The struggle to punish those guilty of the demolition of Babri Masjid continues!

Punishment of the guilty is necessary to achieve peace and communal harmony!

Call of Lok Raj Sangathan, 16 November 2020

December 6, 1992 is an especially important day in the history of India. It was a day on which both the principal parties in Parliament colluded to destroy the 450-year old Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, to lay the foundation of a Ram temple at that spot. The demolition of Babri Masjid – as well as the communal carnage which followed it – was aimed at humiliating all people of the Muslim faith. Indeed, it was a dagger driven into the heart of our society, aimed at smashing the unity and solidarity of our people.

It was clear that the demolition of Babri Masjid was pre-meditated and planned well in advance. Communal passions were whipped up all over the country in the run-up to the event.  The Congress Party-led government of Rajiv Gandhi had been instrumental in opening the locks of the mosque in 1986 to permit Hindu worship, while BJP launched a campaign for its demolition. Together they collaborated to spread communal poison throughout the country. On December 6, 1992, the Central government under the control of the Congress party and the Uttar Pradesh government under the control of the BJP together made sure that the security forces did nothing to stop the demolition of the mosque. Leaders of the BJP were among those who supervised the criminal act, which was recorded live by Indian and international media.

Despite this and the voluminous confirmatory evidence recorded by several Commissions of Enquiry set up by the government, in the year 2020, the CBI Court acquitted a large number of persons who had been named in various FIRs and who were known to be present at the site on that day, particularly key leaders of the BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad.  They were acquitted for “lack of evidence” of any conspiracy to pull down Babri Masjid.

Just one year ago, a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court of India unanimously disposed of the case based on the Title Suit and held that the Ram Lalla Virajman was the true legatee of the site.  Furthermore, it dismissed the claims of the Wakf Board that represented Babri Masjid and offered an alternative site some distance away for building a new mosque, whereas the original site would become the site for the construction of a Ram Mandir.

After judicial processes stretching across nearly three full decades, the Courts of our land did observe that the destruction of Babri Masjid was an unlawful act – but nonetheless a criminal act for which no one could be found guilty, despite voluminous eyewitness accounts and other first-rate evidence. Everyone is being asked to accept these verdicts, in the name of preserving communal harmony. But, far from achieving communal harmony, the court verdicts, in real terms, have exacerbated the deep wound that has been inflicted on the Muslim community in 1992. How can this be considered as justice when those guilty of committing crimes against humanity are not punished? How will this serve to build communal harmony when an entire community has been put in the dock and its demand for justice rejected?

Far from accepting the whitewash and inaction against the guilty, the people of India came out on the streets in their millions, to denounce laws like the blatantly discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019. The rulers responded by organizing brutal communal violence targeting Muslims, in North East Delhi. Turning truth on its head, they have accused the Muslim community of organising the violence, and arrested scores of youth under false charges of ‘conspiracy’. This was done to send the message to the Muslim community “This is what we will do to you if you dare to protest”.

The criminalisation of politics which was revealed by these events prompted several organisations of workers, women, and human rights activists to jointly stage a bold protest rally at Ferozeshah Kotla on 22nd February 1993.  They appealed to all men and women of conscience to take joint action for bringing about a fundamental change in the system of democracy and the political process, to enable decision making power in the hands of the people. They opposed the destruction of any place of worship and upheld the right to conscience – that is, the right of every human being to his or her belief. They emphasised that ‘an attack on one, is an attack on all’. The Appeal put forward by these activists to unite against the criminalisation of politics and end the domination of the major parties of the ruling establishment over the political process of the country, stirred the national conscience. As a concrete measure, they gave birth to a Preparatory Committee for People’s Empowerment in June 1993, which subsequently reorganised itself as Lok Raj Sangathan.

Over the years, Lok Raj Sangathan has been consistently demanding that justice be done by punishing those guilty of destroying Babri Masjid and unleashing widespread communal violence. We have been persistently participating in protests, in spite of the pressure from the ruling circles to ‘forget and forgive’. We have also demanded that those guilty of other monstrous crimes against the people – such as the genocide of the Sikhs in 1984, the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, the recent communal violence in North-east Delhi and many other crimes – must be punished.

Lok Raj Sangathan has reiterated again and again that the destruction of Babri Masjid and the ensuing violence in Mumbai, Surat and other places exposed the naked truth that the vast majority of people are totally deprived of power in the existing system of democracy. People have no check over the actions of their “elected representatives”, who can get away with any crime in pursuit of their narrow vested interests.

The Constitution does not vest political power in the hands of the people though the preamble begins with the high-sounding phrase “We, the People”. Decision-making power is concentrated in the hands of the Cabinet within the Parliament. The current political process reduces people to the marginal role of voting for this or that candidate selected by parties of vested interests in the first place, and who are backed by enormous money power. Members of Parliament report to their respective parties and not to the people who elected them. The judiciary is appointed by the executive and is not at all accountable to the people. In sum, sovereignty is vested in the hands of a miniscule minority, whose representatives act as if they are a law unto themselves. The recent court verdicts related to Babri Masjid have only corroborated this stark reality.

Indeed, if anything, the developments with respect to the Babri Masjid should only strengthen our conviction on the urgent need to carry out a thoroughgoing transformation of the current political system in order to vest political power in the hands of people. Only then is it possible to cure our society of the diseases of communal violence, state terrorism, corruption, exploitation, abysmal poverty, and widespread violation of rights.

Today, efforts are being made by the darkest forces to provoke communal violence, polarise the people on the basic of religion, and attack their rights, including the right to association and the right to conscience. In this grave situation, it is incumbent on all citizens of conscience to come out in large numbers and oppose the attacks and the marginalisation of the people from the political process.

Let us join the protest rally from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar on Sunday, December 6, 10 a.m. organised by Lok Raj Sangathan and several other organisations.

An attack on one is an attack on all!

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