A testing week for India | HT Editorial
Both Ayodhya and Kashmir are contentious issues. Be vigilantUpdated: Aug 02, 2020 18:43 IST
This is a significant week for Indian politics and society. On August 5, the first step in the construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya will take place, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled to attend the bhoomi pujan ceremony in the holy town. The same day also marks one year since the decision to change the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
Both Ayodhya and Kashmir have long been a part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s core ideological beliefs. The merits of each case aside, it is but natural that the party will seek to showcase both the construction of the temple and the one year mark of “integrating” Kashmir completely with the rest of India as a political triumph. But it is important to remember that these events have been politically contentious. The Opposition, particularly the Congress and mainstream regional parties in J&K, opposed the changes to the erstwhile state; a big part of the old secular establishment and the country’s minorities, particularly the Muslims, have been uncomfortable with the Ram Janmabhoomi temple mobilisation.
The point here is not to suggest who is right and wrong — but to underline that these events spark politically polarised responses, and have an impact on social faultlines. And that is why it is important to ensure that sobriety, rather than triumphalism, marks August 5. It is also important to ensure that the law and order machinery remains on alert, in Kashmir and outside, particularly the Hindi heartland, to ensure that no untoward incident occurs and peace prevails this week. Those who think they have won must be magnanimous in victory; those who think they must resist must remain democratic and peaceful; and the State must remain vigilant.