December 6, 1992 was a black letter day in India’s history when a political rally turned violent and Hindu hardliners demolished a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya.
The demolition, which resulted in riots that lasted weeks and killed over 2,000 people, remains a major political and religious talking point among country’s leaders and a large part of its population. But for most of those born in the post-demolition era, the Ayodhya dispute is a non-issue.
Several youth from both Hindu and Muslim communities told HT that they believe the dispute is a thing of the past and should remain that way. India has bigger things to worry about, they say.
Many of them, who were either not born then or were just toddlers when the incident occurred, said political parties and people should focus on the country’s future, and that digging the issue out every now and then in the name of religion or for political reasons was blasphemy in itself.
“I was a small child in Lucknow when the Babri Masjid was demolished. The demolition never affected my life,” said Samina Bano, 30, an educationist and founding chairperson of Bharat Abhyudaya Foundation, Lucknow.
The IIM Bengaluru graduate further urged all stakeholders to bury this issue and focus on developing together as a nation. “As a responsible adult dedicated to finding answers to the real problems plaguing our country, like quality of elementary education, I urge the Centre and state governments, political parties and members of the public, both Hindus and Muslims, to take this opportunity to demonstrate our progressive vision to the world and build the largest school, hospital or university on that land,” she said.
Samina said she would want the piece of land to become a symbol of communal harmony and development. “If building a Ram temple (on the site) can bring peace to the country, I won’t mind it being built.”
Shantanu, a college student equated the rhetorical debate on Ayodhya dispute to “scratching an old wound”.
“It just causes more pain and doesn’t let the wound heal. Religion is important, but what’s more important is faith and what religions preach; no religion preaches violence. It is important for the government to give priority to issues that are affecting the population of our country. India has the youngest population in the world. We need to tap this resource before it diminishes,” he said.
“It is time we settle this matter so we can invest our energy towards our country’s economic prosperity and social harmony. Let’s focus on issues like job creation,” said 22-year-old social worker Taruka Srivastava.
Priyesh Gupta, a medical aspirant, now 18, was born in the post-demolition era. “I don’t know whose land it was or is. But if there is God and if you have faith in Him, then rest assured He doesn’t want people to fight over a piece of land,” he said.