Rana Ayyub wrote an article on The Washington Post about the recent Supreme Court verdict on the contentious Ram Janmabhoomi case. I read through the article, hoping to see her point-of-view as a Muslim, but also some fairness in the narrative. Unfortunately, she indulges in cheap rhetoric and omits key facts to present a completely one-sided, and often non-factual, narrative. Here is an attempt to point out some discrepancies in her article.
Rana talks about the “anti-Muslim” riots of 1992. Fact is, these were anti-Hindu riots, started when people (Muslims) came out on the streets reacting against the demolition of the mosque. Some mobs went on a rampage attacking Hindu homes and establishments. All of this was reported in the mainstream media. Then, of course, there were attacks and counter-attacks, leading to many deaths among both Hindus and Muslims. So yes, many Muslims were unfortunately killed in the violence. So were Hindus. But her characterization of these riots as anti-Muslim is definitely not right.
Rana also conveniently ignores to mention the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai in 1993, in which Muslim gangsters (er terrorists) killed hundreds of innocent Hindus by planting sophisticated RDX bombs in areas that had a Hindu majority. But why let facts come in the way of rhetoric?
Then she talks about the mosque being demolished in 1992, which is a fact. But she conveniently ignores the history. That the mosque was built by a Mughal (Muslim) invader on top of a Hindu temple. Archaeological excavations have proved that under the mosque lay a grand magnificent temple. Hindus have struggled to reclaim this temple for centuries, but Muslims have refused to relent, even though the mosque was hardly in use. Context does matter.
She also talks about Muslims feeling “othered” in India. Fact is, Muslims in the subcontinent first “othered” themselves in the early twentieth century when they said they could not coexist with Hindus, and that they needed a separate homeland for themselves. Muslims got their own homeland, Pakistan, after Jinnah’s famous “Direct Action” program, which was a call to Muslims to indulge in large-scale violence against Hindus. Yet, India chose to remain a secular state, but has always been indulgent of its minorities.
Rana also forgets to state that there are over 20,000 mosques, which have been built on top of Hindu temples. Mughal invaders and rulers demolished temples and then built mosques, often burying Hindu deities under the mosque, as a was a way of asserting their authority over the “kafirs” or infidels. Hindus have lived with this for centuries.
Even after independence, in a country with over 80% Hindus, all Hindus have asked for are the three most important Hindu sites: Ayodhya, Kashi, and Mathura. And have offered generous land in return. Yet, Muslims have refused to cede an inch. So, after decades of failed negotiations, what did 80% of the population do? Like good citizens, they went to the courts.
After a series of court cases and judgements, the case reached the Supreme Court, which has made a very fair judgement. The judges upheld the right of Hindus to pray at their holiest site.
Even before the case reached the Supreme Court, Hindus held about 67 acres of land around Ram Janmabhoomi, and Muslims held less than 3 acres. The Supreme Court recognised the rights of Hindus over those three acres. But asked the government to give five acres of land in the same city to Muslims, so they could build a mosque for themselves. Strictly speaking, placating the losing party is not something courts would do. But they did. And several Hindus have offered to contribute to build a mosque for Muslims.
Yet, Rana sees things through a myopic lens. She cannot see or think beyond her Muslim identity, and that is the perspective that she tries to convey. Even if it means sprinkling in a few non-facts and omitting key details and context. Welcome to India’s “secular” journalism!