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November 10, 2019

Babri Masjid verdict


November 10, 2019

The verdict by the Indian Supreme Court in the historic matter involving the construction of a round temple at a disputed area in Ayodhya is in. The court has ruled that the temple will be built at the site where the 16th century Babri Masjid was demolished by Hindu nationalists in 1992, triggering riots across India between Hindus and Muslims which left least 2,000 dead. The matter concerns the assertion by Hindu nationalists that Babri Masjid was constructed on a site where a temple had once stood, marking the birthplace of Rama.

The Indian SC has ordered the centre to allocate a five-acre alternate plot to the Sunni Waqf Board to built a mosque. But this verdict will essentially be seen as a victory for the Hindu right wing in India. This is hardly surprising in the India of today. Suggestions that the original site be divided to accommodate both a mandir and a masjid have been overlooked. A strict code for coverage of the event on TV channels has been laid down by the Indian Ministry of Information to avoid an increase in tensions. Politicians from all sides of the fence have asked that the SC ruling be respected.

The timing of the verdict somewhat undermines the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor on both sides of the border. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present at the event in India as the first Sikh pilgrims set off across the corridor to be greeted by PM Imran Khan and a large official delegation on the other side. However, the gesture of peace inherent in Kartarpur shows the contrast between Pakistan’s approach to communal problems and the attitude dominating in India at the present time. Naturally, the Ayodhya matter will also further demoralize Muslims in the country, including Kashmiris who have already faced a lockdown that has lasted over three months. The future for Muslims in India is becoming more and more uncertain. The series of lynchings and mob attacks could worsen. Amidst this, Kartarpur will stand as a symbol of peace. But whether it can act as a powerful enough beacon of light is questionable given the darkness that has begun to throw deep shadows over ‘Shining India’.

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