Shri S. GURUMURTHY
Respected Ramaniji, my dear friend Arun Shourie, Brothers and sisters.
We are meeting at a momentous time in the history of our nation. The incidents which have taken place in the past few weeks have entered the pages of the history of India before our very eyes. What we have been reading as news are really pages in the history of our nation. The only topic of discussion, the only concern of the country today is centered around Ayodhya. Just as Mahatma Gandhi conveyed the idea of freedom, just as he was able to present it to the common man through the humble salt which triggered the salt sathyagraha movement, similarly, although there is no towering personality like the Mahatma, the collectivity of the Indian people presented to itself in a capsule form, the potency of the thought of nationalism, the rising nationalism that alone can protect and save this country - in the form of the Ayodhya movement.
I have been a close eyewitness to this moment, I have been seeing things from very close quarters, several times since 1985. It has guided itself, it has never been guided by anybody or any group of persons. As I look at it, the entire world today, after the fall of communism, is concerned about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. In the recent issue of ’The Economist’ I saw a news item. A series of articles have commenced about the Palestinian Liberation Organization, of groups in Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia. These are Islamic countries, governed in the name of Islam and in the name of the prophet. And these countries are most concerned about Islamic fundamentalism.
The first of the series of articles has started with the PLO as the reporting point. It is about these Muslim countries being afraid of and being nervous about the growth of Islamic fundamentalism or exporting Islam. They don’t want to harbor fundamentalists in their country. It is evident from the fact that when Bangladeshi and Pakistani Muslims reacted to the incidents of Ayodhya in the Gulf countries they were thrown out. You can cause this kind of disturbance in the name of prophet and Islam in your country but not here. So in India the Ramajanmaboomi movement in my view is part of this global thought that is evolving and demanding a debate on Islam. In India it is demanding a debate on secularism, the kind of secularism this country has practiced without a debate, without going into its meaning and content. The concept of secularism did not find mention in the Constitution but was interpolated into it in 1976 through the infamous 42 nd amendment, again without any debate. What are its contours, what are its obligations and what will be its effect on the majority community and the twist it will give to minority rights, none of these was foreseen or discussed. The nation is demanding a debate on secularism and that is what the Ayodhya movement means. With these remarks I would request Sri Arun Shourie to give us in detail the analysis which he has been making for over ten years now on what secularism, nationalism and Islam as a social thought apart from its religious character means and implies in a Democratic and secular polity.
SHRI. ARUN SHOURIE
Mr. Ramani, Dear friend Gurumurthy and my dear friends,
As you know, in Ayodha and around it there have been four, five events and I presume that the President had this in mind when he asked me to speak on current events. There is first the demolition of the mosque, second, the announcement by the government that the mosque will be built on the same spot, there is the ban on some organizations like the RSS, third there is the arrest of some of the principle leaders and then there are the dismissals of many of these state governments.
I think the most important point to see about the destruction of this structure, it would be better if we called it a mosque, if people want to believe that yes a mosque has been pulled down, well then a mosque has been pulled down. So I will not keep referring to ‘structure’ which people call a mosque.
Let us assume there was a mosque and it has been pulled down. It has been pulled down by ordinary persons in the face of appeals from their leaders not to do so. Now there are several reasons why I make this distinction, I can speak from personal knowledge of conversation with the highest persons in government that they themselves do not believe what they are saying when they say, (I am saying this from my personal knowledge after personal conversations with the highest persons in government) that they do not believe that there was a conspiracy to pull down the mosque. The remorse of persons like Mr.Advani and Mr. Vajpayee is transparent.
Secondly the allegation that the RSS or some other group, which is an offshoot of the RSS, could engage in a great conspiracy behind their back, just does not stand to reason when any one who knows the leadership of the RSS and its relationship with others knows its ability to do things on its own now. When you see that, that allegation just does not carry conviction. The most telling things are in this are the records, though the cameras and other things were smashed and there is a lesson to be learned from that also, but because while I believe that it might have been done, I don’t want to be diverted but there is a lesson in to be learned in that also, but such evidence as has survived and there are three or four things to be seen in this, and I hope that each one of you will persuade the Prime Minister and the others to show it on Doordarshan.
