Settling down Ayodhya dispute
By: Tawfeeq Irshad Mir
It is often surprising for the world as to how India, with multiple religions, cultures, beliefs scattered over in a spatial pattern, still maintains itself and also seems thriving towards economic prosperity and globalisation. How India manages such situations which are nearly war like and yet continue its march on the way of progress.
One such dispute, which has been impending for several years now is the dispute of Ayodhya- The Babri Masjid dispute. It is very much alive in the minds of people and also captured the global attention for its sicio-cultural and religious significance. The genesis of this dispute have evolved over the years, provoking conscious minds to offer a strategic solution to resolve this issue.
Indian secularists find difficulties for the emergence of a genuinely secular society by relying on an exclusively constitutional rather than a dialogical approach to settle India’s religious disputes as manifested in Ayodhya and elsewhere. There are, however, intellectuals who favour dialogue with religious communities to strengthen secularism but even they are afraid of suggesting dialogue with contending parties on contentious issues like the Ayodhya dispute for the fear of legitimising religious fundamentalism. As a result, the notion of ‘contentious dialogue’ is avoided even while the need for dialogue is recognised. Instead of religious grievances getting resolved through law, they get embroiled over a period of time and result in the rise of religious fundamentalism and thereby terrorism-deepening the crisis of secularism even more.
In the Ayodhya dispute, communities encouraged by the secular state have followed a legal approach to the settlement of their religious grievances. While the dispute languished in court, the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992, the emergence of religious terrorism and the riots in Gujarat in 2002 have terrified the religious minorities. All these developments are in some way interrelated and need a broad and holistic counter-strategy. Only a dialogic approach will induce communities to comprehend the interconnected nature of the problems arising from Ayodhya dispute and finally make them to seek solutions outside the law.
There is not a single issue that can’t be resolved, provided those who seek a solution are determined, conscious and more importantly versatile.
There is an urgent need to reanalyze this issue for a genuine resolution as it has already claimed thousands of lives and continues to stay liking a ticking bomb that can explode at any moment. Moreover, it feeds the communal narratives of the politicians who rack it up particularly during the election times.
The media in India seems to have aligned itself with the predominant narratives and becomes a platform for extending threats and slur to those it believes, or its masters believe, need toning down.
The people of this country need to understand that Ayodhya dispute has been successfully converted into a vote garnering factory used by politicians who take turns in exploiting the religious sentiments of the masses. As a secular country, all those elements that are polarising the country leading it to radicalisation and intend to divide the communities, should be brought to book leaving no room for such jingoism.
I don’t think that it will be a bad idea if we consider establishing a world-class library at the site after garnering mutual understanding between the different factions of religious groups.