Legacy Of Babri Masjid
By Farzana Versey
06 December, 2006
have got a new father. He died before I was born. He died before my
mother was born. He died before my grandmother was born. He died generations
ago. But Zahir ud-Din Mohammad is Papa. Yes, I am Babar ki aulad.
The progeny of a tyrant.
A face I do not recognise. A mosque I would never have known about.
A legacy I carry as a mortuary dumped with an unclaimed corpse.
* * *
"I am from a minority
community." My words circled the compressed air in the plane.
"What did you just say?"
asked the gentleman sitting next to me.
"I am from a minority
"Is that how you introduce
yourself?" he shrugged. A wonderful conversation that had begun
about the media, Naxals, politicians, industrialists had ended.
He was candid: "This
comment has left me disturbed. It has taken away from all the ideas
we talked about."
So many thousands of feet
above sea-level, at the mercy of technology and nature, we became Hindu
and Muslim. This was the first time in spoken communication that I had
uttered the phrase 'minority community' for myself. Was this not a statement
of fact? Should I feel ashamed of it? Why was I limiting the expanse
of my sky?
That morning there had been
a newspaper report that had filled me with trepidation as I read it
on the way to the airport. It talked about how certain frequent travellers
in Mumbai were being hauled up for questioning by the police. Your crime?
Being a Muslim.
In the lounge, I curled up
the paper and tucked it away. I did not want to show them what had become
of us. No one watched me suspiciously, but I looked around with suspicion.
Antenna and armour were both in place.
I wasn't afraid for myself,
but I was afraid about my reaction. What if I lost my temper? What if
I made scathing comments and asked them to prove their loyalty, their
credentials. Worse, my destination was Dubai, where they say all my
'brothers' are in hiding after committing terrorist acts in the new
corporatised Bharat, where history is being hawked on saffron bandanas.
It does not matter what political
party is in power. Today, power rests on the mighty prongs of the trishul.
We are a non-violent nation;
we hate guns; we distress over road rage. But we go on raths, simulate
the archaic, our ennui satiated with impotent anger over spectres shrouded
Why do I remember December
6 at all? Because they remind me about it.
Look at this report of December
4: "Uttar Pradesh government has sounded an alert across the state
and asked district authorities to take measures to maintain communal
harmony on December 6 anniversary of Babri mosque demolition."
They have anyway barricaded
the make-shift temple. It is high-security area. God does not live there;
god has been trapped there. Is the cradle of Ram lalla the cradle of
civilisation? Does this civilisation make you demolish a mosque in six
hours? Can you imagine the planning and effort that must have gone into
this quickie attempt, how well-synchronised it was?
You ask, did not the Muslims
destroy a temple that was there? I shall quote the words of a Sufi singer
from Sindh, Allan Fakir, who on a visit to Delhi a few years ago had
said, "Yes, Babar must have come to Ayodhya, he must have stumbled
on a ruined structure and asked what it was. He must have been told
that it is the birthplace of Ram and Lakshman – 'then it is pavitra
bhoomi. There should be ibaadat in such a place. Prayers and devotion.
Raise a mosque here'. And thus a Babri Masjid must have come to be."
100 people have been pronounced
guilty in the 1993 bomb blasts case. Now tell us who are the guilty
for the riots that preceded it?
A little over nine years
later, when Gujarat happened, we realised that a Hindu life was worth
Rs. 2 lakh, a Muslim's one lakh.
This is the legacy of Babri.
They say their resentment
is over things like Article 370 for Kashmir and the Muslim Personal
Law. While the former was formulated as an administrative necessity,
the latter, though undesirable, seems to be causing problems only for
the Brahmin-Rajput sections, minorities themselves. (The rath yatra
as a response to Mandal makes its own ironic statement.) Why did no
one think about a Uniform Civil Code in 1947? Why did no one shout slogans
of "Jai Sri Ram" then?
I do want to know how those
going to Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 could be called pilgrims when they
had a specific agenda. Do people go on Haj carrying weapons?
There are several other questions
one asks. I have still not got adequate answers.
How many Muslims have been traitors to the country?
Haven't riots put them back
by a few years?
Have they progressed economically?
What have they gained?
Has there been no contribution
at all from the community?
Have they really tainted
the purity of the ancient civilisation?
Why do 800 million Indians
find us a threat? The Muslim is an abstraction now. S/he would be forced
to ask: Who am I? And the response would be…I am the AK-47 rifle,
I am the detonated bomb, I am the dynamite that has blown up cars, trains,
bodies, I am the beard, the burqa, I am the voice that shouts out loud
in the streets to support dictators who look like thieves, I am the
bent over figure taking up public space for my prayers, I am the loudspeaker
that beckons believers and is a nuisance to the ears, I am the butcher
with the knife over a poor goat's neck, I am the one that the metal
detector detects faster than anyone else. I am not like you anymore.
This is the legacy of Babri.
14 years ago, a BBC reporter
had hesitantly asked me, "Would you still wear a bindi after all
What was 'this'? Just an
onion-domed structure in a town I knew little about? No, it was the
blood on the walls in my city. I do not revisit those areas, for when
I had done so they were washing the stains and those would not go away.
Remembrance comes in other
garbs: The pregnant woman who was kicked in the stomach repeatedly to
tell her, and us and everyone who did not go along with their narrow
beliefs, that nothing new should be born.
She did give birth. Another
Babar ki aulad was here. Prematurely. This is what happens when you
hit so hard.
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Share Your Insights