By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
28 November 2019
It is certainly heartening to note that the Sunni Waqf Board, which was the main petitioner in the Babri dispute has taken a decision not to review the judgment of the apex court which granted the entire land to Hindus in order that they may construct a Ram temple there. There has been one dissension, but largely the decision of the Wakf Board is unanimous which means that much prior consultation has gone before arriving at the decision. Given the state of things, members of the Board must be congratulated for their sagacious and wise decision. The argument that they have succumbed to the pressure of Uttar Pradesh government might hold some water but then given the political climate, it is foolish to even think that anyone is above pressure and influence these days. However, I sincerely think that it is not just political pressure; rather this decision of the Board has the best interest of Muslims in mind too.
In ninety percent of the cases, the Supreme Court does not entertain a review of its decision. This technicality apart, the political fallout of this move will be further detrimental to the Muslim community. For one, the Hindu right wing parties have gone to town arguing that it was the Muslim intransience which led to so much delay in the impending construction of the proposed temple. Even when they have criticised the congress party, they have made it a point to convince the larger population that lawyers like KapilSibal were arguing on behalf of Muslim. Filing a review will become another weapon in their arsenal and they will start arguing again that Muslims are trying to delay the temple, this time despite the highest court of the country giving the land to Hindus. This will vitiate the communal atmosphere further which is already under heavy stress.
Secondly, Muslims must realise that there is a political consensus in this country in favour of constructing the Ram temple. Not just the congress (which welcomed the SC judgment and called for a construction of ‘grand temple’) but also regional and left formations have gone completely silent on the issue. Those who understand such silences see through it that these political formations will never oppose the SC judgment because they think that their mass base will leave them. The Hindu right wing has succeeded in convincing the average Hindu that Ram temple is their right. There is no way that parties of social justice and those on the left have the willingness to try and change this common sense of the majority community. The Muslim today is left with no ally who can raise their voice or even identify with their concerns. The practical way out of this situation should be that Muslims must stay silent on the issue. The best course will therefore be not to file a review petition.
There are two kinds of people who are arguing for filing a revision with the SC. The first is the Muslim personal law board which has no locus standi in the matter. But they have somehow convinced the people who matter that they are the representative voice of the community. We must understand that there is much ignorance about Muslim community within the majority community, be that of any political ideology. They seem to think that that the Ulama represent the Muslims and that is the reason why the bearded fossils holding positions in the personal law board are considered as real Muslim voices. The truth may be very different but for the moment we have to contend with the unfortunate fact that these conservatives have succeeded in projecting themselves as the custodians of Muslims in India. Their interest in filing a review petition is purely selfish: they are more interested in perpetuating their antediluvian leadership to get some perks from the state rather than having any real Muslim interest at heart. If they had any real interest of Muslims then they should have asked themselves this question: who will suffer if the communal atmosphere between Hindus and Muslims gets further compromised.
The other sections of people who are clamouring for a review are the left liberals. The fundamental problem with this group is that their own parent parties on the left are not on the same page. And therefore there seems to be a sinister ploy here: while their parent organizations do now want to offend Hindu sentiments and therefore have largely kept silent on the Babri issue, they have given space to some of their members to dissent against the judgment. This section, rather than going for a review, should first be asking their parent organizations as to why they are silent over the whole issue. Let us now come to their own reasons for filing the review. The argument is that the judgment is judicially flawed and that in the long run it has the potential of subverting the constitution. Now, there cannot be any difference in the assertion that the judgment is flawed. However, there have been many judgments of different nature which can be called flawed. The biggest reason why Hindutva became common sense was because of the SC judgment which said that Hindutva was a ‘way of life’, thereby obliterating any difference between Hinduism and Hindutva. Why is it that this section of the so called liberal left did not protest or file a review at that time?
This perhaps gives us an opportunity to understand why this section wants to file a review. For many a decades, it has been this section that has acted as the voice of Muslims. In the process, they have made Muslims voiceless. They are internally convinced that Muslims need protection and that they are in a position to argue on behalf of Muslims. Now certainly the situation of Muslims leaves much to be desired. However, there can be instances when Muslim ‘interest’ can be divergent from what this group of people thinks. Have they had any consultation with the Muslims to arrive at the conclusion that they should file a review? Have they even thought about Muslims before deciding to go in for this review? Where is the Muslim consent in what they are planning to do? These people need to think and think again that the community is no longer interested in this issue which has been thrust on them partly by their own myopic leaders and partly by different political parties. They should simply stop acting on behalf of Muslims and concentrate their energies on various other things which is plaguing the republic.
My plea to both the Mullahs and the Left is the same: please leave the Muslims alone. They want to move away.
Arshad Alam is a columnist with NewAgeIslam.com
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