Speakers at a seminar here on “Living in Harmony: towards resolution of the Ayodhya issue” voiced diverse views with some suggesting building a “multi-faith” complex at the disputed site, while others drawing attention to the need to address the “politics” behind the Babri Masjid demolition and the failure of the justice system to hold those responsible accountable.
Lord Meghnad Desai said no community or religion could claim “exclusive” ownership of the disputed land. “The time has come not to dwell in the past and on who possess the land or where the original birthplace of Lord Ram is. The time has come to look towards the future … .”
Proposing that a multi-faith complex be built at the site, Lord Desai said: “In this complex the variety of faiths that India has can be displayed and it will be a monument of multi-faith … Let the site be a tribute to India's multi-faith democracy.”
Bar Association of India president Anil Divan highlighted the country's rich traditions and the secular past. He traced the timeline from pre-1886 till date and the events that occurred till the demolition in 1992. Pointing out that the decision now rested with the Supreme Court and could go either way, he said: “The issue is very complicated and any conclusion can be justified by reasons. What the Supreme Court decides lies buried in the future … .”
Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu N. Ram said while the Allahabad High Court's decision was perceived to have had a calming effect, there was a need to reason it through. He pointed out that there was a very strong view that the judgment did not give much respect to the law or reason.
“The calming effect has been appreciated, but what bothers us is the content of the judgment and the method through which they arrived at the solution to the long-standing and long-festering problem. The judgment has many flaws from an intellectual standpoint: for example the judiciary clearly disregards that political nature of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement and that is shocking,” said Mr. Ram.
The judgment should have explored the political narrative and it was criticised for failing to take note of that. Pointing out that the case would be debated and decided at length even in the Supreme Court, as and when it reached the court, Mr. Ram said the time should be used wisely to set the house in order.
Noted lawyer and political analyst A.G. Noorani also called the issues “political” rather than “legal” and said “we must refrain from ‘intellectual escapism'.” The objective of the Ayodhya movement was to recast the polity as envisaged by the RSS and the BJP. He regretted that till date not one judgment had done justice and the recent judgment should be analysed by a group of lawyers and historians.
“Before the Supreme Court decides the matter, let the results [of the analysis] be put before the people. In my opinion it is not a Muslim issue, it is a national issue,” he said.
Nayiduniya Editor Alok Mehta sought more accounts of the time and the events that led up to the event. He said that on the lines of the WikiLeaks, India too should strive to unearth important information about the politics and the politicians. “Narasimha Rao had told me that he is writing something that will contain a lot of information, none of those records is available. Records need to be unearthed.”
The former Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Tarlochan Singh, said the fact that there was no disturbance after the judgment was passed was an indication that people were ready for an amicable solution and it was imperative now to seek out suggestions and move forward.
The former Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, traced the events that led to the opening of the locks in 1986 when the gates were opened by a court order. He recalled his stint with the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and how the court's order was seen as a move to placate the Hindus and under pressure from the State government of the time.
The seminar was organised by India Harmony Foundation.