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Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir mediation

The Supreme Court of India, last week, ordered a court-monitored mediation in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case to arrive at a “permanent solution” to the politically and religiously charged sensitive issue. The five-judge constitution bench appointed a panel of 3 mediators in the title suit with Retired Justice FM Kallifulla chairing the court-appointed and monitored mediation process. The apex court also said that the mediation proceedings are to be kept confidential and should be held in Faizabad. The mediation hearing will start in one week and the status report of the mediation committee will have to be completed in four weeks. Though only time will tell how the case settles in the ultimate end, however, it is a matter of great satisfaction that the bitterness that has gone up in the wake of the general elections on the issue has, at least for now, de-escalated. The Hindutwa brigade was desperately looking for making the temple building at the mosque site as one of the main issues in the election. The statements of some senior Hindu religious leaders including Sri Sri Ravi Shankar besides a battery of leaders of the BJP, RSS and other affiliate groups were indicative of tension piling up over the issue. With general elections starring in their eyes, BJP including the Prime Minister NarendraModi was under serious pressure within and outside to bring in an ordinance for the construction of Ram temple. Despite the case being in the Supreme Court, the Sangh affiliated groups had begun activities at the disputed site. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), last month, organized “Dharansansad” at the Kumb where saints and seers gave a call for the construction of the temple. The SanghParivar was campaigning for the construction of the temple across the country. Bajrang Dal, other Hindu extremist group, last month, claimed that it recruited some 25000 volunteers to march to Ayodhya anytime for Ram mandir construction on the orders of the top saints.

The BJP and its allies led by senior Hindutwa leaders L K Advani, Umma Bharti and MurliManohar Joshi took out a similar march in 1992 that resulted in the demolition of the mosque. The demolition of the mosque was followed by a bloody campaign against Muslims across many states, mostly in Maharshtra where 3000 Muslims were massacred by Hindu extremists. Media’s unconditional and unprofessional support to the Hindu extremists can be understood from the fact that the opponents of the move are openly questioned on the issue of their faith. The Hindutwa brigade has no respect for the court as is evident from their din on the mosque-temple dispute. They have already refused to accept the Supreme Court decision on Sabarimala issue. This is the brute display of the majoritarian mindset undermining the rule of law—a dangerous edge that the country is being pushed to.

Much to the thrill of the BJP, the media, more particularly TV news channels, are following the Hindutwa agenda quite religiously. It goes without saying that Ram Temple is a political slogan for the BJP to garner support in elections. It is the Ram Temple movement that saw BJP’s rise to power in 90s. However, the slogan had lost steam since its expulsion from power in 2004. It is for this fact that the party fought 2014 general elections on development and corruption issues. But having utterly failed on its promises of development and freeing country from the corruption, the BJP has fallen back upon the Ram Temple mantra. Former Supreme Court Judge Justice Katju had warned of “communal riots” or “war with Pakistan” as the option BJP could resort to win the elections. This is merely an election game which the people should understand. The saner elements need to join together to save the country from sacrificing it at the altar of power politics. Though many a keen observers think that mediation is unlikely to help find the solution to the issue but it is certain that evoking emotions and stoking tension has gone for the time being.