By Kaleem Kawaja,
The flaws in the UP High Court judgement on the title to the Babri mosque land are so basic and so numerous and have been so succinctly pointed out by a lot of people, about half of them Hindus, that there is no need to discuss them any further. The anguish and lament that is pouring out of the Muslim minds is a natural occurrence. It is because we think of ourselves as such integral parts of India that we expect justice every step of the way. However it is time for the Muslim community to pay serious attention to their real options in today’s India vis-a-vis the High Court judgement (where one judge in the panel was a Muslim), and the future of their community.
This High Court judgement took away many options that the Muslim community had to come to a negotiated settlement and earn some goodwill from the Hindus of India by giving up something that was their. However there is still time left and a few options left for the community where it can make the Hindus acknowledge gratitude to the Muslims for resolving a major national and Hindu-Muslim problem that has severly damaged the Indian nation. And then be able to re-build the Muslim community in the nation’s mainstream and make progress with needed cooperation from secular Hindus. Muslims also need to stop VHP, BJP etal from converting more secular Hindus to their side, something that they were successful in doing with their Ram Janambhoomi campaign.
Yes, Muslims have every right to appeal to the supreme court and point out the flaws in the High Court judgement. But we should be realistic about what the supreme court may say. The govt will again play the same game and put 1 Muslim judge in the supreme court bench to demonstrate its even handedness. If we think that the Supreme Court will reverse the High Court judgement and award the entire site to Muslims, we are living in fools’ paradise. Are supreme court judges angels? Are they not the same judges who populate the High Court? Are not the same compulsions at work in the supreme court as they are in the High Courts? Will it really be possible for the Hindu supreme court judges and the lone Muslim judge to negate the High court conclusion and say that Hindus have no claim to that site? Think about it.
The most generous result that we can expect from the supreme cort appeal, which will again create much tension between Muslims and Hindus, with Muslims bearing the brunt, may be that the supreme court may give one-half of the site to Muslims and the other half to Hindus. We should understand that no power on earth, let alone supreme court can make Hindus vacate the part of land where the makeshift Rama twmple exists now. We should also understand that any supreme court proceeding will give yet another opportunity to VHP, BJP, Advani, Modi etal to whip up poison in the Hindu mind against the Muslims. Another cycle of hatred, violence and retribution against innocent Muslims may result and its negative effect last for decades .
It is also likely that supreme court may refuse to hear the Muslims’ appeal on some technoical legal ground. Regardless, after the supreme court review that may take another 3 or 4 years it may be established beyond the shadow of any doubt that VHP/BJP were always right and not only Muslims were wrog, the secular Hindus were also wrong. VHP, BJP will be able to say with full confidence that Muslims always exaggerate the resolution of national problems with a Muslim bias and without being even handed. Ofcourse at that time Muslims will have absolutely no options or ability to make suggestions in this matter. Also it will embolden VHP, BJP and extremist Hindus to say with certanity that Muslims and secular Hindus are wrong on the other 2,000 mosques also. And they will intensify their campaign to take over those mosques. It will give much fodder to BJP to surge as the lead political party in India.
However at this time while Muslims still have some options, if they express their revulsion at the flawed High Court judgement, but say that in the interest of the welfare of the Indian nation and their own community, they want to close the chapter on this very damaging national dispute and not pursue it any further, it will leave a very positive and very lasting impression on millions of Hindus who populate India. As to their share of the land, they can simply give it away to the Hindus, or decline to take possession. That may make a lot of Hindus who think negatively about Muslims, to rethink and at least become neutral on Muslims. This is just as it happened among many Hindus after the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat.
Unfortunately many Muslims who speak on this issue have hardly any communication with Hindus as their lives have always revolved in Muslim circles only. Instead of looking at today’s real India they think of an idealistic divine India where every Hindus should be a Gandhi. Look at the long history of India where a minority of upper caste Hindus have dominated over an overwhelming majority of low caste Hindus for many milleniums, despite countless Hindu saints, reformers and do-gooders.
Today it behoves Indian Muslims to think of their future with cool heads, evaluate their real options, not their idealistic dreams, and advise their leadership to take the right step forward that can bring the community out of the doghouse and into the mainstream and pinnacle of the nation.
The writer is a community activist in Washington DC.