There is, what nobody knew existed, but Sharad Pawar in his enthusiasm disclosed in parliament, that intelligence agencies of the defense ministry took a video of the entire proceedings from 6.30 am till about 12.30, 1.00 clock in the afternoon and then the footage resumes at 7.30 in the evening. Secondly there is the unedited raw footage which Vinod Dua’s group obtained. Third there is the raw footage of eyewitness there is the raw footage of Newstrack. Now in all this you see a common feature, you see very small numbers of karsevaks doing the pulling down and breaking, you see that it is being done in a very inexpert manner as inexpert as you all if this crowd were to try now to pull down this building. We would pick up something, this would not work, we would pick up something else, somebody would say break that first, and it is going on in that manner.
Third in Newstrack for instance, you will see the RSS persons were easily identifiable because of their shorts and dress, you would see them trying to beat back and actually beating back persons who were trying climb up. You see Ashok Singhal actually getting into a scuffle with persons and his what do you call it, his Angavasthiram comes off and he is trying to beat back somebody and making them sit down. All that is available in the unedited footage of the events of that day.
So it was pulled down by persons in spite of a organization whose hallmark is discipline, feeling confident that this will not be done and they will not go out of hand. Second, in spite of and in the face of appeals of the leaders, and these appeals also you can keep hearing in the background sound of these cassettes, the mosque was pulled down. The most important tell-tale fact on the video is that it was not just this congregation which became a crowd which then became a mob which then became a pack. The fact is that the same sentiment had affected everybody there; after all it is the same police, which killed people in 1990. And this time, the policemen who were standing there can be seen climbing down one by one in a single file. They just go away. That is the UP police but then there were the CRPF and BSF and Indo-Tibetan Border Police of the central government right there. They also start walking out and in one shot in the video, in one scene you will see in the Newstrack cassette that the Senior Superintendent of police is shouting at the CRPF men. He abuses them and says, you bastards (arre yaar kuch to karo) do something men, fire in the air. But nobody fires. That is the second most important thing.
Third, that nothing could have been done in view of this strong sentiment which has permeated to the last man. And I will tell you why I believe that the karseveks who destroyed the mosque and the CRPF and the BSF and ITBP persons who just walked away with folded hands were truly representative of this sentiment that has come to prevail in the country.
You will see the evidence of this in the actions of the central government itself. The news that the mosque is now being attacked comes to the central government because I have it on the best authority. You know Faizabad and Ayodhya are like two adjacent colonies. They are not six kilometers away or eight kilometers away with no population. They are like two adjacent suburbs of Madras and in Faizabad we have one of the largest cantonments of North India and about five thousand armed Jawans of the Army were there. The Center was warned by one of the highest authorities in the army and I have this on the authority of one of the senior most officers of the national security guard, the government was warned not to position the army in Ayodhya because the sentiment for the temple in the army is unbelievably strong.
Next, you will see that Kalyan Singh resigns by 3.30 in the afternoon. Assume that from then onwards for almost forty hours the Center does not move in any forces to that spot; there is no conspiracy there, it is not the RSS which had to order the forces to move in, it is not a BJP government in the center which is not doing. That is the reality, that is the objective situation on the ground, that is the strength of the sentiment. So first, it is ordinary persons pulling down the mosque; second, is the evidence that becomes available by looking at the behavior of the central forces and of the central government and third that I believe while there is criticism of what has happened and while many of the BJP leaders also tried to disown and distance themselves from what had happened, and while of course our press in English certainly proclaimed that it is a national shame, the Hindus of India appropriated the destruction. They owned it.
