'Unforgivable': The Hindu's editorial on December 7, 1992 on Babri Masjid demolition

Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, being demolished on December 6, 1992.

Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, being demolished on December 6, 1992.

It was religious fanaticism at its ugliest in Ayodhya yesterday, with the country's worst fears coming true in the nightmarish spectacle of the brutal destruction of the 450 year old Babri Masjid by thousands of frenzied kar sevaks. The disputed mosque was razed to the ground with a barbaric savagery reminiscent of the crude traditions of settling scores in medieval history. The demolition of the Masjid has delivered a lethal blow to the image of a secular and democratic India.

Yesterday's catastrophe underlines the validity of the misgivings that a permissive attitude to the kar seva would have disastrous consequences. Sunday was a dark day for India. The Hindu shares the nation's sense of deep anguish at this painful moment.

The BJP Government in Uttar Pradesh has forfeited its right to rule in the State by its brazen and shameless abdication of its constitutional responsibility. Its assurances to the Centre that it would not violate the court order and that it would discharge its constitutional obligations proved insincere as it appeared to actively collude with the savage and destructive attitude of the kar sevaks surging forward to capture the disputed structure.

The State police, completely outnumbered by crowds of trishul-wielding kar sevaks, withdrew from the site as the unruly mob charged into the complex. For the better part of the day, the inaction of the State police force coupled with the refusal of the district magistrate to permit the Central forces to act implied that the State Government endorsed the mosque's wanton destruction. The Central forces had to fight their way in, even as they were prevented by the State troops from bursting teargas shells to disperse the crowd.

The barricades that the State authorities had put up to guard the disputed structure were hopelessly inadequate, making a mockery of the State Government's claim that it would take all steps to protect the disputed structure. The resignation of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr. Kalyan Singh does not absolve his Government or the BJP of culpability for the kar seva's sordid conclusion.

The BJP and its militant allies, the RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal stand exposed as having brought on this horrific denouement even as the essentially destructive and fascist nature of its strategy and tactics cannot be in doubt any more. The BJP's claim to be a defender of the national interest lies in shreds today.

Much as Mr. L. K Advani and his colleagues would like to disown the savagery of Sunday, they cannot escape the responsibility for having whipped up passions to the extent that it reflected in the blind mob hysteria which culminated in the attack on the Babri Masjid. The shrill tenor of the Hindutva campaign, the continual jibes at "pseudo secular policies", the inflammatory propaganda that minorities are being appeased all served to present a dangerous and false picture of Indian social reality to the public, breeding the sort of ugly fanaticism that surfaced in Ayodhya yesterday.

The Narasimha Rao administration will face the criticism that it did not adequately forestall Sunday's development. In retrospect, it was a mistake to have put any faith in the sincerity of the Uttar Pradesh Government's assurances that it would uphold the rule of law.

Thereby, the Centre had jeopardised the safety of the Babri Masjid. The Government should not have taken this risk, given that the disputed mosque had come to be a symbol of the fate of India's commitment to secularism. This administration had in fact been fortified by support from the non-BJP opposition parties which had promised to endorse any strong action in defence of the integrity of the disputed structure. Yet the Narasimha Rao Government hesitated in seizing the initiative in ensuring the mosque's safety.


The wisdom of this Government's strategic approach to the Ayodhya issue will be sharply questioned in the days to come, within the ruling party and outside. But what is vital is to recognise that this is a defining moment in India's history, a moment at which the country can be plunged into a dark abyss of primitive emotions threatening to erase four decades of a successful track record of a progressive secular democracy. All the secular political forces must rally to the defence of the country and pull it back from the brink. A first step would be to rebuild the destroyed Babri Masjid as a gesture towards the minority community and as a reaffirmation of an unwavering commitment to the vision of a democratic India, free of any kind of bigotry.

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