On 6th December, 1992, a 16th century historical monument called Babri Masjid was razed to the ground. It was accompanied and followed by communal violence in which thousands of people died.
While progressive forces have been demanding that those guilty of organising this crime must be punished, justice has been denied. Court verdicts have justified the demolition by ordering the construction of a Ram temple at that site. This verdict is being used to create the impression that the issue has been settled and anyone who opposes is an enemy of the nation. It is being used to terrorise people and stifle all dissent.
For us, the people who persist in the struggle against communalism and communal violence, the 30th anniversary is an occasion for reiterating the main lessons that have emerged from our experience in these years. It is an occasion for defining the way forward at the present time, when the spreading of communal poison is on the rise, with calls being raised for demolition of mosques and building of temples in many places other than Ayodhya.
The official story about what happened 30 years ago is built around the lie that the demolition was a spontaneous act by some kar sevaks, allegedly driven by religious fervour.
The demolition of Babri Masjid was by no means spontaneous. The demolition as well as the communal violence which accompanied it and continued for many weeks, were well-planned. They were part of a plot hatched up in the highest echelons of the ruling class.
Leaders of both Congress Party and BJP were actively involved in leading the Ram Mandir campaign. Both the central government headed by Congress Party and the Uttar Pradesh government headed by BJP ordered their respective security forces to permit Babri Masjid to be demolished and communal violence to take place. The Sri Krishna Commission named the Congress, BJP and Shiv Sena parties as being among those guilty of communal violence during December 1992 and January 1993.
The executive and the legislature, the senior bureaucracy and chieftains of the armed security forces, as well as the judiciary, have all been part of conniving in and justifying the demolition of Babri Masjid and the unleashing of communal violence around the demand to build a Ram Mandir at the spot.
The State, which is duty bound to protect the lives and the right to conscience of all the people of the country, turned into the killer, the organiser of mass murder. People were left defenceless, left to fend for themselves in the face of the organised state sponsored communal violence.
The Ayodhya dispute was originally created by the British rulers, who destroyed all documentary evidence associated with Babri Masjid. The destroyed evidence includes a document signed by the then Nawab of Awadh, prescribing rules for worship by Hindus and Muslims. The British rulers had it written in their Gazette that the masjid had been built by Babar after destroying a Ram temple there.
Inciting Hindu-Muslim conflicts was a central component of the British strategy to conquer and rule India. After 1857, when people united across religious and caste barriers against their alien rule, the British paid great attention to further develop and institutionalise communal division in every sphere possible.
Since 1947, the Indian ruling class has continued with the same method of rule. The Central Government, with Rajiv Gandhi at its head, further fuelled the dispute over Babri Masjid by reopening the locks of the place for Hindu worshippers in February 1986.
Communalism of the Indian State
The past 30 years have fully exposed the divisive and communal nature of the Indian state, which is proclaimed to be a pillar of secularism and democracy. The state protects both open and hidden communalists, all the time swearing by Secularism or Dharm Nirpekshta.
The Constitution divides Indian people into a majority and several minority religious communities. It highlights the communal identity, overriding the national, class and human identities of people.
The state permits political parties to call for attacks on Muslims for the crimes which various kings are alleged to have committed hundreds of years ago. The courts justify and encourage such campaigns.
The judiciary has come out in support of communal revenge seeking. It has not only dismissed the charges against various BJP leaders who openly called for destruction of Babri Masjid. It has used a property dispute to pass an order that the Central Government must now ensure the construction of a Ram Mandir at the site where Babri Masjid had stood. The judiciary has thereby provided legal support to claims based on religious faith and colonial lies.
The demolition of Babri Masjid marked a turning point in Indian politics. It heralded a new period of increasing criminalisation of politics and escalation of state terrorism.
The present period has revealed that the bourgeoisie can no longer rule without spreading death, destruction and terror against the people. Maintaining bourgeois rule requires repeated acts of state organised communal violence. The demolition of Babri Masjid and the campaign to build a Ram Mandir at that site laid the ground for the Gujarat Genocide of February 2002. The burning of a train in which kar sevaks were returning from Ayodhya served as the spark which ignited state-wide communal violence lasting many weeks and months.
Demands are now being raised for more demolitions in the name of correcting historical wrongs. Manipulation of religious sentiments for narrow political ends is on the rise. Society is being dragged backwards. People’s right to conscience is being trampled in the mud by the very State which is expected to protect them.
An important political lesson is that it is wrong to identify just one particular party as being responsible for the rising menace of communalism and communal violence. The ruling class is responsible. The state and all its institutions are responsible. The ever-deepening crisis of capitalism, in India and on the world scale, is the material base for the anti-social offensive of the bourgeoisie.
It is wrong to blame the victims and call them communal. People who are targeted on the basis of their religious identity have every right to organise to defend themselves and their ways of worship. The struggle must be directed against the state and the ruling class.
The past 30 years have shown that the Indian bourgeoisie is not capable of ruling the country without resorting to mass crimes against the people, including state-organised communal violence. This class has to be dislodged from power. This task can only be carried out by an alliance of all the oppressed, all the victims of bourgeois rule, led by the working class.
When the ruling class targets any particular section of the people, based on their religion, it is in fact an attack on the entire people. It is an attack on the people’s unity and on their social environment.
Our immediate task is to build and strengthen the political unity of people against the ruling bourgeoisie and the existing communal state. We must oppose all forms of sectarianism, including the use of ideological considerations to prevent political unity against communal violence and all forms of state terror.
We must unite around the principle that every person has his or her Right to Conscience, which the state is duty bound to respect and protect. Once this is accepted, there is no question of any religious belief being majority or minority. One may worship any God or may believe that there is no God. The belief of every individual is as valid as the belief of any other individual.
We must unite around the principle that the state is duty bound to protect the rights of every individual, irrespective of his or her belief. From this it follows that when the state fails to protect, those in command must be held responsible. Those who use state power to organise crimes against the people must be most severely punished.
Our forefathers who rose up in revolt in 1857 declared, “Hum hain iske malik! Hindustan Humara!” This slogan expressed the aspiration of the Indian people to unite, rising above all differences of religion and caste, to defeat our common enemy and become the collective master of our own destiny. The struggle continues till this day, for the fulfilment of this lofty objective.
The struggle against communalism and communal violence must be waged with the aim of replacing the existing communal state, which is an organ of dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, headed by monopoly capitalists, by a new state of workers’ and peasants’ rule. We, the people of this ancient civilisation, can and must establish and consolidate a state in which we are the decision makers. Such a state would respect and protect the right to conscience as a universal and inviolable right of every member of society. It will ensure that any individual, group or party that violates anyone’s right to conscience or any other human right is promptly tried and severely punished.
Unite against State Terrorism!
An attack on One is an attack on All!