Secular India is dead. Just read the world’s most respected newspapers for proof. India is now “fundamentally a Hindu nation” and “not the secular republic promoted by the country’s founders”, reads The Washington Post. “India’s Supreme Court…[handed] the prime minister and his followers a major victory in their quest to remake the country as Hindu and shift it further from its secular foundation,” reads The New York Times. The “major victory”, of course, is the verdict in the Babri Mosque case. The case was, as described by The Wall Street Journal, a “litmus test for how vigorously the court would enforce protections for minority religions in an era when Hindu nationalists are pressing for the government to more-prominently advocate for the interests of the country’s Hindu majority”.
Well, long story short, the court failed. The destruction of the mosque and the case for rebuilding were always political acts of illegal violence, but no court dared to stand up to the BJP. They have seen what Hindutva mobs do to people they disagree with. After all, “Since Modi and the BJP took power in 2014, the rebuilding of a Ram temple at Ayodhya has been at the forefront of their Hindutva agenda,” read The Guardian. And then, there is the unfortunate truth that BJP members led crowds of thousands during the attack on Babri Masjid in December 1992. More than 2,000 people were killed in the rioting and violence that ensued, and some BJP members are still facing trial for their role in the violence.
After the verdict, All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi rightly asked on Saturday night that if Babri Masjid was illegal, why were former home minister and BJP co-founder LK Advani and others being tried in connection with its demolition. “If Babri Masjid was legal, then why was [the land it was built on] handed over to those who demolished it. If it was illegal, then why is a case going on? Withdraw the case against Advani [if it was illegal],” Owaisi said.
Unfortunately, this was a verdict born not out of legalities, but rather out of the Indian state’s capitulation to a fascistic ideology.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2019.