That shows the strength of this sentiment that has come up. Now this has not come up as a result of some of them wanting to set right a wrong perpetrated by Babur when he pulled down a temple to build the mosque; this was the theme of some the arguments that some of us gave when Vigil organized the seminar on secularism and we used the Ramajanmaboomi as an example that this is not the symbol of indignation at an act 460 years ago, it is the symbol of protest against the politics of the last fifteen years, which reminds people of the politics of the thirties and forties which led to the partition of India and it is from that I think that the lesson should be learned. I will spell out four types of lessons.
The first lesson is exactly in that - to see how a congregation, which has met there twice earlier, which has not touched the structure till then, becomes a crowd becomes a mob, becomes a pack and eventually large numbers take the law into their own hands. There is no doubt about that, and if that pattern persists the critics are completely right, there will be great cost to pay by our country. But the question is why were they moved to that extent that they took the law into their own hands. If all we do is heckle at them but do not attend to the causes which led to so much anger getting welled up in them, we would just we heckling, we would not be solving the problem.
I think the first thing to remember in that is that the rule of law which the critics of this destruction want to resurrect, that rule of law is a seamless web. When you accustom a country to violating the law, for instance, a judge says you are guilty of corrupt electoral practices and you change the electoral law as Mrs. Gandhi did; and then the Supreme Court says yes yes now you need not resign, you are not guilty because the law has been changed in fact the supreme did more, much more. As you know when the petition went up to the Supreme Court, when Mrs Gandhi’s appeal went up to the Supreme Court Justice Krishna Iyer said no, no I can’t give you an unconditional stay of Justice Sinha’s order, I will give a conditional stay. She can address the parliament but she cannot vote.
Justice Sinha had debarred her and disqualified her and set aside her election. So Justice Krishna Iyer then told Mrs. Gandhi’s lawyer, that if government comes back to him with an amended law, naturally he would assess the petition in the light of it. A judge from the court bench actually suggesting the amendment of the law as an escape route! It was not amended of course, Mrs. Gandhi did not amend the law, she did something more effective. She stood it on its head. The law that had found her guilty of four electoral practices, metamorphosed into another law which now said that all practices so named, those four shall not be deemed to be, shall be deemed never to have been corruptive electoral practices!
Mrs. Gandhi did the same thing with the Emergency. You use it to keep yourself in power. We can give twenty such examples. Cauvery – the Supreme Court gives directions which are not implemented because there will be riots in Karnataka. Shah Bhano or the Muslim Women’s Bill as it was called - that offends my faith therefore I will change it. The Constitution must be abided by on Article 29 giving minorities the right to run institutions but on Article 44 saying that there should be a Uniform Civil Code,then Constitution, what Constitution, it is once again a matter of faith. Article 370 - we must abide by the Constitution, which says it is a necessary temporary provision but when we point out to the word ‘temporary’ and demand its abrogation, then it is no, no that we can’t do because Kashmiri’s feel offended.
So we are accustoming people to not obeying the courts and the courts are helping us in this process. Take the issue of the title suit to the Ayodhya site. On this very question you just see the delays and legalisms by which they diverted the whole issue. This litigation is going on for over forty nine years now; for twelve years the case was held up because somebody said no, no you can’t dig here. Why? Because that is allegedly a graveyard. Now the whole thing has been turned over and out, inside out and upside down, there is no grave. But for twelve years the allegation that there is a grave meant that the case would not proceed for twelve years. You look up the newspapers of June and July when last time this kara sava was going on in 1992. The Supreme Court judge, the presiding judge said you stop it please, you stop the kar seva. We will willingly consider setting up a special bench to get these suits resolved expeditiously, but for now you stop the kar seva. I can’t do it under the point of your gun, but we will set up the special bench at the earliest. The kar seva was stopped but no bench. The judge had said we will transfer the cases, (he led them on to believe) we will consider transferring the cases to the Supreme Court for expeditious disposal. The kar seva was stopped but no transfer. In fact, the most important speech that was made about this whole episode in the discussion in Parliament was by a Member of Parliament called Swamy Chinnmayanand. He is one of the leaders of this movement. All of you really should listen to that speech or at least read it. I would request Vigil to get that speech and distribute it for all of us to read and see what he says, what is the first person testimony about who is responsible for what happened.
