mayhem by the Hindus in which 19 Muslims were killed.
This was followed during the Indian elections, February 16-March 7, 1998, by the slaughter or burning alive of scores of Muslims by Hindu mobs who also torched their properties in Coimbatore, a thriving town of Muslim businesses (see Crescent International, March 1-15, 1998). This year was no exception. When Muslims protested outside the house of Tamil Nadu chief minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi on December 6, another 750 people, according to police sources, were arrested. The actual figure is much higher.
The hypocrisy of the ruling party and its fascist allies can be gleaned from the statement issued by prime minister Atal Behari
Vajpayee on December 5 claiming that his government was committed to defending the ‘secular’ fabric of India. He also called for talks to resolve the dispute over the Babri mosque.
Lal Krishan Advani, home minister in Vajpayee’s government, as well as Murli Manohar Joshi, currently also a government minister, were both present when Hindu mobs demolished the historic mosque six years ago. Far from calling upon the mob to desist, Advani had arrived in a horse-driven carriage emulating their god, Rama’s mythical chariot, and announced: ‘We will construct our temple at the very place where Ram was born.’
This was a clear signal to the Hindu mob to destroy the Mosque since they claim Ram was born on site. It was also a shift from the earlier Hindu claim that a temple had existed there prior to the construction of the Mosque in 1528 by the Mughal emperor, Zaheeruddin Babur. The Indian Archaelogical Society has dismissed the temple existence claim already.
Vajpayee’s statement stands condemned by the actions of his own party members and ministers. His remarks that ‘December 6... is a day of introspection, reconciliation and rededicating ourselves to the ideals of communal harmony and national unity,’ rang particularly hollow for Muslims. Since coming to power in March, he has done nothing to redress Muslims’ grievances nor brought the culprits for this heinous crime to books. Talking about reconciliation means that Muslims should forget about the Babri Mosque.
A one-man inquiry commission established under Session Judge Jagdish Prasad Srivastava has made little headway in getting any of the BJP leaders to appear before it to explain their role in the mosque destruction. Neither Advani, Joshi nor Uma Bharati, a female BJP stalwart, have bothered to appear despite repeated demands by the judge to do so. Such contempt for a judicial inquiry and the government’s failure to provide support to the justice reflect Delhi’s hypocrisy in dealing with this affair. Emboldened by the mosque destruction on December 6, 1992, and realizing the government’s failure to respond, Hindu fascists went on a rampage against Muslims throughout India. In the worst sectarian violence in the country since independence in 1947, more than 2,000 Muslims were killed in Bombay and the surrounding areas, and thousands of others were injured. No one has been punished for that carnage so far.
When Vajpayee says ‘there is no issue or dispute which cannot be resolved satisfactorily through
negotiations conducted in an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding,’ including ‘the Ayodhya issue,’ Muslims can be forgiven for being skeptical. While he was uttering these soothing words, news agencies reported that about 2,400 people, the majority of them Muslims, were taken into custody allegedly to prevent violence on December 6.
The Press Trust of India (PTI) said security was stepped up in UP, especially around two other 16th-century mosques in UP, which have been repeatedly threatened with attack by Hindu militants. The state is ruled by Hindu fascists. But there has been no movement against the perpetrators of the Babri Mosque destruction.
Indian secularism stands condemned for failing to protect the places of worship of its largest minority.
Muslimedia: December 16-31, 1998