Ayodhya Verdict: Just or Majoritarian?
As the Supreme Court delivered its verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute—asking the Centre to constitute a trust to facilitate construction of Ram temple at the disputed site—it was met with mixed reactions from across the political spectrum.
The apex judicial body, while calling demolition of Babri mosque in 1992 an act of ‘violation’ of law, on the other hand, made way for the construction of a Ram temple at the same site. It also ordered allotment of five-acre land to the Sunni Waqf Board at a “suitable location” in Ayodhya—effectively retaining the disputed land for the Hindu plaintiffs.
Favouring the Supreme Court’s verdict, senior Congress leader said that they are in favour of construction of the Ram temple. ANI quoted him as saying, “[The verdict] has closed the door for BJP and others to politicise this issue.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, too, welcomed the verdict, terming it a ‘milestone’. He said that he is grateful to the organisations, community of saints and several unknown people who have been working for the Ram Janmabhoomi legal dispute.
आज देश की सर्वोच्च अदालत में श्री राम जन्मभूमि केस की सुनवाई शुरू हुई तो कांग्रेस के नेता और ऑल इंडिया सुन्नी वक्फ बोर्ड के वकील श्री कपिल सिब्बल ने सर्वोच्च अदालत के सामने दलील रखी कि जुलाई 2019 यानी अगले लोकसभा चुनाव के बाद तक इस केस की सुनवाई को टाल देना चाहिए।— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) December 5, 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Punjab at the time of verdict to inaugurate the Kartarur corridor, took to Twitter, and said, “The halls of justice have amicably concluded a matter going on for decades. Every side, every point of view was given adequate time and opportunity to express differing points of view. This verdict will further increase people’s faith in judicial processes.”
He added, “Be it Ram Bhakti [devotion] or Rahim Bhakti, it is imperative that we strengthen the spirit of Rashtra Bhakti.”
The Honourable Supreme Court has given its verdict on the Ayodhya issue. This verdict shouldn’t be seen as a win or loss for anybody.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 9, 2019
Be it Ram Bhakti or Rahim Bhakti, it is imperative that we strengthen the spirit of Rashtra Bhakti.
May peace and harmony prevail!
K K Muhammed, former regional director (North), Archaeological Survey of India, told ANI, “I feel vindicated; I was hounded by a group of people. It is exactly the kind of decision that we all wanted.”
Muhammed had earlier said that the Ram temple had existed before the Babri mosque in Ayodhya.
Rashtriya Swawaymsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat, reacting to the verdict, said, “We should forget disputes of past and work together to build Ram temple.”
Scores of political leaders including Ram Vilas Paswan, Ashok Gehlot, Yogi Adityanath and Shivraj Chouhan appreciated the Supreme Court order.
On the other hand, as the party urged people not to resort to provocative acts, which will disrupt communal harmony, a statement by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) stated: “The CPI(M) has always maintained that the issue should be resolved by a judicial verdict if a negotiated settlement was not possible. While this judgment has provided a judicial resolution to this fractious issue there are certain premises of the judgment which are questionable. The Court judgment has itself stated that the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 was a violation of law. This was a criminal act and an assault on the secular principle. The cases pertaining to the demolition should be expedited and the guilty punished. The Court has also appreciated the 1991 Places of Religious Worship Act. Adherence to this law should ensure that no such disputes on religious places are again raised and utilized.”
Meanwhile, pointing out that the main beneficiaries of this verdict are organically linked to the main accused in the crime of demolishing the mosque, Siddharth Vardarajan, editor-in-chief, The Wire, wrote: “The Supreme Court has asked the government to allocate five acres for the construction of a mosque at a suitable place in Ayodhya, forgetting that the case’s significance was not about the availability of a mosque but whether it is permissible for anyone in India to use violence to dispossess a person or a community. Sadly, that question now appears to have been answered, implicitly, in the affirmative. Worse, the dispossession is acknowledged and ‘compensated’ with five acres elsewhere but those who did the dispossessing are still allowed to enjoy the benefits.
Essentially, the court has declared that while there was some evidence of Hindus worshipping at the disputed site, there is no documentary evidence of namaz prior to 1857 so hence by the “balance of probabilities” it is giving the land to the Hindu side. It should be readily apparent that this logic can also be applied to other mosques which the Hindutva organisations claim. Once the Ayodhya temple has been milked of all political mileage, the Sangh will up the ante elsewhere.”
Asaduddin Owaisi, chief of the All India Majis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), also told reporters that he is not satisfied with the verdict. “Supreme Court is indeed supreme but not infallible. We have full faith in the constitution, we were fighting for our rights, we don't need 5 acre land as donation. We should reject this 5 acre land offer, don't patronise us.”
DMK leader MK Stalin on Saturday said that the citizens should accept the Supreme Court's verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute.
"The court has given a verdict in a long-standing dispute. People should look at this verdict without any disagreement," read a statement issued by Stalin. “Communal harmony should be maintained and the diversity of the country should not be disturbed. I hope the stakeholders will take forward this judgement with utmost caution,” the statement added.
Terming the verdict as historic, Bahujan Samajwadi Party Chief Mayawati said, “Under the secular constitution of Respected Baba Saheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, while respecting the historic decision given by the Supreme Court in relation to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute today, all the work should be done in an amicable atmosphere only.”
Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, who is touted as their CM candidate in Maharashtra, in a tweet exclaimed saying, “Jai Shree Ram!”
Noting that the judgement in the case was a unanimous one, Aam Aadmi Party Chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “We welcome the decision of the SC. Today SC gave decision on several decades of controversy. The years-old dispute ended today. I appeal to all people to maintain peace and harmony.”
Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, however, attacked the verdict, and said in a tweet, “If Gandhi murder case was retried by the Supreme Court today, the verdict would have been Nathuram Godse is a murderer, but is also a Desh Bhakt.”
NCP Chief Spokesperson Nawab Malik tweeted: “People had been saying even before the judgement was given that they will accept whatever is the verdict. But people should not claim credit for this, should not celebrate with enthusiasm, should not hurt sentiments of anyone. People should accept such a position.”
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