I wasn’t born when pro-Hindutva groups demolished the Babri Masjid structure on December 6, 1992. The wave was evidently there. Ayodhya is just 30 km away from where I was born a couple of years later. It was a way of life, to be a ‘Ram bhakt’ and to despise Muslims-Islam, and I warmed up to it there. Polarisation was the order of the day, and RSS shakhas were my elementary school. Training camps were in line with what Doordashan’s gurukul taught me and I always thought, ‘how wrong could I be?’
Gradually, I started working for the ABVP and became involved in what they call “nationalistic” activities, innocently proud of the barbaric bringing down of the mosque and inherently became a staunch propagator of the Ram Temple. ‘Ram Lala’ became my ‘takiya-kalam’ during conversations in the evening. Little did I realise that the Babri demolition was not only a blot on our constitutional ethos but also against the spirit and teachings of Hindutva itself.
I then started reading. I read and tried to understand our history, our multi-religious, multi-cultural social structure and India’s fight for Independence and the idea this great nation was built upon. The idea of Hindutva has always been prevalent in our society, but hadn’t taken the hegemonic structure it has turned into. Mughal dynasty’s founder in India, Babur, had built the masjid in Ayodhya, I read. But ideologies and a stench of political outcomes demolished it, I understood over the course of time. Leaders of our fight for Independence had taken a lot of trouble to create secular India and it is one of the many reasons for my condemnation of the Babri demolition.
My reasons are significant, albeit theoretical. India had an unpleasant struggle for its independence. Pakistan was flaggingly created as a religion-based country, and its religious stoicism has taken it to where it is today, with loans higher than the economy, a fleeting uneducated youth line and terrorism a branded means of employment.
We, India, were different from the beginning. Our forefathers had laid down the plan of an alternative, inclusive idea of a nation, and that makes India the largest democracy in the world, something our now Hindutva reformist Prime Minister proudly boasts of. Pakistan, during Partition, had asked non-Muslims to relocate to the other side of the Radcliffe line. Our visionary leaders, however, had assured the minor communities social security, respect, and equal constitutional rights, preserving the uniqueness of the heterogeneous and multi-cultural fabric of our nation.
The Hindutva voices were present then as well, but the idea of a religiously-aligned group was fighting a nation and its peace, and crumbled in unison. It won for the first time on January 30, 1948, when the drive went overboard. Bans and punishments were ordered, and it saw a lull for over three decades. The second, and arguably the most vicious blow, came in December 1992. A vicious, unconstitutional attack has led to the formation of governments, both in the states and centrally, and that irks, disturbs and pains me.
A hate-mongering section has always wanted to make India, or ‘Hindustan’ like they call it, on the lines of Pakistan — a religion based nation that is orthodox to outsiders. On the contrary, we must understand that Muslims in India believed in what ‘our’ leaders — leaders like Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. BR Ambedkar — believed and invested their lives in. Thus, attacking any symbol of their identity amounts to attacking the belief that embedded within the idea of a secular India — which we must protect at any cost.
I’m born a Hindu, a religion that teaches co-existence and the values of “vasudhaiv kutumbkam” (the world is one family). I, a Hindu aligned to its values, believe in this beautiful concept. Since Muslims are not alien and belong to this world, they are also part of our family and I can’t and must not do any harm to my fraternity. It is very important to build their mosque back if we are serious and want to keep intact the idea of India our nation’s founders had envisioned.
I really really believe that India and Pakistan can be integrated just like East and West Germany were integrated into one, something Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested recently. I really really believe that RSS’ theory of “Akhand Bharat” can be made true. The question that erringly looks into my face is how? Can India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal be turned into one country, excluding billions of non-Hindus? The RSS has never answered this long-hanging question. The idea, though, relates them to one of the most tragic man-killing machinery in the history of mankind, if its implemented- that is.
Hitler did it to the Jews during World War 2 — killing them in gas chambers and ways that still rings a fear in the underbelly of most people. I don’t know whether they have an alternative idea to offer. But I have one; and that is the idea of embracing everyone, living the concept of “vasudhaiv kutumbakam” in real means. Having Babri mosque built would be a baby step in this grand endeavor and we can certainly make peace with our brothers, even when it’s not Holi or Diwali.