Friday, October 1, 2010

A Verdict with so much Brouhaha

I decided to write down my thoughts after heavy contemplation on this topic. Yes, this post is on the verdict delivered on Sep 30, 2010, by Allahabad High Court in the 60 year old Ayodhya title suit. There was immense brouhaha surrounding the verdict, release dates of movies were altered, schools, colleges, shops, bazaars and IT companies were closed as a precautionary measure, petitions were filed to postpone announcement of verdict fearing dire consequences.
Here, I am not going to discuss the correctness of the verdict. I do not possess the required qualifications for it. And at most times, it is better not to mouth one's thoughts and opinions openly.
Primarily, there are three things that worried me in the immediate aftermath of the verdict and I list them below -

1. The way the media scavenged for news on Sep 30 and Oct 1, 2010
Gone are those days of my childhood, when I listened to 30 min news daily, watched The World this Week news by Prannoy Roy on Fridays on Doordarshan channel. This dose of news supplemented with "The Hindu" kept me well informed. The news channels of today host only debates and arguments. The actual news comes as meta data running in the lowermost section of the TV screen. The remaning portion of the screen is spilced into 4/6/8 sections with each bearing a face and an argumentative voice.
On Sep 30, 2010, from 3 pm, the Allahabad High Court was made a no access zone. Media persons roamed in its limits diligently, waiting for the smallest iota of news to leak from the courtroom. It was a race on who will grab the iota first, a race, more organised and planned than the races in our forthcoming CWG.

People who watched the movie "Peepli [LIVE]" saw like events happen in reality, on TV. Instead of Nathadas' hut (the protagonist in the movie), the venue for this posse of mediapersons was the courtroom.
Post verdict, talk shows continued endlessly till Oct 1 dawn. I realised that senior journalists on TV news channels remained in the same attire and grew doubtful if they attended to their natures' call in this melee. Such HUNGER for news .. INDIGESTIBLE !!

2. Hope this verdict does not justify acts of vandalism and destruction.
The Babri Masjid remained a site of worship for Muslims from time of its erection by/under Mughal ruler Babar to 1949. In 1880s period, Hindus and Muslims worshipped here alongside in peace. This could have continued. But on Dec 22, 1949, idols of Ram Lalla were placed under the central dome of the mosque and a case of trespassing was filed in 1950. In 1985, the site was opened by Rajiv Gandhi's government to Hindu worship. And we all know what happened on Dec 6, 1992 - the mosque, a prominent symbol of religious faith for Muslims was trampled upon, brought down to debris in no time.
The verdict issued by the three judge HC bench states that the place where the idols were kept in 1949, belongs to the Hindus. Nobody dared to question the legality behind placing the idols at that place. It is now ratified that the area below the central dome is the birth place of Lord Rama. We do not have eye witness accounts to substantiate this claim but the outcome is - the idols will not be removed from their position and the area rightfully belongs to Hindus. The land at the disputed site will be shared 2: 1 between Hindus and Muslims. If Bhagawan Sri Ram Virajman himself is a litigant in this case, a minor, represented by Mr.Nandan Agarwal, then a lesser mortal like me cannot make further comments on this verdict.
I only hope history does not repeat itself. Atleast, from now on, let no group erect idols of some god in the altar of a church or below the dome of a mosque, later demolish/vandalize it, then 50-60 years later, claim that the place where the idols were erected, is actually, the birth place of the God they revere, and therefore rightfully belongs to them only.

My fear is not unnatural because we all know, India is primarily, a Hindu nation. It was with the arrival of Dutch and Portugese missionaries that Christianity arrived on this soil. These fierce missionaries destroyed many temples and erected churches on top of them. One can visit Old Goa to understand this. With the arrival of Mughals in North India, Islam permeated to a vast extent. Many mosques and tombs stand on early temple sites. If today's common man in India wants to rewrite history and lay his claim on a past bygone, it will be wasteful and inharmonious, heinous and irrational.

3. Are we still a Sovereign, Socilaist, Secular, Democratic Republic ?
Yes, we are a Republic, but stripped of all other adjectives. Democracy is in doldrums in parts of India flooded with curfew. There is no right to education;shops and hospitals are shut down for months. Instead of rubber bullets, tear gas shells and water cannons, it is real bullets that tear through many chests.
I have grave doubts on socialist component after viewing the pictures of food grains rotting in the open in Haryana and Punjab. It is this rotten stock, fed upon by dogs and rodents that was distributed to flood victims in Uttarakhand last month. A nation that spends 74000 crores to build and renovate stadiums is unwilling to spend even less than half this amount to build warehouses and godowns to ensure proper storage and distribution of food.
Sovereign, a partial yes, the state and its police force are sovereign, supreme and independent but the people, it governs, live as its subordinates.
The SECULAR aspect ceases to exist following the verdict. A certain party's leaders were happy that the verdict divides and provides lands for everybody - Hindus and Muslims, they say it is all encompassing, promotes peace and ushers a new era. On news channels, they sought the cooperation of their Muslim brothers for the construction of a temple in the area demarcated lto them legally. When these leaders were asked if they will cooperate with their Muslim brothers and help build their mosque, there was no straight answer. Tongues twisted, faces changed, words were minced, the person who threw the question was reprimanded for short sightedness and irrelevance and heavily ridiculed. Everything happened barring a terse "YES, definitely we will help" !
The clarity with which help and cooperation were sought in building a temple disappeared gawkily when the question of paying back came.
Does this mean that we all have to endorse and bolster one religion? How are we a secular republic?

Before the verdict was announced, many said India has moved on, India has come a long way. It is not the India of 1992. There is more tolerance and amity in the air now.

They all should be reminded that Mayawati complained of inadequate security in her state, washed her hands off any responsibility; a neat disclaimer even before the verdict was announced. A fellow citizen filed a petition for postponement of verdict to a date after the Commonwealth Games lest we should have riots and add that last, unforgivable element of embarrassment. Nobody on roads were willing to risk their lives. Irrespective of age, caste, sex, religion, profession and class, we all, shut the doors and nestled ourselves in safe premises, promptly before 3 pm on 30th Sept.

Tolerance, trust and a sense of security is built in a nation with meaningful symbiotic relations; with help, respect, love and cooperation flowing in all ways. If one party begins to extract it all and refuses to payback or even commit on a possible act at a later time, then that's a phony symbiotic relation, more aptly, a parasitic one in which destruction is inevitable.

1 comment:

Divya Shankar said...

The Sunday Times of India contains some well written articles on very important issues - one on Ayodhya verdict is listed below. It perfectly mirrors my point 2 .. more openly and boldly -