He said - you began by saying and I have been listening to this debate for two days, everybody here is trying to say I am not responsible, he is responsible, the BJP leaders say the Congress is responsible, the Congress leaders say the BJP is responsible. I will tell you, we are responsible, we Sadhus are responsible. We set up this Ramjanmaboomi Sangharsh Samithi in 1984. Not one member of the VHP, RSS or BJP was a member, not one of you was a member. But you and the courts taught us two things. You taught us our strength and you taught us the method which will prevail. And Swami Chinmayanand also said he would give them several examples. He said on March 19th 1985, we said if on march 8th 1986, the locks of the temple are not opened, we will break open the locks. He said, we said this in Lucknow. You did not open the locks. Suddenly some unknown advocate on January 25 1986, files a petition and you finish the hearings by the first of February, in five days and you open the locks! Then we said in 1989 that on the 9th of November 1989, we will have the shilanyas on this spot. We declared this in Prayag. On the 8th of November in the morning your court said this spot is disputed. Then these leaders met together, and for fear of what decision may be taken, the court said no it is not disputed and the Shilanyas took place. What a strange thing happened, he said.
Here in Delhi, the Supreme Court was meeting day by day, hour to hour, hearing cases well into the night on Ramjanmaboomi but the Allahabad High Court, having concluded the hearings on 4th November, 1992, did not think it worth its while to condescend to give its judgement till December 11. In fact, I was reminded today that the Judge having heard the case, went on three weeks’ leave. So naturally people felt my God, these fellows are not going to do it at all and that is how things went out of hand.
So, there are two lessons here: that to prevent mobs and large numbers from taking the law into their own hands, we must rectify the way our courts work. The matter could be settled by Archeological evidence. When information became available that there had been archeological excavations in 1975, reports are available that pillar bases had been found. There were fourteen of these kasauti stone pillars with Hindu motifs, everything was there. The Marxist historians started denouncing archeology as a science and one of the four, five most eminent archeologists in the world Dr. B.B. Lal who had been the Director-General of the Archeological Survey of India who had supervised those excavations, they started denouncing him. And they denounced him, having, in their own works, in their own books, quoted him at great length as the greatest authority earlier. So great was their compulsion and enthusiasm and determination to denounce archeology that one of their guides, they have many guides, but there is this guide in purdha, Irfan habib, one of these great scholars of medieval India, he made one of the great professional howlers of modern Indian historians. He said I have dated the whole thing through the method of carbon dating, of the crockery ware which has been found. And then one of the Archeological survey officers wrote a review of what Irfan Habin had done in his dating. If that procedure of dating was to be followed then Akbar’s reign was yet to begin in 2009! But such was their determination and the press would always give prominence to such statements no matter how ridiculous.
The same thing is happening again now. In June when these bulldozers and other machinery were being used, the bull dowser went and struck a great a wall of forty, fifty feet. The wall was scraped, the bulldozer was stopped, the wall was scraped and the foundations of an earlier structure became as visible as this wall here is visible to you. But our press people would not go there and see it. They would not publish photographs of that. Arre baba the bricks are there, the whole structure is there, a slab a granite slab where pooja etc. was done that also became available, four layers of this structure became visible. Four layers and on the top of that was this mosque. But they would not go and see it for themselves and then show it to the rest of the country. Forty archeological pieces were discovered at that time in the digging. What used to happen was that osques were constructed on the sites of temples for very good reasons; because the temple was not just a place we go to on a particular day for worship. It was the heart of the community. The social life of the community was around the temple. It was a center of learning and education, it was a center for arts, for everything. And therefore, and it was the center of the identity of the community, so therefore the conqueror would want to smash the heart of the community and that is where he would locate the mosque. Not only here in India, but you see the encyclopedia of Islam under the entry ‘mosque’ you will find out how many mosques in Europe and the Middle-east were built exactly like that – by destroying an existing non-Islamic place of worship. The Kabah itself was built that way.
