"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Beware of false parallels being made between the demolition of ancient mosque in India and downing of the statues of racists in US Featured

Gurpreet Singh  

In the wake of protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of US police, supporters of the right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India are trying to create a false narrative around the history of imperialism and racism to justify their crimes.  

The killing of Floyd, an African American who became the victim of systemic racism, has sparked civil unrest, including the vandalizing and breaking of statues of slave owners.  

Taking advantage of the widespread outrage over mistreatment of Blacks and Indigenous Peoples in North America, those owing allegiance to the BJP have started drawing parallels between the action of anti-racism protestors and those who razed the Babari Masjid, an ancient mosque, in Ayodhya in 1992.  

The BJP supporters claim that the mosque was built by the Mughals after destroying a Hindu temple built on the birthplace of Lord Ram, one of the most revered Hindu gods. They had launched a movement to reclaim the disputed site during the 1980s, which culminated in the falling of the mosque by a mob instigated by the BJP leadership. This was done with the active support of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, the province where Ayodhya is located.  

Under the current BJP regime in New Delhi, the Indian Supreme Court gave its verdict in support of building a Ram temple. On August 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation of the proposed temple. This has dampened the spirits of grassroots level secularists who have been asking for restoration of the site to Muslims.  

The right wing media commentators and the supporters are now trying to discredit the secularists, accusing them of double speak. Their prime argument is that the 1992 Babari Masjid episode was the result of “awakening among the Hindus about slavery and persecution of their forefathers by Mughals who came from outside India with imperialist designs”. If their version of the history is to be believed, Islam was imposed in India through the rule of sword.  

However, many of such claims are blatant lies and lack objectivity.  

First of all, not all Mughals were tyrants; some made India their home and had cordial relations with Hindus. Secondly, even if we assume that they were, why should the Muslims living in India today be made to suffer? In the garb of Ram temple agitation, the BJP has polarized the Hindu majority against Muslims for electoral gains. It is not surprising to see how they continue to be attacked with impunity under Modi ever since he became the Prime Minister in 2014. It is pertinent to mention that the 2002 Gujarat Muslim massacre was an outcome of this campaign. A train carrying Hindu pilgrims from Ayodhya had caught fire, leaving more than 50 passengers dead. Although one commission of enquiry found that it was an accident, the BJP blamed it on Islamic fanatics. Modi, who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat back then, allowed the bloodletting of innocent Muslims by his supporters. 

The point conveniently overlooked by BJP apologists in North American Diaspora is that the anger of African-Americans is against White privilege. In the Indian context, the Hindus are the most privileged because of their majority, and it was never the other way round. If there are any parallels, they are between the Blacks or and Indigenous Peoples of North America and Dalits in India.  

Hindus have been persecuting those considered as Untouchables from the Dalit community for centuries. Their case is not only stronger and well documented, and dates back to the time when Mughals had not even appeared on the scene. Like it or not, Islam did not spread in India only due to repression by Mughals, it became popular because of its egalitarian approach that embraced Dalits, who were not even allowed to enter Hindu temples under strict caste codes.  

If the BJP really cares for correcting history, why not begin with fixing the problem of the caste system? Why not first remove the statues of Manu, who invented such an inhuman social structure from outside the Rajasthan Court?  

What the BJP cannot deny is that their founding fathers in Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) – a Hindu supremacist organization, of which the BJP is a part - glorified Hitler and rationalised the annihilation of Jews. On what basis can they make such claims, and even appropriate progressive movements such as Black Lives Matter, when its own history is highly problematic and full of contradictions?  

What happened to Babri Masjid was not an act of resistance, but an act of aggression and terrorism. It cannot be equated with the actions of oppressed groups in North America.  

 

 

 

 

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Last modified on Thursday, 06 August 2020 23:48
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