The Supreme Court is pondering over the temple-mosque issue of Ayodhya. In the last few months, the discourse was being avoided. The pretext was that the documents related to this issue are in Hindi, Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit language; until they are translated into English, how could the court understand these texts? But how many years will it take to translate the texts which are spread over four centuries and comprise lakhs of pages? The latest reason to avert this issue is that, apart from three main parties, around two dozen people have already filled a petition. The court has squashed all the petitions and has extended the date of hearing. Now it will constitute a new Bench in January 2019 for resolving this issue. We don’t know when the result of this issue be declared.
To resolve solving the Ayodhya issue, the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh has suggested that an Ordinance be brought. Some leaders have stated that Parliament should bring a law to build the Ram Temple. For how long should we wait for the verdict of the Supreme Court—this is the argument.
The Sunni Waqf Board’s advocate has suggested that the resolution should come only after 2019. Only they can explain why they are saying this but in general it can be inferred that they have questioned the impartiality of the present government and the judiciary. Suppose this is wrong and in 2019 the Supreme Court comes out with its decision, but who will implement it? The issue is so contentious that no government will want to burn its hands. Anyway there are dozens of judicial decisions which no government has implemented. I remember the decision of the Allahabad High Court in which it mandated that the children of government officials should study in government schools only. This idea was mine. The government changed in Lucknow, but that decision is yet to be executed. Similarly, the decision of women’ entry into the Sabrimala temple is being violated daily.
On the mandir-masjid issue, Hindu organizations have clearly stated that the temple will be built there only. If the court decides that the mosque will also be built there adjacent to the temple, will they accept it? This would have been the practical implication of the decision given by the Allahabad High Court but both the Hindus and Muslims rejected it. If the decision is in accordance with Shia leaders’ suggestion that the mosque should be built either in Lucknow or across the Saryu river, then would Muslims accept it? Shia leaders have recommended that instead of relating the mosque to Babar or Meer Baqi, it should be named as ‘Masjid-e-aman.’ None of the major Muslim organizations has favored this suggestion. This suggestion cannot be accepted on the fact that this mosque was built by Meer Baqi who was a Shia and till 1944 the descendants of Meer Baqi’s were priests there. The argument that no mosque should be built at Ayodhya is also unaccepted, as there are still dozens of mosques.
Some time ago, I myself went to Ayodhya and what I witnessed at Ramjanm Bhoomi was heartbreaking. Narrow passages surrounded by iron pipes, it felt like we were walking through a Hitler’s concentration camp. I have seen many such camps in Europe but this was even more frightful than them. Security personnel made us deposit watches, wallets, pens, etc., at the check-post. I haven’t seen such security even at the Kremlin of Russia, White House of America, or the President’s House in India. At some distance where the idol of Lord Ram is kept, we saw heaps of garbage on the 67-acre land acquired by the government; it is the playground of monkeys. Then we saw the place where large rocks were carved out for the construction of Ram Temple. The etchings on those rocks were very impressive but the red colored rocks were looking pale. If the temple of ‘Imam-e-Hind’ Lord Ram is to be built, then the finest rocks should be used. It should be of such majesty that people visit the temple before seeing Taj Mahal when they come to India.
The issue is so complicated that the court cannot resolve it, as it pertains to faith and not the law. That’s why a former chief justice of India had suggested that Hindus and Muslims should resolve this with dialogue. Attempts to resolve this issue with discussion seemed to be bearing fruit during tenures of prime ministers Chandra Shekhar and P.V. Narshima Rao. On my recommendation, Narshima Rao and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal agreed to stop the voluntary services for the temple for three months. Preparations for the solution were in progress, but on December 6, 1992, the mosque was demolished. The then government and both parties wanted to resolve this issue through discussion but after the demolition of the structure dialogue also broke down.
In 1993, the Narshinma Rao government brought an Ordinance; the 2.75-acre land of Lord Ram’s birth place and the 67-acre surrounding land was brought under government’s control. The Ordinance stipulated that this land was taken up by the government as the Ram Temple will be built on this land along with the mosque, a library, and other public amenities.
Parliament gave its assent to it. At that critical juncture, my suggestion was that we should forget the past and look forward. The resolution should be worthy of the name Ayodhya; it should end the conflict. No one win and no one loose; everyone should be satisfied.
Furthering this idea, a new suggestion has emerged, which can be accepted by all parties: a grand and glorious Ram Temple should be built here, along with a mosque, a church, Jain and Buddhist temples, a gurdwara, and a synagogue nearby, so that Ayodhya becomes a world pilgrimage. It will become the world’s largest tourist destination. In Ayodhya, the world’s largest spiritual and philosophical university should also be built. Ayodhya should become the global capital of religious harmony. My suggestion is that parliament should pass a motion to this effect and try to build a consensus of the major religions of the country on that motion. Reliance on court is not going to work.
The RSS and the VHP have once again raised the Ram Temple issue. I wonder why these organizations were silent in the last four years. I am afraid that this might become a big communal issue during the 2019 election. For me building a Ram Temple at Ayodhya is not a religious issue. It will be wrong to construe it as a Hindu-Muslim issue. This is an issue between the indigenous and the foreign. I have shared this many times with Ashok Singhalji, the VHP chief for many years; he was like my elder brother. Whenever a foreign invader attacks a country, he tries at least three ways to bring down the morale of the people. First, he destroys shrine centers and places of worships. Second, he makes women victim of his lust. And third is the loot of wealth.
As far as Babar is concerned, he, like many others, destroyed the shrine centers not only in India but also in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. They were not temples but mosques. In other words, Muslim rulers were also meted out the same treatment; their mosques, women, and properties were the targets. If you want to know about this, read the poetry of Khūshāl Khān Khaṭṭak, the great poet of Pathans. See the work of the famous Urdu poet from Saharanpur, Hazrat Abdul Kuddus Gangohi. He has written that Mughal rulers demolished more mosques then temples. Aurangzeb demolished a big mosque at Bijapur because he wanted to overthrow the Muslim ruler of Bijapur. That’s why I say that whether the Ram Temple was demolished by Meer Baqi or any other person, the issue is not religious but national.
Therefore, my opinion is that the Muslims of the country should take the initiative and let the Ram Temple be built at Ram janmabhoomi; on the 70-acre land, a grand mosque and shrines of other major religions should be made. The government should bring out an Ordinance to this effect. This will make Ayodhya a world centre for religious harmony and brotherhood. It will also free the court from the onerous burden of this case and usher in a new wave of communal harmony in the country.