Amidst anticipation and fear of widespread riots, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court pronounced the verdict of the 60-year old title suit of the disputed land of Ramjanambhumi–Babri Masjid on the 30th september, 2010. The day will be remembered in the history as the day when a court moved beyond the limits set for it and truly wanted to solve an issue. (Read the verdict in brief here. Download the full verdict from here.) While some anticipate that ‘the legal, social and political repercussions of the judgment are likely to be extremely damaging’, this author believes that the verdict will be the starting point of a new approach to the dispute. This author has always supported the ‘co-existence’ theory but was not sure if the courts are mandated to take such decision. So it was a happy moment when the judges decided to divide the disputed land between the parties to the case. This post intents to justify the decision (in a time when almost all renowned journalists are not happy with the verdict) and show that the verdict can be the best workable solution possible.
The Possible Solutions:
The possible solutions for this dispute can be of 4 types if you don’t consider the practicality of the solutions. The 4 solutions are:
1. Disputed land to be given to the Hindus for building a temple
2. Disputed land to be given to the Muslims for building a mosque
3. No mosque, No temple on the disputed land
4. Both mosque and temple on the disputed land
While the court was expected to give a clear verdict i.e choosing either 1st or 2nd option. There were also demands for adopting the 3rd solution and to build a hospital/school/library/museum on the contested land. On the other hand an out-of-court settlement could have adopted any of the 4 solution with maximum probability of the 4th and the 3rd option in that order. While the out-of-court settlement couldn’t be met during the last 60 years, the court took a decision what the society should have done years ago.
A solution can be the best solution if it can minimise the chances of riots, violence for many years and if the solution is practical and feasible. Considering these factors, it is clear that the 1st and the 2nd options aren’t the best solutions. Giving land to one means generating hate and revenge in the mind of the other group which will last for long.
Now let’s consider the 3rd option. The solution sounds extremely hopeful but is it feasible? 1st of all not letting any of the 2 groups have the ownership of land will create an undercurrent of hate. Each party will think that the other party didn’t let them be the owner. An atmosphere of doubt will be created which will have serious implications in the future. Just take an example from real life. If you have land dispute with your neighbor, will you ever wish that the govt. acquires the land and builds a hospital/school/library or anything else? Obviously the answer is no. And in the case of Ayodhya, not just the ownership issue is concerned but emotions and faiths of people of both sides are also involved. So this solution can not be the best solution.
Now we are left with the last option: the co-existence formula. It is a win-win theory for all and that is why is should be preferred. If both the parties get a share of the land, both consider this as their victory and vindication of their fight and struggle. In fact, the judges adopted this idea(the legality of this adoption is being questioned which will be dealt with in the later part of this post) and that’s why riots and violence could be avoided. When no party won the case fully. no one lost it too. If we think practically, it is actually the fear of loss that makes us to fight even hard and ‘take any mean‘ to win the fight. Now, don’t you think this is actually the ‘best’ solution for Ayodhya?
If you are convinced that the co-existence solution is the best one, now let’s move to the next set of questions that the post tries to answer.
Was the court right to take this decision? Was it mandated? Did it cross the limit set for it? Didn’t it make a mistake by solving the case on the basis of ‘faith and belief’ rather than ‘laws of constitution’?
These are actually the questions which many of the journalists are asking now. Take Siddharth Varadarajan‘s piece on ‘The Hindu’: Force of faith trumps law and reason in Ayodhya case or Dilip Padgaonkar‘s article on ToI: The muddle path, all have questioned the legality of the judgement. Even eminent historian Romila Thapar posed the same doubts in this piece on ‘The Hindu’. With all respect for these experts in their fields, I want to ask only one question. Shouldn’t the court’s intention be to give the best solution for a dispute? Yes, surely the courts were expected to give clear verdict in favour of one or the other. But what would have we gained after getting a bad solution? Courts are not machines which will give verdicts only based on the general rules and laws without giving it a human touch. The common people of India want the best solution for Ayodhya so that this age-old problem ends. No one want such problems to persist. And probably the best solution in this case should have been taken by the society itself which it couldn’t. If the society failed to reach an amicable solution, then is it wrong if court gives the best verdict which will be beneficiary for all? Swapan Dasgupta is bang on target when he says in his article that “It’s not the time for bigotry. The verdict should end a troubled chapter.”
One other question that are being asked by the “Secular Modernists” (as Swapan puts it) is the basis on which the judges decided that the land was the birthplace of Shri Ram. Yes, there is no evidence of that available. ut is there any evidence of the birth of Krishna in Mathura or Muhammad in Mecca or Jesus in Jerusalem? The basis of such decision is obviously ‘faith’ and no law is able to prove that. Almost everyone believes that ram was born in Ayodhya (except a few ‘historians’ who say that Ram was born in Afghanistan). Above all, there is no connection of this issue with the title suit. In fact, much before in the 90s, it was agreed by both the parties that ownership dispute is based on one single question that is if there was ever a temple existed on the disputed land. As the ASI report proves the existence of a ‘huge Hindu religious structure’, the judges (including the muslim judge) opined that a temple existed at the place. If this single pint would have been considered then the land would have been given to the Hindus with no division. But that would have been like punishment to the present day muslims for the guilt of Babur or any one who destroyed the temple. That is the reason the court decided to give everyone a share to the land that they consider sacred. This inclusiveness makes this verdict a pragmatic one.
Coexistence of two religious structure is not new. There are several examples of this in the whole world. Indian youth doesn’t want riots or violence any more. It want dynamic approach to the problem so that the problem is solved totally. If this dispute is to be solved then both the Hindus and Muslims needs to show their magnanimity and understand each other’s views. While muslims need to consider the religious value of Ayodhya for the Hindus, the Hindus too need to understand the hatred the Muslims faced for the guilt of someone else. The good signs are the maturity with which the people have accepted the verdict. Even the VHP and RSS which are painted as extremists have acted sensibly. (Watch RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat’s Appeal after the verdict) If both side agree to work together, I am sure Namaz along with Sanskrit Shlokas will be the most divine prayers for the God. 🙂