These were a few marauders who would come; they have to build an imposing structure and so they use whatever material they get from breaking Hindu temples and other structures. Very often during excavations in Delhi it has been seen for instance that whenever a stone was unearthed, if you were to turn it around, you would see all these murthies of Hindu Gods and Goddesses because they just took the same stone turned it around, and on the blank side of the stone, scrub it with sand paper and use it for building the mosque. And whatever could not be used, they would just dig a pit and throw them all in. Archeologists call this pit a robber’s trench. That’s the technical term for it, the robber’s trench. All the waste material and those that the invaders couldn’t or did not want to use, is thrown into it. That is always a very good indication of what existed there before.
Now these two robber’s trenches were discovered - one in 1975 and one in June, by the bulldozer; precisely at the very spot which Dr.B.B.Lal had said way back in 1975. Prof.Lal had said even then that at this very spot we will find a robber’s trench. These very same people who are shouting themselves hoarse today over the pulling down of the mosque, even in 1975 resisted the idea of digging the place because they said it was sacred to the Muslims. Arre baba, it is outside the structure, no no, no digging, no excavation. So these forty pieces of artifacts became available, the trench was there as Dr.B.B.Lal had foretold, the wall was there. You show me any English newspaper which has done an analysis of what was found. Today 283 objects have turned up in the debris. It is not a systematic excavation; things have just collapsed but we know many of them are from 1950 because you know when the Idols were made then there were the Chatri that was put on them inside, those were also discovered. But a marble statue has been discovered painted black in the same Mudhra of holding the Dhanush. And the most important thing is two inscriptions have turned up, one of them is 5 feet by 2 feet, it is in the ‘naagri’ script, it is in Sanskrit. Why does somebody not go and just see it for themselves? It is lying in the commissioner’s office in the custody of the ADM of the area. I have personally gone and seen those things. Has anyone tried to analyse the block? Has any newspaper bothered to say, now let us try and get a good photograph of the inscription and take it around and get it deciphered? No.
Presidential Reference to the Supreme Court. Arre baba, what is the President to do, what will the Supreme Court do? The Supreme Court can’t make up its mind about things which are in front of its eyes. I will give you an example. You know in June, they made this big slab, a big platform. How big is it? I think bigger then twice the size of this hall and it is five feet of concrete, five feet of stone, concrete, and rocks. It is really powerful. So these people who wanted the kar seva to be stopped, said sir, they are building a platform, a permanent platform. Concrete is being used. The Supreme Court said we have to examine it. So they sent 3 people - Head of the department of Engineering of IIT, Chief Engineer of something or the other and they went and studied it for 3 days, for one week and they came back with the report saying well we can’t say if it is permanent are not, we don’t know if it can bear some load or not.
So, it is quite right for Advaniji and others to say baba they can’t see what is staring them in the face.They can’t see a platform which is there today, five feet deep and lying in an area which is one acre big. They can’t see that, what will they say about five hundreds years ago.In any case those pieces were there, inscriptions are there, why not study these? And imagine if some manuscript had turned up in Babur’s hometown in Uzbekistan in which he said no, no, no this is not the Babri mosque, it is in Tashkent. You just see the amount of prominece that would have got in the media. Here things are lying under the open sky, in the custody of the district administrator and five, it is said six leading historians whose names you have never heard in a box item in the Times Of India have asked several questions : What is the proof that these artifacts were not brought in from outside? This is the standard Marxist trick to always ask some red-herring question, so that you have to spend your time answering it. Before all this, in July, you will see big headings in all newspapers: Ayodha was in Afghanistan, says scholar. Now you start proving how it was not in Afghanistan. Structure was probably stupa, says scholar. So you start proving how it was not a stupa. So now they said prove that you did not bring it from outside, They said, in whose custody are these things lying today? Arre, Faizabad is on STD. One call to the district administrator, would have shown you that it is in his custody. No, they will ask all these questions in the Times of India and all these papers put it in box item. Questions: Doubts about evidence, says scholar. So this kind of thing enrages people and compounded with what the courts are doing, it convinces them, no you have to take the law in your own hands.
