South Asia Citizens Web | September 21, 2003
IF WE KEEP QUIET TODAY, THERE WILL BE SILENCE TOMORROW *
(Translated by Ashok Rajwade from Daily Losatta (Marathi) dated 18.09.2003)
What if Zahira would have kept quiet..? The ëRamarajyaí (kingdom of Rama, often quoted as the ideal reign by Hindus) would have continued unblemished. It would not have caused extra work-load to judiciary. Secular parties would not have got one more point for fight. The media that thrives on propaganda would not have one more news item. ëThe atmosphere of peace and amityí would have continued unabated. This is one rare episode in Indian democracy where a commoner ñ and not a social activist or opposition leader ñ spoke out against the powerful rulers. While Gujarat government was celebrating the (virtual) burial of Best Bakery issue ( a case where a number of Muslims were killed by Hidutwa zealots during Gujarat riots) , it got a new twist because of Zahiraís utterances.
With this issue still fresh, one more issue is awaiting justice. The Rae Bareli court will pronounce its verdict tomorrow. In this issue too, as usual, CBI does not have sufficient evidence to convict the three ministers. As usual, these convicts will be let off for lack of evidence. The opposition will get one more issue for creating the scene. And as it generally happens, curtain will come down on this issue too. To quote a popular (Marathi) proverb: ëwe do not regret because the old lady has died, but because, death has turned more arrogantí. And if this happens, how long can we citizens keep watching all this with folded hands?
At Ayodhya, Babri Masjid was demolished on 6th December 1992. Thousands of Karsevaks demolished it without any regard for conscience. In this issue, three ministers are involved. While refuting the charges against them, they have taken a stand that the demolition of Babri Masjid was a spontaneous outburst of Hindu minds. This is true only partially. The reality, however, is such that it reinforces the charges against them.
I was personally present in the Kar Seva on 6th December. I have seen the Babri Masjid being razed, but later, I joined those who caused the demolition. Yet, after what followed the demolition, I moved farther away from the Hindutwa thought- and for ever - because of the ensuing riots and atmosphere created. From Ayodhya episode to the murder of Staines, all events have made me restless. The Sangh Parivar is trying to hold the nation into captivity on Ayodhya issue. Against this background, I feel that it is my moral responsibility to bring forth certain facts before the verdict comes out.
Sixth December! I still remember the day clearly. From 9 a.m. in the morning, the religious programmes like Bhajans and Kirtans (religious chants) began. Karsevaks began congregating in hordes ñ numbering in lakhs (tens of thousands). At bout 1030 am, the leaders of RSS, Bajarang Dal and BJP began addressing the Karsevaks from the dais. The speeches were instigating and inflammatory. Advani and Joshi gave fiery speeches telling ëhow the Babri Masjid is a blemish on Hindu cultureí. Vinay Katiyar and Sadhwi Ritambara went one step further and started giving instigating slogans like ëEk dhakka aur do, Babri Masjid tod doí (give on more blow and demolish Babri Masjid). The atmosphere was getting charged as the time for the ëKarsevaí (literally meaning: offering service with physical labour) was coming close. (Ninety per cent of the persons assembled there did not know what exactly ëKarsevaí meant). The speeches were made so as to charge those for some eruptive action.
At 12 noon, some Karsevaks climbed atop the babri Masjid dome. There was a wave of extreme joy amongst the Kar Sevaks. They felt as if they were living in historical times and had conquered some fort. Before anyone realised what was happening, the Masjid was being attacked and there were outbursts of joy. Slogans like ëEk dhakka aur doÖ and Jai Shriramí filled the atmosphere. >From the dais, Mr. Advani told the sevaks to keep quiet once or twice, but in this appeal for peace, there was no suggestion to the Kar Sevaks to climb down. And in this peace appeals, there was no hint indicating that whatever was happening was condemnable. Joshi, Advani left the dais in next few moments, but Katiyar, Ritambara, Uma Bharati continued giving instigating slogans. What happened next is known to the world.
The mob psychology is different. Mobs sometimes go out of control of leaders. Yet, contrary to what Advani is telling us, whatever happened in Ayodhya was not wholly spontaneous. The atmosphere created by the leaders was consciously instigating the mobs. The tone of all speeches and slogans was such as to create this. The Kar Sevaks were charged because of these. And those Kar Sevaks who actually carried out the demolition had spades and pickaxes in their hands. But, it is clear that it was a pre-planned action. The leaders created an atmosphere of eruption in such a way that whatever happened would appear to be spontaneous. The leaders present are definitely guilty of this. And that includes all the three above ministers.
The verdict from the Rae Bareli court is expected tomorrow only. The judgement will depend upon how the cases are actually presented in court. When the state itself is indulging in the acts of violence, we have to expect justice from the courts. But we citizens have a larger responsibility on our heads. We should learn to distinguish between being religious and blind religiosity. When the external extremist forces have harassed the country, we should not encourage the internal extremist forces. Even if it requires some courage, we should take firm view on these matters. Still there are some conscientious persons amongst Hindus and Muslims. It is a great force to count upon. We have to fight the blind religious persons ñ even if they are a part of government. Sometimes, even one single person can change the scenario. Only, it requires courage like Zahira. As Sahir Ludhiyanvi has said in a verse, ëif we keep quiet today, there will be silence tomorrowí and if, in future, we have to face such a silence that buries truth, we will be responsible for the same.
Notes: 1. The article was written one day before Rae Bareli verdict.
2. The explanations in italics inside brackets are those of the translator.
A K Rajwade, B-302, Amisha, Laxman Mhatre Rd. Navagaon, Dahisar West, Mumbai 400 068.
* [copyright for the original in Marathi is held by Lok Satta the Marathi daily based in Mumbai [Bombay], India. English translation copyright is held by Mr Ashok Rajwade. It is being reproduced here with the permission of the Loksatta editor and the English translator. Any requests for further reproduction will be forwarded to to the translator and to Loksatta.]