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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

It’s time to move on; Muslim side should not take 5-acre plot | Opinion

Eventually, the piece of land has been given away to one whose undisputed ownership has not been established by the apex court even in this verdict.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2019 15:40 IST
Mohammad Sajjad
Mohammad Sajjad
Unless one goes through the text of the verdict,on the Ayodhya case is little difficult to comment upon it in a more informed and meaningful way
Unless one goes through the text of the verdict,on the Ayodhya case is little difficult to comment upon it in a more informed and meaningful way(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
         

Unless one goes through the text of the verdict,on the Ayodhya case is little difficult to comment upon it in a more informed and meaningful way. Going by the reports flashing on the TV news channels, the only thing one can say is that this is some sort of judicial mediation. As far as I have been able to understand, it does not say anything conclusive about the title suit. Eventually, the piece of land has been given away to one whose undisputed ownership has not been established by the apex court even in this verdict.

Moreover, as per the Constitution, a structure in 1949 had to be recognised as such. So, whether this judgment really conforms to this is to be commented upon by the experts on the Constitution.

As a student of history, I have always been intrigued as to how proprietary rights of that particular piece of land in Ayodhya will be decided. Because, pre-colonial India had state ownership of land, except for endowments such as Waqf. Land proprietary rights were vested with zamindars in some parts of India and to the ryots in other parts of India by the colonial regime.

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I was therefore curious to comprehend this aspect, which remains unresolved. I am also unable to understand why the Supreme Court felt compelled to allot five acres of land to the Muslims somewhere else? Did the Muslim petitioners ever ask for this? If the title suit is not in favour of these petitioners, why should they be allotted other piece of land?

Even though on September 30, 2010, when the Allahabad High Court verdict came out, there was no law-and-order challenge, this time, the advertised administrative preparedness, and advisories by community leaders, mostly Muslims, created unnecessary apprehension. In many places, high ranking police officers held consultative meetings, but only with Muslims. What does this imply and signify? Finally, the date chosen to pronounce the verdict fell on just a day prior to the Prophet Muhammad’s birth anniversary, which is celebrated by bringing out processions.

These, and many other such pertinent questions apart, the verdict must be accepted by all Indians.

For India’s Muslims, it is the closure of a festering issue. This has now got an institutional stamp of as high an institution as the highest court of the land. With this verdict, if I have understood it correctly, the criminality of the demolition (December 6, 1992) vanishes, and if there is no crime, where is the issue of confession, and reconciliation with the aggrieved? If that is the case, then things should/would become even clearer to the petitioners and their co-religionists.

If at all I am entitled to make an appeal, my personal suggestion to the Muslim petitioners would be not to accept the five acres of land offered to them to build a masjid. Who knows, sometimes in future, that too may become a disputed site.

They must move ahead. They must not even think of going for a review of the judgment. They must continue to concentrate on their educational and economic well-being, keeping this fact in mind that majoritarian sentiments often become national sentiment.

Presumably, there must have been some attempts from some to lure or intimidate the Muslim petitioners during the case. If this was so, they should be lauded for not getting allured, for not getting intimidated. They stood firm expressing their utmost faith in the judiciary. Some such Muslim bodies made a mistake in 1986 by getting a verdict on gender reforms (the Shah Bano) nullified through legislation. They didn’t learn a lesson, despite almost frank confessions made to this effect by Abul Hasan Ali Miyan Nadvi (1914-1999), in his Urdu memoir Karvan-e-Zindagi (1988, vol. 3, chapter 4). He concedes that majoritarian politics derived fodder from this un-wisdom of the Muslim clergy. The liberal-secular-Left forces failed to assert themselves against the reactionary Muslim clergies then. We should not be therefore surprised about why they are as helpless before the current rise of majoritarianism. This is not confined to India alone.

There are grave economic issues India needs to address. Justice-loving people of all persuasions need to concentrate on working harder to make the masses aware of all these problems. I wish, a foreclosure of the Ayodhya dispute through this verdict will pave the way for prioritizing all these economic concerns. We have long been seized with the Ayodhya issue, possibly putting aside all our priorities of education, health, infrastructural development. To me, the significance of this verdict will lie in this realisation by all of us.

The author is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Indian History at Aligarh Muslim University