The Guilty must be Punished!
Communal nature of the State points to the Necessity for its Reconstitution!
Statement of the Central Committee of Communist Ghadar Party of India, 4th December, 2012
Twenty years ago, on 6th December, 1992, the four century-old historical monument called Babri Masjid, located in Faizabad (or Ayodhya) in Uttar Pradesh, was demolished by armed gangs with the backing of the state and central governments, headed by the BJP and the Congress Party.
The Political forces that had connived in this crime organised large-scale communal violence in Mumbai, Surat and many other places during the months that followed. Thousands of people were terrorised, hounded and killed on the basis of their religious identity, with central and state governments failing to protect the people’s lives or their right to conscience.
Over the previous three years, a campaign had been launched to build a temple for Lord Ram at the site where Babri Masjid stood. The first step in re-igniting this controversy was taken by the Congress Party-led government of Rajiv Gandhi, which opened the lock to this disputed site on 9th November, 1989. The BJP built up a frenzied atmosphere through Rath Yatras and other means of mass mobilisation for the goal of building a Ram temple where the 400-year old monument stood. The Central Government acted as the mediator between self-styled leaders of Hindus and Muslims, allegedly to strike a negotiated deal, thereby keeping the dispute alive.
The dispute over Babri Masjid was first incited by the British colonialists who erected a fence in 1859, and ordered that Hindus are to enter from the East gate and Muslims from the North gate, into separate spaces for their respective worships. For the following almost 90 years, the British colonial courts considered and rejected various petitions from so-called Hindu and Muslim leaders, who they secretly incited. They kept the dispute alive, to be re-ignited whenever required.
In the night of 22nd December, 1949, in the aftermath of the communal Partition, an idol of Ram was installed inside the mosque. The Interim Government of Nehru proclaimed the premises as a disputed area and locked the gates. The gates remained locked for the next 40 years, until Nehru’s grandson ordered it to be reopened in 1989 for Hindu worship.
The reason why the gates were reopened can only be understood in the specific political context of the time. The ruling bourgeois class had decided in the mid-eighties to pursue an aggressive imperialist course under the banner of modernizing India to march into the 21st century. Communalism and communal violence were elevated to be the preferred methods of preventing the working class and toiling majority of people from uniting against this aggressive capitalist-imperialist course. Both the principal parties of the bourgeoisie colluded and contended to divide the polity on the basis of people’s beliefs.
Criminalisation of political dissent and imposition of state terrorism had already been tried and tested in Punjab by the Indira Gandhi government. Demands for national rights by the Punjabi people were portrayed as a struggle of Sikhs versus Hindus and turned into a law and order problem. The central government covertly armed and incited terrorist groups to split the Akali Dal, and then sent the army to attack the Golden Temple in the name of flushing out terrorists. The destruction of the Babri Masjid marked the extension of these diabolical tactics to the whole country, with both ruling and principal opposition parties in Parliament colluding to set people at each other’s throats.
Following the genocide against Sikhs in 1984, the Congress Party returned to power in 1985, led by Rajiv Gandhi who campaigned with the slogan “Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan!” Before the end of that decade, two different sectarian movements developed, competing to divide the polity on the basis of caste and religion. A faction within the Congress Party, led by V. P. Singh, campaigned for the implementation of the Mandal Commission’s recommendations on reservation for OBCs. The BJP campaigned for the construction of a Ram Mandir at the site of Babri Masjid.
The demolition of Babri Masjid was a turning point in Indian politics. It showed that the rulers can no longer rule without resorting to diabolical diversions and communal crimes. It exposed to the people their powerlessness in this so-called largest democracy of the world. Broad masses of people were outraged that the two biggest parties in Parliament can get away with any heinous crime to expand their vote banks and to divert and divide the people. The outrage among the people gave rise to the movement for people’s empowerment through radical changes in the nature of democracy and its political process.
To subvert the rising political awareness among the people and the striving for people’s empowerment, the ruling class resorted to the division of the polity into secular and religious camps, in addition to its division into majority and minority religious communities. The notion was promoted that the source of communalism and communal violence lies in religious fundamentalism, practised by various organisations of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and others. Some Hindu and Muslim organisations were even banned following the destruction of Babri Masjid, to buttress the false notion that the problem comes from such non-state actors while the State is secular and defends everyone’s right to conscience.
Secularisation refers to the progressive elimination of religious authority from social and political affairs. A secular state, by definition, is one which respects and defends the right of every individual to his or her conscience; and does not interfere in religious affairs. The Indian State is not a secular state in this real sense of the term. The secularism of this State is an imperialist philosophy derived from the British colonialists, who preached “tolerance” while inciting people to fight one another on the basis of religion. It is based on the British colonial concoction that Indian society consists of a Hindu majority and a Muslim minority, who are at war with each other; and that it was the “white man’s burden” to maintain “communal harmony”.
The secularism of the Congress Party is this imperialist outlook and method of inciting communal strife while preaching tolerance and harmony. Leaders of this party keep repeating the mantra that “the majority community must be tolerant towards the religious minorities”, which shows their communal outlook. The Congress Party fought to reverse the Supreme Court verdict in the Shah Bano case, and opened the locks of Babri Masjid, thereby fuelling communal strife, all in the name of appeasing religious sentiments.
The 1950 Constitution, adopted by a Constituent Assembly that was elected on the basis of separate electoral constituencies for Hindus, Muslims and other minorities, failed to live up to the expectations of our people. It did not make a fundamental break with the enslaving institutions, theories and methods of colonial governance. It did not provide any guarantee for the Right to Conscience, which people in our subcontinent have been fighting for since the time of the Bhakti and Sufi movements and from even before.
While pretending to uphold “freedom of religion”, the Constitution empowers the State and parties in power to interfere in religious affairs and to persecute people for their beliefs. Article 25 states that people of the Sikh, Jaina and Buddhist faiths are all Hindus, in blatant disregard of their right to conscience.
The real aim of the propaganda against religious fundamentalism today is to cover up the fact that the problem is political. It is to hide the fact that its source lies in the State and the political process that permit communal crimes to be committed, and for the guilty to go unpunished. It is not a problem of some ideological beliefs, nor is it merely a problem of some non-state actors.
Justice requires convicting and meting out appropriate punishment to the guilty of crimes against our people – including the mass communal crimes as in 1984, in 1992-93, 2002 and at various other times.
Those who are fighting for justice and to end communalism and communal violence have to face up to the fact that the real source of the problem lies in the very foundation of the existing State and its Constitution.
The times are calling for a clean break with the colonial legacy, by laying new foundations for a State and political process that would empower the people. There is need for the people to establish a modern Constitution that guarantees the right to conscience; as well as all other human rights, democratic rights and national rights. This is a necessary condition to end communal violence once and for all, along with all old and new forms of exploitation and oppression.
The Communist Ghadar Party is committed to the cause of people’s empowerment through the reconstitution of the State and political process, based on the modern definition of rights. This will pave the way for the working class to lead the toiling majority of people to reorient the economy and reshape our destiny, to ensure prosperity and protection for all, and for India to become a progressive and enlightened force in the global arena.
We call on all civilised political, social and cultural organisations to join hands in this struggle for the Navnirman of India!