December 6, 1992: The Day that changed India
The world watched with horror the day the Bamiyan Buddhas were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from its supreme leader leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were idols. The statues were destroyed by dynamite over several weeks, starting on 2 March 2001, carried out in stages. Initially, the statues were fired at for several days using anti-aircraft guns and artillery. This caused severe damage, but did not obliterate them. During the destruction, Taliban Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal lamented that, "this work of destruction is not as simple as people might think. You can't knock down the statues by shelling as both are carved into a cliff; they are firmly attached to the mountain." Later, the Taliban placed anti-tank mines at the bottom of the niches, so that when fragments of rock broke off from artillery fire, the statues would receive additional destruction from particles that set off the mines. In the end, the Taliban lowered men down the cliff face and placed explosives into holes in the Buddhas. After one of the explosions failed to completely obliterate the face of one of the Buddhas, a rocket was launched that left a hole in the remains of the stone head.
On 6 March 2001 The Times quoted Mullah Mohammed Omar as stating, "Muslims should be proud of smashing idols. It has given praise to God that we have destroyed them." During a 13 March interview for Japan's Mainichi Shimbun, Afghan Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel stated that the destruction was anything but a retaliation against the international community for economic sanctions: "We are destroying the statues in accordance with Islamic law and it is purely a religious issue".
Decrying the destruction the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, described the Taliban action as "barbaric" and the Union Home Minister LK Advani, said the Taliban had committed a "heinous crime" and "no words can be too strong" to condemn them.
Exactly two decades ago, it was the same Advani and his horde of the 'Indian Taliban' who similarly laid waste to the Babri Masjid. "A whisper from the Babri Masjid Mihrab could be heard clearly at the other end, 200 feet away and through the length and breadth of the central court" according to Graham Pickford, architect to Lord William Bentinck (1828-1833). The mosque's acoustics were mentioned by him in his book 'Historic Structures of Oudhe' where he says "for a 16th century building the deployment and projection of voice from the pulpit is considerably advanced, the unique deployment of sound in this structure will astonish the visitor".
Modern architects have attributed this intriguing acoustic feature to a large recess in the wall of the Mihrab and several recesses in the surrounding walls which functioned as resonators; this design helped everyone to hear the speaker at the Mihrab. The sandstone used in building the Babri Mosque also had resonant qualities which contributed to the unique acoustics. The Babri mosque's Tughluquid style integrated other indigenous design components and techniques, such as air cooling systems disguised as Islamic architectural elements like arches, vaults and domes. In the Babri Masjid a passive environmental control system comprised the high ceiling, domes, and six large grille windows. The system helped keep the interior cool by allowing natural ventilation as well as daylight.
The city of Ayodhya is regarded by Hindus to be the birthplace of the God-king Rama. The Bharatiya Janata Party used the Ayodhya debate as a major campaign issue in the 1989 elections. In September 1990, BJP leader LK Advani started the Rath Yatra, a tour of the country to educate the masses about the Ayodhya struggle. On 6th December, 1992 an angry crowd soon stormed the site and attacked the structure. At noon, youths were seen at the top of one of the domes, attaching a flag and beating on the structure with a stick, signaling the breaking of the outer cordon. Using only hand implements, the crowd reduced the substantial structure to rubble.
Thee destruction of the Masjid has had disastrous consequences for the Country. This was followed by a series of bomb blasts at Mumbai and the riots. India's record as a peaceful nation was in tatters. All 21 major acts of terror including the Mumbai blasts, Parliament attack and the 26.11 attacks- by extremist elements among the Muslims in India have followed the destruction of the Masjid and have occurred after this incident killing thousands of our citizens. The growth of 'Muslim Terror' -a term coined by the BJP is simultaneous with the political growth of the BJP. Both are demons that feed each others hunger for violence followed by vicious reprisal. The fault for this cycle of terror lies entirely at the BJP-RSS-VHP doorstep, since they drew first blood.
