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5 pm, Dec 06 Dec 06, 2012

20 years after: Lessons of December 6, 1992

Exactly twenty years back, on December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid was demolished by a frenzied crowd of Hindu right wing forces. In the communal clashes that followed, thousands were killed across the country. Has a multi-cultural country like India learnt its lessons from this? Talk to one of India's foremost intellectual voices to find out.
21 questions answered
  • Do you think with the current rate of radicalization in Islam, a multi-cultural society can exist? There was an incident in South India where a Pakistani flag was flown during Independence Day. It's a Muslim majority area. Examples from Sweeden, London and Paris also shows the difficulty. Shouldn't religious leaders do more? Asked by: Robin
  • S Irfan Habib I don't think we can expect anything much from the religious leaders. Most of them are responsible for radicalization as well as other mess in Islam. Change has to come from other sections.
  • Sir , in my opinion, communal passions peaked with dec 6.After that, guj withstanding, there seems to be an improvement. Minorities,incl muslims, are reaching highest and most sensitive positions more than before. One example MMS.How did the peaking help and how much credit should be given to Mrs Sonia Gandhi? Asked by: Kamal Agg
  • S Irfan Habib Of course 1992 was the watershed year in the history of communalism and its aftermath in India. We have surely moved away from those polarised times, yet a lot need to be done to change the thinking. Despite Muslims being at important positions, and I agree they are, still a lot need to be done and achieved.
  • Did the Babri Masjid demolition shake the Indian Muslims' faith in the ability of the State to protect the lives and rights of its citizens? Asked by: Ak
  • S Irfan Habib It did shake them up and that continued for some time. However, I feel the confidence has been restored to a great extant despite 2002.
  • Do u believe r know for a fact that there were ruins of a Ram Mandir over which the Babri Mosque was built? Asked by: jameel m ali
  • S Irfan Habib This is a vexed question and none has been able to prove or disprove anything for or against the existence of a temple. And if you go by faith of some people than existence hardly matters and that is what happened.
  • Has a multi-cultural country like India learnt its lessons from this? Asked by: Farhan
  • S Irfan Habib Most of India lives peacefully despite all sorts of provocations. Its only small section among both the communities which rakes up issues for their advantage.
  • Was the demolition of the Babri Masjid a mistake in hindsight? Asked by: ak
  • S Irfan Habib It was a despicable act and cannot be justified, except of communal grounds
  • What are the lessons learnt? Asked by: Neha
  • S Irfan Habib There are many lessons but problem is that we do not want to learn from any of them. We didn't learn from the partition bloodshed and went ahead with 1984, 1992 and 2002. And its true for most of the communities involved.
  • Is the Ayodhya verdict justified? Asked by: Tiger
  • S Irfan Habib It had many problems and i wrote about that in The Economic times next day. But the courts also have limitations, they want to keep all sections happy, not the people in general but the parties involved. The verdict hardly changed ground realities.
  • Indian Secular Democracy failed to Punish the Demolishers of Babri Masjid...? Asked by: Shihabudheen NP
  • S Irfan Habib That is our main weakness, perpetrators of such crimes go scot free. Thus even reconciliation becomes farce without justice, which is true for 1984, post Babri riots in 1992/93 and even 2002
  • Why can't we have a stadium in its place and help in creating excellent athletes, irrespective of caste, religion or state? Asked by: EMathew
  • S Irfan Habib Left to the people of Ayodhya, both Muslims and Hindus, any such structure may come up but the matter is beyond them. Its VHP and Babri Action Committee which matters and they will keep in alive.
  • If one puts India in the fore and work towards the betterment of our nation and its people, we will be a better nation. All these factions due to religion is very unhealthy. Your take or opinion. Asked by: EMathew
  • S Irfan Habib That is the ideal situation but not many people, i say people who matter, think on these lines. Despite being a vibrant democracy, we can't go beyond such sectarian limitations. This is one negative in our democratic set up.
  • RSS, VHP and other hindu organizations say that hindu places of worship in Varanasi, Mathura, Ayodhya and several others are not free. This aggrives many hindus. For muslims, structures are not important as they say that they don't worship idols but for hindus it is different. How would peace prevail as both the communities are always simmering? Asked by: gaurav
  • S Irfan Habib But is it possible to set medieval wrongs right, if there were any? There is no limit to it as those time were different, with different values, even Hindu kings demolished many temples for wealth, King Harsh of Kashmir is one example. We need to look ahead and not behind. There are many good things to learn from history, which we do't care about.
  • As a philosopher let me pose a philosophical question!Is it justified to designate a place of worship for a religion recognizing that the Creator is common? Professor A.Prasad,FRHistS Asked by: Professor Ashok Jahnavi Prasad
  • S Irfan Habib Philosophically there is no justification at all but lay believers are not all philosophers, wish more people among Hindus and Muslims start thinking that way-philosophically.
  • How Do You Comment - "Objective of Assassin of MK Gandhi & Attackers on Indian Secular Constitution (Demolition of Babri Masjid) is One & Same" Asked by: Shihabudheen NP
  • S Irfan Habib No doubt about that. Its the same mentality. You can't kill or demolish unless you are moved by extreme hatred
  • Sir,the the perpetrators of the demolition could not be punished.Inefficiency or something else? Asked by: Kamal Agg
  • S Irfan Habib I think its both but more politics than inefficiency. We have hardly punished anybody responsible for communal frenzy and killing
  • Please don't take me wrong! What happened 20 yrs back was wrong. But if muslims help in the construction of a temple at Ayodhya won't it lead to increased peace and harmony between the 2 communities? Right now, pilgrims who come to Ayodhya face lots of problems. Yes there may be a concern that if muslims take back their rights over the mosque it may indicate a wrong signal. Your views Asked by: gaurav
  • S Irfan Habib If done in the right spirit i don't mind that but it will open a pandora's box. How many wrongs will you set right. You can't re-write history by demolishing and constructing religious places
  • We Worry the 'SAME" may happen in future on Char Minar in Hyderabad also...? Asked by: Shihabudheen NP
  • S Irfan Habib Yes, this is a new trouble spot, and has no history like Ayodhya, which can not be deciphered. Charminar itself is not that old but fanatics can rake up anything any time and any where.
  • Every religion speaks for peace, love and harmony. If the more knowledgeable people from their respective religion come out to teach the less knowledgeable, would it help in bringing more harmony? Asked by: EMathew
  • S Irfan Habib But who care to listen to knowledgeable people. I wish that could happen.
  • Sir,a slightly different question. Although minorities including muslims have reached the highest positions in independent India they were mostly figureheads and not trusted with sensitive assignments, a glass ceiling existed, which seems to be breaking now.Am I wrong? Asked by: Kamal Agg
  • S Irfan Habib Yes, you are right, things have changed for the better and one can see Muslims in sensitive positions as well.
  • The big lesson i learned is to forget and move on and include myself in a progressive nation rather than to live in emotive world of constantly thinking of 1992, 2002 & conveniently forgetting everything else. Don't you think Muslims or Hindus should come out of this prism and learn to live together ?. Asked by: aditya.yanamand
  • S Irfan Habib They should do that but we need to restore confidence among people by providing justice. We have a very weak record in this matter. Still I agree that one should not perpetually live in the past and should look forward together to a better future.
  • Your take on Justice Liberhan’s Findings. Asked by: HS
  • S Irfan Habib I ahve nothing new to say on that.

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