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? Twenty years down, Syed Shahabuddin looks back in an interaction with IBNLive readers.
Q. What was wrong in the demolition of Babri Masjid as it was constructed on Lord Rama Temple? Asked by: Arjun Singh
A. I wish it could be proved. The HC got the place excavated and no trace of the temple was found. You can't say something without proving it. I have said these right outside Deoband that if it is proven that Muslims brought down a temple and built a mosque, it is not a masjid and I will bring it down personally. In Ayodhya there are dozens of places where people say Ram was born.
Q. Is it not that a long time has passed and the concept of revisiting Dec 6 should stop. Eminent people like you should motivate younger generation towards productive things like education and employment. These things build the nation whereas "Dec 6" creates ill will. Your views please. Asked by: Kumar Ajay
A. I have been trying to educate the Muslim youths from the beginning that the answer to Babri Masjid is not violence. I have called on them to desist from taking out processions and to escalate tensions.
Q. The incidents like the one of Babri Masjid, Godhra, Mumbai serial blast, 26/11 ( Mumbai ) create a fear amongst the citizens,irrespective of the religion and also the limitations of the state in protecting its citizen. Do you relate it to Intelligence failure? Asked by: sundar1950in
A. There is no doubt in my mind that Babri Masjid was not a case of intelligence failure but government's inaction based on intelligence. But in the other cases, yes.
Q. Is minority phobia the binding force for the unity of India? Asked by: Faisal Mahboob
A. I don't think so but a Muslim phobia is slowly entering our veins. The majority of Hindus are tolerant but a few bad apples can spoil the atmosphere. RSS has always tried to push people into positions of power. But people including Hindus, and specially them, have resisted such attempts.
Q. People from minorities section are reaching the highest positions,one example, MMS. The trend has picked up in the last decade more than before.Yes aberrations happen,but why cant we move ahead? Asked by: Kamal Agg
A. The point is not about individuals. There have been Muslim President, Vice-President, cabinet secretary. Indira Gandhi asked IK Gujral to find out how many Muslims were there in his dept. They were just a handful though two of the top guys were Muslims.
Q. Hello Sir, For Indian Muslims, is Roti, Kapada & Makaan is important or being strict religious is important ? I am asking this question with a view in my mind. India has got Independence in 1947 & from the day # 1 Congress claims it is "Secular". What is your honest view on this ? Don't you think just to keep BJP away from power, Indian Muslims by and large ignore the development politics and stay in emotive world and thereby vote to "so-called" Secular parties which use Muslims as vote banks? Asked by: aditya.yanamand
A. This is a complex question. For every citizen, roti kapda makan is important, so it is for Indian Muslims. I think Partition was disastrous and a great tragedy for Indian Muslims. Today, my friends in Pakistan are saying the same. If our country was not divided, they would be better off. Every political party in our present system uses every minority as vote bank. This is common. As far as secularism is concerned, even BJP claims it is secular. Secularism means the State can not prefer one side to other on the basis of religion, community or caste.
Q. Sir, suppose the Sc supports the high courts judgement,As far as I understand, you can not give away or barter Waqf land on religious grounds(Shariyat law). If yes then what? Asked by: Kamal Agg
A. We insist that whatever is the judicial decision, we will accept that. Let there be no doubt about that.
Q. Why is it that in such conflicts both parties take a hard stand and a spirit of give & take does not happen? Is it the politicians or the religious leaders who should take the blame for this? Asked by: sundar1950in
A. It was not a religious matter. It was a legal issue. The Muslim leadership only said that. We just said that on our own, we won't give an inch of the Masjid land, the area of actual worship. The court can but as Muslims can't do this of their own will
Q. Why one community gets worked up on demolition of a disputed structure and none from them say a word when thousands of members of other community from Kashmir are forced to leave their homes? Why is a structure built on land important than human beings? Asked by: A NATIONALIST INDIAN
A. I am perhaps the only Muslim leader who visited Kashmiri refugees. But the demolition of a place of worship can't be compared to this.
Q. Do you agree both with the observation as well as the recommendation of Sachar committee? Asked by: Faisal Mahboob
A. I had many sessions with the committee. There are certain things I do not agree with. Some things must change for sure. We have been talking about reservations. You measure a backward community and see what can be done. Quota is a tool which can be used to ensure equity.
Q. Sir, after all these years, do u still believe that the issue will be resolved and we will get justice? Asked by: Anonymous
A. I have no doubt except you need patience and tolerance. We trust our judiciary.
Q. Do we need sharp and pointed legislation against religious discrimination? Asked by: Faisal Mahboob
A. We have a UN law and convention against religious discrimination. Minority rights are established norms across the world. As member of UN, India has voted and accepted them. There is no need for separate legislation and our Constitution is extremely modern and progressive in that regard.
Q. Hello Sir, I temporarily live in the US. I visited Europe. In this part of the world, Muslims fear to show their identities like for example they don't wear veil or I hardly see Muslims with beard & without Mustache like they do in India. In that sense, don't you think Indian majority people are open minded and don't you think instead of telling that you are a Muslim, we have to live together in India?. Asked by: aditya.yanamand
A. We all believe now in freedom and whenever there is a conflict of social nature, it's important to grant freedom. It is the only way to resolve such conflicts.
Q. Why cant we think of having a university, hospital etc at the site? This indeed would be a true pace of worship which would benefit all of us specially the poorer of the poor. I am sure the god almighty be it Ram, Allah, Christ or any other would be very happy and bless all of us. Asked by: Arun
A. In India, we are not short of land but why at the cost of a Masjid? It is a place of worship. How can you take it away? Moreover, the Hinduvta forces do not want that.
Q. Don't you think that the life of minorities in India is much better than that of minorities in Pakistan? Asked by: Shyam Vadalker
A. I do not wish to make any comparison. We are Indians under a democracy and we have the Indian Constitution. Pakistan does not have these benefits. In my opinion, this is not a relevant thing. We have to better ourselves. The govt has not used tanks or big guns in Kashmir like the Chinese and Russians have done. Though Muslims have suffered in India, today they are better off than they were twenty years back.
Q. Don't you think that communal elements in both communities are trying to use this issue and polarising the people of this country? Asked by: Nasir
A. This is right but on this issue, Muslims have not been communal. When the doors have been opened, we requested the matter to be handed over to the court. But the other side resorted to yatras, bhashans etc. But it's good majority of India does not think that way. Communalism per say is bad but there is a difference between communalism of the majority and that of the minority.
Q. Sir, one thing I have never been able to understand, how can a huge civil structure be brought down without proper equipment and planning by a large crowd, however passionate? Plz answer it as a former civil servant not as a party to dispute. Asked by: Kamal Agg
A. It is very evident that the karsevaks had come equipped and some of them were trained to bring down heavy structures. This has been reported in media. But this is an irrelevant question.
Q. Sir, don't you think that now after 20 years of that unfortunate incident both the communities should forget it and march towards improving the social, educational and financial condition of the minorities? Asked by: Shyam Vadalker
A. I think that will be good for the country but there has to justice and we are waiting for it. As for us, we have said that we will accept whatever the verdict is. But the temperature has gone down. You can feel that reconciliation is taking place. And in any case, the two communities have to live with each other.