Daya Varma and Vinod Mubayi


Eighteen years after the 350-year old Babri Masjid was reduced to rubble by marauding Hindu zealots, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court pronounced it’s much awaited verdict today.


At this early stage only the headlines proclaiming the bare outline of the decision are known.  All one can say at this time, is that the split 2-1 decision could have been worse.  It is clearly a political decision that seems to divide the site into three parts; two would go to Hindus who occupied it by force and one to the Sunni Wakf Board, the body that provided traditional management oversight of the now non-existent masjid.  The verdict appears to ratify a precedent that legal rights over property can be obtained after illegal entry into the premises.  This is what happened in 1949 when idols were smuggled into the mosque at night with the connivance of some officials, sparking off the dispute that has now lasted 60 years.  It is widely expected that this verdict will now be appealed to the Supreme Court of India by one or more of the contending parties to the dispute, which will delay any further resolution of the issue.


At the same time, the verdict raises once more the basic question of the democratic rights and dignity of the largest minority in India, the Muslims.  Would Indian institutions, including the courts, respect the historic rights of Muslims or sacrifice them bit by bit to appease Hindu fundamentalists?


The release of the INSAF Bulletin was delayed in anticipation of the verdict.  In the next issue, we would deal with this matter in greater detail.

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