The Temple Question Returns

Twenty five years ago, the Babri Masjid was demolished by a group of karsevaks, whose spiritual mentors had been claiming for long
that it was built up by destroying a Rama temple. Not only that, it was claimed that the site was the birthplace of Lord Rama. Before and after the demolition, no credible evidence was put forward—nor is there any such evidence till today—suggesting that there was really a temple on this spot. About Rama, the slayer of the demon Ravana, there is no evidence as yet to settle the issue as to whether he was really a historical figure or a mythical figure, the hero of an epic. Some time before this ghastly episode, there was a Rama Ratha Yatra led by L K Advani. Still earlier, Rajiv Gandhi allowed the locks of the Babri Masjid to be opened and his action almost precipitated a communal riot.

Both Advani's march and the demolition of the Masjid gave birth to serious communal disturbances, leading to large-scale slaughter of Muslims. In Mumbai, where the anti-Muslim rioters were on the rampage, which raised serious concerns all over India and abroad. Sunil Gavaskar, the legendary cricketer, once risked his life to prevent a mob from attacking a Muslim locality. Professor Amartya Sen, in a longish essay, described many aspects of the problem and called the Hindu chauvinist onslaught a threat to secular India. Those who demolished the Babri Masjid and those who supported this act had little care for history and they openly declared that what they believed was necessarily true, and that their belief was the proof. Later on, a commission was appointed to inquire into the episode, but the end result has been zero.

This ghastly face of majoritarian communalism was thus revealed in all its ferocity. One standard propaganda of these communalists was, and still is, that Muslims are foreigners. As a corollary to it, they began the false propaganda that the Aryans were original inhabitants of India and that the Indus valley civilisation was an Aryan civilisation, although the Vedic literature, including the Upanishadas, contains no reference to this civilisation. This propaganda, however, lost its momentum, and now the peddlers of Hindutva have become all the more brazen, since they have got the solid support of the corporate India. Their violence is no longer limited to Muslims; dalits and even rationalists, who are assassinated secretly, are their targets, so are Christians and Maoists. Their project of building up a Hindu Rashtra in which dalits and religious minorities may at will be deprived even of their right to life has an international dimension too. It is to ally with the ruling clique of the United States of America, which since the days of World War II, are guilty of numerous terrorist aggressions against other countries and of killing millions of people in the name of preservation of democracy and eliminating terrorism. Of course, the USA also needs this corporate-backed fascists because her unitary hegemony is now being challenged by the Russia-China axis and even the small country, North Korea, has publicly declared that she is no longer afraid of US intimidation. The naked prostration at the feet of US warlords is not at all surprising, given that the ideological precursors of these Hindu fascists were for all practical purposes lackeys of the British rulers of India, who exhorted Hindus not to fight the British but to fight Muslims, Christians and Communists. Of course, they were also advocates of the Nazi-type of nationalism. Now, backed by corporate controlled media and taking advantage of the opportunism of 'secular' parliamentary political outfits, they have penetrated all the pores of the society, including one section of dalits, the Shia community, the judiciary, the police, the security forces and what not. Those who demolished the Babri Masjid have left their legacy; they have laid the foundations of building up an extremely well-organised fascist organisation.

Of course, this machinery is also riddled with contradictions. Their government's deliberate reluctance to punish corporate groups who are guilty of looting trillions of rupees in the form of bank loans, false promises about money stashed in foreign banks and about employment creation, bluffs about eliminating black money etc are getting exposed with every passing month, and everywhere protests are raising, notwithstanding the frantic effort of their ideologues and the collective madness that proved a handy weapon to Italian fascists, German Nazis and Japanese militarists are not present on such a scale as was witnessed in the 1930s. Now they may try to whip up another round of war hysteria, now directed mainly against China, but once this turns into another open conflict, it will result in great human and material cost that will finally devour them, just as Hitler's and Mussolini's and Japanese fascists' adventures proved fatal to themselves.

Vol. 50, No.22, Dec 3 - 9, 2017