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How A Dispute Was Manufactured

Amar Farooqui

By Krishna Jha & Dhirendra K. Jha
HarperCollins, Delhi, 2012, pp.xxvii 192, Rs. 499.00


The story of the demolition of the Babri Masjid is fairly well known. The sordid tale of the original conspiracy to make that now extinct historical monument the focus of Right Wing political mobilization soon after Independence is not as well known. In fact few have bothered to acquaint themselves with the details of the incidents of December 1949 whereby a relatively obscure fifteenth century religious structure was sought to be converted into a potent political symbol. At one level the attempt to appropriate the mosque could be seen as the outcome of a minor property dispute, which is how to this day it is represented in courts of law. In a more fundamental sense the manufacturing of the so-called dispute had the objective of using the structure for straightforward political purposes in which forcible occupation of the site had to be demonstrated as the central accomplishment. The investigations of two experienced journalists, Krishna Jha and Dhirendra Jha, reveal the meticulous care with which on the night of 22/23 December 1949 seeds of hatred were sown in the sacred city of Ayodhya in the hope of reaping a rich harvest of discord. The authors provide in this work a succinct account of the prelude to the aggressively communal political campaign of the Sangh Parivar in the 1980s and 1990s on the Ayodhya issue, and skilfully weave together the various strands of Right Wing politics in the years immediately following Independence that contributed to the creation of this project.   The authors argue that the Ayodhya undertaking and the conspiracy to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi were closely linked, both ideologically and politically. The All India Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were, as is well known, at the forefront of the attempt to destroy the secular framework of the newly Independent Indian state. Gandhiji became the main object of their ire because of his uncompromising position on the question of secularism. It was thus that he fell prey to the bullets of Nathuram Godse. The crackdown on the two organizations following Gandhiji’s martyrdom was a setback for their nefarious designs. As official vigilance slackened by the middle of 1949, the Hindu Mahasabha resumed its activities and in its attempt to retrieve lost ground sought to carry out some action that would spectacularly promote its agenda. In its search for the right opportunity it stumbled upon the possibility of fabricating a dispute by taking over ...

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