So while the concern for the rule of law is completely genuine, and I completely agree with persons, who are today apprehensive of what would happen to our society if this becomes the pattern, the way to prevent it from becoming the pattern is to rectify these things. Better judges, expeditious clearance, and in public discourse, uniform standards. So the second thing I would suggest is that the same thing applies exactly to secularism itself.
This old presumption which has governed our politics for the last not just forty or fifty years, but for the last eighty years, certainly since 1920, since the passing the way of Lokmanya Tilak, that while the majority must obey the rules of secularism and the norms of secularism, it is quite understandable and justifiable that the minority shall depart from these rules. Now in Gandhiji’s time there was a special reason for this; it was that Gandhiji saw early in 1910, in 1915, that the British will use three fault-lines in our society to divide the national movement, the princes, untouchables and the Muslims. So, his entire politics for forty years was how to keep these persons together. So he would talk about other things but never against princes, about untouchability of course he felt that its practice had been one of our great sins but it was also the politician in Mahatma Gandhi which assessed that this is a way in which they will divide our society and that’s exactly what the British tried to do by extending separate electorates to untouchables. when Gandhiji had to go on a fast unto death in Pune.
And the third was this business of trying to win over the Muslims at all costs. Now in a sense the breaking down of this mosque is an exclusive announcement that secularism if it is to prevail must be adhered to by everybody. You can’t say that no no, Islam is in danger when the Supreme Court of India says, one man who has been married to one woman for forty three years, who has borne him five children, who is now in her seventies and indigent and ill is to be paid 275 rupees as support money. And at the same time you say that Islam teaches compassion for everybody. When such things happen then others too will use the same technology and they will also develop that same resentment. That resentment will become an article of faith with them. If you say no I will have kar seva in Akal Takt, then others will say we will have kar seva in Ayodhya. You will say I will carry two swords because my Guru said Peeri and Meeri are one the world and the world of the spirit are one, then others will say we will also have an armed wing.
So secularism must be adhered to by all and I would suggest to all our ‘secular press’ especially the English press that your secularism has consisted only of branding other people communal. Those you don’t like are communal. Why don’t you take the trouble of spelling out what you think is true secularism?
I will you give the principles. Is it not the principle of secularism that in all dealings of the State, the individual shall be the unit and not the group. You show me a book which doesn’t say this or the great thinker who does not say this. All right, then what is separate personnel law? Is it based on individual or group? Article 29 saying no, labor laws shall not apply to institutions run by minorities even if they have nothing to do with the culture of the minorities. I may run a teaching shop on engineering, charge capitation fee but as long as I am from the minority community, labor laws will not apply to me. Then Ramakrishna Mission says ok we are not Hindus also. We are also minority institution and the Calcutta high court upholds that. So is it not a principle of secularism that never allow the organization of one religion to do what you do not allow the organizations of other religions to do. That is clear. But you do allow this. That’s exactly what you are promoting. Is it not a principle of secularism that every individual every what ever is caste, what ever is community, what ever is religion, what ever is region, must live under the same laws? You assess the continuance of Article 370 under that principle. Or the non implementation of Article 44.
