Ayodhya Verdict Vajpayee Connection
Since the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court pronounced its verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi issue, almost everyone in India who is someone in any field has made his or her views known through newspapers, and television channels. Politicians, historians, archeologists, and other personalities have freely expressed their views as one expects in a democratic country where freedom of expression is guaranteed. However, one voice that one could or should have expected to be heard all these years is unfortunately mute, although that voice is still with us. The name of that voice is Atal Behari Vajpayee
His silence because of indisposition is extremely unfortunate and regrettable because it was this statesman who has been responsible for the High Court formulating its verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi issue, relying on the Archaeological Survey of Indias (ASI’s) finding after excavation of the land beneath the now demolished structure which was known as the Babri Masjid,
It was after a great deal of thought and consultation with friends and loved ones that he had suggested the ASI to undertake an excavation of the site, which was conducted under orders of the High Court and which was witnessed by all the parties involved in the dispute about the Janmasthan. It is now well known that the learned Judges had based their verdict on the report of the excavation at the site
Since this verdict is a historic document which will be quoted for centuries and which will remind knowledgeable people that it was Atal Behari Vajpayee who had suggested excavation of the disputed site and which was ordered by the High Court, it is considered relevant to quote the relevant portions from the ASI’s “Summary of Results” .
“The Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) using people were the first to occupy the disputed site in the first millennium BC On the basis of material equipment, the period may be assigned to circa 1000 BC to 300 BC … Subsequently during the early mediaeval period (11th to 12th Century ), a huge structure was constructed which seems to have been short-lived. On the remains of the above structure was constructed a massive structure with at least three structural phases and three successive floors attached to it. It was above the top of this construction during the early sixteenth century the disputed structure was constructed directly resting over it.”
One need not go beyond this description because the findings confirm the views of the Hindus that a Hindu temple (dedicated to Lord Ram) was destroyed to build a shrine just above it. One reiterates the view that this evidence ultimately resulted in the decision of the Court not to shift “Ram Lalla” from the place He is occupying now and one has to thank AB Vajpayee again and again for facilitating the orders of the Court to carry on excavation at the disputed site”
This irrefutable evidence has not been liked by many “intellectual” archaeologists and historians some of whom expressed doubts about the efficacy of the findings of the ASI. One such opinion was that of the “secular” archaeologist Irfan Habib, who said: “It’s not a logical judgment with so many parts going 2-1. One does not accept the logicality of the judgment.” He said that the judgment appears to legitimise the events of 1949. He also expressed surprise that the two judges questioned the date of construction of the Babri Masjid as well as the involvement of emperor Babar or his commander Mir Baqi since there have been clear inscriptions to this effect before the demolition. Other historians like DN Jha, Supriya Verma of JNU, etc also held the similar views.
However, the views on the issue of archaeological evidence have been dealt with legally by Mr Arun Jaitley, the wellknown legal authority. He said on October 1: “Ultimately, in a democratic society which is governed by constitutionalism, you cannot have convenience at constitutionalism. You have a system where the court appoints the ASI as an agency. The ASI hires the best international experts.” He said: “Once there is cross examination on the report, once you grilled the ASI for days together and the judges gave their opinion, it is no longer a disputed subject to the right of appeal. That becomes a fact.”
“Historians are entitled to criticise the judgment but India will be governed by one delivered by a court and not the opinion of some politically motivated historians,” said Mr Jaitley. He also said that he found the reactions of a large number of friends belonging to the minority community also positive. “However, there are some in the civil society and also in the political domain who want to continue the Indian minority living in fear. They seem to be more disturbed than the minorities themselves”, he said.
This view appeared to be endorsed by participants at a “Charcha” organised by Doordarshan with the wellknown and capable anchor Neelam Sharma on October 9. No politician was invited to this “Charcha”—only people from what is correctly called the civil society, not a gathering of political activists. At this programme, such sane values were aired by all sections, many among them belonging to the minority community, that they received repeated claps from the participants.
Interestingly, one participant, a wellknown journalist belonging to the minority community, did not have hesitation in airing the view that many Muslims felt that the site of the mosque should be shifted out of the complex and built somewhere else. There was no opposition to this view even from a single member of the minority community.
This episode cannot but remind one of the Vajpayee effects on the Indian society during the six years he had been the Prime Minister towards the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. It was Vajpayee’s wisdom that made Indians feel that they had entered the 21st century and the old mindset about religion and conflicts between religions should be replaced by politics of harmony. The reason you see peace all around today even after the High Court verdict is the silent transformation of the Indian socieity during and after the Vajpayee regime.
By Bulbul Roy Mishra