By Syed Mansur Agha
[Translated From Urdu by Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com]
Ayodhya is a symbol of India’s composite culture, and the people of the town want to live in harmony and peace. The Ayodhya controversy has been created and is being perpetuated by people and forces from outside the town who want to sabotage India’s shared tradition and heritage. If these outside forces stop interfering, the issue can be settled at the local level. So insisted the head of a monastery in Ayodhya, editor of the Hindi magazine ‘Ayodhya Ki Awaz’ and noted social activist and crusader for inter-communal harmony, Jugal Kishore Sharan Shastri, at a press meet recently organized in New Delhi.
Shastri insisted that the recent judgment of the Allahabad High Court on the Ayodhya issue should be challenged in the Supreme Court. ‘The judgment is based on the religious beliefs of some people, and this will prove to be immensely dangerous for the future of the country. There is danger that such questions of people’s faith will begin to crop up everywhere and then nobody’s places of worship will be safe,’ he warned. He added that if the Allahabad High Court’s judgment was not challenged and overturned it would be tantamount to surrendering before Hindu extremism.
Debunking the court’s use of ‘faith’ in its judgment, Shastri insisted, ‘A belief leads to hatred for people of other faiths and threatens the unity of the country and brutally assaults humanity is not a holy one. Rather, it is terrorism, pure and simple. It is oppression. It is animalism. Forces fanning communal hatred are using this question of belief to assault basic human values and promote barbarism. They can in no way be rewarded. Rather, they must be punished.’
Shastri argued that the verdict of the Allahabad High Court was greatly ominous in that it did not at all punish the perpetrators of oppression, lawlessness and terrorism who were behind the destruction of the Babri mosque in 1992. Rather, he claimed, it had rewarded them. It had, he said, also given legal legitimacy to force and coercion. This, he said, was unfair and unjust. ‘Those who argue that the judgment be accepted are encouraging these forces of terror that want to destroy the country,’ he opined.
Referring to the destruction of the Babri mosque, Shastri said, ‘6 December 1992 was the biggest terrorist assault that India has ever witnessed, which was perpetrated by Hindu extremists. It entailed not only the destruction of a mosque, but also represented a heinous assault on the Indian Constitution, on our common heritage, on India’s self-respect, and on the Dalits and other oppressed and impoverished communities and minorities of the country.’
Shastri argued that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which was spearheading the campaign for a temple at the spot occupied earlier by the Babri mosque, was not even a party to the legal dispute over the land. Nor, he added, was it representative of the Hindus. It was, he argued, a creation of a handful of people who falsely projected themselves as leaders of the Hindus and who had used the issue of the temple in order to garner a vast sum of money. 80% of the ‘Hindus’ of India, Shastri said, were Dalits and from other such oppressed castes, and they had almost no representation at all in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Shastri stressed that speaking out against the verdict of the Allahabad high Court and struggling for a just settlement of the dispute was not something that concerned access to justice for Muslims alone. Rather, he said, it concerned every citizen of India who wanted to preserve and salvage India’s unity and communal harmony.
Copyright 2010: New Age Islam Foundation