Negotiations to reach a resolution of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute over the Ayodhya plot were attempted during the governments of Rajiv Gandhi, Chandrasekhar and PV Narasimha Rao but to no avail
Last week, the Supreme Court referred the age-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit case for mediation by a court-appointed panel of three members who have been given a free hand to further co-opt more mediators into the panel.
Mediation here is essentially an out-of-court settlement assisted by the court for an amicable solution that is acceptable to all the stakeholders that can be ratified by the courts later. But that precisely is the crux of the case as to who really is the stakeholder in a matter that has not been resolved in a century in spite of repeated efforts of reasoned talks, documentation, elaborations and archaeological evidence being provided.
Negotiations were attempted during the governments of Rajiv Gandhi, Chandrasekhar and PV Narasimha Rao but to no avail. So, what does yet another round of mediation really mean in the backdrop of various failed negotiation efforts in the past?
The case has been investigated as that of a land dispute but, when it comes to closure, religious sentiments of a particular community suddenly become overbearing when the fact of the matter is that the very case is about the religious site and sentiments of a majority of masses in India. Every time deliberations have been made with facts and more contemporary facts, it is the euphemistic dominance of the minority faith that has managed to prevail upon the majority. This has happened either through tactics of deference or manufactured hurt sentiments while enjoying plush insulation of religious minority all along. So much so, no political party or even the judiciary, for that matter, seems to be ready to bite the bullet.
The measured secular volatility and inordinate delay in the long pending case, now guiding towards arbitration, seems similar to the constitutional obligations in the handicapped Kashmir policy where the aggressive perpetuator of terror is aided by a plethora of secular support system — constitutional and legal — to play victim while demanding a plebiscite after sweeping clean the Pandit populace from the Valley.
No amount of talks with Pakistan, or with those in India whose hearts ache for Pakistan, has led to any peaceful settlement, as the terror enthusiasm continues to brew in the name of religion with inside and outside support. The Union government and the Indian Army are often constrained to act against these religious fanatics that carry the enemy’s agenda via religious radicalism. While the soldier is hand-tied and bound by limited powers within the framework of constitutional commitments, he makes every effort at the cost of risking his life to guard the safety, honour and security of the land and its people, he is not privileged like the courts which, on the other hand, are decisive authorities invested with absolute powers. Yet, if they have to be cautious even after 150 years of deliberations, even after all the pieces of evidence have been provided and the case is made,
if mediation is what is deemed as an effective mechanism for a closure, citing the risk of hurting religious sentiments (which sentiment we do not know because we have seen the bold decisions taken by our courts during the Sabarimala verdict much against the Hindu sentiments), it makes one thing clear. That either our constitutional bodies echo, in spirit, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s saying that “Muslims have the first right on the resources of the nation” or Naseeruddin Shah and Aamir Khan are totally wrong as it is the others who live in the constant constitutional fear of risking hurting religious sentiments of the minority community, thereby drawing the wrath of ‘misled’ mobs.
Nevertheless, this friendly intervention of mediation is going to be keenly watched if it brings a decisive closure within the stipulated time of eight weeks as per the apex court’s directions. Or, is it yet another drag of a political drama with judicial overbearing that has time and again rendered Lord Rama as a refugee in his own land?
The columnist is a freelance writer, blogger and travel enthusiast. Readers may follow her on Twitter at @Desiherald. The views expressed above are personal, which may not fully or partially reflect those of MyNation.
Last Updated 3:18 PM IST