The Indian Constitution too was Demolished Along With Babri Masjid 25 Years Ago

Twenty five years ago, on 6 December 1992, the structure of Babri Masjid was brought down by a mob of vandals, presided over by the top leadership of the BJP/RSS/VHP, as the Congress government led by prime minister Narasimha Rao looked on benignly. As did the Supreme Court before which a commitment was made by the Kalyan Singh (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh – to the effect that nothing would be allowed to happen to the structure of the mosque.

Journalist Sajeda Momin, covering the demolition, recalls the scene thus,

I can still see the thousands of saffron-clad ‘kar sevaks’ clambering atop the 16th century mosque and pounding it with shovels, iron rods, pickaxes and anything they could lay their hands on. I can hear the screeching of Sadhvi Uma Bharti egging them on shouting “ek dhakka aur do, Babri Masjid tod do” through the microphones from atop the specially-built watchtower for the BJP/RSS/VHP leadership. I can visualize the three domes of the mosque collapsing inwards one by one at intervals of roughly an hour on that cold, wintery Sunday afternoon.

Everyone knew who were the dramatis personae at each level – and practically every bit of evidence that would ever have been required exists, captured in videos and photographs. Our present prime minister was said to be  one of the key organizers of the of the Rath Yatra that led up to the demolition and can be seen holding the microphone in his  hands in the photograph below.

Rath Yatra – precursor to the demolition, image courtesy Quora.com

Worse was to follow the demolition. The  demolition of the structure of the mosque was over that day but the process of the demolition of the Indian Constitution that had begun with what was called the ‘Ram janmabhoomi movement’ continued. By ‘Constitution’ I do not simply mean the book that embodies the law of the land but rather the very weave that came to constitute Indian society as a result of the new contract that the document called the Constitution embodied. Constitution, therefore in a triple sense. The document called the Constitution too was not merely a book of laws; it was rather, the only existing, largely agreed upon, vision of a modern India. It was a vision which was put in place through the long process of struggles, debates and contestations over the long decades of the anticolonial movement and finally given shape in, in the Constituent Assembly. There was nothing benign or innocuous about it – every bit of it had to be achieved through a fight. And yet, in the end, that was the document that embodied the vision of modern India. The only political current that stood far away from both the anticolonial struggle and had no role in the creation of this vision is the political force that rules India today.

The RSS and its numerous offshoots were neither fighting the British nor joining in the anti-caste and anti-untouchability struggles through the period since they came into existence in the mid-1920s. No wonder leaders of the Sangh combine think the anti-colonial/ national struggle was about cow-protection. That they neither subscribed to the anti-British agenda nor to the anti-caste agenda around which struggles of that period took shape, is not just a matter of historical record but is also visible in the way its leaders and ranks conduct their politics today. Every single step taken by the Sangh leaders is a step out of sync with the vision of the future spelt out by the social contract of modern India. That the Sangh attributes this vision to the Congress is an expression of its own illiteracy about the diverse forces in struggle throughout that period.

Even though it is conducted in the name of Hindus, there is nothing ‘Hindu’ about its agenda. Sangh and Sanghism is the name of a malignant political machine that seeks to destroy the very body of society in the name of an ancient past. That is the political machine we confront today. That is the political machine that we must fight today with all our vigour.

What’s in a Name? The Demolition of ‘Babri Masjid’, the Name and the Mosque: Hilal Ahmed

Babri-Masjid – Before the Demolition, image courtesy Tehelka.com

The gradual erasure of the words ‘Babri Masjid’ from our everyday memory actually began in 1986, when the Hindu community was granted the exclusive right to worship there. This happened without any regard ownership disputes the and illegal conversion of this mosque into a temple in 1949.

This story of the dispute itself is disputable. It is imperative to revisit three interesting moments, which no one talks of these days.

The 1949 moment

On the night of 23 December 1949, a group of local Hindus entered the mosque and installed the idols of Lord Ram inside it. Although the police filed an FIR in which the building is clearly defined as a functional mosque, the local administration took charge of the building, and without removing the idols from the mosque space, declared it a legally “disputed site”. Read the full article here

 

Hadiya’s Safety is the Kerala Government’s Responsibility: Rajathi Salma writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

[This is the text of the open letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala from the celebrated Tamil poet Rajathi Salma, a leading literary and activist voice from South India whose writing has often revealed the pain and poignancy of women’s unfreedoms and the denial of a creative life of choice to them. This is about the never-ending agony that the confinement of a young woman, Hadiya, by her father, has become. Hadiya is to be heard by the Supreme Court of India on 27 November 2017, but the Kerala government refuses to take responsibility for her safe travel to Delhi, after many many pleas from civil society] Continue reading “Hadiya’s Safety is the Kerala Government’s Responsibility: Rajathi Salma writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala”

