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The verdict is out both on Ayodhya and its reactions (Law Makes a Leap of Faith, Oct 11). The people feel India has moved on. But have we really? I don’t see any verdict possible on points of law that can satisfy both parties. For judgements rarely do. However, I do hope that as 10 more years go by and India’s economy grows further with another generation in its place, the souls of the ones who started this in the first place would have moved on, and the ruling of the Supreme Court will end this matter. I dream that the SC will uphold most of the judgements of the high court but will rule that there is no evidence to prove that Lord Ram was born in that exact same spot where Ram lalla was placed. I dream that the Muslims will then have the generosity—with the confidence and belief that they are not second-class citizens in their own country—to help the Hindus build the temple.
Saeed Shervani, Delhi
Yeats comes to mind: All changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty is born.
The real issue is how come the individuals who stole in the idols at night in 1949 and then demolished the structure in broad daylight in 1992 have gone unpunished. The rest is rhetoric. Educated Muslims and Hindus know very well that this judgement is a political thing, nothing else. The problem has been outsourced to the future generation—to be dealt with 20 years on.
Shuja, New Delhi
Apropos of the verdict, it’s like a surgeon who, after having operated successfully on a patient, leaves the scissors behind in the body.
Shamael Jafri, Kheri
There are more than 4,000 disputed structures in India. These disputes existed even during the British rule. Why is Ayodhya alone the cynosure?
Nebil Nizar, on e-mail
If people could have demolished temples in Hampi, Melukote and so many other distant places, they could very well have demolished a Ram temple in Ayodhya too.
If the case does go to the Supreme Court, we should ask for a one-judge bench rather than a three-bench one. The verdict may then be less confusing!
If Muslims can believe that a strand of Prophet Mohammed’s hair is preserved at the Hazratbal shrine and the Christians believe Jesus’s figure is impressed on the Shroud of Turin, why can’t Hindus be allowed to believe that Ram was born in an exact place? In Anglo-Hindu law, all transcendental deities are juristic entities with their own legal rights. Further, archaeological evidence provided by the asi in 2003 and then asi director-general Prof B.B. Lal’s report in 1975-76 prove that the memorial was built on the ruins of a large Hindu temple whose 12 pillars carried evidence of Hindu deities. And when the case has been fought for so many decades only on the basis of faith and belief as per the four title suits (two of which were rejected), why should the judges not base their judgement more on faith and belief and a little less on verifiable physical evidence? Mysticism, faith and acceptance are a part of Indian tradition and culture. And in a town like Ayodhya that has 1,400 temples and 32 mosques, isn’t it natural that the former will get preference when it is a question of faith and belief?
Nirmalya Mukherjee, Calcutta
The courts seem to have fallen prey to the temptation of assuaging the religious sentiments of the Hindu and Muslim communities rather than deciding the issue on plain facts and evidence produced. It’s surprising that it decided to trifurcate the property among the litigants. The judgement seems to be oblivious to the fact that India as a nation was recognised only in August 1947. The placing of the idols in the masjid in 1949 is not acknowledged as affecting the civil dispute before it.
Sunil Kumar, Delhi
When one looks at the overall historical narrative—of Hindus and Muslims worshipping together on the same site for decades till 1949, the evidence of Hindu architecture reported in and around the site, the verdict would seem fair. However, the problem is that the events of Dec 6, 1992, have gone completely unaddressed. While one may argue that the court had to only arbitrate on the title suits, what happened on that day was nothing short of a lynchmob vandalising a place of worship, leading to mass murder—a blot on India’s secular history. The judges could have done well to admonish those who perpetrated the events of Dec 6 and called for the ongoing inquiries as well as criminal proceedings to be pushed to completion. This would have taken the sheen off the rss-vhp-bjp swagger, and highlighted the need for the parties involved to coexist and accommodate and support each other’s beliefs. In fact, the court could have directed the rss-vhp-bjp to pay for the reconstruction of the mosque.
K. Anand, Bangalore
No two ways. Outlook has been spot on. The article is an exact reflection of the thoughts and views of the neutral citizens in this country. If a judgement on a critical, near-century-long national issue is given just on the basis of faith, why do we need the judicial system? Did we really wait 60 years for such a judgement?
Ayodhya and the tradition of Rama as a maryada purushottam are inextricably interwoven. The mandir issue is not a run-of-the-mill dispute that can be settled only juridically or technically, ignoring questions of faith and history.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Adyar
As far as belief goes, I believe that the Babri structure was a memorial to ‘Baburi’, a Kabuli lad whom Babar was madly in love with. In his conquest of Hindustan, he seems to have passed through Oudh at the junction of Ghaghra and Sarayu in March 1528 as per his own memoirs which were translated by John Leydon and William Erskin, a second edition of which was published by OUP with annotations by Sir Lucas King in 1921. Though King’s text mentions the importance of Ayodhya vis-a-vis Lord Ram and the presence of the extensive ruins of a Hindu temple, it doesn’t appear anywhere near a masjid. It doesn’t even mention a Babri masjid. The title deed of the spot is irrelevant for an invader or his followers. Anyway, what’s done can’t be undone. Since temples and masjids divide people, why doesn’t the government just go ahead and build a secular structure? Didn’t Ram himself forsake kingdom and wife for the sake of righteousness?
