People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 48

November 29, 2009

Significance of Remembering December 6


Harkishan Singh Surjeet



Below we reproduce the article written by Late Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet on the occasion of 10th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, that was published in the Special Number of People�s Democracy, on December 08, 2002. 



HE tenth anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition, a momentous event in the history of independent India, comes at a time when the nation is in the midst of a battle to defend its unity, amity and harmony, its composite culture and secular ethos. Needless to say, the BJP-ruled Gujarat, slated to go to polls on December 12, has become the immediate battlefield.






HE importance of the day cannot be underestimated from the viewpoint of mass mobilisation against the communal danger. The people will have to be clearly told that the dispute is not just a temple-mosque dispute. If only it had been simply that, it could have been solved long back. The thing to realise is that the temple-mosque dispute is just a pretext for the communal forces who are out to impress upon us that the Muslims, and the minorities in general, have no right to live in this country. That is why these forces do not want any amicable settlement of the Ayodhya dispute and, whenever the possibility for a settlement arises, they do something to scuttle it. Nay, every now and then these forces keep threatening to raise the issue of a mosque in Mathura and of Gyanvapi mosque in Benaras. This only shows that, on one pretext or another, these forces are out to play their fratricidal game to achieve their aim of turning India into a fascistic theocratic state.  


The struggle to bring to book those who led the Babri demolition squad, and to get the mosque rebuilt on the spot, assumes importance in this very context. In sum, this is a struggle to unambiguously tell the saffron brigade that the secular, patriotic masses are very much alive to the dangers facing the country and will foil every attempt of the brigade to threaten our secular polity, our composite culture, our existence as a civilised nation.






N regard to the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi dispute, the fact is that there is no proof for the saffron brigade�s claim that the mosque was built in the year 1528, i e more than four and a half centuries ago, by demolishing a temple. Writing his works in Akbar�s reign, even Tulsidas did not mention any such thing. Guru Nanak, who died in 1539, was highly critical of Babur, but he too did not say that a temple was demolished to construct the mosque. Historians have quoted these and many other facts to demolish the myth of temple demolition that is propagated by the brigade. A Report To The Nation issued in 1990 by four eminent historians, viz Professors R S Sharma, D N Jha, Athar Ali and Surajbhan, has effectively debunked the claims made by the saffron brigade in this regard.


The said report also gives us incontrovertible evidence to show that, as per their policy of divide and rule, the British rulers of India propagated the same myth which the brigade is propagating today. Also, a mistake made by Mrs Beverige in her translation of the Baburnama gave this myth a boost it did not deserve.


In sum, the saffron brigade�s claim about temple demolition lacks any basis in history. Its much-touted grievance in this regard is purely hypothetical.






T is also a fact that even if there was a dispute about the character of the site, it remained dormant till the country attained freedom. But the communal forces got particularly unnerved when it became clear that, contrary to the newly created Pakistan, India was not going to become a theocratic state. In the face of the indescribable horror that preceded and accompanied the country�s partition, our constitution-makers did realise the value of secularism to ensure that such horror was not repeated in future. The word �secularism� was included in the constitution�s preamble only in 1976, but it was clear from day one that Indian political system would be a secular one. Here the citizens are not to be discriminated or favoured on the basis of their religion(s), just as they are not to be discriminated or favoured on the basis of caste, ethnic group, region, language or sex.


True there was a flaw in the conception of secularism our rulers upheld; in practice they did not keep religion completely separate from politics. Yet, there is no gainsaying that India has been an essentially secular country. And the credit for it goes to the mass of our people who, while following their respective religions, have an instinctive regard for other faiths. 


But this was enough to make the communal forces nervous and they did everything to turn the tide of events. The dastardly assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in the immediate aftermath of independence was but a move to remove from the scene this most towering figure of our liberation struggle --- simply because he was a staunch defender of secularism.


In this situation, in less than two years of the Mahatma�s assassination, idols were surreptitiously placed in the Babri Masjid in one wintry night of December 1949. But the then chief minister of UP, Govind Ballabh Pant, did nothing to restore the status quo ante. However, the site was locked after the prime minister Nehru wrote him a strong letter about the incident. The idols remained untouched. At that time, the communal forces failed to rouse the people for an agitation against this locking.  


This situation continued for the next 36-odd years, till the Faizabad district administration removed the locks of the site in February 1986, at the behest of the powers-that-be. It was thus that the dispute, after remaining dormant for decades, got a new lease of life. Only a little while ago the BJP had suffered the worst rout in its history; it was swept by the sympathy wave generated by Mrs Indira Gandhi�s assassination and could win just two Lok Sabha seats in the early 1985 polls. The party saw in this unlocking a golden opportunity to recover the lost ground, and the RSS moved one of its pawns, the VHP, on the political chessboard. The VHP�s Ekatma Yatra from Kathmandu to Benaras and collection of bricks in various parts of the country in the name of temple construction were some of the brigade�s moves in this period to rouse passions. 


The unfortunate stand taken by the ruling Congress party in the Shahbano case and the subsequent bill passed in parliament regarding the alimony for divorced Muslim women only added grist to the RSS mill, appearing to confirm the brigade�s charge of �Muslim appeasement.�


The ruling party made yet another mistake of giving the VHP permission to perform shilanyas at some distance from the disputed site. This was done some time before the Lok Sabha polls took place in November 1989.






HE 1989 polls led to a rout of the Congress party and the V P Singh-led Janata Dal (JD) emerged as the biggest group in Lok Sabha. The BJP did try to join the government along with JD, but the Left parties� intervention foiled the move. The Left asked the JD to form a government and implement its own poll manifesto. As a result, and under the pressure of pro-JD sentiments in the country, the BJP had no option but to extend support from outside. It was thus that the JD-led National Front formed a government, with V P Singh as prime minister. Evidently, this was too much for the BJP whose game to capture power had been foiled.


