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Modi laying foundation of grand temple on Babri Mosque site ‘changed India into Hindu nation’

28th Aug 2020
Modi laying foundation of grand temple on Babri Mosque site ‘changed India into Hindu nation’

Indian PM Narendra Modi (L) performs worship ritual at the foundation laying of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, on August 5.
(Credit: Indian Govt Handout/Anadolu Agency)

Sajeda Haider

On August 5, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, laid the foundation stone of a grand temple dedicated to the birthplace of the mythical character Ram whom Hindus worship as ‘maryada purushottam’ (a man who is supreme in virtue and righteousness).

The new massive temple will be constructed on the very spot where the 450-year-old Babri Mosque stood in the small north Indian town of Ayodhya, which was torn down by Hindu nationalist mobs on December 6, 1992.

However, many in India believe that Modi, while performing the rituals has laid the foundation of not only a temple but also a Hindu Nation. “Today is a victory of majoritarianism over liberty and equality,” said Asaduddin Owaisi, Member of Parliament and President of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) on August 5.

“By attending the ‘bhoomi pujan’ (Hindu religious ceremony) the Prime Minister has laid the foundation of a Hindu Rashtra (nation), of making this country a theological country which goes against the basic structure of the Constitution,” added Owaisi.

What started off as a civil dispute over who owned the 2.77 acres of land on which the Babri Mosque stood was turned into a symbol of cultural subjugation of Hindus by Muslim invaders of the 16th century by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1989, using it as a vehicle to achieve political power in modern India.

During a national executive meeting of the BJP in 1989, when the party only had two MPs in the Indian Parliament, the leaders adopted a resolution to ‘liberate’ the birthplace of Lord Ram and build a grand temple there, never mind the fact that Ayodhya already had more than 6,000 temples all dedicated to the worship of Ram or that there was a temple called Ram Janmasthan (literally means birthplace of Ram) next to the Babri Mosque.

In 1990 the then President of the BJP, L K Advani, took out a road trip across northern India to ‘educate’ Hindus about the movement and mobilise religious sentiments that inculcated a sense of victimhood in the majority community.

The Ram Temple movement polarised the politics of northern India along religious lines that eventually led to the destruction of the Babri Mosque, increased BJP’s tally in Parliament and allowed them to form state governments in what is called the Hindi heartland.

For Muslims, the Babri Mosque became a symbol of their status as equal citizens in a secular republic, even as the sectarian riots that followed the demolition of the mosque became the reality that was regularly repeated in state after state.

In the decades since 1992, Muslims reposed their faith in the Supreme Court of India for justice, hoping that the civil suit would be decided in their favour, and those guilty of destroying the mosque would be punished, thereby restoring their equal position in society.

In the meantime, the BJP having tasted blood continued to polarise society with each passing election and went from strength to strength. Modi successfully used Hindu politics that came to be known as ‘Hindutva’, in the western state of Gujarat from 2002 after the anti-Muslim pogrom that claimed thousands of lives and left hundreds of thousands of Muslims homeless.

He became the new face of Hindutva politics as his Government subjugated Muslims in Gujarat to second-class citizens. This endeared him even more to Hindu nationalists, particularly when he promised to bring the ‘Gujarat model’ to the rest of India if he was elected prime minister.

In May 2014, he did exactly that. The BJP was elected as the single largest party and along with its allies; it formed a government in Delhi with Modi as the Prime Minister. In the six years since then, Indian Muslims have seen the worst attacks on their lives, rights and position in society. They have been pummeled into the ground and pushed to the margins on all fronts.

On November 9, 2019, the Supreme Court gave its final verdict on Babri Masjid (Mosque). While describing the destruction of the Babri Masjid as ‘criminal’ and an ‘egregious violation of the law’, it gave the entire land to a Hindu trust to be formed by the Government which would monitor the construction of a Ram temple.

Even as trust was formed, it was packed with BJP loyalists who have effectively taken over temple construction. In his victory speech after performing the religious rituals, Modi drew parallels between August 5 and August 15 — the day India won independence from the British — and placed the idea of liberation from ‘cultural subjugation’ on the same pedestal as political independence.

Critics including left-wing political parties like the Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxists) hit out at the Prime Minister for making the remarks and attending the event saying it marked a “dark day for democracy and secularism in India.” D Raja, General Secretary of the CPI said that the Prime Minister has “given de facto official status to one religion.

This will have far-reaching implications on our Republic and its future.” BJP’s ideological fountainhead, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has dreamt of turning India into a Hindu nation where Hinduism would be the national religion and only Hindus would enjoy full citizenship rights, while all other religious minorities would be second-class citizens from even before 1947 when India became a sovereign nation-state. That dream is fast turning into a reality.

India: Secularism is dead, Constitution changed

 

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