Skip to main content

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk 
Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”
Also author of “Religion as Critique: Islamic Critical Thinking from Mecca to the Marketplace” (2017), published by the University of North Carolina Press, and co-editor “(IL)liberal Europe: Islamophobia, Modernity and Radicalization" (2017, Routledge), in a Facebook post said, “If democracy and its judiciary encourages killing hopes rather than brightening them, we have to rethink what is democracy in the first place.”

Text:

The Supreme Court Judgment is lawful but awful because in a single stroke it eliminated what is beautiful. Justice, Abul Kalam Azad held, is beauty, which is another name of the Ultimate. The photo you see is the cover of my first book, of the Princeton University Press edition. The Indian publisher replaced the original cover with a dull one. Reason? Possible “trouble!”
Tears dripping from the visually imagined eyes of the Babri Masjid are at once a critique of the Supreme Court judgment and a requiem of the justice the Indian court system – in this case, the Supreme one – is premised on.

Lawful

The judgement, endorsing as it does the unverified/unverifiable claims that Shri Ram Ji was born exactly on the spot where Babri masjid exists/existed, is clearly lawful. There is no higher institution to appeal to. But we know that most things throughout history have been lawful but awful. Apartheid in South Africa was lawful as was racial segregation in the US, not to speak of colonial rule throughout much of the world.

Awful

What is awful is the series of assumptions the judgement is derived from. The SC places the onus of proof on the Waqf board, not on the claimant of the temple. No less significant are assumptions about history and the bogus notions of Muslims as outsiders (see Hilal Ahmed “Two readings of Ayodhya verdict” in “The Print” November 9) and Hindus as indigenous. Here the SC simply reproduces the British colonialism and its intellectual arm, orientalism, which instituted the categories of Muslims as outsiders and Hindus as indigenous.
In a way, British and Hindus loyal to the colonial rule had already staged the violent Ajodhya campaign of the 1980s/1990s in 1840s. When the British captured Kabul in 1842, they destroyed the Jama Masjid of Ghazna and spuriously claimed that its main gate was the gate of Somnath temple. To characterize the Muslim rule as tyranny and consolidate the East India Company’s rule, Lord Edward Ellenborough (d. 1871) presented the alleged gate of the Somnath temple to Hindu princes and chiefs as “memorial of your humiliation”, which was also a “record of your national glory.”
Irfan Ahmad
The so-called Somnath gate was then decorated in a shawl, placed on bullock cart and taken along the route of the river Sutlej and through many places, including Firozpur and Agra. Hindu devotees thronged to see and pay respect to the alleged gate (MA Asif, 2016. A Book of Conquest, Harvard University Press, p 161; Mukhtar Ahmad Makki, 2009, “Hindustan men Gumrahkun Tarikhnavisi”, revised edition, pp 21-23).
The violent rath yatra led by LK Advani exhorting Hindus to destroy Babri masjid had a precedent in history. The Supreme Court judgment is justice lynched precisely because, rather than faithfully judging evidence and striving to secure justice, it reproduces logic and assumptions at the heart of colonialism and orientalism. Welcome to "postcolonial" India, its democracy and judiciary!

Beautiful

I am not a morning person. However, in the night of November 8, I woke up (without alarm set) at five am. Knowing well how judicial system in India has been reduced to as no more than a wing of the ethnifying ideology of the government (to which all political parties now subscribe to), I still expected that the SC might side with evidence and justice to deliver a beautiful judgement.
Alas, it was a hope against itself.
If democracy and its judiciary encourages killing hopes rather than brightening them, we have to rethink what is democracy in the first place. If judiciary is autonomous, as it is believed to be, my point is that the Supreme Court also had the option to side with the beautiful rather than the awful.
In the future, if and when genuine seekers of truth and lovers of justice get a chance to pronounce their own judgement, the Supreme Court will stand in the dock.

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Union budget 'mum' on relief to marginalised communities facing climate change impact

Counterview Desk  ActionAid, an international advocacy group which claims to work for a world without poverty, patriarchy and injustice, has wondered if the Union budget 2023-24, which is being acclaimed for providing succour to the middle classes, has anything to offer to the India's poor. In a statement, it said, while the budget may have "prioritised inclusive development", the financial outlay for ensuring it "does not show the zeal as hoped." Stating that the Finance Minister said Rs 35,000 crore revenue would have to be "forgone" due to a reduction in personal income taxes, "fiscal prudence is not enough to expand public employment, social security, welfare, education and health expenditures considerably." "The need of the hour is to raise revenues through the reduction of revenues forgone and innovative mechanisms such as wealth tax on super accumulation of wealth", it added. Text: The Union Budget 2023 has given significant

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen