When questioning one's country and its crux framework, we generally ask its government and lay the blame game first on its governing agencies or politics. Although one must not overlook that India's administration is instigated and formulated by its people, it's every one of its citizens that leads to its glory or doom. India's exquisiteness is the secularity engraved into its roots, although recent times have asked us to question this pride. In this paper, the author highlights the significant religions prevalent in India; Hindus and Muslims, while focusing on one such verdict, Ayodhya, which shook the term "secularism" altogether.
India was the ‘land of religion’ way before the British raj and remained to sustain this tag line even after independence. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Catholics, and various other tribal religions and religious beliefs still exist in India. The highlighting factor to all this is the respect and significant place each religion gets in our constitution.
The Indian Constitution’s Preamble has the word “secular”, and articles 25 to 28, implying that the State will not discriminate, patronize or meddle in the profession of any religion. However, it shields individual religions or groups by adding religious rights as fundamental rights. Article 25 says, “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practise, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.” Further, Article 26 says that all denominations can manage their affairs in matters of religion.
All these rights are subject to be regulated by the State. The Indian version of secularism is different from what is understood in western European countries. In the west, state and church(religion) is separate and do not intervene in each other’s internal affairs. But this is not the case with India; here, secularism means ‘respect for all religions’ and ‘keeping a principled distance’ from each religion.
Some government interference, such as banning the triple talaq or making special regulations to protect SC/STs, is a step further for secularism. However, with this step forward, there was an objection from a myriad of its citizens. One such interference that caused an uproar by the citizens of this nation was the Babri Masjid mosque’s verdict.
Hindus and Ayodhya
The way mecca is to Saudi Arabia, the same way Ayodhya is to India. Both are prominent destination stating histrionic significance to the origination of each religion. The only difference being the secular tag attached in India.
There were several reasons why the court opted for the favour of the Ayodhya temple; The court noted that the Muslims had failed to prove offering of namaz in the mosque from its construction in 1528 to the setting up of a brick wall by the British in 1856-57. At the same time, it said that the Hindus’ faith and belief were established through travelogues — primarily Joseph Tieffenthaler and Robert Montgomery Martin.
Another critical factor was the sightings of Hindu made structures within the prior mosque; such significant proof shows a temple much before the construction of the mosque. There are several such instances in history. Many temples were also destroyed and looted by the Muslim kings much before the British Raj. Still, if we were to account for all these demolitions and violations, we would be living in the past for a considerable amount of time.
The court previously has suggested various ways to end this dispute, such as establishing a library or a museum instead of both these structures. In this paper, the author might be bold enough to suggest that building a school of learning would be just as good an option as any, as there can be no one choice that does not affect another’s religious sentiments.
Communal riots have been happening ever since the verdict. Although Ayodhya is initially considered Ram’s birthplace, it must be upheld and respected the same way mecca is respected and adhered to. Further on, such disputes should be accounted for with current laws and perspectives and not its significance in the past. The Ayodhya verdict can be its only exception. It was one of India’s oldest running court cases, and the urgency in providing its ruling was long overdue.
Muslims and Ayodhya
“Not satisfied with the verdict. Supreme Court is indeed supreme but not infallible”– Asadudddin Owaisi.
One of the leading causes of the Muslim protestors’ riots was the reason for the scarce land given as compensation.
The most significant factor in which the Muslim can lay claim was the initiation of destruction. The supreme did rule the mosque or be destroyed; this goes against the criticism’s very crux. Only governing bodies have the right to intervene in religious aspects. However, the nation’s citizens in 1992 took matters into their own hands and lead the torch for the demolition of the mosque.
In addition to granting compensation for the destruction of the mosque, there must be stricter laws. The people going against any religious sanity without the governing bodies’ consent have to be punished and tried in court.
There is statuary proof showing various religious leaders and governing body members present during the demolition, and of these members, many still walk Scott free today. This shows the failure of secularism in this country and its incompetency; it portrays partiality towards the privilege and acts as a fuse for communal riots.
“India is a country built on the foundations of a civilization that is fundamentally tolerant.”-Rajni Kothari.
It is not just one religion that should stand up for another, but everyone has an opinion about such sentimental and vexing matters. Violent protesters have influenced the public’s minds for ages and exploited their sentiments for their benefit for ages. The Ayodhya verdict questioned the “secularity” in India and portrayed “taking sides” in religious matters. Even after this verdict, there are still protests for secularity in India; we must crush prior history and religious zealots’ options to move forward in the future. This can only be achieved through communal harmony and acceptance. We must show the power of secularity that our nation once possessed as today’s religious ideologies are deemed as a burden on society.
“Hindu Muslim Sikh Isai, aapas mein hain bhai bhai”; “Inquilab Zindabad”.Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, we are all brothers; Long live the revolution.
Today there are more instances in which one would choose to opt-out of secularism than for it. Individuals forget that we won our freedom from the British raj due to the acceptance and coming of all the religions’ unity. This is what India needs even 6o years after independence-unity. Looking towards a pragmatic future to avoid any more obstacles toward the countries growth in terms of religion is what our nation needs urgently.