Babri Mosque verdict furthers divide
The contrast could not have gotten sharper on Saturday as Pakistan opened Kartarpur Corridor for 140 million Sikhs three kilometers inside the Pakistani border and welcomed them with open arms to its opening ceremony while the Indian Supreme Court delivered its verdict on a nearly three-decade old Babri Mosque demolition case, favouring the Hindu majority population. Some in Pakistan believe, and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said as much, that India made an effort to neutralize the impact of Karatapur initiative by announcing the mosque verdict on the same day as the decision was reserved in the month of October.
The demolition of the historic 15th century mosque at the hands of Hindu zealots in December of 1992 was a watershed moment in the history of Sub continent. This extreme step was premised on the belief that the mosque was built on remains of Ram Mandir and hence the Hindus deserved right to building their place of worship there.
The event set in motion Hindu-Muslims riots that took lives of over 2,000 Muslims. Later the issue was taken to a court and in 2010 a lower court had ordered to divide the 2.77 acres of the disputed land into three parts, giving two thirds to the Hindus and the remaining to the Muslims. That decision was challenged. Now the Indian Supreme Court has ruled in favour of building a mandir on the site while directing the government to allocate five acres of land to Muslims for construction of a mosque. The court noted that investigations reveal that while the mosque was built on the remains of a temple but it was never razed to build a mosque.
Interestingly it was the same Hindutva workers who participated in the demolition in 1992 that are now in power at the centre under the BJP government.
Understandably the Muslims are not happy with the decision and the leaders of the Muslims have rejected the decision. They have also decided to challenge the verdict besides refusing to accept the grant of five acre land for building a mosque.
It is hoped that the court decision shall not set in motion another wave of violence in India. In the process however India’s claims to being a democracy and a secular state stand exposed. Minorities particularly Muslims’ future in India is fraught with apprehensions. There have been seen frequent lynchings of Muslims on one pretext or the other. The world community should also take notice of this development as quite surprisingly the United States issued a statement welcoming the Kartarpur initiative; they remained uncannily silent on the SC verdict.
Technology is just an aid
With the arrival of fast internet, the world latched on to technology for anything that it thought was not working optimally. And once an App, short for application, was integrated into the system, they thought the job was nearly done. E-governance is something we have been hearing about since the turn of the millennium yet no one in the successive governments had a clear idea as to what this was going to be about.
PTI government too banked on technology for its various initiatives. It was also in favour of introducing electronic voting machines to do away with the threat of rigging, discounting the online manipulation that the western world is yet to come to grips with. So much so the KP government has developed an App that shall guide people and tourists to the nearest toilet facility in any area. Rather than focusing on the quantity and quality of facilities, they have jumped to making an App which does not take more than a few hours of an IT apprentice to make. So much focus is on the so called initiative and fully fledged launch is being planned in the days ahead.
For complaints redress too the government launched various Apps and released figures from time to time of its success. It was only lately that they realized it was not working. The prime minister’s office took notice of the issue after it realised that complaints were dispensed with without addressing the issue and also the competent authorities instead of dealing with complaints themselves had delegated the responsibility to their subordinates.
Clearly there was no oversight mechanism for this complaint cell and the government was content with merely juggling the figures. It is nonetheless satisfying to see that it is the government itself that noticed the gap in their work and moved to rectify it. The government needs to realize that technology is no solution in itself. It however can aid in all initiatives. So far there is no significant redress through this application. Besides, the magnitude of the complaints is so gigantic that without having a policy reset, no improvement in governance would be possible.