Verdict must herald end of mandir-masjid politics. Move on India, let the past not hold us hostage
On Saturday five judges of the highest court of the land, including the Chief Justice of India, put their best foot forward to deliver a unanimous verdict on what has been an intractable religious dispute, running on for more than a century. The judicial resolution by the topmost court came after India’s politicians proved themselves unequal to the task and all mediation efforts failed. Let the verdict now draw a line under the dispute, so that India can heal and move on. A good start has been made with most political parties welcoming the judgment. At stake is individual progress, communal harmony, national unity and constitutional morality. India’s multicultural ethos has always prided itself for tolerance to diversity and accepting the equality of religions.
In allocating the disputed land where Babri Masjid once stood for constructing a Rama temple, Supreme Court has recognised evidence of a long unbroken tradition of worship by Hindus at the site. By directing the central/ UP government to award five acres of land within Ayodhya city at a prominent location to build a mosque, SC was conscious that justice would not prevail if Muslims were not remedied for the 1949 desecration when idols were surreptitiously placed inside Babri Masjid followed by its unlawful destruction in 1992.
Those resorting to triumphalism must understand the spirit behind SC accepting the maintainability of Ram Lalla’s title claim. Piety and devotion of the faithful and not political, divisive or destructive machinations carried the day in favour of a temple at the site. The Centre as well as state governments must also accept and strictly uphold this judgment’s stipulation calling on them to abide by the Places of Worship (Special Provision) Act, 1991, which forbids the conversion of any other place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.
SC has invoked the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act, 1993, to direct Centre to create a trust to oversee temple construction. Only those willing to uphold the Places of Worship Act must find a place on the Board of Trustees, lest this creates a precedent and incentive for fuelling other mandir-masjid disputes. Picking up on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to set aside bitterness and fear and move ahead as one for the country’s development, BJP and saffron parties must avoid triumphalism and drop future mandir-masjid agitations. Let there be no repeat of 1992. India has had enough.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.