BBC News – How the Babri mosque destruction shaped India

On this day, 25 years ago, right-wing Hindu mobs razed to the ground the 16th Century Babri mosque, claiming that it was built on the site of a temple destroyed by Muslim rulers. The BBC’s former India correspondent, Mark Tully, traces the rise of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party since that event.

On 6 December 1992, in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya, I saw a historic mosque, standing on ground believed to be the birthplace of the god Rama, demolished by riotous Hindu nationalists.

It was the culmination of a six-year campaign spearheaded by the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, to destroy the mosque and replace it with a temple.

A crowd of some 15,000 that had assembled there suddenly surged forward, broke through the police cordons defending the mosque, swarmed over the building and started tearing it down.

As I watched the last cordon collapse and the police walk away with their wicker shields held above their heads for protection from the stones raining down on them, with an officer pushing his men aside to get out first, I realised I was witnessing a historic event – the most significant triumph for Hindu nationalism since independence and the gravest setback to secularism.

Political scientist Zoya Hasan has called the demolition of the mosque “the most blatant act of defiance of law in modern India”.

She sees it as “a watershed for Indian nationhood”.

But on the evening of the destruction, Ram Dutt Tripathi, the BBC’s correspondent in Uttar Pradesh, the state in which Ayodhya is situated, was sanguine.

He said the Hindu nationalists had “killed the hen which laid the golden egg” by demolishing the mosque, arguing that for them the presence of the mosque on what they believed was Rama’s birthplace was the emotive issue, not the desire to build a temple there.

He maintained that the fervour of the Ram Temple movement would decline now that the mosque was no longer there.

At first it seemed that Ram Dutt had got it wrong. Blood was shed in Hindu-Muslim riots in different parts of India. The worst riots were in Mumbai, where an estimated 900 people were killed and the police were accused of siding with Hindus.

But the riots subsided and the campaign to build a temple on the site of the mosque in Ayodhya lost momentum.

The BJP had hoped the demolition of the mosque would consolidate Hindu votes in its favour but the party did not succeed in forming governments in three states where assembly elections were held in 1993. One of the states was Uttar Pradesh.

In the three general elections held in the second half of the nineties, the BJP did gain steadily and, in 1999, it was able to form a stable coalition government.

But the BJP’s rise to power in the centre for the first time owed a great deal to the turmoil in its main opposition, the Congress party.

The former Congress PM, Rajiv Gandhi, was assassinated in 1991, leaving the party without a leader from the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which had held it together since independence.

The only possible candidate, Rajiv’s apolitical, Italian-born widow, Sonia, refused to become involved in politics.

The elderly, long-serving minister in the central government, P V Narasimha Rao, was chosen to head a minority government in 1991.

His failure to protect the mosque was used by his rivals to undermine him by alleging that he was a Hindu nationalist rather than a secular Congress man, and the party was divided and in disarray when the time came to fight the 1996 election.

But in 1999, when the BJP did form a stable coalition, neither Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee nor his powerful number two, Lal Krishna Advani, believed Ayodhya had created such a large Hindu vote that they could set about implementing their party’s Hindu nationalist, or Hindutva, agenda, and reviving the Ayodhya temple issue.

They believed the BJP still needed to be centrist, rather than a right-wing nationalist party, if their coalition was to hold together and get enough support from diverse sections of the population to win the next election.

Mr Advani once said to me: “Hinduism is so varied you can’t actually appeal to Hindus in the name of religion.”

Many in the BJP believe the party would not have lost the 1994 election if they had consolidated Hindu votes under the Hindu nationalism banner.

But that defeat was mainly due to the BJP’s faulty choice of allies and Sonia Gandhi managing to weld the Congress party together again and breathe new life into it when she agreed to take over the leadership. Under her, Congress governed for 10 years.

Perhaps the Ayodhya incident, significant though it was, didn’t create a Hindu vote that changed the political landscape of India.

Maybe that watershed has now been reached with the victory of the BJP in the 2014 election, it gave the party its first absolute majority in parliament and a prime minister (Narendra Modi) who hasn’t hesitated to actively promote Hindu nationalism and has started to implement his party’s Hindutva agenda.

For instance, there is his government’s ban on buying cows for slaughter in animal markets, there is the promotion of Hindi, and there are the appointments of Hindutva sympathisers to top posts in educational and cultural organisations.

Although Mr Modi constantly proclaims his aim is to develop India for all Indians, Muslims are barely represented in BJP governments in the centre and in the states.

The chief minister Mr Modi has selected to govern India’s most populous and politically important state, Uttar Pradesh, is renowned for his hostility to Muslims.

But Mr Modi was not elected primarily on a Hindu vote.

The main plank of his election campaign was the promise to develop and change India.

The success of that campaign owes a lot to the fact that the Congress was back in disarray. There are already signs that he will moderate his ban on cow slaughter because of the effect it is having on the farmers’ vote.

Hinduism remains a very varied religion and India is a very diverse country with an ancient, pluralist tradition.

