Hindu Ayodhya has space for Muslims
I have had two reasons to be happy this week— the successful start of the Commonwealth Games and the equanimity with which the people of India received the Court judgment in the Ayodhya case.
India has a lot to prove before the games come to a close. Our athletes must win enough medals and the organizers enough accolades for the conduct of the sporting extravaganza that saw a slew of early controversies.
The High Court verdict on the Temple-Mosque question hasn’t received thumbs up from legal experts, jurists and historians. They’ve slammed it for placing belief above jurisprudence to declare a portion of the disputed land as the birthplace of Lord Rama.
The judgment’s political implications are hard to miss. Now astride a cyber rath, L K Advani is already blogging away to glory — citing the Court’s stamp on mythological Rama as vindication of his temple campaign that did immense harm to Indias social fabric in the early 1990s. The BJP patriarch’s vindication, if at all, has to be in the criminal case arising out of the demolition of the Babri Mosque in which he’s a party.
The people want to see and end to the Ayodhya imbroglio. One only hopes that better sense prevails among political parties to push for a mutually agreed settlement of the sensitive dispute.
The judgment undoubtedly is bad in law and the Constitution. But I support it for its political value. The judges’ afforded space to both sides by ordering its three-way division between the Sunni Wakf Board, Ram Lalla Virajman and the Nirmohi Akhara.
The Court has protected the pride and sensitivities of both communities. I see its verdict as being at peace with the non-denominational secular character of the Indian State that has no religion of its own but where there is space for all religions. Creatively used, it can constitute the basis of a durable settlement.
Had the Court strictly followed the letter and spirit of the law, one of the two parties would have had to face eviction. For Hindu litigants, that would have meant removal of the makeshift Ram temple the political and social consequences of which would have been extremely serious.
If obeyed without being challenged in the Apex Court, the verdict, as it stands today with all its legal infirmities, allows a mosque to co-exist with a temple, solving the problem once and for all. The judges have offered the contesting claimants an opening they must use.
The Muslims might find themselves wronged by the very aspects of the verdict that legal experts consider “bad in law” and as setting the dangerous precedent of placing faith above the law. But if they do not go in appeal and accept the order as it stands, they’d set an example worth emulating for all communities, including the Hindus.
The battle now should be for showing greater tolerance and accommodation.
The community that concedes an inch will gain a mile —- as a better custodian of national interest.