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Has The Country Moved On?

By: U. Narayana Das
Nov-15-2010
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In reply to a tweet on September 29, this writer replied that he was a firm believer and hoped that a grand temple for Bhagavan Sri Ram would be built at His birth place. He added that the issue was very complex, likely to extend the sagacity of the Honourable judges to the very limits. But in the end everyone hoped for a judgement that would make all parties exclaim, "A Daniel come to judgment..." as both Shylock and Portia did in different scenes of "The Merchant of Venice." Incidentally the central theme of the Shakespeare play, according to literary critics, was a plea for toleration!


MSM: "REWIND, FREEZE FRAME"


Till 4 P.M. on September 30 our main stream media - the Pravdas and Izvestias of the print medium and the electronic equivalents of Radio Moscow of the USSR days - educated us that


The higher judiciary is seized of the Janmastahn - Masjid a. k. a Sri Rama Janma Bhumi - Babri Masjid dispute.


The issue concerns merely the title of the land on which the disputed structure stood.


Courts can not resolve issues based on matters of faith.


What concerns courts is evidence and only evidence.


"The country has moved on". What was left unsaid was in its view "the pro-temple movement has no case", and hence the "exhortation" to the "intransigent" pro-temple movement.


Everyone should respect the verdict of the Honourable High Court.


The losing side, which they have already determined was the pro-temple movement should understand that the hearing by / verdict of the Honourable High Court is only another step in the judicial process to resolve the issue.

Although they have been exhorting the wining side not to gloat about victory, it was merely for form. Champagne bottles were ready as were proclamations to be issued of their "eternal faith" in the Indian judicial system.


Remember, in its view "the pro-temple movement has no case".


Even after adjudication by the Supreme Court, the pro-temple movement should understand that the country has moved on. Remember, in its view "the pro-temple movement has no case".


As the country has moved on what concerns the youth of this country are more mundane matters than Mandir & Masjid.


The chivalrous concession of mentioning Mandir first was because in our MSM"s view, "the pro-temple movement had no case". Remember Winston Churchill"s famous quote, "Magnanimity in victory; courage in defeat and balance in adversity."


The English electronic media crowed on and on, ad nauseum that "the country has moved on" till the newscasters" voices became hoarse and throats ached.


It is reliably learnt that NPIL, the company that makes Strepsils throat lozenges sold out all stocks of the brand in the last two weeks. When last heard, in order to meet the unprecedented demand, the company commissioned running extra batches paying its workers overtime wages.


At about 4.30 P.M. all hell broke lose on the electronic media. The country stopped moving on, rewound to December 6, 1992 and the frame froze.


The print progressives had to wait for the morrow. To be fair the two newspapers that this writer reads, The New Indian Express and the Deccan Chronicle had balanced coverage and editorials on the next day.


If for secular historians India"s history began after Mohd. Ghaznavi"s first "visit" to Somnath, for the modern pall-bearers of secularism, India"s history began on December 6, 1992.


If a panellist tried to point out that the issue before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court was not December 6, 1992 but "merely the title of the land on which the disputed structure stood", he was shouted down. The fact that all the three judges unanimously threw out the "title suit" was submerged in an avalanche of denunciations of the judgement.


The earlier edict, "everyone should respect the verdict of the Honourable High Court" was discarded. Those who cried "India has moved on" till just thirty minutes before now cried a halt and reversed the engine like time-travellers zeroing in on a moment in time. Like the proverbial four blind men describing an elephant, the dissection began without any of the dissectors reading the eight thousand page verdict. The three judges comprising the bench chose to deliver their own independent judgments and the smallest of these delivered by Justice S. U. Khan ran into 285 pages.


DISMISSAL OF TITLE SUIT CONCLUSIVE


Before we proceed any further, since the original dispute was about "merely the title of the land" let us try to understand what a "title" means to the layman. If one understands correctly, title means ownership. Thus when a property is sold or purchased the ownership or title is transferred, by executing a title deed. A title can thus be sold or purchased but also bequeathed or gifted by executing a title deed.


