Oct 1, 2010

Ayodhya: United in Pieces?

They divided Ayodhya yesterday. Pieces for peace.

For sixty years we have fought – for the right to 2.7 hectares of land. We have waged war on fellow countrymen in the name of a God who probably doesn’t even care if the prayers are coming via a mosque or a temple.

Unity in diversity” we proudly proclaim, but never united we stand. Everybody’s happy with the verdict they told us but really, is anyone happy? If Hindus and Muslims are both winners – what is the prize? The right to construct a temple and a mosque? Pardon me, but that doesn’t seem fair compensation for the thousands of people who died as a result of this mindless tussle.

I am glad the 1992 riots that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid did not repeat itself yesterday but when the Indian Prime Minister says things like “I also have full confidence in the traditions of secularism, brotherhood and tolerance of our great country.”…I’m not so sure. Yes Indians are a very tolerant race but we are also a very emotional race, especially when it comes to religion. Call me a cynic, but I’m not convinced that the Ayodhya verdict “ will work as a catalyst for the country's unity,” as per Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat (a state in Western India) and an infamous Hindu extremist.

Sample these quotes –

“I am happy that the judgement now paves the way for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya.” - Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat.

The judgment is in favour of Hindus. The belief of Hindus that this is the birthplace of Ram is upheld.” – H.S. Jain, lawyer for one of the Hindu groups

…it is a significant step forward toward the construction of a grand temple of the birthplace of Lord Ram." – LK Advani, party patriarch of the Opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

If this verdict is the “catalyst for unity” *eyeroll*, then why are they all going on about what a big win it is for Hindus? So if the Muslims received 2/3 of the land and the Hindus received 1/3, would it have been a catalyst for civil unrest then?

So…dividing a piece of land is unifying? See the irony there?

And this warm and fuzzy universal happiness that they’re trying so hard to convince you about isn’t so real either is it?

The Sunni Waqf Board counsel Zafaryab Jilani has already said the verdict was “disappointing”.

We have three months, we will certainly move the Supreme Court,” Jilani told reporters. He said the verdict was “against the settled principles of law and evidence adduced by the Muslim side”.

A secular state we call ourselves. But India cannot be secular as long as we make legal decisions based on religious faith. While the absence of violence is definitely a good thing, in my opinion us, the Ayodhya verdict isn’t unifying us – it has once again drawn a line of resentment between Indian Hindus and Muslims and further perpetuated the Us vs. Them paradigm so characteristic of any religion-based argument.

P.S. If you don’t know what I’m talking, this article in the New York Times does a good job of explaining things. You know the highly charged emotions of the Ground Zero mosque controversy? Well this is much, much worse.

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