So it’s still not clear in my mind that Mr Modi will reach or even intends to reach the watershed, which would mark the end of secular India and the creation of a Hindu nation.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-42219773

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Sikh24.com – Jagtar Singh Johal indicted in another case; activists build momentum worldwide

P Singh

London-UK, 5 December 2017. Scottish Sikh youth Jagtar Singh Johal (Jaggi), who has been arrested by the Punjab police in serial murders in Punjab, has been now nominated by the Ludhiana Police in an FIR pertaining to shooting incident which occurred outside an RSS branch in Ludhiana.

The Ludhiana police succeeded in obtaining Jaggi’s two days police remand from the Court in this case on 3 December.

It may be recalled here that on January 18, 2016 two unidentified bike riders had fired bullets on an RSS branch situated in park of Kidwai Nagar of Ludhiana. An FIR No. 7/16 was registered in this concern in Police Station Division No. 8 of Ludhiana.

Scottish Sikh youth Jagtar Singh Johal was arrested in relation to this murder and he was named in FIRs in additional cases after his arrest.

Meanwhile, a lot of pressure is building in the UK as human rights activists are asking the Government to take up the case with the Indian Government.

The Sikh Federation (UK), which is involved in the case, has contacted over 150 MPs so far, asking them for support. The Sikh Federation (UK) launched Phase 2 of its campaign to gather support from UK Government officials.

Yesterday, programmes took place in various places abroad, including England, California, Australia and Germany to raise awareness for Jagtar Singh Johal. “We are looking forward to organizing protests outside Indian consulates if Jaggi is not given a fair trial.

All what we are asking for is that he has access to the UK FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office),” said Gurpreet Singh, a Sikh activist who came to Stockton Gurdwara from Yuba City to join program being held to raise awareness for Jaggi.

Sikh activists also carried out a campaign in Jaggi’s support this past Sunday. Hundreds of activists targeted Punjab Police and Chief Minister’s handle, appealing them to not abuse Jaggi’s human rights. Tweets were carried with the hashtag #FreeJaggiNow.

A petition started to UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also crossed 46,000 signatures.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/12/05/jaggi-indicted-in-another-case-activists-build-momentum-worldwide/#.WieKFjdrzIU

Oostende – West Vlaanderen

Oostende
Plakkerstraat and tower
7 November 2017

Shri Guru Ravidass Bhawan
Plakkersstraat, Oostende
Not open daily like the Gent Gurdwara


Shri Guru Ravidass Bhawan
Plakkersstraat, Oostende

All I know about this tower is that it is nearer to the station than to the Ravidas Bhawan

Oostende
De Lijn Trams
7 November 2017

De Lijn Tram to De Panne
This tram line  is about 75 km long and runs from near the border with the Netherlands to near the border with France

Southbound ‘Kusttram’ to De Panne

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Ilford Recorder – Sikh running club holds event for Woodford Green girl with rare brain tumour

A Sikh running club gave back to the community recently by hosting a charity event to raise money for a young girl with an incurable brain tumour.

Rosaleen Fenton

04 December 2017. The Team Kaleigh 10K Challenge was organised to raise additional funds for seven-year-old Kaleigh Lau, of Snakes Lane East, Woodford Green.

In April last year, Kaleigh, was told she had Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a very rare and aggressive tumour.

Since then she began to suffer double vision, unbalanced walking and her left hand became very weak.

Earlier this year, she started travelling to Mexico every month with her family, to try and find a way of halting the tumour through a pioneering treatment.

So far, Kaleigh has responded well to the treatment and now Team Kaleigh is raising money in order to ensure the seven-year-old can continue to travel abroad.

At Sikhs in the City Running Club on November 26, a whole host of friends, family and complete strangers united to run a challenging 10K on a blustery winter day.

Mayor of Redbridge Councillor Linda Huggett gave a rousing speech before starting the race and was on hand to present medals for every runner.

She said: “It’s amazing to see everyone here today and I congratulate every runner for their dedication and human spirit.”

Celebrated runners included Jog on Hijabi Lynne Northcott, who is preparing for the London Marathon whilst raising money for a Gambia water project for Penny Appeal, Timi Veerasamy from Dagenham 88 and prolific long distance running legend Harmander Singh.

Organiser Jason Li said that the most uplifting moment of the race was watching “brave Kaleigh take part and complete the course in her wheelchair”.

He added: “I’m just relieved the event ran like clockwork.

“The weather was cold but the sun was out. We had no rain and even little Kaleigh participated.

“Everyone looks so happy and there is a great spirit of togetherness – It’s been perfect.”

Kaleigh’s Father Scott Lau thanked everyone for their support: “We are very blessed to have so many people come out and support Kaleigh and her determination has spurred us on even more. It’s just been an amazing day.

“We will do whatever it takes to make life easier for Kaleigh and it’s just fantastic that we have so many unbelievable people joining us on this journey.

“I’m really proud of everybody and immensely inspired by my own daughter. This illness hasn’t got a cure at the moment and we want to make a change as Team Kaleigh.

“It’s been emotional and we are full of pride – thank you everyone.”

The route was run on Roding Lane South, Woodford Bridge Road and Woodford Avenue with several friendly volunteer marshalls manning road crossings.

