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This refers to your cover story Ram Redux: A New Calendar For Polls And Puja (Dec 11).Left-wing writers accuse the RSS of conspiring to bring about the demolition of the Babri Masjid in an attempt to establish themselves as the messiahs of the minorities and protectors of secularism. But it wasn’t just the RSS that blew hot air to fire the energy of kar sevaks for the demolition job—BJP leaders, insufficient deployment of forces by the Centre and the mute middle and upper classes are equally to blame. After all, fired up by the propaganda, the kar sevaks made that road trip to Ayodhya whereas the intellectuals and the secularists crying foul did not think it worth the effort to reach that same spot and defend their theoretical convictions. The RSS chief has recently said that only a Ram temple should be constructed at the disputed site, and if you question him why, he will say that the site of Ramjanmbhoomi reflects the faith and devotion of about one billion people in this country, which is next to impossible to ignore. So yes, let’s say Jai Ram Ji Ki to history and settle the dispute once and for all because a Mohan Bhagwat and his imagined clan of one billion said so.
Indu S. Dube, Varanasi
Refer to Terrorists out of Petty Goons (Dec 11). Has the author written anything about the complicity of UP’s BJP government in the destruction of the masjid and the consequent riots in spite of the SC order? Babri was a solid granite monument that had stood the test of centuries, could the rioters armed with just shovels and rods demolish the entire thing? The state government used bulldozers to raze it in the night! This is the ugly truth of state terrorism.
Nasar Ahmed, On E-Mail
“In 1990, then PM Chandrashekhar had tried to mediate—it fell flat after the VHP withdrew from it.” This is untrue. The VHP did not withdraw from the debate. The sequence was as follows. The VHP and the BMAC (Babri Masjid Action Committee) met and each side presented its own evidence. It was then agreed that both sides would meet at a later date with rebuttals. The VHP presented its rebuttal like the reasonable organisation that it is while the BMAC’s pseudo-historians failed to appear.
Akash Verma, Chennai
Your cover story made excellent reading . There are plenty of examples of incidents such as the Babri demolition in the world—hundreds of temples were demolished in modern-day Pakistan in 1947, the awe-inspiring Buddhas of Bamiyan were crumbled by the Taliban in Afghanistan and in recent years ISIS destroyed many revered sufi shrines in Syria. All groups responsible for these demolitions believe history owes a debt to them. In India’s context, the modern Hindutva ideology propagated by the RSS says that Hindus have been slaves for more than 1000 years to ‘foreigners’. The followers of Hindutva see the word secularism with suspicion and feel that they are very tolerant since in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan ‘things are much worse’. The reversal of the Shah Bano judgement, the forced eviction of Kashmiri pandits, and the affidavit in the apex court in connection with Ram Setu, which stated that Ram was a fictional character, among other things, have all manifested themselves in the demand for the construction of a temple to Ram at Ayodhya. “The Indian people would rather side with Ram than with Babar, a foreign aggressor in whose name a mosque was raised on the spot where Ram was born,” is the staple logic that even a casual ‘Ram sevak’ is driven by.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
Hindutva forces like the RSS and the BJP have succeeded in keeping the Babri Masjid issue alive in the minds of the majority for the last twenty-five years, especially at election time. The Sangh Parivar and the BJP have won in engendering divisive thinking among a section of the Hindu population. In the next Lok Sabha elections also, the Babri Masjid will be, as usual, a propaganda weapon. It won’t be a surprise if the temple construction takes place before these elections, as power in both the state and the Centre is with the BJP. If the temple is built, it will be a clear foundation for a Hindu nation—the prime objective of all the right-wing parties. The only light in this dark future is that the majority of Hindus will hopefully keep the spirit of their secular democratic values, one of the solid foundations of Indian democracy.
P.A. Jacob, Muscat
Clearly, Vishnu Bhatt (The Story Of Ram’s Birthplace Without The Babri Masjid) was referring to Ram Chabutra, which was just in front of the mosque. This was the place where the nawabs allowed devotees to pray. This actually goes towards proving that the site was considered Ramjanmabhoomi even then.
