THE Ayodhya verdict is the finest feather in the Sangh Parivar's crown of communal conquests.
The victory of faith over law is how the Allahabad High Court's verdict in the Ramjanmabhoomi- Babri Masjid title suit is being simplistically interpreted. But it is much more than that. It is essentially the victory of majoritarianism; the triumph of the faith of the vocal, brute majority in the cow belt over all tenets of the law. It is the judicial stamp of approval of the militant mobilisation of the masses in the name of faith, fashioned by a political agenda that reeks of riots.
The verdict has inadvertently legalised and sanctified two acts of illegality of the Parivar: the act of trespass in the intervening night of December 22 and 23, 1949, which is not even investigated and proven, and the destruction of the mosque on December 6, 1992. Worse, the verdict gave away the most important piece of the disputed property, the spot where the central dome of the mosque once stood to an RSS pracharak, Trilokinath Pandey, who claims to represent the deity, Ram Lalla Virajman.
An article of faith for the cow belt could be a cause for benign humour in beef- eating Kerala or Tamil Nadu. M Karunanidhi, the shrewd chief minister of Tamil Nadu perceived the Sethusamudram dredging project more important to his electorate than the mythical bridge that Ram's monkey army built across Palk Strait, or else the sensible old man would not have let out a loud chuckle and asked for Ram's engineering degree to prove the antiquity of the Adam's bridge between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.
So even the ' faith', the great mythology of Ram, is not an all pervasive, all encompassing, monolithic, pan Indian phenomenon.
Sure, the genesis of the present title suit between the Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Wakf Board can be traced back to a case in 1885. But nobody can contest that the ' faith or belief' of the birth place of Ram was reaffirmed by the Sangh Parivar's mass movements launched after the Rajiv Gandhi government let the locks of the Masjid be opened in 1986.
Interestingly, the greatest Ramayana of the Hindi- speaking people, Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas, believed to be written after the Babri Masjid was built is silent on the issue of the ' belief ' of a grand Ramjanmabhoomi temple getting razed by Babur's general Mir Baqi or his soldiers to build the Masjid. Tulsidas never sang about liberating his dear Ram Lalla nor did he sanctify the exact spot where the baby god was born and nursed by queen mother Kausalya.
The ' belief' about the place of Ram's birth was first asserted when some unknown persons illegally ' placed' the Ram Lalla's idol under the central dome of the Masjid in December 1949. It cannot be a mere coincidence that the then deputy commissioner KK Nayar who let the act of illegality happen, and refused to remove the idol despite a letter from the then Prime Minister Nehru, after retirement, joined the Jan Sangh and was elected to the Lok Sabha from a Parivar ticket in 1967.
In 1989, the year in which the Rajiv Gandhi government allowed the Shilanayas or the foundation stone laying ceremony for the rebuilding of the Ram temple at the Babri Masjid site, Deoki Nandan Agarwal, a retired judge of the Allahabad High Court impleaded in the case claiming to be the Ram Lalla's ' sakha' or close friend.
The court admitted his plea despite Agarwal being a Vishwa Hindu Parishad vice president. Since then representatives of Ram Lalla have been Parivar activists and the courts never found anything odd with it.
Shockingly, the court neither ordered the removal of the idol that was ' placed' in 1949 in a place of worship of the Muslims not did it find anything amiss in letting an organization that aims to politicize the dispute be a party to the title suit.
Soon LK Advani did what Tulsidas did not do. He revved up his Toyota Rath in 1990 from Somnath to Samastipur to avenge the medieval hurt of the mythical hero by propagating the ' faith or belief' of the birth of Ram exactly under the central dome of the Babri Masjid. As the Rath Yatra crossed the Hindi heartland empowering the BJP in state after state, the nation's heart bled. The campaign to restore Hindu national pride by subjugating a group of fellow citizens unfortunately found an echo among the north Indian Hindu masses, who in turn voted for the BJP. When the Hindutva mob finally brought down the Babri Masjid in 1992 there were riots all over. The serial bomb blasts in Mumbai in 1993 began a new era of communal violence that continues even today. Why even the Gujarat riots of 2002 that took a toll of about 1500 Muslims could be traced to the perceived attack on karsevakas returning from Ayodhya.
The verdict did not spare a moment's thought to all these criminal actions that happened over the Masjid, while the court was still deciding the title suit.
Obiter dicta , Latin for casual remarks or observations, are the privilege of the courts that are allowed to digress and talk about almost everything under the sun. But the Allahabad High Court did not even make a casual indictment of the Parivar or the people who permanently altered the shape and structure of the Babri Masjid in 1992. The three- way split of the land was made possible only because of the demolition of the Masjid, yet, the court did not find anything wrong with the act of demolition.
After Jinnah's murderous Direct Action day of August 16, 1946 most of the postpartition riots in the country were organised, according to various commissions of enquiry, by Hindutva elements. So, no wonder the nation heaved a collective sigh of relief after the verdict. The majority opinion mobilised by the Sangh Parivar had won.
But it defies reason why many observers defined the Muslim reaction to the verdict as ' mature'. The sad resignation of a minority community to the loss of a piece of land where a mosque once stood cannot be termed maturity. Sure, the community is mature enough to know that it hurts to agitate and that any movement for the Masjid now will only politically benefit the Parivar. Yet, it hurts to accept that the majoritarian faith and not the law has prevailed.
One mosque won or lost is not important, but the faith in judiciary is. The Supreme Court should restore the nation's faith in law and not in the folklores of a community propagated by a political party that has used it specifically to gain power. The Supreme Court should also review the propriety of the Parivar representing Ram. If at all anyone deserves to be called a ' sakha' or true and close friend of Ram, it was the man who was brutally murdered by Nathuram Godse, a former RSS activist. And he would not have approved of this verdict.