Ayodhya Verdict: A Win-Win Situation for Indian Muslims

On November 9, the Supreme court of India finally buried the Ayodhya conflict in a ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ coffin. Hindus can finally build a grand Ram temple on the 2.77-acre land. Muslims have been granted five acres (an extra 2.33 acres).

Mind you, it was offered as compensation and not largesse.

Many amongst the admirers of the coffin believe that we will discuss jobs and the economy now. They also feel that elections will no longer be fought on petty and communal mandir-masjid issues unsuitable to the secular spirit of India.

I admire the perpetual positivity that springs up every time Muslims are overly pampered. I also noticed it after the reading down of Article 370 that liberated Kashmiri Muslim women.

Now, ‘137 crore Indians’ will get a temple for their beloved lord. Had it been the other way round – I mean, had a mandir been demolished by Muslims on December 6, 1992, to correct a historic wrong done by some tyrant Hindu ruler, would the court’s verdict still uphold the faith of ‘137 crore Indians’ or just 20 crore Muslims?

Why should only one side (and that too the losing side) get twice the land that it was fighting for?

Nonetheless, this sheer magnanimity of the apex court speaks volumes about the hard work that must have gone in drafting the voluminous 1,000-page verdict.

There is now no doubt about what will be built on that land.

However, there are a variety of speculations about how the five-acre plot will be utilised.

A section of Muslims, including Asaduddin Owaisi, have termed this heartfelt gesture of the honourable court as a charity. It does not want Muslims to accept this land.

Such ungratefulness.

Another group, including the likes of poet Javed Akhtar (sincerely) and right-wing IT cell trolls (mockingly) insist that a hospital should be built on that alternative land. Acknowledging the poor condition of education amongst Muslims, many generous peace seekers argue that a school or university should be built on that land and that all communities should help Muslims to do that.

In that light, the diabolical act of the demolition of the Babri Masjid becomes a holy one. Had the demolition not happened, Hindus wouldn’t get their temple and Muslims their new school.

Think about it. Every time a masjid is desecrated, Indians – particularly Muslims – get a school or a hospital. This will improve their poor access to education and healthcare facilities.

It’s a win-win situation for Muslims.

Still, I don’t agree with any of the above suggestions. I have a different plan for this land.

First, Muslims must accept the land. Since this is the first time in a land title suit when all sides, including the losing side, have been compensated, building an ordinary school or hospital will reflect a lack of gratitude.

Instead, the Muslim side should erect a memorial for justice and peace on that spot and name it the Babri Masjid Peace and Justice Memorial.

Before building the memorial, Muslims must dig the land deep enough to satisfy India’s majoritarian conscience. They should ask the Archaeological Survey of India to verify if any other ancient structure ever existed on that land.

In fact, the ASI should issue clearance certificates for every new construction. Then they should thoroughly check the report for any un-signed notes or naughty footnotes that suggest otherwise.

Even if everything seems fine, Muslims must put up a small board on the boundary of the five-acre campus with the following disclaimer:

“This is a demolition-prone zone. If you demolish this place, kill the people and claim the land, communalise the nation and demonise us beyond repair, no one can do anything about it. You will get this land after some time and in return, we will get 10 acres of land somewhere else.”

The building must appear like the mosque that got destroyed as the state watched silently. An obituary for the mosque must be hung on one of its inner walls.

On another wall, the names of the victims of organised anti-Muslim riots and pogroms in Ayodhya, Gujarat, Nellie, Bhagalpur, Hashimpura, Muzaffarnagar and Shamli should be carved. One name on one brick.

The third wall can have the names of Junaid Khan, Mohammed Akhlaq, Qasim Qureishi, Rakhbar Khan, Pehlu Khan, Tabrez Ansari and scores of Muslims lynched by mobs. Yet another wall could have the names of the youth killed in fake encounters or framed in fake terror cases inscribed.

The fourth side should be covered with the findings of the Sachar Commission and the apex court’s own admission that the demolition of the Babri Masjid was illegal, that idols were illegally placed inside the mosque and that it has not entirely been proved that a temple existed on the land.

Large mirrors must also be hung on each side for self-introspection for every citizen who visits the memorial.

The outer walls must be painted with images of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Zakir Husain, Shaheed Abdul Hamid, Ashfaqulla Khan and Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam – all good Indian Muslims nurtured and cherished by India.

A thank you message for granting this land must also be printed on a small board installed at the gates of the campus.

This plan only applies to this one particular mosque. It should serve as a memento of India’s shining secularism. It must continue to tell the world how secular and liberal democracies look like. After this is done, only schools and hospitals will be built if a mosque or shrine is desecrated.

Now, when I look at Jamuna Devi Mandir (Jama Masjid), I get really excited. I hope some sincere Indians will take a cue from here and develop a plan for the development of the compensation lands that may be given for Tejo Mahalya (Taj Mahal) and Lal Kot (Red Fort) in the future. I’m excited.

In other news, the ‘Islamic State of Pakistan’ is restoring over 400 Hindu temples and has opened up the Kartarpur corridor for Indian Sikhs even as some in secular India are planning to build more schools and hospitals for its Muslims.

The timing of such notorious actions must raise our ears. Isn’t it obvious that Pakistan doesn’t want schools and universities for Hindus and Sikhs? Anyway, such secular optics do not absolve Pakistan of the injustices perpetrated on its minorities. And merely one act of injustice cannot whitewash India’s history of tolerance and unity in diversity.

Mohammad Alishan Jafri is a second-year journalism students at the Delhi School of Journalism. You can read his blog here and find him on Twitter @AsfreeasJafri

Featured image: A photograph of the Babri Masjid from the early 1900s/The British Library Board