Abhinav, On E-Mail
When it comes to Ayodhya, the Hindutva brigade seems blind to the fact that Muslims are not just a minority but the second-largest community in this country, and that any attempt to reverse the history of the last thousand years will be catastrophic. The policy of Hindutva is both narrow and short-sighted. A scare has been created not only among Muslims but also in the minds of all minorities including Christians & Sikhs, which could lead to the fragmentation of the country. Besides, it is an idea which has some acceptance in the Hindi belt but not across the length and breadth of the country. Will it work in Kashmir? Will it be accepted in Punjab, where the demand for a separate state based on faith has still not died down?
Deepak Seth, Faridabad
The dispute is certainly not just the BJP’s creation, as is evident from your cover story’s graphic. It has been going on since the time of the British. What prevented Jawaharlal Nehru from settling the issue in 1949 when the Ram idol had mysteriously appeared inside the mosque and the Congress was ruling UP? But Nehru wanted to please both Hindus and Muslims, even at the cost of law and order and fissures between the two communities. It was again the Congress which used the Ayodhya dispute for political gain by opening the gates of the disputed structure and allowing Hindus access to pray there. The BJP does not have a monopoly over communalism; the Congress has done enough mischief-making too.
Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao, Vijayawada
If Indian politics revolves around Ayodhya, better to shift Parliament at the ‘disputed’ spot.
Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi
Those who destroyed Babri Masjid changed Ramayanam into a tragedy (Ramayanam As Tragedy). I learnt Sriramodantam as a child of five or six. At 80-plus, I can still recite it clearly and fully. Rama was no god. He was the maryadapurushthaman—more a concept than reality. Ramayanam is an epic poem like Homer’s Iliad. Even if someone considers Rama a god, and many do, a god can’t have a place or date of birth. It is no biography. When the Ram Sethu dispute was raging, Kalaignar Karunanidhi famously asked, “In which engineering college did this Raman study?” E.V. Ramaswami Naicker Periyar’s Dravida Kazhagham paraded cardboard cutouts of Sri Ram with a garland of chappals and Sita dressed in scanty clothes. Periyar got away with it, but the late Cho Ramaswamy, who published Sita’s picture on the cover of his Thuglak weekly, was promptly jailed for obscenity. Gandhi’s Ram? Simple, “Patita Pavana Sita Ram!” The greatest service to Sri Ram we as Ram Bhakthas can do is to mobilise a nation-wide campaign to help rebuild the Babri Masjid precisely at the same spot where it originally was. I would be the first to contribute a Ram Shila.
Col (retd) C.V. Venugopalan, Palakkad
This refers to Anand Patwardhan’s Ayodhya Diary (Dec 11), which I liked reading very much. I landed in India on the day after the demolition. I vividly remember the nightmare during my stay of four weeks. One thing is sure today—the villians of this episode—Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi—did not realise their ambitions and got sidetracked by the “chaiwala” brand of the BJP. It is really sad to read the fate of a good priest who was murdered, probably by the thugs of the monkey brigade, because he spoke his mind.
T. Nayak, Washington
This refers to your editorial comment Ramayanam as Tragedy (Dec 11). Religious dogma combined with hostility is the reason why the Ram Mandir construction has been hanging fire for decades, eluding the bonds of unity, love and affection. Without moral progress, stimulated by faith in god, immorality in all its forms will proliferate and strangle goodness and human decency. Mankind will not be able to fully express the potential nobility of the human soul unless faith in god is strengthened. Ironically, the godless act of demolition in Ayodhya has the perpetrators appropriate the name of god.
Seetharam Basaani, Hanamkonda (Telangana)
How many times has the editor referred to the “illiterate masses” or suchlike? Clearly, in his mind, support for the BJP equals illiteracy, not less corruption or meritocracy. It is typical of leftist intellectuals to think that they know best.