R.S. Pillai, Kollam
How come you have meticulously omitted mention of the asi view that archaeology pointed to the existence of a temple, which is what formed the key material evidence the court relied on? The judges have decisively recalled the facts of the case. While Justice Agarwal pointed out how representatives and lawyers of each party in the suit were permitted to shadow asi officials during the actual excavations, Justice Sharma highlighted how “even Muslim members have signed the report of asi”. The court also said that the asi report contains all details, including those of stratigraphy, artefacts and periodisation, including those for structures and walls. The pillar bases mentioned in the report establish beyond all doubt the existence of a huge structure. Additionally, the existence of a circular shrine, stone slabs in the walls with Hindu motifs, and the sign of the Makar Pranal in wall No. 5 (wall of disputed structure), a divine couple and other temple materials etc conclusively prove the existence of a Hindu religious structure.
Bittu Nayyar, New Delhi
There appear to be two issues that are being hotly debated. Firstly, the one about whether the adjudication should be about title to property. Please compare it to burning a book. Is burning a book of modern fiction the same as burning a book held to be sacred by some people? Which judge anywhere would consider them to be the same? Secondly, the discussion on what time in history should be the starting point for any argument. All interested parties chose a date of their convenience. What would happen if all debate started with the reign of emperor Ashoka?
S. Kocherla, Visakhapatnam
The only solution to the problem was disallowing the construction of any other religious structure barring the temple at the place and subsequent takeover of the structure and land by the government of UP which could have even boosted tourism. By dividing the land into three, the high court has moved into appeasement mode and left scope for the problem to crop up once more.
C.M. Vishnu Narayanan, Stanford
The hatred being stirred up by the English media in India, including Outlook, by providing coverage to regressive Islamic voices and speaking out against those who want to move on, is despicable.
Peria V., New York
The most satisfying thing to come out of this entire affair is that despite the hype created by the media and other hyperactive parties about a possible law and order breakdown in the country, the people of India accepted the HC verdict with all humility and maturity, proving we have come a long way since December 6, 1992.
S. Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that the real reason for the frustration of the so-called liberals is their fear that the lack of violence post-verdict may point to a maturity in India. As much as Hindu-Muslim violence helps the consolidation of right-wing parties, it is also essential for the Dynasty to survive. This is why these dynasty bhakts, who benefit enormously from this corrupt regime, are worried. This verdict scares the hell out of them. Maybe the bjp can stoke it a bit further by saying they’ll help the Muslims build a grand masjid next to the grand mandir. P.S. In her last article in Outlook, I noticed that even our last, screeching-from-the-rooftops liberal Arundhati Roy was defending the Dynasty. It’s getting nasty.
Relying on a belief which no historian or theologian has been able to prove satisfactorily to rule on a dispute transgresses the limits of the court's jurisdiction and throws to the winds all accepted canons of jurisprudence. Rationalists like M. Karunanidhi have expressed bafflement over the court’s finding that Lord Ram who lived in the Kritha Yuga some 1,72,800 years ago was born at the disputed site. Judgements of this specious kind sow the seeds of theocracy. The feeble response of Congress to the verdict is a thinly disguised attempt on its part to appeal to the Hindu sentiment.
G. David Milton, Kanyakumari
The article was intent on doing only one thing, calling upon readers to view the judgement from a communal angle and encouraging the sense of loss among Muslims. The strategic usage of imagery is further evidence of your intent. It would not have passed the cut in a secular/non-judgemental journal.
What is the purpose of your story? Why should Muslims feel bad? This brings closure, hopefully, to the long-drawn fight. Both Muslims and Hindus need to move on and focus on economic growth and prosperity. Mandir or masjid, these are irrelevant distractions.
Outlook and VM are the actual culprits in creating this divide between communities.
Krishnarao V., Hyderabad
A true solution always lies in the hearts of the people concerned wherein the almighty, omnipresent and omniscience dwells, asking for sacrificial adjustment and compassionate understanding!
S.R. Devaprakash, Tumkur
I can’t help but remember Pandit Nehru’s words talking of India’s tryst with destiny at the moment of our independence. A similar moment is upon us. History is ready to judge us.
Rohit Tripathi, on e-mail
Is the law of adverse possession dead now?
Jaipat S. Jain, New York
The Waqf board’s claim to the land is based only on the historical fact that Babar commissioned a mosque. But if independence was about freeing us from British rule, it was also about freeing us from the wrongs of the past. And scientific evidence has proved that there was indeed a temple on which the mosque was built, also attested to by numerous chroniclers of that time. So where is the leap of faith?
Rajesh Chary, Mumbai
Imagine what carnage would have ensued had the verdict been in favour of any one particular party! Would any number of offerings and worship be happily accepted by the ‘Winning Lord’?
Vimal Thaker, Ahmedabad