So I would suggest to them that secularism too like the rule of law must be adhered to by all and this Ayodhya movement is an announcement of that fact. That it is not that you will say, something is only for your faith and my faith will not be given any heed to in the affairs of this State. Because people have not heeded these lessons this, what is happened in Ayodhya is a very power full announcement as Gurumurthy said, in a both constructive and in a destructive sense. Because now the Hindus have realized that they are in very large numbers, that their sentiment is now shared by the apparatus of the State and that as numbers they can do such things. That is anannouncement of great consequence and the way to stem the destructive consequences of this, is not to heckle at this but to become what Advani says, a truly secular polity. To do away with these discriminatory laws, to give up the politics of vote banks, that Shahabuddhin should publish maps of Indian parliamentary constituencies, color seventy two constituencies in one way saying, in these seventy two constituencies Muslims as Muslims will determine the outcome. Then the others will say well in the other five hundred and twenty minus seventy two, Hindus as Hindus will determine theoutcome. How can you object to that? So I think as Advani has said, the only way to stop this fundamentalism that you now apprehend among the Hindus is to be truly secular in all these matters.
Third, is a set of lessons I think for Muslims. It is one of the tragedies that we have stopped dealing with Muslims socially, and that there is not that kind of interaction which in the North at least there used to be in my father’s generation. And second, that the State also and society also has started dealing with them through these brokers of Muslim votes. Imam and so on. So we must reach out to the common Muslim in our neighborhood, in our organization, at every opportunity. And you see, I think Ayodhya is also an announcement for them; that the politics of the Muslim for the last forty years has been to deal with the State through persons who are bartering in their name. Follow Shahabuddhin, follow the Imam; he tells you vote for Bahuguna, vote for Indira Gandhi, vote for Congress, vote for Janata Dal or V.P. Singh or Mulayam Singh, and they will in return give us security.
This is what is wrong. This politics is now at an end because those leaders firstly do not have your interested heart; these leaders in whom you are putting your trust, that is, the Shahabuddins or others. They are just running their own shop, and second that the leaders who you think will protect you as individuals or individual organization like parties they also are just running their own bigger shops and they are unable to protect you in the end. They don’t care as you saw what the Congress government witnessed with ,Narasimma Rao as Home Minister sitting in Delhi, did not protect the Sikhs. But other than that, the most important thing is they can’t now protect. As was seen by CRPF, BSF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Security Guards, conduct on that particular day. I feel that this realization is really now permeating, you see this in the Urdu press, you see it in many important Muslim journalists writing that, there are two constant refrain. One of these is that the Congress has fooled us for forty years, everybody is writing that, second is that our leaders have led us into this ditch, third is that these two together have not attended to our real problems which are, lack of education, lack of skills, lack of resources to compete in a modernizing and ever changing world. They have diverted us and fooled us with just toys. We will get a book banned how many would ever read Rushdie’s book in India? Not five hundred copies would have been sold but it was regarded as the great victory of Islam to have got it banned or Shah Bhano’s case. That these victories so called, which we were told we were fighting for because our identity is at stake, got us nothing but ashes in our mouth. On the other hand they led the Hindus to believe that we are getting an inordinate share and thereby it built up this great reaction among the Hindus which has exploded in Ayodhya.
This is the third thing that you see everywhere. I feel these things should be allowed to percolate and we should help them percolate down to the ordinary Muslim, but I would suggest that there are other things also which must be done. The positive lesson is do not put your faith in individual leaders or organizations, do not think that your security is insured or your interests are furthered by building a fortress which becomes a ghetto; but by joining hands with everybody in this country, to strengthen the institutions of parliamentary democracy, that is where our common security and interest lies.
Third do not judge leaders by externals. Mrs.Gandhi holds an Eid Iftaar party and you think she is Islamic. Bahuguna appears a loose achkan like V.P. Singh. Now loose achkan, looser Pyjama, cap, don’t judge leaders by that. See what he is doing to the institution of this country. If he is destroying institutions, he will eventually destroy your interest.
Fourth I think it is a very important lesson for Muslims to learn here in India as well as elsewhere that unfortunately because of their collective memory, because of the image they have in their minds of their history and their martyrology of their martyrs, they really believe that their essence lies in intransigence. So anyone, in any position, any leader who personifies intransigence at that moment becomes for them the symbol of Islam. Saddam Hussein was a completely secular tyrant. He killed every body specially the Moulvis because he did not want a rival center of power but when he was attacked he suddenly became the symbol of Islam, he was appropriatedby the Muslims because he dared to defy the USA. The same thing here. I tell you, just imagine for a moment what would have happened if the Muslim had said when Advani was on his Rata Yatra the first time. Advani had said I beseech you, consider this evidence, consider the strength of this faith in the Hindus and please agree to the relocation of this structure and I will use everything I have to stop the demand because after that, nobody will be able to stop it.