महाड़ सत्याग्रह के नब्बे साल

‘‘जब पानी में आग लगी थी’’
Inline image 1
प्रस्तावना
‘क्या पानी में आग लग सकती है ?’’
किसी भी संतुलित मस्तिष्क व्यक्ति के लिए यह सवाल विचित्र मालूम पड़ सकता है। अलबत्ता सामाजिक-राजनीतिक आंदोलनों पर निगाह रखनेवाला व्यक्ति बता सकता है कि जब लोग सदियों से जकड़ी गुलामी की बेड़ियों को तोड़ कर आगे बढ़ते हैं तो न केवल /बकौल शायर/ ‘आसमां में भी सुराख हो सकता है’ बल्कि ‘ पानी में भी आग लग सकती है।’
2017 का यह वर्ष पश्चिमी भारत की सरजमीं पर हुए एक ऐसे ही मौके की नब्बेवी सालगिरह है, जब सार्वजनिक स्थानों से छूआछूत समाप्त करने को लेकर महाड नामक जगह पर सार्वजनिक तालाब से पानी पीने के लिए डा अंबेडकर की अगुआई में हजारों की तादाद में लोग पहुंचे थे। /19-20 मार्च 2017/ कहने के लिए यह एक मामूली घटना थी, लेकिन जिस तरह नमक सत्याग्रह ने आज़ादी के आन्दोलन में एक नयी रवानी पैदा की थी, उसी तर्ज पर इस अनोखे सत्याग्रह ने देश के सामाजिक सांस्कृतिक पटल पर बग़ावत के नए सुरों को अभिव्यक्ति दी थी।

Continue reading “महाड़ सत्याग्रह के नब्बे साल”

Was the ‘Dancing Girl’ of Mohenjodaro actually a warrior?

NAMAN AHUJA, art historian, asks an exciting question that reminds us that the interpretation of artefacts, indeed, interpretation as such, is inevitably framed by the context of the viewer, and therefore always open to rethinking.

The image below is one that we are all familiar with, the exquisite sculpture of the ‘Dancing Girl’ found at Mohenjodaro.

Naman Ahuja, speaking to Anindita Ghose, suggests that the reading of this image as a dancing girl can be attributed to a perspective arising from the normalizing of patriarchal values prevalent in contemporary society. Ahuja offers an alternative reading that is much more persuasive:

The figure has bangles all the way up her left arm but her right arm is bare, as any working person would have it. A decorated left arm and a bare right arm free for labour…or for war? If she was a dancing girl by profession, surely it would have been relevant to keep both arms decorated? Look at the way she is standing. Look at her confidence. One arm on hip. Head thrown back. The way her hand is sculpted, there might have been a spear in her hand. Is she a warrior figure? Could she be a soldier rather than a dancing girl?

I can’t wait for this exhibition, India And The World: A History In Nine Stories,  to come to Delhi!

Statement by concerned citizens on the continued incarceration of Hadiya

We, the undersigned concerned citizens, are greatly disturbed by news reports of the NCW in-charge, Rekha Sharma’s visit to meet Hadiya at the home of her father, Mr. Asokan, where she continues to be incarcerated. These reports raise more fears than they allay.

Ms Hadiya has been reported by Ms Sharma to be ‘healthy and happy’. However, Ms. Sharma goes on to state, without providing any evidence whatsoever, that while there is no ‘love jihad’ in Kerala, there are forced conversions.

It bears reiteration that Ms. Hadiya is a twenty four year old adult woman, who took a decision to convert to Islam, and then to marry a Muslim man. For this exercise of self determination, Ms. Hadiya has been placed under house arrest in her parents’ control, and this shocking violation of Ms. Hadiya’s personal liberty and her right to take decisions about her own life, has been endorsed by the legal system.

Continue reading “Statement by concerned citizens on the continued incarceration of Hadiya”

Sexual Harassment in the Academia – What the Hitlist Misses: Debaditya Bhattacharya and Rina Ramdev

This is a GUEST POST by DEBADITYA BHATTACHARYA and  RINA RAMDEV

 

The past few years have not allowed us the respite to prepare for a fight. We were perpetually donning our war-gear – often forced without necessary ammunition into a battle that raged through parliaments and streets and colleges and colonies and our doorsteps. There was no time to strategise, no time to theorize, no time to bargain and no time to compose ourselves for the next day’s onslaughts. And yet, the onslaughts never abated. The mundane was coupled with the spectacular, the anti-national with the terrorist, the intellectual with the condom-user, the dissenter with the stone-pelter, and the everyday with the genocidal. Continue reading “Sexual Harassment in the Academia – What the Hitlist Misses: Debaditya Bhattacharya and Rina Ramdev”