BJP isn't just a threat to Muslims, it's anti-Constitution: Ayodhya litigant
Khaliq Khan is a nominee of one of the litigants in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case. He is also the Head of the local Helal Committee and an outspoken campaigner of equal rights for Muslims. Some excerpts.
Do you believe the Yogi government to be against Muslims?
It is not just that the BJP governments both in the state and the Centre are threatening our way of life and our culture but they are anti-Constitution as well. What is happening in the north-east, in Kerala, in Madhya Pradesh, and of course in Uttar Pradesh affects Muslims, other minorities like Christians and even Hindus, unless you don’t count Dalits as Hindus.
Is this Eid any different from the past?
All the slaughterhouses have remained shut since the Yogi government was sworn in. buffalo meat is not illegal and the it is the job of the local municipality to ensure that slaughterhouses are constructed and maintained but despite the recent Supreme Court ruling, we had Eid without buffalo meat, which is the most affordable. Today mutton is selling for Rs 500 a kg and chicken at over Rs 200.
Not everybody can afford to eat mutton and chicken. This government has one minister who is a Muslim and not a single Muslim MLA is from the BJP but that shouldn’t mean that our concerns are sidelined.
On the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri masjid dispute, some local Muslims are In favour of a negotiated settlement. Some have even proposed that they have no problem if a temple is built at the disputed site as demanded by the VHP. What is your stand on an out-of-court settlement?
First of all, yes, there are certain Muslims who switch to the government’s side after every election. They are driven purely by self-interest. By supporting the stand of the BJP and VHP, they wish to gain benefits from the government. They are insignificant as far as the dispute is concerned and are not to be taken seriously.
Our stand, which is the stand of the Sunni Central Waqf Board and the majority of Muslim organisations, is clear. The temple can be built anywhere in the outer courtyard, it can be built on the Ram Chabutra which was demolished by the kar sevaks in 1992 and which stood right next to the Babri mosque. We have no problem.
But don’t you think that is the mosque and temple are built in close proximity there will be a potential for conflicts in the future?
Look, we have no problem with a temple and mosque being built next to each other. If the VHP has a problem then they should answer why they can’t tolerate that idea. It will be fair and will be a good example of mutual respect and harmony. In any case there are many mosques in Ayodhya and except a few VHP supporters, the locals are have no problem.
There is a perception that the Muslim litigants don’t wish to resolve the dispute through dialogue. Is that a correct impression?
Absolutely not. There is a lot of misinformation that has been publicised as truth. Firstly, there is no one unified position of the Hindu litigants. Out of the fourteen appeals against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict, five are by Hindu parties. Three of the Hindu appeals are against the deity Ram Lalla Viraajmaan. My sense is that the VHP doesn’t want to build the temple and keep the issue alive for political gains. If Hindus are litigating against each other, who do we negotiate with? People don’t even know that the VHP is not even a litigant in the case! They are merely using the issue for votes.
Alright, why did the Muslims appeal against the High Court verdict of 2010 which gave Sunni Central Waqf Board one-third of the land and also accepted that it was a mosque that existed there for four hundred years?
Because our position has been clear since the beginning. We want the court to decide the ownership of the land where Babri mosque stood. Once the Court decides that we will abide by its decision. Instead in 2010, the High Court divided the land between three parties, the NIrmohi Akhara, Ramlalla Viraajman, the deity, and the Sunni Central Waqf Board.
Now, you are asking me why we appealed against the verdict. But you should know that the Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu body also appealed against it. Why did it do so? Wouldn’t it be easy to accept the verdict and allow the construction of a temple? They didn’t do so because they act at the behest of the BJP and the VHP who want to milk the sentiments of Hindus for votes.
The Archaeological Survey of India’s report in 2002-03 concludes that there was a ‘massive structure underlying the mosque’. It also talks about pillar bases, and other elements of a Hindu temple.
When the exacavations were being done in 2002, I was present there at the site. Based on our complaints, the High Court had removed Dr BR Mani as the team leader of the excavation.
Most importantly, the report concludes that the eighty four pillar bases were found at a distance of ten feet from each other. And then it says that the pillars that were inside the Babri mosque were placed on these bases before that temple was destroyed by Babur in 1528. It’s a flawed report and is totally biased. Can you imagine a temple which rested on four feet high pillars placed at a distance of ten feet from each other. Were they worshippers supposed to crawl inside such a temple?
But there were those black Basalt pillars inside the mosque, you can’t deny that.
Yes, there were. But that it not enough to prove that a Hindu temple was destroyed these pillars were from that temple. The pillars were decorative pieces, and could have belonged to a Jain temple or a Buddhist temple. The pillar theory falls flat even by the ASI’s own theory as laid out in the 2002-03 report. But, how many people have read it. Most of the media just repeats whatever is said by VHP-linked so called experts.
The ground-penetrating radar survey, better known as the Tojo report, is also cited as proof of a Hindu temple.
Let’s stick to the facts. The report found 182 anomalies under the Babri mosque or let’s say under the ground on which Babri mosque once stood. These anomalies could have been in the form of walls, bases, etc… The report itself said these anomalies needed to be confirmed by excavation.
The 2002-03 ASI report could confirm only 32 anomalies and then out of these, 16 anomalies were nothing but the foundation wall of the Babri mosque. But still, the report went on to conclude that there existed a massive structure below the mosque. The facts are quite different from what floats in the media.
What’s the solution for this dispute in your view?
Let the Supreme Court decide. The Ayodhya Acquisition Act guarantees that both Hindu and Muslim places of worship of places will be built along with a library, hospital and a public amenities complex. It’s a win-win. We will abide by whatever the Court decides.