It is twelve years since the Hindutva fanatics demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Perhaps no other day in independent India's history signifies and symbolizes the communal polarization, mutual hatred, and a contempt for rule of law, so blatant in our society today, as that black Sunday in December 92. We saw Golwalkar in action, "teaching" Indian Muslims how they should lead their lives in India as "second rate" citizens -- citizens without any rights.
Though I had known it very well that these fanatics could stoop to any low to gain political mileage, I hadn't thought till that day, in fact till the All India Radio confirmed the demolition in its evening news, that the struture would actually be grounded. I had the rather simplistic impression that the "karsevaks" would enter the disputed site, with the help of the friendly police, and might even damage the masjid a little bit, but wouldn't dare to do the total demolition. As a not so politically conscious teenager, this perhaps was understandable. Unfortunately the then prime minister Narasimha Rao, it appears now, was just as naive, willing to trust an Advani and a Kalyan Singh on their word that the Masjid wouldn't be demolished.
In the days followed, people were behaving in pretty strange -- or was that more natural then? -- ways. I could see many friends of mine from the Muslim community keeping a distance from me and other non-Muslims. The behaviour of several of my Hindu friends was even more strange. Many were ecstatic about the destruction that took place in Ayodhya -- several ordinary Hindu teenagers parrotted local RSS hooligans, for a short period though. When our college reopened after a fortnight of bandhs, hartals, strikes, and a general everything-isn't-alright atmosphere, my closest friend confessed to me that though he couldn't justify Gandhi's assassination -- many on the "secular" side were talking a lot about the parallels between the Masjid demolition and Gandhi's assassination -- he sympathized with Godse's position. As one can see, talking in extremes was the norm.
This was the period when I started taking a keener interest in political matters. Though never very active in day-to-day activism, I decided to pay more attention to what such local activists say. I found that those who actually work with people and their problems weren't floundering at difficult times, unlike some of the bookish liberal intellectuals. In societal matters, words of those who are willing to make sacrifices, started appealing to me more, than the dull rigour of "academic" logic.
Back to Babri Masjid, for a "secularist", today it is politically correct to say that the issue should be settled in court. On the whole, our judiciary is exemplary, and I believe this issue can be settled in court. But I think a truly secular government should be willing to undo the wrong, and the right thing to do is to rebuild the masjid there. If I advocate anything less than this, I can't but feel that I'm indirectly siding with the demolishers.