Ayodhya decision: A beginning towards the end of Secularism (BY - Maria Hansdah)

Many once used to believe that if Babri Masjid ever happened to be dismantled, the pain would be shared by all religions. Their belief was shattered when a group of Hindu activists and allied organizations got together to make a 3,00,000-strong mob, who marched towards Babri Masjid and demolished it. What followed later was a dreadful outbreak of communal violence which led to around 1700 people dead and 5500 injured. This showed that maintaining the sanctity of basic features of the Constitution is not enough and that, secularism, is a concept which can only be rightly achieved when every single Indian gets beyond the pit-hole of caste and religious politics.

This communal fight between the group who demolished the mosque claiming it to be Ram’s Janmabhoomi and the group who allegedly built a mosque at a place which was sacred for Hindus, finally came to an end when the five-judge bench delivered the judgement in favour of the former group. They ruled that the mosque which had been built in the 16th century, was not built on vacant land and that area actually happened to be the birthplace of Lord Ram, based on Hindu beliefs. Further, they also declared that a prominent five-acre piece of land would be allocated to the Muslim community to build a mosque near the land.

There have been various statements made by well-known people who exclaimed it to be a historic judgment portraying unity in diversity. On the other side, many parties chose to remain silent on this issue.

The Supreme Court, in its judgement stated that the demolition of Babri Masjid was against the laws of the country. But it also went on to say that the beliefs of Hindus will remain undisputed. Based on this, the court ruled in favour of Hindus.The question as to why was one community favoured over the other may have endless reasons.

Until now, the judiciary have been very careful when ever laws within a community had been in contention. So, with inter-religious issues, the judiciary needed to be even more careful to not violate the basic feature of secularism.

If the agenda of political parties is to expand the ideas of Hindutva, then India should not be called a secular country. And if India is a secular country, then in any inter-religious issue, no one community should have more authenticity and preferenceover the other. In my humble opinion, the decision does not matter as much as its effect does. Though the effect may not be immediate, but in the long run, it has the potential to produce anti-secularistic ideals and practices.

Cultural politics in India is a dump not worth falling into. And this decision will give a heads up to those people who are already in the dump or in the verge of falling into it. The fact that the people of India were on high alert after the decision was declared, portrayed that after the decision was made, judicial and political authorities andthe general public werein fear of another communal riot. Thousands of police and military troops were dispatched to Uttar Pradesh and around five-hundred people were arrested before the verdict. All sorts of protests and parties were banned. No one was allowed to leave their home without their identity card. This proves that the freedom of secularism was never instilled in the minds of people. Because if it were, people would not have been in fear, rather, they would have been congratulating each other for the age-old tension, finally having been settled. In conclusion, even though India stands proud calling herself a secular country, but in reality, the idea of secularism is still a far-fetched dream.

India, being a country of mixed-culture will have to go a long way to adapt secularism in its true sense. There will always be people who will try to influence others, especially young people, to believe in ideals of their community to the extent where they might end up killing people of another community. In my opinion, such people are no less than the terrorists.

Though, secularism is a tough concept to achieve, yet it is not impossible. As long as people do not fall down the drain of cultural politics and not let themselves be influenced by such people, eventually such situations may get better.


Maria Hansdah

- National Law University , Odisha

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