In­dia’s Supreme Court says Hindu Ram tem­ple can be built on con­tested site of 16th-cen­tury mosque

The National - News - - NEWS | WORLD - Con­tin­ued from page 1

any pun­ish­ment for the lead­ers of the de­mo­li­tion. That de­ci­sion will be made as part of a crim­i­nal case still pend­ing in a lower court.

Ever since the de­struc­tion of the mosque, the build­ing of a Ram tem­ple on the site has been a fix­ture in ev­ery BJP elec­tion man­i­festo. Lead­ers in­voked it of­ten in cam­paign ral­lies.

A slo­gan was born: “Mandir wahin banega” or “The tem­ple will be built only there”. The is­sue of the tem­ple lay at the core of a cul­ture of po­lar­is­ing, an­timi­nor­ity pol­i­tics that the BJP used to rise to power.

The op­po­si­tion Congress party, un­der whose watch the mosque was de­mol­ished in 1992, has fre­quently pro­posed a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment be­tween the two com­mu­ni­ties. Yes­ter­day,

though, it in­di­cated it sup­ported the court ver­dict.

“This judg­ment not only opened the doors for the tem­ple’s con­struc­tion but also closed the doors for BJP and oth­ers to politi­cise the is­sue,” spokesman Ran­deep Sur­je­w­ala said.

Peer Mo­hamed, a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst who runs the po­lit­i­cal web­site Ip­podhu, said res­o­lu­tion of the is­sue would re­move a cru­cial elec­toral plank of the BJP. “But their po­lit­i­cal rhetoric will get strength­ened,” he said. Other is­sues on the BJP’s agenda rely upon drawing lines be­tween the Hindu ma­jor­ity and mi­nori­ties.

In As­sam, a na­tional reg­is­ter of cit­i­zens in­tended to ex­clude il­le­gal Bangladesh­i im­mi­grants left tens of thou­sands of Mus­lims off the list.

Sim­i­larly, in Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity Kash­mir, civil lib­er­ties have been re­stricted since the spe­cial con­sti­tu­tional sta­tus of the state of Jammu and Kash­mir was sus­pended in Au­gust.

Com­men­ta­tors ex­pressed con­cern over the prece­dent set by the Supreme Court rul­ing. That it was de­liv­ered “at a time when the party in power today is one which openly as­serts its par­ti­san­ship on Ayodhya should be rea­son enough to worry us about hap­pens next to the repub­lic”, wrote Sid­dharth

Varadara­jan, the ed­i­tor of The

Wire, a news web­site. Asadud­din Owaisi, a par­lia­men­tar­ian and the head of the All In­dia Ma­jlis-e-It­te­hadul Mus­limeen, said “faith has won out over the facts”.

He de­scribed the of­fer of two hectares of land else­where in Ayodhya as de­mean­ing, say­ing: “Don’t pa­tro­n­ise us.”

Mr Mo­hamed wor­ried the ver­dict showed the ju­di­ciary yield­ing to the BJP’s ma­jori­tar­ian in­stincts. It broke the no­tion that all In­di­ans were equal in the eyes of the law, he said.

“At the same time, I hope this will make peo­ple step up and de­fend these prin­ci­ples of equal­ity – step up not as mem­bers of one reli­gion or an­other, but as or­di­nary peo­ple, as a public,” he said. “We have to see if that will hap­pen. This is a tip­ping point for In­dian democ­racy.”

Since the mosque was de­stroyed, the build­ing of a tem­ple on the site has been a fix­ture in ev­ery BJP elec­tion man­i­festo

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