However, as soon as the government announced its intention to implement the Mandal commission recommendation to give 27 per cent reservation to the OBCs, the BJP and the opposition Congress party began vying with one another in rousing anti-Mandal sentiments. In this period many towns in north India saw the worst type of street violence. The then BJP president, L K Advani, took out a rathyatra from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya. This infamous yatra, with the BJP�s election symbol prominently displayed on the rath, left a trail of blood and mayhem in its wake. Many places along the yatra�s route suffered communal violence engineered by the brigade. The process halted only when the JD government of Bihar, led by Laloo Prasad Yadav, showed the courage to stop the yatra and detain Advani. The JD government of UP, led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, also incensed the BJP by taking strong steps against the so-called karsevaks when tens of thousands of them assembled in Ayodhya. Some in this crowd were even found in possession of dynamite rods; it was only the state government�s determination that prevented any damage to the mosque.


Now the BJP withdrew its support from the National Front government while a section of the JD defected from it. These defectors, the Congress and the BJP now objectively collaborated with one another to defeat the confidence motion moved by V P Singh government; only the Left stood by it. The government had to resign. In its place the Congress propped up a government of the defectors; that lasted only for five-odd months till the Congress ditched it midway.


The mid-term polls then brought the Congress back to power, with P V Narasimha Rao in the lead. In the meantime, the Mulayam government of UP also fell and the BJP came to power in the state. It was already in control of state governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal. 






HIS was the background in which the saffron brigade intensified its drive to polarise the country on communal lines; the BJP�s Palampur conclave had already given up the pretense of aloofness from the Ayodhya dispute. The sad facts that the BJP�s strength in Lok Sabha had gone up in 1989 and again in 1991 and the party was able to form a government in UP, made it believe that it could sweep the country by a strident communal campaign. The VHP served a warning on the Rao government that it was going to start its so-called kar seva at the disputed site from December 6.


This was a cause of serious concern for all patriotic people, more so because the RSS-controlled state governments were openly misusing the official machinery to mobilise the karsevaks and take them to Ayodhya.


This was the background when the National Integration Council met in the third week of November 1992. All political parties attended the meet; only the BJP boycotted it though it well knew its importance. On behalf of the opposition I moved a resolution at the NIC meeting and it was unanimously accepted. The meeting authorised the prime minister to take whatever steps he thought to be necessary to protect the mosque from any damage. In the midst of dissatisfaction over the official resolution, even the then home minister S V Chavan extended support to the resolution I moved.


But this was precisely what the prime minister failed to do. I was in England when karsevaks began to assemble at Ayodhya. This was causing concern, more so in view of their vandalism at the same site two years ago. While in England, I received a message that 15,000 to 20,000 had already gathered at Ayodhya and many more were on their way. The message also said a task force had been deployed around the site but it was lying idle and confused for want of orders from above. However, when I contacted the prime minister, he assured me that he was keeping an eye on the situation and that no damage to the mosque would be allowed.


The rest is history. We all know how the heinous mosque demolition took place, how the government remained a mute spectator to the event and how the crime was followed by a wave of anti-Muslim riots in Mumbai, Surat, Jaipur, Bhopal and many other cities.


In this context, it is notable that the saffron brigade once again resorted to mean tricks to keep the people in dark. At the time of shilanyas in 1989, the VHP had assured the central government in writing that the whole affair would be peaceful, that peace and communal harmony would be maintained and that it would not try to �change the nature of the property in question.� But we also know how the VHP breached its promise; in fact, but for the strong steps taken by the Mulayam government the mosque could have suffered incalculable damage. The trick was repeated by the UP�s BJP government in 1992 when the chief minister assured the Supreme Court and the prime minister that no harm to the mosque would be allowed. This was nothing but the height of perfidy. But no less astonishing was to see how naively the central government behaved and took the brigade�s assurance at its face value.


Incidentally, the brigade performed its perfidious act on the death anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar, the architect of India�s constitution.






T is this criminal act that will be remembered on December 6. For, as Balzac said, �Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.� The brigade is already trying to vitiate the atmosphere; in fact it never gave up its game during the last one decade. Though they said development would be their main poll plank in Gujarat, they are in fact rousing basest passions to garner votes there. This only indicates what their strategy at the all-India level will be in the days to come. The minorities are in a state of fear.


Meanwhile, the UP�s BSP-BJP government played a dirty game to let Advani and other culprits of the Babri demolition off the hook. For some reason unknown, the Liberhan commission too is taking an exceptionally long time to finish its work and bring the role of various conspirators to light. But will all this save the BJP from facing the day of judgement?


It is true that sometimes people may be temporarily misled but, as they say, you cannot dupe everybody every time. Our people are instinctively secular and will never allow the communal forces to play with national unity and harmony. It is they who showed the BJP the door in UP, MP and Himachal when assembly polls were held there in 1993 after the Babri demolition; in Rajasthan too, the BJP could come to power only by dirty means. It is our people who have routed the BJP and allies in 21 out of 26 polls in the last four odd years. They have also begun to voice their discontent against the anti-people LPG policies the BJP-led regime is following. And, apart from other ways, they will show their anger in the ten states that are to go to assembly polls in 2003.


But all this popular discontent needs to be positively channelised, and it is here that the Left and democratic forces have to step in, in the most vigorous way possible, so as to save the country�s present and future. The coming days are crucial in this regard.

December 1, 2002