Avinash Dharne, On E-Mail
I was happy with the bold changes in editorial content since the change of guard at the top. I, however, have some issues with this particular editorial which calls Ram a brilliant but flawed character penned by Valmiki and not a real person who lived thousands of years ago as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Which human is without flaws? Ram is no exception and that is why his depiction as such in the Ram avatar. However, the piece rightly observes how the Left’s vehement opposition to all things Hindu really strengthens Hindutva.
V.S. Venkataraman, On E-Mail
I write about the excellent cover story article that examines the jarring contrast in which the police go about their job (Rani & Rogues, Dec 4). The police inaction in the recent Padmavati row, where they all but supported goons and criminals is just symptomatic of a larger malice: that the police always side with the powerful, a blatantly pro-establishment force, a disease they have been infected with since colonial days, when they were just an instrument to quell terror and humiliate people. Sadly, in the past eighty years, this colonial legacy has just been perpetuated. Little wonder then that they have become corrupt, and communal, to the core. Such is their reputation that they are much feared and people are scared to approach them, as most poor people see them as a legalised gang of criminals.
Rakesh Agarwal, Dehradun
The cops’ laxity in duty and occasional depravity is due to their proximity and clandestine nexus with political authority for quid pro quo gains. The potential for the state to commit violence and its exercise is an essential attribute of the nation-state; it has been authenticated since time immemorial; hence the police and the military remain dominant. Yet who is going to iron the khaki? Not politicians of course, for they are themselves mired in crime. Caste is deeply entrenched in our system. Policemen, who operate in the public space are very aware of the existing social differences. Therefore, they often try to take mileage of the situation for their own benefit. They know whom to please and who they can push around.
Parshuram Gautampurkar, Madhopur, Rajasthan
Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as the president of the party of his forefathers has come as a result of selection—not election (The Slow Aarohan Of A Morning Raga, Dec 4). All the same, Rahul is the grandson of Feroze Gandhi, who was independent India’s first politician to expose a major financial scandal that sent a Calcuttan stock speculator Haridas Mundhra to jail and forced Union finance minister T.T. Krishnamachari to quit. That way, fighting corruption is in Rahul’s DNA. Today, Narendra Modi talks of a Congress-mukt Bharat, least realising that the elimination of the country’s only national party other than the ruling BJP heralds the death of constitutional democracy. If the PM is accusing Rahul of playing caste politics, the BJP is itself adept at polarising society for political advantage. Someone attacking Rahul itself means the new Congress president is a serious opponent.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
Till recently, his bloopers made Rahul look like a non-serious politician, but of late the Congress leader looks rejuvenated. Going by the vigour he has shown at the electioneering in Gujarat, it seems the Modi regime’s administrative mistakes have infused some vigour in Rahul. At his Berkeley speech this September, Rahul showed signs of a matured leader by admitting that his party had given up on its tradition of internal dialogue (thus damaging intra-party democracy) and conversing with the common cadres. It appears the grand old party might finally come back to life.
Lal J Singh, Amritsar
It is fun to notice that Rahul looks surer of himself, while Modi has somewhat gone defensive, largely due to his government’s demonetisation and GST bungling. If the BJP’s seats will come down in Gujarat after the impending legislative elections, then the Congress will be all too ready to give the credit to Rahul.
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
RK Nagar had been J. Jayalalitha’s constituency, but the upcoming byelection to that legislative seat has assumed great significance (No Bud Amid Two Leaves, Dec 11). Among those in the fray, whoever gets more votes between the AIADMK’s OPS-EPS faction and that of TTV will stake a claim to Amma’s legacy. If OPS’s E. Madhusoodhanan loses by a big margin, EPS might use it to strengthen his hold over the party and its leaders. If the DMK wins, the Opposition party will use the result as a validation for “people’s dissatisfaction” with the government.
K.S. Jayatheertha, Bangalore
Your pictorial account, captioned A Family and History’s Leaves (Dec 4), notes that Rajiv Gandhi was born in 1944, but wrongly clubs the year with the Congress party rejecting the Simon Commission. Well, the seven-member panel of British MPs had come to India way back in 1928. Perhaps you confused it with the Cripps Mission, but that too had come in 1942.
Prof Anil Joshi, Almora
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