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

 

The Gates of Vaikuntam?

When Hadiya Shafin shouted to the crowd that she converted voluntarily, that Shafin was her chosen husband, and that she wished to spend her life with him, some leading rationalist liberal feminists in Kerala sniggered at her: be grateful for the Indian Constitution which allows you to make a choice. This statement hid a despicable insult to her choice of Islam, slyly implying that it would not permit her any choices.

Goodness knows where these puerile, vain, indurate minds live their everyday lives.  Maybe they are either still able to insulate themselves somehow from the onslaught of Hindutva violence, or find it useful to use the arms of this Hindutva hegemonised thuggish state to their narrow, shamefully narrow, ends.

Whatever, I could see no trace of the protective presence of the Indian Constitution when the Supreme Court heard Hadiya. I could see not the highest court of Justice of a vibrant democracy but I got a sense of how the Gates of Celestial Vaikuntam may look like:

Read more at : https://thewire.in/200701/hadiya-supreme-court-nia/

 

 

 

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”

From Feminazi to Savarna Rape Apologist in 24 hours

Two explanations before I begin.

First – I write this in my personal capacity. In this article I represent none of the other signatories to the statement that appealed for the crowd-sourced list of sexual offenders to be withdrawn, and for complaints to be followed through institutional mechanisms (henceforward referred to as Statement). I might still use the pronoun ‘we’ sometimes, please consider that a slippage; that collective identity is something developed over three decades in a movement, and I hope I never lose that habit. But this is my individually written post. Similarly, after the Statement, Kavita Krishnan has written on Scroll, Ayesha Kidwai on Facebook and Nandini Rao on  her blog, each expanding on some aspect or the other of our brief statement.

Second – the Statement was not and is not a ‘Kafila’ statement, it was simply posted on Kafila. Just as a statement posted on Wire is not a Wire statement or a statement on Scroll a Scroll statement, unless explicitly declared to be. Kafila is a collectively run blog with about 20 members, of which I am one of the founder members. Any member of the collective can post directly on Kafila without checking back with other members of the collective. We have often had robust debates among collective members taking opposing sides on a situation, and these debates have played out on Kafila in the past. Only one Kafila member is a signatory to the Statement, myself. I posted it on Kafila because it is a site which is my first site of preference, whether I am attacking the Hindu right or writing on feminist issues. I asked the other signatories if I could post it here, since I have to ask nobody nor approach anybody to post on Kafila.

Lawrence Liang is also a member of the Kafila collective. He does not ‘run’ Kafila (as has been alleged by many), no individual does. But it seems that in this new era of ‘radical’ politics, individual control and leadership of campaigns is assumed.  Further, Mahmood Farooqui too was a Kafila collective member. When a specific complaint of sexual abuse and rape was brought against him by a complainant anonymous to us, the Kafila collective suspended him immediately from Kafila publicly, pending investigation of the complaint. That was the only collective statement Kafila has issued in its ten years of functioning as a voluntary, non-funded blog.

Continue reading “From Feminazi to Savarna Rape Apologist in 24 hours”

The Bharatiya Janta Party has issues with Rohingyas – Indians don’t: Nabanipa Bhattacharjee

Guest post by Nabanipa Bhattacharjee

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Image by Dan Kitwood / Getty

On 13 September 2017 the Union Home Ministry, following the 2015 order of the Supreme Court, decided to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees. Victims of religious persecution in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, the predominantly Buddhist Chakmas and Hindu Hajongs began immigrating to the north eastern region of India 1960s onwards. The then central government, eventually, moved a large number of these refugees to Arunachal Pradesh; while Arunachal Pradesh is their zone of concentration, a considerable number of Chakmas and Hajongs live in Mizoram and Meghalaya too. The decision of the Home Ministry, however, did not go down well with the indigenous tribal population of Arunachal Pradesh; the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union protested against the move citing threats to life and livelihood of the native inhabitants of the state. On 14 September 2017 the Union government assured the protesters that a middle-ground – between honouring the law and commitment towards protecting the rights of the people of Arunachal Pradesh – would be found.

Continue reading “The Bharatiya Janta Party has issues with Rohingyas – Indians don’t: Nabanipa Bhattacharjee”

Defend the tradition of fighting for the oppressed: Sohail Hashmi writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

(This is the text of the open letter written by the eminent left cultural activist Sohail Hashmi to Com. Pinarayi Vijayan on the Hadiya case)

Continue reading “Defend the tradition of fighting for the oppressed: Sohail Hashmi writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala”