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A solution for Babri Masjid - Ram Mandir Tussle proposed


Syed Shahabuddin

Before we discuss these conditions/prerequisites in detail, we need to first agree on a few assumptions which form the basis of this proposal:

·         Whatever solution we propose to find, it has to be a win-win solution for both the parties, and not a win-lose situation. Moreover, it should be win-win not only for the two parties (the Hindu extremists and the Muslim extremists), but also for a large number of peace-loving, liberal Indians who are unbiased to any party (irrespective of their own religious affiliations), and wish to resolve this issue without compromising on the secular and democratic values. However, there is a possibility that the concerned parties may have to face some compromises along with some gains.

·         This issue cannot be resolved by the archaeological/historical evidences in favour of any community. It is not possible for historians to tell the "most accurate" truth about any event, as there is always room for different interpretations. (The only archaeological tool that probably would have worked is a time machine, to go back to the past to know the truth, which is rather unthinkable anyway). As the religious zealots themselves point out rightly, it is a matter of sentiments rather than archaeology. Even if you bring the most convincing evidence that Ram was not born there and Babur did not demolish any temple, most believing Hindus will not budge from their stand. Similarly, if you prove that Ram was certainly born there and Babur did demolish the temple, most believing Muslims will not care. Therefore, we have to simply forget about proving or disproving the historical facts now.

·         The Judiciary too (with all due respects), is not likely to find a win-win solution for both parties. Courts (if they remain unbiased) would continue to postpone taking any final decision, or (if they get politically influenced) would end up taking an unwise decision, which might upset one of the parties. However, the judiciary can certainly remain an active part of the larger conglomerate of institutions and individuals who wish to bring a resolution to the issue.

·         The demolition of Babari masjid is an irreversible act – one can never rebuild the mosque with its original feel - whether for aesthetic or archaeological purposes. (The same could be said about the Ram Mandir too - assuming that it was demolished by Babur). Moreover, the 6th December demolition of the mosque was a sort of catharsis for a large number of people who want the Ram Mandir there. Hence, to rebuild the mosque at the same spot would be like 'forcing someone to eat what they have thrown up', as one of them claims. The building of a new mosque on a nearby plot along with the Ram Mandir is something that few Muslims would give a damn about. According to them, when a mosque is built at a certain location, a direct spiritual connection is made between that spot and the heaven. Therefore the mosque cannot be shifted anywhere. But in the present scenario, the rebuilding of only the mosque at the same spot is quite unthinkable.

·         The resolution of Babri mosque-Ram temple issue (resulting from this proposal or otherwise), does not guarantee the end of communalism and religious extremism in India. Babri mosque is one of the many 'time bombs' ticking away on the delicate secular fabric of India. If left unattended, it can blow up, starting a chain reaction amongst other bombs. But if it is defused carefully and cautiously now, it might defuse other bombs as well.

The Four Conditions

There are initially, four prerequisites that should be met strictly before the Muslims can withdraw their claim on the land (or agree to let the mosque be built on an adjacent location). To ensure that these terms are met, a number of institutions such as the Supreme Court, the Parliament, the President of India, prominent personalities, and other responsible organizations, even an outside agency such as the UN, should be made guarantors.

The following are the conditions in brief – the detailed terms would be drafted after consultations and considerations.

o    Condition 1:

A permanent status quo on all historical buildings. The Nation should get a constitutional guarantee that henceforth there shall absolutely be no more claims for any other mosques or historical/religious building to be demolished and turned into something else anywhere in the country. Any body making any such claim would be punished under law.

o    Condition 2:

A complete ban on all organizations, institutions and individuals involved in any kind of communal or sectarian extremism, including violence, hate campaign, excessive nationalism, religious bigotry, or international terrorism, whichever religion, caste or region they belong to. Also, a system to ensure that such organizations or individuals do not become active later with different names. (Some of the organizations that should fit in this category are the RSS, VHP, Shiva Sena, Bajrang Dal, Lashkar-e Toiba, JKLF etc.)

o    Condition 3:

Complete rehabilitation of all the people affected by communal riots - rebuilding of their property, and full compensation for their losses. Also a speedy redressal of the related court cases and punishment to the guilty. This is not restricted to Gujarat riots alone – even earlier cases where the affected people were left with injustice, should be considered.

o    Condition 4:

Educational reforms involving the following: (a) Special courses must be introduced in all schools/colleges for a special subject called Secular Ethics which advises the students on how to live in a multicultural society by respecting everyone. This subject should not involve textbooks or exams, but learning activities such as workshops, excursions, film shows and community interaction programmes. (b) A status quo on all history textbooks published before a certain recent date – no revision or rewriting of them without the approval of a committee of well-known experts from a cross-section of streams.

Problems in this proposals

It is likely that the above proposal or conditions may not find acceptability by a cross section of people. To begin with, many Muslims have to be convinced of the stakes involved in giving up the mosque. Then, many liberal/secular Hindus and other citizens might not agree to the building of the Ram Mandir at all – after all if it were built, it would stand out for many as an eyesore – an unsightly monolith symbolizing the persistence of Hindu religious bigotry in India for the entire world to see. Some might even say that the safety and security of the Indian Muslims or any community is their fundamental right - why should they buy it by giving up the mosque. Even the government – of whichever party – would be reluctant of letting the temple be build for various reasons - politicians have too much at stake for maintaining a status quo on this issue. Finally, the Sangh Parivar itself, while they would be happy at Muslims' withdrawal, will not agree with any of the above conditions – too big a price for them to pay. However, all peace-loving citizens should agree that the above conditions, if followed strictly, could pave the way for a peaceful future.

There are some more pertinent questions regarding the practicability of this proposal: who is going to present this proposal, and to whom? Who is supposed to accept it, and implement it. How do we represent all the Muslims of India? Or whether it is supposed to represent all Muslims? Similarly, how would it be accepted and implemented by all the Hindus? After all, the vandals broke down the mosque irrespective of all the laws, and in presence of the police. So if they start building the temple tomorrow without bothering about this proposal or the laws, who is going to stop them?

Some tentative answers to the above questions could be: (1) We need to constitute a body of guarantors comprising of responsible people such the President of India, the Chief Justice of India, the MPs, peace-loving organizations representing both communities, Indian or international human rights institutions such as the NHRC, the Amnesty International, the UN, and other NGOs. (2) We need to make the final proposal available to the public, in all the relevant languages, using the popular media and printed pamphlets. We need to especially emphasize that this proposal is not prejudiced against any one community, and it genuinely seeks a peaceful resolution to this issue to everybody's satisfaction. (3) We need to do an exhaustive opinion poll with people from various walks of life and representing Hindus and Muslims, to seek a consensus on this proposal. (4) The Parliament of India needs to add a law/amendment in the constitution ensuring that above conditions would be met strictly - the most important being a new law that prohibits anybody to demand the demolition of further monument or buildings for any purpose. Until this law is made, no work should be initiated on this proposal. If the govt. can make and implement anti-people laws such as TADA and POTA, why not a people-friendly and heritage-friendly law such as what we demand?

The Third Party

A large number of liberal/secular citizens would vehemently object to the Muslims' withdrawal of their claim on Babri mosque, as it would pave the way for the VHP and party to first build the Ram Mandir and then ask for more. Their apprehensions are justified. But as a secular citizen myself, I have wondered: are we (the secular people) depending only on Muslims' claim, to keep the Sangh Parivar from building the temple? If one Zafaryab Jilani withdraws his case for the mosque, do we have any alternative weapon to stop the VHP from building the temple? At least I am not aware of any, besides of course the peace processions and web-activism.

One secular activist (a Hindu by name) wrote to me that Babri mosque is as much her heritage as it is any Muslim's, and hence she would fight for it. I replied that if Babri mosque were still intact even I would have fought for its survival, as a Muslim, as a secular Indian, as a human being. But since it is not there any more, there is no question of Muslims' possessing or letting it go now. And as for the rebuilding of the mosque, I recently saw inside a shop in one Muslim locality of Delhi, a colourful poster depicting the model of the 'proposed new Babri masjid'. It is one brand new building with shiny green paint all over, and looks as out of place to me as would look the model of the proposed Ram Mandir to any liberal Hindu. The plan of the Ram Mandir at least tries to borrow from the ancient Indian temple architecture (with its prefab stone pillars!), but the designer of this proposed mosque, it seems, has never visited a Mughal monument, and reflects a typical Tablighi Jama't mentality. So, whichever house of worship is built, one does not really know what to expect from the architecture.

Coming back to the secularist's objection on letting the Sangh Parivar build the temple if Muslims back out. I have the following suggestion for such a situation: If, following this proposal, the Muslims forgo their claim on the disputed land or allow the mosque to be built at an adjacent location, the secular minded citizens should put their foot down on something like the following: Since the Muslims would be allowed to build a mosque on the nearby plot, we must rework on the present architectural plan of the VHP's Ram Mandir, and design a larger complex of buildings that includes the temple and the mosquewith architectural styles that are different yet harmonious and complimentary to each other. This could also be considered as the fifth condition in our original list discussed above. This way, we may be able to build something more aesthetically acceptable for everyone. It may also be somewhat like a win-win solution for the two (rather, three) parties - of course with some compromises for everyone.

All this is, of course, too much of wishful thinking. This proposal may look too naive and fragile in front of the wrathful hooligans who want their house of worship at any cost. We need more feedback, dialogue and active participation in this process from everyone. Currently the proposal may not represent the extremist Hindu viewpoint at the moment, and we are open for a positive and constructive dialogue with them.

Mandir-Masjid issue may not be the gravest problems in India – Indian people have much more serious issues of livelihood to deal with but it is certainly a big roadblock to peace. It is unfortunate that Indians are out to become the world champions in cricket, are building missiles and nuclear weapons, have some of the best talent in IT, and so on, but the best creative minds of the one billion Indians cannot think of a workable solution to the Mandir-Masjid issue. The educated and liberal class of India has assumed that this it is too complicated and messy an affair to get into, and have simply allowed the religious fanatics to exploit it their way – and far too long. We also have to tell the world that this is not simply a Hindu-Muslim tussle – the liberal Indians have as much stake in its resolution as the extremists.
I request all liberal and secular minded people of India to give their feedback on this proposal. If you find it completely non-feasible, please suggest other solutions that may work, or tell us how can this be improved. And let us be practical and realistic, rather than sentimental. We are posting all your comments and suggestions on this website. Also needed are names of many more people to endorse this proposal. Please send your comments to, or post your views in our web forum.

New Delhi
20th March 2003
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to the Proposal for Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid Tussle

(Responses arranged chronologically - earliest at the top)


zafar anjum <> wrote

Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2003 05:24:22 +0000

 Dear Yusuf,

 Thanks for sending me the document's url. It is indeed well drafted and very sensical (as opposed to non-sensical). However, I am not sure if VHP would agree to concede to the four conditions that you have mentioned.

Agreeing to your agenda would mean the end of the RSS/VHP brand of communal politics. Therefore, your idea seems to be utopian to me. If it were a Congress govt. I guess they have implemented your agenda. But the present lot of politicians in power would not allow this kind of a sensible thing to happen.

 I guess your document can be entered as a PIL in the Supreme Court. It has much chances of getting accepted there.

 I wish you all the best in your rational and secular endeavours and am with you on this issue.




Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2003 14:14:43 +0530 (IST)

Yousuf - I have commented on your proposal, and given a lawful, constitutional alternative.

Foreword - Indian muslims never had a claim to the Babri mosque - like with all mosques, the only stake holders are people who live in the hinterland, in this case, those muslims who lived in Ayodhya. It is the masjid committee there which has a stake and a claim.

My comments on the proposal in the same sequence as issues Yousuf has raised.


1. In such mindless situations, there cannot be a win win situation, for what constitutes a win here is itself not clear. Will muslims (those few who live there) win if they get back the mosque? Will the Sangh parivar win if it gets the land and builds a temple there (paradoxically it loses out on its biggest slogan)?

2. In the absence of everything else, secular citizens will have no choice but to go by archaeological findings... which might very well discover a Buddhist monastery there.

3. In any society that believes in the rule of law, the courts are paramount and their decisions must be enforced, even if it means using the police to do so.

4 and 5, I completely agree with and have nothing further to say.

 The four conditions:

 1. The status quo has already been declared - the act passed in 1993 by the Parliament forbids any claims on any other monument and makes an exception only for Babri masjid where it asks the court to decide. But this entire problem arises because the rabble rouser hardly cares for the law.

2. Again such a ban already exists. The IPC makes such acts illegal and the Election laws forbid the same. So what???? Thackeray, Modi and their ilk can hardly be bothered with such trivia.

3. Modi has declared that he has rehabilitated everyone and the situation is normal. And so does every chief minister and home minister who claims to have brought situations under control within hours each time riots break out.

4. The suggestion (a) in this point is superb. (b) has a problem - you can either be secular and say that research and the quest for truth must go on, or be communal and fundamentalist and say we shall freeze knowledge in a warp.

 I personally think that the only option is for the courts to declare that this is a local dispute. Outside and vested interests will not be tolerated. Then the local chaps sit down together and negotiate. And if the local temple committee agrees to buy out the land, the Muslims sell it (and they will get a huge price if they bargain well) and open a school, a mosque, a film club, children's park and an old age centre somewhere close by - there is enough land in Faizabad and it is cheap.

 This is not without precedent - a number of temple lands have been sold, mosques given away, churches given on rent..... This is a win win situation - however, the administration has to be tight and throw into jail any outsider seen loitering around with intent to create harm.

 Amir Ullah Khan


"AIMMM" <>

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 13:13:16 +0530

Subject: Re: [peace_initiative] a proposal for mandir-masjid tussle

 28 March, 2003


Your proposal is one-sided, ignores law and justice, rewards the aggressor, fails to comprehend the long-term objectives of the organizations which believe in Hindutva ideology and assess the certainty of non-fulfillment of

the conditions in practice.

As compared to yours, the Ayodhya proposal is more balanced despite some flaws.

I would be glad to discuss your proposal in detail with you. In the meantime, I do NOT endorse your proposal.

Syed Shahabuddin

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