Lok Raj Sangathan organised a web meeting on Sunday 29th November 2020 on the 28th anniversary of the destruction of the Babri Masjid. Several participants from the length and breadth of the country – from Punjab to Tamil Nadu, from Mumbai to UP – participated.
Shri S Raghavan, President of the Lok Raj Sangathan made the keynote presentation. He said that for nearly three decades, LRS has been demanding punishment for those guilty of demolishing the 450-year old Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. In November 2019, the Supreme Court delivered a verdict on the ‘title suit’ – it held that the destruction of the Babri Masjid was a terrible crime; nevertheless it handed over the plot for construction of a Ram temple as demanded by the VHP and other organisations responsible for demolishing the Babri Masjid. Muslims were to be given a plot several kilometres away for construction of a mosque. Undaunted, lakhs of people came out all over India to protest the NRC and Citizenship Amendment Act – another attack on Muslims. When we held our rally last year December 6th, we declared we do not accept this as justice.
In September this year, the CBI court discharged everyone charged with inciting the demolition of the Babri Masjid, citing ‘lack of evidence’! Instead, it held that the demolition was a ‘spontaneous act’ and that the leaders of the BJP and VHP were trying to pacify the crowds! Through these judgements, Muslims are being “shown their place” – which is not in the centre, but on the periphery of national affairs. What the events of the last few months have shown is that firstly, people cannot get justice in this system. Secondly, people have not accepted the acts of the governments and courts. As in past years, this year too, we are planning for a rally together with about 25 other organisations, on the 6th of December to protest the injustice and to reiterate our demand for punishing the guilty.
Shri Raghavan explained how the incident of demolition of the Babri Masjid is particularly important for the Lok Raj Sangathan. Soon after the destruction, in February 1993, several individuals and organisations held a rally at Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi. The rally discussed and demanded that (a) both BJP and Congress should be banned for their criminal activities. (b) No matter how highly placed they are, the guilty should be punished. The principle of command responsibility should be recognised. (c) Communal violence is organised by the state – the government and its apparatus – on Sikhs in 1984, on Muslims in 1992 – 93 etc. Communal violence is a trusted policy of the ruling class in India from 1947 onwards, to divide the people, to smash their struggles, to create vote banks and win elections. (d) The rally discussed an important point: what is the role of a political party? Is it to rule over people by coming to power? Should it not work for creating consciousness among the people, so that the people can rule and be sovereign? The Committee for People’s Empowerment came into being because of this rally; it later transformed itself into our organisation, the Lok Raj Sangathan.
He said that it is important for those who have witnessed the horrific incidents of genocide of Sikhs in 1984 and the mayhem of destruction of the Babri Masjid and communal riots after it in 1992 – 93 – to pass on their learning to the younger generation.
The Constitution talks of “We the People” but, sovereignty lies with the President of India and the Central Cabinet – so a small coterie reigns. The Executive controls everything – what kind of democracy is this? The ongoing farmers agitation shows how the rulers listen to the people only when they come on the streets and protest. Indian Constitution talks of “sharing of power” – but does it really happen? Shri Raghavan concluded his presentation by saying that the gruesome incidents of 1984, 1992-93, 2002 show that we cannot blame just one political party or another, but the entire political system. He then invited participants to contribute in the discussion.
Over 24 participants took part in the discussion which followed. We summarise below some of the points made – many were emphasised time and again.
One participant said that the Adityanath government in UP has declared that no protests should be held for one year – people who do, will be jailed for a year – can we accept this? It is important to punish the guilty so that such incidents do not recur. Dr Pardesi asked what the people can do if government, parliament, and Supreme Court do not listen to their voice? Only one way – that is to unite and fight! Woking people, peasants, youth, students, and women should all unite for this. Another participant said that the courts are trying to fool the people declaring that no one is responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. If we want things to change, power must come to the hands of the people from those of the ruling establishment. Nothing will change by merely replacing one party with another.
Shri KK Singh of Lok Paksh said we cannot get solutions to our problems piecemeal. The problems we face are because of the moribund system in our country. Babri Masjid demolition shows the role of the governments, police, and courts. On the 200th anniversary of the birth of Fredrick Engels, we need to organise to finish capitalism – by raising consciousness of the people. All problems whether of unemployment, lack of education and health facilities or fair wages are all caused by capitalism.
A participant said that constitution makers had tried to make a democratic one. They wanted power to be vested with people – but things have gone wrong because those who were to implement it honestly did not do so. As a first step, the autocracy of today needs to be ended. Similar views were expressed by another, who said that the Babri judgements are not based on the principles of the Indian constitution, but on religious beliefs. However, another speaker pointed out that the same constitution which gives the people right to express their views and protest also gives the government several powers to curb them. Another participant felt that caste divisions need to be ended and ridiculed those who espoused the superiority of “Hindutva” but feared the smallest hardships.
Dr Pradip said that he belonged to the generation which had not only witnessed the horrors of 1984 genocide, 1992 – 93 mayhem but many more communal carnages. Those in power are not expected to work for the welfare of the people – clearly, they are supposed to implement the agenda of the super-rich who control the economy. We need to end the illusions. The fight for justice and punishing the guilty is part of the struggle to make people the rulers of the country. Now, there is no accountability of elected representatives to those who voted for them. “Those who forget history have no future”, hence the program of LRS and others to keep demanding justice should be fully supported, opined another activist.
An activist pointed out that the rallies to demand punishment of those guilty of demolishing Babri Masjid each year are well organised. Indeed, many participants called for making the December 6 protest rally in Delhi a resounding success.
The two-hour web meeting was concluded with a passionate summary by Ms Sucharita, who urged everyone to participate in the program and continue to fight relentlessly for the empowerment of the people.