Holding the Indian National Congress, who held power at the Centre responsible for this incident, the Indian Muslim, particularly in India's most populous State Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have turned against the Party. The Indian National Congress has had to rely on allies since the last two general elections to run the Government- with some painful consequences. An insider, Arjun Singh has had this to say about the then Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao and his role in the destruction of the Masjid:
"On the night of 6 December 1992, the prime minister addressed the nation over national TV and radio. The underlying theme of his speech was that Kalyan Singh did not honour his commitment (to the Supreme Court) to protect the Babri Masjid. I could not ascertain the extent to which he was able to convince the people regarding the Central Government's stand. The demolition came as a great shock to millions of Indians, especially to those belonging to the largest minority community, ie, Muslims, who had reposed their faith and trust in the party that once had leaders of the stature of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, hailed as votaries of secularism. The fact remained that we, as Congressmen, had failed the nation and had to pay a heavy price for our ineptitude in the next general elections held in April-May 1996 when the Congress was voted out of power."
The Muslim's association with the Indian National Congress even since 1887 had been torn asunder. In 1887, Badruddin Tyabji became President in the INC Session at Madras, Rahimtulla M. Sayani became President during the 1896 INC Session at Calcutta, Nawab Syed Muhammad Bahadur became President in 1913 at the INC Session at Karachi, Syed Hasan Imam became President during the 1918 INC Special Session - Bombay, Hakim Ajmal Khan became President at the 1921 INC Session in Ahmedabad, Maulana Mohammad Ali became President in 1923 INC Session at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad became President in the 1923 INC Special Session - Delhi, Dr.Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari became President in the 1927 INC Session at Madras and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad again become President of The Indian National Congress in 1940 - INC Session - Ramgarh and he was the President of Indian National Congress until 1946, he served as president of INC for the longest period of time.
The sordid state of affairs of the Muslims was uncovered by the Sachar Committee, appointed in 2005 by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who was commissioned to prepare a report on the latest social, economic and educational condition of the Muslim community of India. The committee was headed by the former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar, which found:
The status of Indian Muslims is below the conditions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The overall percentage of Muslims in bureaucracy in India is just 2.5% whereas Muslims constitute above 14% of the Indian population. The presence of Muslims has been found to be only 3% in the IAS, 1.8% in the IFS and 4% in the IPS. Muslim community has a representation of only 4.5% in Indian Railways while 98.7% of them are positioned at lower levels. Representation of Muslims is very low in the Universities and in Banks. Their share in police constables is only 6%, in health 4.4%, in transport 6.5%.
A substantially large proportion of the Muslim households in urban areas are in the less than Rs.500 expenditure bracket.
The UPA has appointed a Minister for minority Affairs for the very first time and has taken a series of measures to pass the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Act. Yet, the Muslims remain largely indifferent to INC's moves to reach out to the Muslims. This indifference has been mutually destructive. The Muslims are cowering with fright in places like Gujarat, where a genocide took place against members of their community. The chief perpetrator of this crime reigns supremely as Chief Minister of the State- with the increasing possibility of becoming the nation's Prime Minister. The Congress Party is unable to alleviate this sense of fear since it has not the numbers and has to contend with the support of allies who often act like albatross around the neck. The indifference of the Muslims is simply put, like cutting the nose to spite the face.
The Congress Party, a middle-of-the-road Political Party with progressive ideals is largely guided by the principles of its former President Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the apostle of peace who said "It is the law of love that rules mankind. Had violence, ie hate, ruled us we should have become extinct long ago. And yet, the tragedy of it is that the so-called civilized men and nations conduct themselves as if the basis of society was violence."
(Multiple Wikipedia entries have been used to substantiate various points in this article)
More about Brijesh KalappaBrijesh Kalappa, an advocate in the Supreme Court, is the Additional Advocate General, Haryana. A former journalist, he has a wide range of interests including reading and travelling. He has worked with several legal luminaries on subjects of importance in civil, criminal, water and electoral laws and has individually represented governments, eminent individuals and major industrial houses. Gifted with the prowess for distinctive sharp-edged analysis, he has been working closely with several leaders of the Indian National Congress.
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