- Rewriting history in blood
By: Irfan Raja
Wednesday, 5 August 2020 will be remembered as one of the darkest days in the history of India. The grand celebrations of placing a foundation stone for a Ram Temple in Aydohya will be marked as a burial day of justice and a secular state.
The liberal press in Britain and America branded Indian Supreme Court verdict of “Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid” as a “victory for Modi” and a secular state becoming a Hindu nationalist country. In other words, the press warned ethnic minorities of the tougher times ahead.
Ever since the Hindu nationalists succeeded in their plans to destroy the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and replace it with a Ram Temple, the Indian Muslims are living in hell, facing lynching, public beating, arrest without charge, and even threats to be expelled. That’s the face of a New India. No place for Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Dalits.
Since then, the BJP has introduced the Citizen Amendment Act and scrapped Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. Despite public pressure there are no signs of any attempt to rethink.
How many more mosques will be demolished? Long before the unlawful destruction of the Babri Masjid, a book Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them (1990) claimed, “There are 2,000 mosques that stand on top of demolished temples”. Meenakshi Jain’s recent book Flight of Deities and Rebirth of Temples: Episode from Indian History (2019) tells the same story.
But, Jaya Menon and Supriya Varma, archaeologists and co-authors. have found “No evidence of Temple under Babri Masjid”. in fact, evidence shows that the demolition of Babri Masjid was a well-planned game. Asaduddin Owaisi identified it “History will remember what happened in December 1949, when the idols were placed surreptitiously in the Masjid and the events that led to the demolition in 1992.”
- The best option is for all those decent and peace-loving Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims to join hands to reject Modi’s version of present history and rather start rewriting their own history that allows everyone to live peacefully side by side
Obviously, the hostility towards Muslims and mosques did not develop overnight but took years of systematic campaigns to portray Muslims as “bad guys”, “criminals” and the “enemy within”. Rama Lakshmi wrote, “Many Hindus, over generations, had been taught to view the mosque as a site of historical humiliation”. Moreover, Lakshmi found BJP leader L.K. Advani “introduced the new language of Hindutva pride” in the early 1990s and used the “historical Hindu wound and made Babri Masjid a buzzword for hate”.
Today, anti-Muslim rhetoric is a common feature of BJP’s leaders’ political language. Unfortunately, there are no signs of ending. Vinay Katiyar recently vowed that “One job has been accomplished in Ayodhya and two are yet to be done like Ayodhya, temples have to be built at Kashi and Mathura, too”.
Now, some sections of the Indian media and politicians are strengthening a brand new narrative: those Muslims supporting the Ram Temple and donating to it are “good guys” and are accepted, but those protesting against it are “bad guys”, “the enemy-within” and should be expelled. ‘Go to Pakistan or Qabaristan (graveyard).’
BJP leaders like Kamal Nath are insisting that “Ram Temple in Ayodhya is being built with the consent of every Indian”. The reality is completely opposite on social media sites and in the liberal press.
The Wire report reveals Ayodhya district administration placed restrictions for the media covering the event, for example, “Make no comments on any religion, community, sect, or any specific individual”. Not because the Modi government is afraid of rioting against Muslims but it is trying to fix an image of RSS that butchered Muslims in the recent riots.
Caravan Magazine reported “A Hindu rioter speaks: Delhi violence was “revenge” against Muslims, police gave free rein”. Perhaps, that is why Shahid Masood branded the Ram Temple construction event as opening of a Muslim “bloodbath Game”.
So why the media crackdown? Perhaps, to camouflage a year-long lockdown in Kashmir or to cover-up the conquest of Babri Masjid by RSS extremists. This was examined by the Pamela Philipose article: “Backstory: Ram Mandir and Kashmir-A Tale of Two Forms of Media Control”
Zainab Sikander wrote, “The one thing Indian media is not doing is journalism. In fact, very few people are doing journalism today. Channels from Zee News, Aaj Tak to Network18 likes to add the word ‘jihad’ to everything. Corona jihad or zameen jihad, love jihad, arthik jihad, and whatnot. But if anyone is “Waging” a holy war today, it is Indian media’s jihad against Indian Muslims and Islam”.
Sikander lists events and conspiracies that were associated with the Indian Muslim in recent months. These include, “Tablighi Jamaat conspiracy theories (from spitting to shitting), a dash of anti-nationalism reserved for Muslims who are called more Pakistani than Indian, a huge dollop of ISIS connection (especially in the land of Malayalis), and a generous serving of demonisation through constant use of rhetorics like jihad, halala, triple talaq, beef eaters, and anything that a devious mind can conjure (‘Muslims in India are deliberately spreading the coronavirus’)”.
The Indian media is constructing the narrative that shows how Indian Muslims are enthusiastic in supporting their Hindu brothers building a Ram Temple in place of the Babri Masjid.
Through a series of columns, opinion pieces, editorials and feature reports a smartly designed and organised chronicle of the Hindu population’s suffering at the hands of various Indian Muslim rulers like Tipu Sultan and Aurangzeb is fabricated to present Hindus as oppressed and victimised.
Moreover, extracts of newspaper texts demonstrate that it is the Hindus’ right to reverse history that was anti-Hindu for centuries, and hence RSS and other Hindu groups are not attacking Muslims, just rewriting and correcting history.
In a systematic push, sections of the Indian media are trying to convince the world that Muslims have no problem if the Ram temple is built on the site of the mosque and that Ram was their ancestor and they just converted to Islam.
In brief, a double edged storyline reflects two important points: the vast majority of the Indian Muslims are “enemy-within” and Hindus groups involved in building Ram Temple are correcting the unforgivable mistakes of the Muslim rulers.
Ratan Sharda, author of the book Secrets of the RSS proclaimed that “August 5 is a significant date for Independent India” meaning that “Bharat will no more be apologetic about its past, nor about the path it chooses to regain its glory”.
Sharda openly praised the extremist RSS organisation thus: “Thankfully, there were organisations like RSS, great indigenous, rooted leaders like Madan Mohan Malavya, DR. Ambedkar, KM Munshi, Rajagopalachari and many others who kept the flame glowing for the right moment”.
If such hateful and horrific literature is endorsed in the mainstream press then anyone can imagine what Modi is planning for the Indian Muslims. So, what will be the price of such reporting? Another Muslim bloodbath?
Today, the Modi government is erasing Muslim history and replacing it with lies, deceptions and self-declared heroes of its own creation. But, when the next generations will know the truth behind the building of Ram Temple what would they feel about their ancestors India?
The best option is for all those decent and peace-loving Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims join hands to reject Modi’s version of present history and rather start rewriting their own history that allows everyone to live peacefully side by side.
The writer is an academic, analyst and activist based in the UK, and a PhD holder at the University of Huddersfield