A new controversy was provoked recently after a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court acquitted all 32 accused of demolishing the 15th-century Babri Masjid (mosque) in Ayodhya. After a controversial Supreme Court judgement in November 2019 gave the demolished mosque’s land to the Hindutva fascist camp led by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to build a Ram Mandir (temple of Hindu deity Lord Rama), there were fewer hopes pinned on the CBI court’s Babri Masjid demolition verdict. The CBI court neither disheartened the sycophants of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime nor surprised its opponents. The Babri Masjid demolition verdict was exactly what both camps predicted.
But the predictable nature of Indian judiciary shows how the common people from the marginalised, “othered” and oppressed classes, castes and communities now feel about the institution of justice and how they will now avoid the route of law for contentious issues. The CBI court’s Babri Masjid demolition case trial began on a war-footing in 2017, after the Supreme Court forced the CBI to include the names of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and stalwarts like LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh, etc, which were earlier dropped from the chargesheet due to some unknown reasons.
The Supreme Court merged two separate trials of the same case going on in Rae Bareilly and Lucknow, and then asked the CBI court in Lucknow to complete the trial within two years. This proactiveness of the Supreme Court became a ray of hope for the secular democratic forces, who thought the apex court’s monitoring will hasten justice for the aggrieved Muslims, whose mosque was demolished by the mob mobilised by the Hindutva fascists.
In this article, this author has shown that the reason at that point in time could’ve been aiding Modi with a favourable verdict before the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Also, probably the Supreme Court also planned to deliver the Ayodhya land dispute verdict at the same time. However, for reasons beyond the control of the court, the case dragged till 2020, and the verdict was pronounced before the judge, SK Yadav, was about to retire after getting an extension in 2019 to complete the case he was hearing since 2015.
Coincidentally, former chief justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, also retired soon after delivering the Ayodhya verdict, in which the Constitution Bench handed over the land to the RSS-led Hindutva fascist camp to build the Ram Mandir, which has been one of the principal agendas of the BJP. He got a Rajya Sabha nomination from the BJP soon after his retirement.
It’s clearly comprehendible why the judiciary’s verdicts are so predictable. In Modi’s India, the institutions have lost the sheen of “autonomy” and “independence”, which they wore with furtive opportunism throughout the post-colonial period of the quasi-democracy’s existence. The Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict nailed the coffin of the literally “pseudo-secular” system that the Indian ruling classes and their coterie had earlier eulogised as a “model” for others to follow. In comparison to that verdict, the CBI court’s Babri Masjid demolition verdict was more jejune and platitudinous.
Though Advani, Joshi and some BJP leaders have been denying their involvement in the Babri Masjid demolition on December 6th 1992 when thousands of feral hoodlums, hired and mobilised by the RSS and its progeny organisations, demolished the mosque in full public view, many others, like Jai Bhagwan Goyal, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti, etc, remained unremorseful and even went on with theatrics of offering self-sacrifice for the Ram Mandir. But the CBI court found no evidence enough credible to punish them.
The subsequent rioting by the Hindutva fascist thugs in different parts of the country killed more than 3,000 people in December 1992 and January 1993. The court didn’t consider those deaths important. The court merely found spontaneity in the act. The spontaneity that allowed the BJP to rise to power after its political aggrandisement and formally unlock the doorways to the RSS’s envisioned Hindu Rashtra, the theocratic Brahminical state.
The Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict acknowledged that law was violated due to the razing of the Babri Masjid. The Supreme Court’s verdict reads:
XVII On 6 December 1992, the structure of the mosque was brought down and the mosque was destroyed. The destruction of the mosque took place in breach of the order of status quo and an assurance given to this Court. The destruction of the mosque and the obliteration of the Islamic structure was an egregious violation of the rule of law; (sic) (PART P, pp 913-914)
This mention of “an egregious violation of the rule of law” kindled a ray of hope among a section of the liberals, including a section of the liberal Muslims, that the CBI court, following the apex court’s footsteps, will call the demolition a violation of law by those who had assured maintenance of status quo, ie, the BJP and the Uttar Pradesh state government led by Singh. It’s rare that a trial court will not toe the line of the apex court, rather negate it.
But the CBI court’s verdict negated the Supreme Court’s observation that an “egregious violation of the rule of law” took place. Relying on the CBI’s spurious storyline, the court endorsed the theory of spontaneity. Something which will be taken as a cue by other courts while dealing with Hindutva crimes, especially hate crimes and mob lynching. In such cases, the courts may find that there have been no conspiracies involved behind the lynching of the hapless Muslims, but such acts were spontaneous.
Such “act of spontaneity” may match the findings of the Bombay High Court in the Mohsin Shaikh lynching case, where the court granted bail to the accused saying that they had no intention to kill the victim but his Muslim identity “provoked the accused”. Shaikh’s lynching was the first in the series of incessant mob lynching of Muslims which continues even now. More acquittals and garlanding of the accused will continue under Modi’s watch. This is the gift of 2014 to India, which will eventually demolish the sham democratic façade that the ruling classes have used to deceive the masses.
Everything didn’t become so raucous and mephitic after 2014, it’s just many didn’t try smelling the air properly earlier. The Congress party, which had welcomed the Ram Temple at the demolished mosque’s site, was equally complicit in razing the domes of Babri Masjid in December 1992. Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi opened the locks of the mosque and allowed Kar Sewa and Bhoomipoojan at the site, allowing the RSS-affiliate Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to lay the foundation brick of a temple at the site. The Congress didn’t stop thousands of RSS and VHP men from assembling at the site and PV Narasimha Rao-led government waited and watched as the boisterous mob wiggled all over the mosque’s dome and began demolishing it. The Congress even didn’t stop the anti-Muslim pogrom in Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and other places.
Now, when the Babri Masjid demolition verdict has absolved the criminals, and there are fewer chances that the principal accused like LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, etc, will survive until a high court or the apex court gives verdict in the case, when the trial court itself took 28 years to end, expecting justice will be self-deception. The Babri Masjid demolition verdict will be remarkable, like the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict, and will constantly remind the Indian Muslims their degraded, subjugated position in the Brahminical hegemonic Hindu Rashtra, which hitherto wore a secular attire to bedazzle the world. Their struggle for claiming their equal status in the society would need a strong political movement than relying on institutions that have failed the people’s faith.