Suppose the Muslims had said yes - we are not using it, we have twenty odd mosques in Faizaabad, this is not a point of honor, we recognize that for five hundreds year you have been trying to get to this spot and to pray here, as a gesture of brotherhood we agree that it should be relocated. What would have happened? The structure would have survived. The unanswerable and powerful signal would be given to every Hindu in this country that Muslims also heed non Muslim opinion and sentiment. And now see what has happened. The structure is gone. It is gone in the most consequential manner - not by the verdict of a court, not by 3 leaders negotiating and coming to an agreement but by the mob taking the law in its own hand out of rage. So for you to think that intransigence and non negotiable position is the essence of Islam, is wrong.
Lastly,I really believe, and this is the point that I have argued at great length in this book that you have to recognize that there are aspects of the revelation which are just not compatible with living in a multi-religious, secular society I could give you many instances of this. So you must endow that revelation on those points with new meaning. For instance, the word “the exhortation to jihad”, to kill and be killed, to destroy the places of worship, which is taken entirely from the Old Testament of the Bible, is also in the Koran. That’s not compatible with living in a society, in a country where the Hindus are in a majority. So you must sublimate it. Gandhiji did it in the case of the Gita. He said no no this is not an actual war, it is the eternal war that goes on in our hearts, between those other cousins good and evil in each person. That is the sublimation of a text for you must also say as Maulana Azad and others tried to do that Jihad is not conquest in the external world, it is the conquest in the eternal war that we must wage inside ourselves. So unless such an creative interpretation is done and unless Islam is brought to becoming an inner directed effort, it will keep rising up and striking against the wall that has now started forming in Hindu sentiment and each time, it’s head will be broken like this.
So that is what I will do. Appeal to the Muslims, please do not listen to this secular press, do not be mislead by them into believing that because you have some editorial being written for you, your position is actually strong in our society. And most important do not pay heed to what the other Islamic countries will be saying. You have to see the condition of the Islamic world. They are always fighting with each other, every single neighbor is fighting with every one else, again you will find the long list of that in my book. They are today unable to do anything on the places where they should. OPEC is broken. Saddam Hussain the great symbol of Islam is shattered, in Bosnia, Muslims have been killed on television screens. The Islamic world does not seem to be able to raise a finger. In Somalia, an Islamic state, a member of the Organization of Islamic states, which has passed the resolution against India, a member of the Arab league, in Somalia, people are dying of starvation on television screens. Not one single Islamic country has sent them one bag of wheat and nor are they able to prevent the Americans from now coming over with their army to distribute food of course. The only, only support is an Indian English press editorial. So unable to do things where something needs to be done the Islamic world will try to do something in a soft State like India. Pakistan says we will take it to the Security Council, somebody passes a resolution, Iran says that we will rebuild the masque at the same spot, arre baba why don’t you resurrect the half a million persons that Khomeini killed. But that is the real danger. They may finance a terrorist group and if that happens, I tell you, and if a substantial enough number of Muslims think that their salvation lies in that, I don’t think that will be the end of India but I give you my word not because I advocate it, I say with the greatest apprehension but it will be the end of India with Muslims.
So, I think these are the four lessons that Muslims, like our brothers and all of us they must internalize from this particular incident and I will end with just one observation that is that please see all this that has happened in Ayodhya as part of a much larger thing. So, whatever has happened has happened and it is happened in the most consequential manner. Now we must build on it. I could go on for a long time but I am really grateful to you and to ‘Vigil’ for inviting me and to all of you for being so patient with me. Once again thank you very much.