Babri Mosque demolition: A painful reminder of religious intolerance in India
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On December 6, 1992, a charged Hindu mob demolished a 16th century Babri Mosque in Ayodhya on the pretext that it was built at the birthplace of Hindu god Ram.
The unfortunate incident was a result of a sustained campaign by far-right Vishwa Hindu Parishad backed by many present BJP leaders. Instead of delivering justice, the Indian Supreme Court ruled in favour of extremist Hindus and handed over the mosque’s site to Hindus for temple construction.
The tearing down of the mosque and the jubilation of the mobs created a permanent fissure in India’s social fabric and instilled fear among India’s Muslim minority. In short, minorities in India are not safe; they have to constantly fear for their beliefs and the places where they worship.
The Babri Mosque was constructed in Ayodhya, a city situated in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh by Mughal Emperor Babur’s general Mir Baqi between 1528-1529 AD.
The extremist Hindus claimed that it was built on the foundations of what they considered to be the birthplace of Lord Ram (Ram Janmabhoomi)
In December 1949, idols of Lord Ram were “placed” by Hindu Karseveks and mysteriously “appeared” from inside the mosque. This led to widespread protests and demand for the construction of Ram Temple at the place of Babri Mosque.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad formed a group to continue the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, in which BJP leader LK Advani was made the leader and face of the campaign for the construction of a grand ‘Ram Mandir’ at the site.
In November 1989, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi allowed the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to conduct a ceremony, called the Shilanyas (consecration), at the site of Babri Mosque in a move to appease far-right Hindus.
On December 06, 1992, emboldened by BJP rule in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, a charged Hindu extremist mob, chanting Jai Shri Ram, attacked Babri Mosque and reduced it to rubble.
The unfortunate incident led to the instigation of communal riots between Hindus and Muslims across India which culminated in the killing of an estimated 2000 people, mainly Muslims.
On 09 November 2019, the Indian Supreme Court made a highly controversial decision by awarding Hindus control of a disputed religious site in the town of Ayodhya for the construction of a temple. The Court ruled that Muslims will be given five acres of land at an "alternative site" in Ayodhya. The verdict is seemed to be an ultimate victory of Hindutva ideology in India where justice depends on which religion one belongs to.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the verdict, saying it had "amicably" ended the decades-old dispute.
On August 05, 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the construction of a Hindu temple at the place of Babri Mosque. The move was highly appreciated by Hindu supremacists and media zealots which makes the base of the ruling BJP government."
The demolition of the Babri mosque was a dear reflection of the Hindutva agenda, which remains its core identity today. Muslims are not the only victim of such religious intolerance in India; other minorities are suffering as well.
Right-wing Hindus see themselves as the true sons of the soil, whereas they view Muslims and Christians as products of bloody foreign invasions or denationalizing influences."
On October 3, 2021, a mob of nearly 250 Hindu vigilantes armed with iron rods ransacked a church in Roorkee in the northern state of Uttarakhand, which is governed by the BJP. A dozen people were in the church when the attack occurred.
According to a report by human rights groups in October, more than 300 attacks on Christians took place in the first nine months of this year, including at least 32 in Karnataka.
The report found that of the total 305 incidents of anti-Christian violence, four north Indian states registered as many as 169 of them: 66 in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, 47 in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, 30 in tribal-dominated Jharkhand, and 30 in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.
At least nine Indian states have planned anti-conversion laws, including Chhattisgarh, which, activists say, has emerged as a "new laboratory" for anti-Christian hatred in India.
Modi regime's discriminatory policies rejuvenated Sikh's historic demand of having a separate homeland, Khalistan. Indian army's Operation Blue Star was an official beginning of an organized purge of the Sikh community in India. However, anti-Sikh policies have skyrocketed under the Modi government which seeks to create Hindu's Hindustan in pursuit of its Hindutva ideology. The BJP government also targeted Sikhs with infamous Farm Laws primarily designed to take economic benefits away from Indian farmers, mainly comprised of Sikhs.
Cow vigilantes came to prominence as part of India's violent polity during Modi's first term as prime minister. Since then, from 2014 onwards and during the seven years of his first and now the second term, violence over the ownership and eating of cows has become such a norm that it is barely reported anymore.
Apart from that, Hindu Dalits, who are considered low caste in Hindu Dharam, also face persecution at the hands of "superior" Hindus. They are denied access to education, health, inter-marriage and often pushed to seek low-grade jobs.
India has become a hub of religious intolerance and persecution of minorities. The world community must take notice of the rising menace of religious intolerance in Hindutva; for that manner, curbing Hindutva ideology would be the first step. Otherwise, the explosion of Hindu extremism would burn the region, not just India itself.