There appear to be many litigants claiming title in the instant case but let us confine ourselves to the three principal litigants. They are the Hindu Mahasabha representing if one understands correctly the "Ram Lalla Virajman", the Nirmohi Akhara, which some believe is a proxy for the Congress party and the Sunni Wakq Board which have been fighting for a title for the 1500 square yard piece of land on which the mosque was presumably constructed in 1528, by Babar"s commander Mir Baki, a Shia - after destroying the pre-existing temple. This is the reason why it was always referred to as the Janmasthan-Mosque, till the pseudo-secular historians and their fellow-travellers in the media began calling it the Babri - Masjid or more charitably the Rama Janma Bhumi - Babri - Masjid.


Now the question arises as to how Mir Baki came into the title or to simplify the language who gave him the title? Did he simply plant a few flags in the four corners of the land and staked his claim as the Anglo-Saxons did when they moved to America in droves after Columbus set out to discover India but stumbled upon the West Indies instead. If Columbus hadn"t lost his way the Anglo-Saxons would have had done their staking here in India and history would have been different. But the question remains, "who gave Mir Baki the title to the land?" Or are simple legal principles not applicable to invaders and conquerors and they can usurp any land anywhere?


It is not that the Hindus have given up hope or title. They have been claiming / fighting for title to the site of the destroyed temple, whenever they had some strength although they were fighting a far superior enemy. The original suit or suits in the RJB-BM dispute concerning the title or ownership of the land were filed in the Faizabad District Civil Court. The modern litigation began as far back as in 1885 during the reign of the British administration. However it appears the British-India Civil courts which adjudicated the matter in 1936 a full fifty one years since the litigation began and awarded the title to the Sunni Wakq Board.


Now the second question arises, "how come the Sunni Wakq Board came into the title?" Who gave the SWB the title to the land? If Mir Baki did, why did he give to Sunnis rather than Shias which was naturally to be expected?


Now the third question, how did the British simply adjudicate the matter and award the title to the SWB? Did they too stake claim as did the earlier conqueror, Babar / Mir Baki or did they think they had come into the title by simply usurping all land and therefore were eligible to gift it to the more favourite claimant? Why did they not ask, "How did the SWB come into the title?" They simply seem to have proceeded on the "possession is title" principle and awarded it to the SWB, thus creating another legal landmine.


Now in 2010, the three Honourable judges too applied the same principle "possession is title" in magnanimously awarding the three claimants equal share of the disputed land having first dismissed the title suits on the principle of "limitation of time" in filing the suits.


ISN"T IT TIME TO MOVE ON


One should understand that once the title claims of two of the three litigants were dismissed on the principle of "limitation of time", the third party, in this case "Ram Lalla Virajman" ipso facto becomes the automatic winner of the title. The learned judges therefore could have declared "Ram Lalla Virajman" the winner of the title but in their infinite wisdom have gone beyond that. They wanted India to win by bridging the deep chasm between Hindus and Muslims that is likely to tear civil society asunder.


There is no need to go into the ample archaeological evidence that bespoke of the existence of a massive temple under the mosque. The archaeological evidence points to a grand Vishnu Hari temple that was in existence much prior to the Sunga Dynasty which Babar himself proclaimed to have defeated. In fact the evidence gathered dates back to the Gupta Dynasty. This evidence of a pre-existing temple was clinching enough for the majority judgement to conclude that the mosque was built on the ruins of a destroyed temple.


This is the time for India"s two major religions to bury their differences and historical baggage and to move forward in a spirit of mutual trust and goodwill. The Shias, to which sect the original protagonist of the mosque saga Mir Baki belonged, offered an olive branch to the Hindus. They even offered a donation of Rs 15, 00,000 for the construction of the "Bhavya Mandir".


It is now for the country to decide whether it intends to "move on" or remain hostage to the machinations of a bigoted media which abjured all moral values in pursuit of social snobbery!


