MEDIATION ORDER IN AYODHYA CASE IS BLUDGEONING OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTIONAL POLITY

MEDIATION ORDER IN AYODHYA CASE IS BLUDGEONING OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTIONAL POLITY

MEDIATION
ORDER IN AYODHYA CASE IS BLUDGEONING
OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTIONAL POLITY WHICH THE SUPREME COURT IS DUTY-BOUND TO
SAFEGUARD

OPEN
LETTER TO THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA RANJAN GOGOI

Honourable
Chief Justice of India,

You know more than anyone else in the
world that Indian constitutional polity treats all citizens equally
irrespective of their race, creed, religion, language, culture and gender. But
the observation of the Bench (consisting Justices S.A. Bobde, D.Y. Chandrachud,
Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer) headed by you in the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri
Masjid title case that the issue is primarily not about the disputed 2.77 acres
of Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, but about “religious sentiments”
and the was looking at a “possibility of healing relationships”[i].  The religions of the parties were not named
but it was clear that Supreme Court Bench meant to heal relationship between
Hindus and Muslims. Such a stand presents serious dangers to the principles of
Rule of Law or Due Process of Law on which Indian Constitution is based.

Sir, mediation recourse on the plea that
“religious sentiments” are involved would lead India to a theocracy.
Fortunately, in the past Supreme Court never raised this issue while delivering
historic judgments in favour of women and punishing perpetrators of carnages in
1984 and 2002. When the victims approach your esteemed highest court of justice
in India, they do not approach you as persons of majority or minority but as
Indian citizens who have been wronged. Regarding the present case, I would draw
your kind attention to the following facts.

  • AYODHYA DISPUTE IS NOT BETWEEN HINDUS AND MUSLIMS

The title dispute has been brought
before esteemed Supreme Court as Babri Mosque was demolished on December 6,
1992 by an illegal assembly of Hindutva zealots gathered in Ayodhya by the RSS
and its fraternal organizations after a long polarizing bloody campaign of
hatred against Muslims. It was not and is not an issue between Hindus and
Muslims. It is between Hindutva organizations and democratic-secular Indian
polity. The mosque was demolished despite orders of the Supreme Court,
assurances by the RSS/BJP leaders to Indian Parliament and the then PM Narsimha
Rao. Rao gave solemn promised both to the Parliament and Indian nation (from
the ramparts of Red Fort on August 15, 1993) that wrong would be undone and the
demolished Mosque would be built at its original site.

  • DEMOLITION OF BABRI MOSQUE BY THE HINDUTVA ORGANIZATIONS WAS NOT ENDORSED BY THE HINDUS OF INDIA

Sir, I
want to draw your attention to the fact that treating this case as a fight
between Hindus and Muslims, the highest court of justice of India is insulting
vast majority of Indian Hindus who did not subscribe to the Hindutva brand of
politics and did not join the demolition campaign. The RSS/BJP after demolition
of the mosque at Ayodhya believed that their electoral future was secure.
However, the enlightened and secular Hindu voters rebuffed the Hindutva
politics of hate by defeating BJP not only in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan even in
UP assembly elections but also in 2004 national elections.

  • HIGHLY RETROGRADE SELECTION OF SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR AS A MEDIATOR

Sir, under your headship the Supreme Court (SC) appointed three mediators to arrange a compromise between Hindus and Muslims. The penal is headed by Justice (retired) Fakkir Mohammad Ebrahim Kalifulla (one of his landmark judgments related to the ordering of introduction of Vedic astrology as a course of scientific study in Indian universities as a Justice of the Supreme Court) and includes Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (a spiritual guru popular with the Arab rulers) and a legal mediation expert, lawyer Sriram Panchu (president of Indian Association of Mediators and director of International Mediation Institute). There has been no explanation from the Supreme Court Bench regarding the criteria relying on which this selection has been made. It seems that these mediators are not representing religious communities but are neutral persons who are expected to come out with an objective and honest resolution.

The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India. (File Photo: IANS)

Respected
Sir, let me draw your kind attention to the highly questionable past and
present of this spiritual guru, SRI SRI RAVISHANKAR (not content having ONE SRI
in his name) which makes his selection as mediator in the Babri mosque/Ram
temple conflict a shocking choice.  

Sir,
this baba is not a neutral ‘mediator’. He is an old pal of RSS which was
responsible for demolition of mosque at Ayodhya on December 6, 2017. He has
been attending all major programmes of RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Sri Sri’s
modus operandi, operations, gimmicks and close connections with RSS have been
recorded by a renowned South Asia expert and journalist in his book, In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of
Modern India
. According to him:

“Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has a reputation for being a mystic and liberal. What is less widely known is the guruji’s close attachment to the RSS. He has shared platforms with VHP leaders at public meetings. I asked him whether the Ram Temple should be built in Ayodhya. ‘Suppose,’ he said, ‘that it was the birthplace of Jesus or Mohammed. What would you have done? Would you have tolerated another structure on that site? Let us build a temple to Ram and let the Muslims make this gesture as an act of goodwill and then the temple will also belong to Allah and to all Muslims.’”[ii]

Babri masjid

Respected
Sir, this guru is RSS frontman as would be clear from an anecdote shared by Edward
Luce. According to him when he did a story after visiting this guru’s palatial
ashram at Bangalore,

“A few weeks later
received a telephone call from Ram Madhav, the national spokesman of the RSS.
‘I am calling about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,’ said Madhav. ‘I was talking to him
the other day and he said he was disappointed with your article in the
Financial Times. You only quoted his views on politics and the Shankaracharya.
He said he was hoping you would quote his views on tolerance and spiritualism.’
It is true my article had lacked space to quote the guruji’s opinions on other
matters. But I was surprised the guruji should have chosen the RSS—of all
organizations—to convey his complaint.’”[iii]

Honourable Chief Justice of India, it was
2007 when guru Sri Sri took the above stand in favour of building temple at the
place where mosque stood. With the passage of time this stand got more
hardened. In March 2018 in an interview to a leading Indian periodical demanded
that Muslims should “give up” their claims on
Ayodhya and warned that if it was not done it would lead to a situation like
Syrian civil war. From his blatant threat it was not difficult to understand
who would play the role of defender of religion in India which Islamic State
plays in Syria. Despite sounding as a believer in the negotiated settlement he
did not forget to warn the courts, “Can any government remove
Ram Lala from where he is now, even if the SC says so?”[iv]

Honourable Chief Justice Sir, I would beg
that please keep away the highest court of Justice of the country from mingling
with the communal narrative of the Hindutva gang about demolition of a mosque
at Ayodhya in 1992. It has nothing to do with religion but a political issue
which ruling parties of India have kept lingering on for electoral gains. It
has come to the courts including the Supreme Court for criminal and civil reliefs.
The judiciary should decide the issue guided only by the principles enshrined
in the democratic-secular Constitution of India. It should not bother to keep
any section in good humour.

Sir, I hope despite your enormously busy
schedule, my request would be taken note of.

Yours sincerely,

Shamsul Islam

Retired faculty University of Delhi

March 10, 2019


[i] https://indianexpress.com/article/india/ayodhya-mediation-supreme-court-verdict-live-updates-5616762/

[ii] Luce, Edward, In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India, Doubleday,
New York, 2007, pp. 177-178.

[iii] Ibid., p. 178.

[iv] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/if-not-resolved-amicably-janmaboomi-dispute-can-turn-india-into-syria-sri-sri-1182073-2018-03-05

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