Readers who wish to make a donation should state clearly your full name, add a reference: “TK 10K” with your deposit and if possible an email to jasonli.kaleighstrust@gmail.com so that it can be added to the event’s fundraising total.

Payee: Kaleigh Lau Account No: 98159575 Sort Code: 09-01-28

For event updates or to find out more about Kaleigh’s story and her new UK Petition, please visit her website at kaleigh.ethanet.co.uk

http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/sikh-running-club-holds-event-for-woodford-green-girl-with-rare-brain-tumour-1-5307652

The Hindu – Ayodhya title dispute: SC refuses plea to defer hearing till after 2019 elections

Bench fixes the date for final hearing on February 8, 2018. The appeals are against a September 2010 judgment for a three-way partition of the disputed site in Ayodhya.

Krishnadas Rajagopal

New Delhi-India, 5 December 2017. The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused requests by appellant parties belonging to the minority community to defer the hearing in the Ramjanmabhoomi–Babri Masjid land dispute till after 15 July 2019, that is, post the next general elections.

On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid by kar sevaks, a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra remained undeterred by submissions that a Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya title dispute hearing right now would invite serious repercussions across the country.

The Bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, fixed the date for final hearing on 8 February 2018.

“Serious ramifications”

The court did not entertain, for now, a plea to refer the 13 appeals, including one filed by the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, to a five-judge Constitution Bench. The appeals are against a September 2010 judgment delivered by a three-judge Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court for a three-way partition of the disputed site in Ayodhya.

The appellants Mohamed Hashim, M Siddiq, Misbahuddeen and Farooq Ahmad, represented by senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhawan and Dushyant Dave, respectively, said the dispute was not just any other civil suit but probably the most important case in the history of India which would “decide the future of the polity”.

“The appeals will have My Lords decide whether this is a country where a mosque can be destroyed. This is not just another title suit. These appeals go to the very heart of our secular and democratic fabric,” Mr. Dhawan argued.

“Government is keen to have the court hear these appeals. Don’t fall into the trap,” Mr. Dave joined in.

Mr Sibal said the government was using the judiciary to realise its agenda for a Ram Mandir assured in the ruling BJP’s 2014 election manifesto. A hearing now fits the Sangh Parivar assurances to realise their promise of a temple through legal means, he said.

Mr Sibal also dissuaded the Supreme Court from hearing the appeals now, saying a “decision in the case will invite serious ramifications. Now is not the right time to hear it. It will have repercussions. It is already happening. Post it after July 15, 2019, when everything is over. We will not ask for an adjournment then”.

Uttar Pradesh government said it was ready to argue and reminded the court that it had refused, in the previous hearing in August, to entertain any adjournments when it posted for opening statements today. Mr Sibal protested, saying there were 190,00 documents involved in the case and it would only be fair on the part of the court to allow the lawyers more time to prepare.

“This case will be the most important case in India’s history. This will decide the future of India,” Mr Sibal submitted.

“Just a case like any other” vs “Not an ordinary suit”

Justice Ashok Bhushan, on the Bench with Justice S Abdul Nazeer, reminded Mr Sibal that it was the appellants who had wanted an early hearing in December/January of 2017. “Your submissions are non-serious,” Justice Bhushan observed.

At one point, Sibal, Dhawan and Dave made as if to leave the courtroom when the Bench refused their pleas and turned to hear senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, for the deity Ram Lalla, who offered to kick-off the hearing by making the opening statement.

In his counter, senior advocate Harish Salve for the respondents said the court need not be bothered by any repercussions outside. That is not the lookout of the court. As far as the court is concerned, the Ayodhya title dispute is just “a case” like any other before it, Mr Salve submitted.

“I’m not for a cause but for a client here… the strongest statement this court can make is to treat this case like any other and get on with the hearing,” Mr Salve submitted.

But Mr Sibal countered Mr Salve by pointing to how a five-judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India M N Venkatachaliah had refused a Presidential reference in 1994 on the question whether Ram Mandir should be built in the disputed land and on the question of acquisition of land on 7 January 1993.

The Bench had also pronounced a token punishment to former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, under whose watch the monument was demolished.

“It was a rare occasion when the SC refused a Presidential reference… so this is not just an ordinary suit,” Mr Sibal said.

Mosque as an essential part of Islam

Mr Dhawan objected to Mr Salve, saying the case covers religion and faith and dates back to the era of King Vikramaditya.

The senior counsel said the question of whether a mosque was an essential part of Islam had to be decided. The senior counsel referred to the 1994 three-judge Bench judgment of the Supreme Court in the Dr M Ismail Faruqui case, which had held that “the right to practise, profess and propagate religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution does not necessarily include the right to acquire or own or possess property. Similarly this right does not extend to the right of worship at any and every place of worship”.

“So is the mosque not an essential part of Islam? Muslims cannot go to the garden and pray,” Mr Dhawan submitted. He said the appeals should be referred to a five-judge Bench as it dealt with an important constitutional issue.

Mr Salve however countered that a reference to a larger Bench need to be made only as and when such an “occasion or context” arose, and not now.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ayodhya-title-dispute-sc-refuses-plea-to-defer-hearing-till-after-2019-elections/article21267595.ece?homepage=true