By Sunil Garodia
The Supreme Court will deliver the verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case, which has a direct bearing on the vexed Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi issue, any day this week. Although the court will obviously decide the matter on the basis of facts presented and arguments made before it, the verdict is likely to antagonize the community against which it goes. Both parties have said that they will respect the verdict, but that is easier said than done. For, there are hotheads in both communities who have for long adhered to the inflexible position that says for the Muslims that the Babri Masjid must be reconstructed at the same spot while for the Hindus that the Mandir must be made after razing the mosque completely and also at the same spot ("mandir wahin banayenge" has been their war cry).
Politicians, religious leaders, elders and social activists of both communities have already started the process to ensure that the social fabric is not shredded post the verdict. There have appeals by imams from mosques that the verdict must be respected at all costs. Muslims have been advised neither to protest if the verdict goes against them nor to celebrate if it is in their favour. The RSS has also said that it has no plans to celebrate if the verdict goes in favour of the Hindus. It has also canceled all its events for November as it might either be misinterpreted or provide an opportunity for the congregation to indulge in mischief.
As is correct, the BJP and the RSS have reached out to the Muslim community ahead of the verdict. In a meeting held at the home of the Union Minorities affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Hindu and Muslim leaders pledged not to have any "junooni jashn" or "haar ka hungama" after the verdict. The meeting was attended by RSS leaders Krishna Gopal and Ramlal, BJP's Shanawaz Hussain, Jamait-Ulema-e-Hind general secretary Mahmood Madani, filmmaker Muzaffar Ali and prominent Shia cleric Maulana Syed Kalbe Jawad, among others. Jawad later said that the nation is above all and peace and harmony between the communities must be maintained at all costs. The government will also tighten security, in Ayodhya and all over the country, to prevent major flare-ups.
But one small spark is all that is needed to create an atmosphere of madness and barbarity. The way Indians behave after the verdict will show if they have matured enough not to allow their biases and religious intolerance to come in the way of the legal process. It will show whether Indians have become civil enough to respect the law and convince others to do the same. It will also prove if the elders and the main organizations of both communities have enough clout to rein in the hotheads. It is a testing time for the social, secular democracy that India is. Let us hope good sense prevails and peace and harmony are maintained.