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Babri demolition on December 6, 1992 had failed to destroy secularism in Ayodhya

By Shamsul Islam*
I visited Ayodhya one month after the demolition of Babri mosque by the RSS/Shiv Sena/BJP cadres. It presented a picture of carnage, devastation, criminal participation of the Indian state in it. However, It also underlined the fact that secularism was not dead in Ayodhya. But today, on the 27th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque, I am not so sure, especially after the Supreme Court judgment on November 9, 2019 handing over the mosque site to those who had razed the mosque.
The moral of the story is that whatever criminals could not achieve on December 6, 1992, is legitimized by the highest court of justice of India. Reproduced below is a short report by me from Ayodhya, published in the “Sunday Times of India” (January 17, 1993), New Delhi:
*** 
A visit to Ayodhya, more than a month after the December 6 tragedy, reminds one of a haunted city. It is a city under siege by paramilitary forces. They are on high alert. What is to be guarded now? Nobody knows. The deep wounds of carnage and plunder are still visible.
The walls of Ayodhya are still covered with sectarian war cries in Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, etc. The claims of the champions of Hindutva, that the police and military are with them, are still engraved on the walls of the city – mocking the secular state.
You have to be in Ayodhya to realize that the tragedy was far more than the demolition of a mosque. Away from Ayodhya, the only dimension of the tragedy which we heard related to the demolition of a structure of bricks and mud. We overlooked the human tragedy, the human carnage and plunder caused by zealots of Dharma. Ayodhya symbolizes the fact that human flesh is the cheapest commodity around.
While moving towards Ayodhya, you chance upon a refugee camp just on the outskirts of the holy city. It is being run at Badi Bua ki Masjid (Old Aunt’s Mosque), which houses an orphanage too. More than 1,500 refugees, males, females and children of all age groups are packed like sardines here. A similar number of refugees have been sheltered in Quresh nursery camp in Faizabad.
Most of them are wage-earners, petty shopkeepers, vendors, cycle repair wallas, rickshaw-pullers and their dependents. They are being fed and clothed through community donations. The state was gracious enough to donate 130 blankets. 

Soul chilling

The stories of barbaric destruction and sadistic killings are soul-chilling. Everything which belonged to approximately 4,500 inhabitants belonging to the minority community in Ayodhya was singled out to be burnt, razed to the ground and looted. The vandals at work had minute details of such properties, assets and religious place. They were very methodical in destroying properties.
Incidentally, the crusaders of Hindutva did not even spare a “good Musalman” by the name of Husni Vilaiti Haider. Son of the big zamindar of Ayodhya, he had led delegation of Muslims to Murli Manohar Joshi offering themselves for kar seva some weeks back. He had also donated a large chunk of land to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) trust for Ram Mandir. But these credentials did not apparently wash. 
Hundreds of refugees are ready to vouch for the bitter truth that the provincial police force was not a silent spectator. They actively joined the kar sevaks. The policy control room of Ayodhya was taken over by kar sevaks on December 4 itself, they allege. The wireless sets were at their disposal.

Local help

However, it is really heartening to know from the terror-stricken refugees that local residents of Ayodhya were not involved in any of these barbaric deeds. In fact, dozens of local Hindus took all kinds of risks to save Muslim neighbours. 
Many refugees acknowledge the help of one Yadav Pahalwan of Mohalla Shikhana. But by December 3, most of such “bad elements” had been neutralized by kar sevaks through threats, bashing and social boycott. Yadav Pehlwan was also taught a lesson. He was attacked and injured. 
You enter Ayodhya. Though day curfew was relaxed a couple of days back, nobody seems to be around. After going around quite a few damaged monuments, shops and houses, one comes across a big house, near from the demolished Babri Masjid, which seems to have been “bombarded”. All walls stand almost intact while all roofs have fallen. 
Local residents were not involved in attacking minorities in Ayodhya on Dec 6, 1992. Dozens of local Hindus took all kinds of risks to save Muslim neighbours
You prepare to take snaps. Suddenly you see a middle aged woman searching for something in the rubbles. You are told that it was once here home. Part of it was destroyed on December 5, on the 6th evening it was plundered and on the forenoon of the 7th it was blasted with the help of petrol bombs and chemicals.
The task was accomplished by the same group which was seen demolishing the Babri Masjid the day before. It was led by a bearded chap who used to command the group through a whistle. She also recounts that on December 7 she and her family members were rescued by one Hindu CRPF officer who hid them in truck and took them to safety in Faizabad. She returned with her teenage son to Ayodhya only on the 29th December and was the first family to do so.
She is bewildered at the turn of events. But she is sure of one thing – “Whatever may be hardships, we shall stay here. Let us see for how long Congress and BJP keep on playing this game. We shall not leave. It is our motherland. It is our home. Why should we go? It is not somebody’s fiefdom. If it belongs to others, it belongs to us also. We were born here, we have lived here and we will die here.”
There are others too who are returning to the heap of rubble that had been their home, and that will hopefully be their home again.
---
*Formerly with the Delhi University, Prof Islam's writings and video interviews/debates can be accessed here. Twitter: @shamsforjustice. Blog: http://shamsforpeace.blogspot.com. Contact: Email: notoinjustice@gmail.com

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