November 9, 2019, will go down in history as the day when India finally found closure in a 500-year old dispute on the birthplace of Lord Ram, who is a deity, hero and icon to the majority of over 1.3 billion Indians. The day is also historic because almost all parties to the dispute have pledged to accept the need for reconciliation and unity and the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has come to a unanimous decision underlining the secular character of India while accepting Ramlalla Virajman as a legal entity in the Ayodhya context. This, in a way, is recognition of the age-old belief that the land in question, which has now been allotted for a temple, is the birthplace of Sri Ram, considered holy by Indians.
The court has based its assessment mainly on the Archaeological Survey of India findings that there is a structure underneath the Babri mosque built 500 years ago by Mir Baqi, the General of Babar.
The Supreme Court has asked the centre and Uttar Pradesh government to find a suitable, prominent five acre land as an alternative site for Muslims to build a new mosque. The 2.77 acre land where the disputed structure existed will now become the site for a temple under a trust to be constituted by the centre.
The beauty of the final verdict is that there are no winners and losers here. India has won. The court went entirely by evidence. It even said there was no religion to the five judges who delivered the unanimous verdict; for them the Constitution was supreme.
There could not have been a better way of settlement as the Supreme Court went threadbare into every aspect of the case in its 929-page judgement. It said the 1992 demolition and the 1948 forced entry into the site were illegal. It noted the Muslim claim for Namaz as uninterrupted for over four centuries, that the Hindus have always been worshipping at the outer periphery and that the place was always believed to be the birth place of Sri Ram. The Supreme Court rejected the three-way split of the land by the Allahabad High Court and the entire land now stands allotted to the trust for the temple. The Muslim claims proved weak on evidences. The court felt the general belief on the birthplace of Ram as strong.
No other issue in the last four decades has dominated political discourse in the country as much as Ram Janmabhoomi. It changed the course of politics, changed the fortunes of parties. Every party involved in the petition has called for unity and restraint. Political parties have also agreed to abide by the court verdict.
The Babri Masjid Action Committee is talking about filing review petition or curative petition. Unless the Supreme Court stays its own Constitution Bench verdict, which is unlikely, such petitions will not stop the process of temple-building.
The ruling BJP, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will be able to claim that two of the three core promises of the party over the last seven decades have been fulfilled in a brief span of just three months of PM Modi's re-election, which is historic. They are, the abrogation of Article 370 (end of special status to Jammu and Kashmir) and building of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya through an amicable court verdict. Now what remains is the Uniform Civil Code.
One has to wait for all reactions to come out before concluding that there is closure, finally, on Ayodhya. The initial response of hothead MIM leaders like Asaduddin Owaisi is not very promising. But 2019 is not 1990. People want to move on. They are not interested in nurturing pestering sores. For the temple campaigners two judgments are on their side now, Allahabad High Court and Supreme Court.
Both courts have now accepted the plea on the birth place of Sri Ram. The 900-plus page Supreme Court verdict cited several evidences before coming to this conclusion.
Politically, two things are certain. The Ram Temple in Ayodhya has now become a certainty. Second, the Sangh Pariwar has largely succeeded in pushing its ideological boundary further with great flourish. This could make a big difference to Indian polity.
(Dr R. Balashankar is Member, BJP Central Committee on Training, and Committee on Publications and former Convener BJP National Intellectual Cell and former Editor Organiser.)
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