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Sahmat Statement : Ayodhya verdict yet another blow to secularism

by Sahmat, 6 October 2010

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Date 1.10.2010

The judgement delivered by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Dispute on 30 September 2010 has raised serious concerns because of the way history, reason and secular values have been treated in it. First of all, the view that the Babri Masjid was built at the site of a Hindu temple, which has been maintained by two of the three judges, takes no account of all the evidence contrary to this fact turned up by the Archaeological Survey of India’s own excavations: the presence of animal bones throughout as well as of the use of ‘surkhi’ and lime mortar (all characteristic of Muslim presence) rule out the possibility of a Hindu temple having been there beneath the mosque. The ASI’s controversial Report which claimed otherwise on the basis of ‘pillar bases’ was manifestly fraudulent in its assertions since no pillars were found, and the alleged existence of ‘pillar bases’ has been debated by archaeologists. It is now imperative that the site notebooks, artefacts and other material evidence relating to the ASI’s excavation be made available for scrutiny by scholars, historians and archaeologists.

No proof has been offered even of the fact that a Hindu belief in Lord Rama’s birth-site being the same as the site of the mosque had at all existed before very recent times, let alone since ‘time immemorial’. Not only is the judgement wrong in accepting the antiquity of this belief, but it is gravely disturbing that such acceptance should then be converted into an argument for deciding property entitlement. This seems to be against all principles of law and equity.

The most objectionable part of the judgement is the legitimation it provides to violence and muscle-power. While it recognizes the forcible break-in of 1949 which led to placing the idols under the mosque-dome, it now recognizes, without any rational basis, that the transfer put the idols in their rightful place. Even more astonishingly, it accepts the destruction of the mosque in 1992 (in defiance, let it be remembered, of the Supreme Court’s own orders) as an act whose consequences are to be accepted, by transferring the main parts of the mosque to those clamouring for a temple to be built.

For all these reasons we cannot but see the judgement as yet another blow to the secular fabric of our country and the repute of our judiciary. Whatever happens next in the case cannot, unfortunately, make good what the country has lost.

Romila Thapar

K.M. Shrimali

D.N. Jha

K.N. Panikkar

Amiya Kumar Bagchi

Iqtidar Alam Khan

Shireen Moosvi

Jaya Menon

Irfan Habib

Suvira Jaiswal

Kesavan Veluthat

D. Mandal

Ramakrishna Chatterjee

Aniruddha Ray

Arun Bandopadhyaya

A. Murali

V. Ramakrishna

Arjun Dev

R.C. Thakran

H.C. Satyarthi

Amar Farooqui

B.P. Sahu

Biswamoy Pati

Lata Singh

Utsa Patnaik

Zoya Hasan

Prabhat Patnaik

C.P. Chandrasekhar

Jayati Ghosh

Archana Prasad

Shakti Kak

V.M. Jha

Prabhat Shukla

Indira Arjun Dev

Mahendra Pratap Singh

Ram Rahman

M.K. Raina

Sohail Hashmi

Parthiv Shah

Madan Gopal Singh

Madhu Prasad

Vivan Sundaram

Geeta Kapur

Rajendra Prasad

Anil Chandra

Rahul Verma

Indira Chandrasekhar

Sukumar Muralidharan

Supriya Verma

N.K. Sharma

S.Z.H. Jafri

Farhat Hasan

Shalini Jain

Santosh Rai

Najaf Haider

R. Gopinath

R.P. Bahuguna

G.P. Sharma

Sitaram Roy

O.P. Jaiswal

K.K. Sharma