Sunday, December 9, 2012

On The Demolition of the Babri Masjid

Below we reproduce Comrade Jyoti Basu’s article that was written for People's Democracy on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. We are also reproducing the statement made by Comrade Jyoti Basu before the Liberhan Commission of Inquiry.

I AM happy to hear that People's Democracy, our weekly paper is bringing out a special edition on the tenth anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. I wish to place on record what I remember about that shameful event which sent shock waves not only through India, but throughout the world. Once before, on October 30, 1990 when Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party was leading the government in Uttar Pradesh, the Babri Masjid was attacked by BJP-supported kar sevaks, some of whom mounted the dome of the Masjid. The police had to resort to firing and some people were killed, including one volunteer from Kolkata. Thereafter riots took place in some parts of India and in Bangladesh, where some temples were attacked.

This was the background in which once again, when the BJP was in power in UP, with its government being headed by Kalyan Singh, the kar sevaks declared a march to Ayodhya to protest against the attack on them earlier. When asked by the Supreme Court on a petition made before it, why the kar sevaks were going there, the counsel for the UP government stated that their intention was to pray and sing religious songs.

Our Party demanded a meeting of the National Integration Council and the then Congress prime minister, P V Narasimha Rao did call a meeting on November 23, 1992 in Delhi which Harkishen Singh Surjeet, our Party's general secretary and I attended. I think no representative of the BJP spoke in the meeting. But all others called upon the prime minister to take adequate steps for the protection of the Masjid. Surjeet, on behalf of our Party, urged upon the PM to use Article 356 to remove the government if there was no other alternative for protecting the Masjid, despite the fact that we have been opposing Article 356, which for most of the time has been used wrongly by the central government. Prime Minister Narasimha Rao gave the assurance in the meeting that his government would maintain the rule of law by any means. He also reported in the meeting that the three-months of discussion between the centre and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, had fallen through. It was alleged by different parties, including V P Singh, that the BJP and its sangh parivar was subverting the Constitution, parliamentary democracy and the Court.

Two days before the demolition, I rang up the PM  to tell  him that alarming news was coming in about the preparations being made by the kar sevaks, to attack the Masjid. He told me that the Congress Working Committee would be meeting to discuss the situation. But no action was taken by the central government, and as planned, the Masjid was razed to the ground, with the police looking on. It was reported that a few top leaders of the BJP, including some who are now ministers of the BJP-led government, were present during this dastardly act, and cases are pending against them.

When Surjeet and I later met the PM we asked him why no attempt was made to save the Masjid; his only reply was that he could not distrust the chief minister of the state who assured him that nothing untoward would happen.

Communalism of the majority does lead, in some areas of our country, to minority communalism, helped by Pakistan and some other countries. The Congress(I), the biggest non-communal party in the Opposition at the centre, and now ruling in 14 states, is as yet not self-critical, and does not feel the necessity of any ideological campaign against the communal and fascistic forces.


I was asked by the Justice Liberhan Commission, set up a long time back to probe the demolition of the Masjid, to give evidence before it. I met the Commission for two days on January 29 and March 15, in the year  2001, and placed all these facts before it. I also presented the Commission with a cassette containing the speech of the ex-chief minister, Kalyan Singh in Kolkata after his government was dismissed. In the course of this speech, he gleefully, and with great pride, among other things, stated that the demolition was a great achievement, and a new era had begun in India.

I think it is worthwhile to add that because of my statements on communalism and calling such acts "uncivilised and barbaric", the prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, at a subsequent meeting in Kolkata said that he would ask me why I used such language. In the discussions with me which followed the meeting, I told him that I had not mentioned individuals, but I was of the view that vicious attacks against other religions, and demolition of their houses of prayer, are in my view, barbarous and uncivilised. They are also against our concept of unity in diversity, and do violence to our Constitution. I reminded him that he had at least expressed regret after the demolition, but his other colleagues had justified the demolition and there were criminal cases pending against them. I also told him that he listens to the RSS, the VHP  and the Bajrang Dal, because he knows otherwise what fate awaits him.

Now on the Gujarat barbarism the PM on the one hand says he cannot show his face outside India, but, at the same time continues to support chief minister Narendra Modi.

Jyoti Basu’s Deposition before Liberhan Commission

Following is the statement made by Comrade Jyoti Basu before the Liberhan Commission of Inquiry:

I am happy that I have been given the opportunity to appear before the Commission. I wish to make a few points on the demolition of the Babri Masjid and reply to any queries.

·        There were reports that the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya may be attacked by the Kar Sevaks. The then prime minister Sri Narsimha Rao, convened the meeting of the National Integration Council on November 23, 1992. On behalf of the CPI(M), Harkishan Singh Surjeet, the general secretary, and I attended the meeting. No member of the BJP attended it. Unanimously, powers were given to Sri Narsimha Rao to take necessary measures to protect the Masjid. On our party’s behalf we proposed that even Article 356 of the Constitution may be used if there is no other way to protect it, though we have been opposing its use.

·        Two days before the demolition, i.e., on December 4, 1992, I rang up the prime minister to inform him that there was apprehension that the Masjid may be attacked and hence something has to be done to protect it. The prime minister said the Working Committee of the Congress was to meet on the issue. But your lordship knows what happened.

·        After the UP government was dismissed, Sri Kalyan Singh addressed a meeting in Calcutta on February 2, 1993, as recorded by the police. The Hindi speech, along with its English translation, is also with me. I shall leave these with you. I particularly draw your attention to that part of the speech in which he speaks about the demolition of the mosque: “I express before you, I did not have any repentance, nor any pangs or agony for the case, and I had a pleasure to declare it as a historic day. I can tell you, my dear friends, without the inspiration of God such a colossal job of demolition could not have been pulled off within five hours without using any explosive device. Even if we engaged a labour contractor for the same, the contractor might have taken at least one and half months time for the said purpose, including removal of huge amount of debris. You know, the birth of new Indian era will take place with some glorious future after December 6, 1992. The demolition of the structure (though some sections of people took it for a shame for the Nation) has become an affair of pride to the Nation.”

·        In the third week of December, 1993, Surjeet and I met the prime minister and asked him why nothing was done. He said, “How could I disbelieve a chief minister when he assured me that no harm will be done to the Masjid.” I then presented the cassette to him and told him what I told you now. I do not know whether he heard the cassette.

·        The present prime minister, Sri Vajpayee, met me on March 20, 1999, in Calcutta and asked me why I called the BJP barbaric and uncivilised. I said I do not normally name anybody, but I do call the demolition a barbaric act, and I asked him how did it happen and what language should I use. He said “It was an accident and not organised”. I told him about Kalyan Singh’s speech. He kept quiet. Now he is saying something else - “expression of national sentiment”

We shall await the findings of the Commission.

People's Democracy 09 December 2012

1 comment:

വര്‍ക്കേഴ്സ് ഫോറം said...

Below we reproduce Comrade Jyoti Basu’s article that was written for People's Democracy on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. We are also reproducing the statement made by Comrade Jyoti Basu before the Liberhan Commission of Inquiry.