TAIL-PIECE


The panel discussions on most English language television channels were more or less on expected lines, the only difference being the degree of rabidity of views expressed. Some friends point out that the Hindi news channels STAR and ZEE had more balanced coverage. The star on the Hindu side was undoubtedly Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad (also a lawyer representing "Ram Lalla"), who roundly ticked off the puffed-up television divas, who anchored the shows.


But the debates on NDTV were more rabid than others. The prima donna of these debates is of course Ms. Barkha Dutt and the more notable panellists were Mr. Zafaryab Jilani, the Lawyer of the Sunni Wakq Board, Mr. Assaduddin Owaisi, an M.P. from a Muslim religious party and Ms. Farah Naqvi a minority religious activist. The first two featured on all channels. Another feature which NDTV shares with all others was that it did not have any lawyer representing the other litigants, something which has parallels with TV debates on the M. F. Hussain case.


In one of Barkha"s panel discussions, after Ravi Shankar Prasad roundly ticked her off, Mr. Javed Akthar pointed out that only Hindus could be accused of pseudo-secularism but not Muslims, who can only be "fundamentalist". He was only trying to be jocular but unwittingly stumbled upon some element of truth. This is not to say that all Muslims are fundamentalist or all Hindus are pseudo-secular. By the strange logic of social snobbery, in the perception of the intelligentsia, all Hindus are considered communal till they prove their secular credentials by denouncing Hindu culture, Hindu traditions, Hindu religion and all fellow Hindus who avow their faith in them. But by the same logic of social snobbery, all Muslims are considered secular irrespective of their precept and practice. It is not too difficult to understand why this should be so.


Firstly for Barkha, Mr. Soli Sarabjee who must be twice her age was just Soli but Owaisi was always "sab"! Aren"t some animals in Orwell"s Animal Farm, "more equal" than others? And at least in one debate she prefaced her question to Owaisi, with "Insha Allah".


Secondly, every one knows the provenance of MIM, which Owaisi represents, as the successor to the Razakars. It still follows some "Razakar" methods. In the 2009 general election, Owaisi himself was caught on camera chasing and thrashing an election agent of the TDP. His brother Akabaruddin was in the group that thrashed Tasleema Nasreen and at least one MIM MLA ( the same, who headed the group that thrashed Tasleema Nasreen) brandished a gun and fired in the air when GHMC employees went to demolish an unauthorised building (not a mosque) in Abids. Akabaruddin openly professed, on record on camera, that if Tasleema ever set foot again on the soil of Hyderabad, she would be beheaded. That"s right, "beheaded". Mr. Kasu Krishna Reddy, the Civil Supplies minister in the erstwhile YSR government was booted out when he went to inspect government-run fair price shops in the old city. The old city of Hyderabad is MIM bailiwick and nobody should doubt it.


This then is the secular Muslim face that is often seen on Barkha"s debates. That the methods adopted by MIM work, no one need doubt. Begum Barkha and her cohorts in other news channels are only too aware that the party or for that matter any Muslim organisation is not to be trifled with. Hence the deference, nay reverence to them. On the other hand the merest of protest earns the Hindus the endearing epithet, "goons".


One occasionally sees Farah Naqvi as an articulate, fluent-English-speaking female Muslim face on TV. But she should be remembered more for an article she wrote in Deccan Chronicle some time ago. In it, she rather breezily advanced the theory that the issue of Kashmiri Pandits has been "highly romanticised". According to her, the Pandits have been doing rather well - in the camps or out of them - having assimilated into civilian life during the last twenty years.


Both Owaisi and Naqvi dispel the popular misconception that only bearded Mullahs and impoverished Muslims take to militant religious activism. For, Owaisi belongs to the upper crust of the society being a part of the ruling establishment of the erstwhile Nizam State. He studied law in London. And from all appearances Naqvi must belong to at least the upper-middle class if not above.


U. Narayana Das

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