The indecisiveness of the last ruler of Dogra dynasty Maharaja Hari Singh and the pro-Hindu Rashtra stance taken by his son Karan Singh over the Meenakshipuram ‘conversion’ will go down in the annals of history for creating two major problems being faced by India in the form of Masjid-Mandir dispute and insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.
Hari Singh wanted an independent nation and sought help from India as a last resort after Islamabad-supported tribals occupied a major of his Dogra kingdom, i.e. Pak Occupied Kashmir (POK). Meanwhile, his son Karan Singh, after serving as a minister in the cabinet of Indira Gandhi and ‘Sadr-e-Riyasat’ of J&K after its merger in the Indian union, took a u-turn overnight to virtually become the power behind Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) Babri Masjid demolition campaign.
It all started in 1981 in Meenakshipuram, a little known village in Tamil Nadu, over 2,000 kilometers away from Ayodhya. The village became the topic of discussion when 400 Hindu families converted in mass to Islam. These families were irked over what they described as ill-treatment from upper-caste Hindus. Even though they clarified that nobody forced them to convert, Karan Singh, in league with about 500 Hindu ‘holy men’, quietly organised a Dharam Sansad (Religious Parliament) at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. In response to the Meenakshipuram case, after blowing a conch shell, the holy men started delivering speeches with Karan Singh stealing the show by describing the Meenakshipuram case as a warning to the way Hinduism was being practiced in India. He was reported to have said, “People are leaving us because Hindus were not following their own principles.”
In his speech he specifically mentioned that Hindu holy sites had been neglected. He said, “We cannot even light a holy lamp at Ram’s birthplace in Ayodhya. How shameful a matter is it for 80% of this country’s residents who call themselves Hindus?”
Karan Singh maintained a strange silence thereafter and allowed the VHP to take the reigns of the Masjid-Mandir tussle into a national storm. A few months after the religious parliament, the VHP followed up with a rally for devotees led by a motorised chariot.
The rally started at Sitamarhi in Bihar in late September 1984. The place was carefully selected, for Sitamarhi is believed by Hindus to be the place where Sita, Lord Ram’s wife, emerged from the earth. The rally started in late September 1984, with thousands of faithful devotees joining in.
Today, as the Supreme Court is announcing its verdict, our social fabric is under threat. And it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Karan Singh is somewhere responsible for that.
Let’s hope that in the end peace will only prevail.