Leuven: Heilige Drievuldigheidscollege – Grote Markt

Heilige Drievuldigheidscollege 
Oude Markt, Leuven
Both my potia go to school here
02 December 2019

Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) visits the school

Arashdeep Kaur on the left

A better picture !

Opa Harjinder Singh dancing with Arashdeep’s teacher

Trying to do something complicated that did not quite work !

Opa, Saint Nicholas, Arash’s friend and Arash

Leuven Grote Markt
02 December 2019


More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Scroll.in – Hindu mandir in Britain hosts politically motivated speech, calling Labour Party ‘anti-Modi’

A clear call to action to the ‘Indian’ vote in the coming UK elections.

In a video from a Hindu mandir in Britain, a man is seen giving a speech urging British Hindus and Sikhs to vote in favour of Britain’s Conservative party, led by current UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The National Hindu Council of Temples in the UK has previously come under fire for material on its website and sending out emails to its members that openly praised and supported Theresa May, and expressed strong distaste for Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party.

“The trustees [of NHCT] have assured us that the charity is politically neutral and will not seek to or indicate that it supports a particular political party or candidate,” said a spokesperson for the Charity Commission at the time.

However, the recent speech delivered on the mandir’s premises (above) supports the Conservative Party, and disavows the Labour Party, once again mentioning Jeremy Corbyn.

The speech also asserts that the Labour Party is “anti-Modi,” and are “supporters of separatist jihadis,” apparently drawing upon Indian politics to motivate Hindu voters in Britain. This speech came the same day that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu mandir in London and vowed to support Narendra Modi.


Gentbrugge: Laan van Rode – Mathilde Pedestraat and Gent-Sint-Pieters

Sint-Pieters – Dampoort
Railway viaduct
10 November 2019

E17 and railway viaduct

Railway viaduct

Mathilde Pedestraat
10 November 2019

Sint-Eligiuskerk (church)

Private Street

11 November 2019

Intercity to Brussel via Aalst

I don’t know why I took two pictures of the same train

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Sputnik – Pakistan moves to embrace its minorities by opening the doors of Hindu Mandirs

New Delhi – India, 18 November 2019. India and Pakistan have opened the Kartarpur Corridor, allowing Indian pilgrims to worship throughout the year at a Sikh shrine in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Pakistan has historically been uneasy with its Hindu heritage but things seem to be changing under the ruling Imran Khan government.

Pakistan’s ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s spokesperson Ahman Jawad has announced plans to restore Hindu places of worship.

The India-Pakistan partition in 1947 resulted in the closure Hindu and Sikh shrines in the country.

A survey by the All-Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement earlier this year revealed that at the time of partition, 428 Hindu mandirs existed in Pakistan but only 20 remain operational.

In April this year, the Pakistan government announced plans to re-open 400 of the 428 mandirs. It also cleared a plan to allow Indian tourists to visit Sharda Peeth, an ancient Hindu religious and cultural site in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Taking another positive step towards the minority Hindus, Jagannath Mandir in Pakistan’s Sialkot city was reopened in July after 72 years.

The changes are not just at the bureaucratic level, but also at the judicial level, with the Supreme Court of Pakistan making judgements in favour of Hindus.

Similarly, in September 2019, Muslims escorted Hindus to a mandir in Ghotki district after riots broke out in the area over an alleged blasphemy committed by a Hindu teacher.

Pakistan also plans to begin the renovation of two to three historic and heritage mandirs every year. The restoration process will begin with two historic mandirs, the 1,000-year old Shivalaya Teja Singh Temple in Sialkot and Gorakhnath Temple in Peshawar.


Pieter Friedrich – Ayodhya: A symbol of rule of lawlessness

The verdict set a precedent for legitimizing a Mafia-style approach


“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever,” wrote George Orwell.

Published by The Polis Project, 14 November 2019. Nineteen Eighty-Four is not only the title of Orwell’s dystopian novel, but also the year that the future changed forever for the Republic of India. The events of that year reverberated around the world once again on 9 November 2019 when the Supreme Court of India issued a judgment in a land dispute.

For decades, India’s courts kicked around various lawsuits filed by plaintiffs asserting their right of ownership to a disputed property in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.

The Supreme Court’s final ruling came thirty years after the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), categorized by the USA Central Intelligence Agency as a “religious militant organization”, laid at the site a foundation-stone for a temple [mandir] to the Hindu deity, Ram. The land belonged, the court ruled, to the infant god Ram.

Since the infant did not appear in court to take possession of his property, control passed into the hands of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, a VHP-controlled trust.

Yet rather than entrusting the Nyas with building a Ram Mandir (temple), the court ordered the Central Government to create a new trust to ensure construction. Thus, India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) apparently entered the temple-building business.

Because what began in 1984 is of monumental consequence to the present, we must peer back into the past.

In October 1984, as the ruling party in New Delhi organized a massacre of Sikhs that shook the nation to the core, the communal fuse lit by the VHP was already burning.

In April 1984, the Hindu nationalist group launched a campaign which would eventually fundamentally alter the political landscape of India. The VHP set out to gain control of the alleged birthplace of Ram, which they claimed was located in Ayodhya. They wanted to build a Ram Mandir, but faced one key challenge.

The Babri Masjid, a mosque, had stood on that location for nearly 500 years.

Before they could build, the VHP had first to destroy. So they started laying the groundwork.

In October 1984, they founded a youth wing called Bajrang Dal (also now categorized by the CIA as a “religious militant organization”) and began drumming up public awareness and support for the campaign by organizing rath yatras (chariot processions) to Ram janmabhoomi (Ram’s birthplace) in Ayodhya.

Meanwhile, Ram Lalla, the infant deity, filed a lawsuit demanding the title to the land where the mosque stood. In July 1989, an Uttar Pradesh High Court recognized Ram Lalla as a legal entity and approved a former judge turned VHP executive to represent the deity. The god himself was, in the eyes of the courts, laying claim to the site.

By October 1989, the movement had generated riots in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, and Bhagalpur, Bihar, that claimed the lives of well over a thousand people, mostly Muslims.

Then, on 9 November 1989, the VHP escalated the issue by laying a foundation-stone for the proposed temple on a plot of land just opposite the mosque. “To the fundamentalists, the communal bloodbath of the last few months matters little,” wrote journalist Pankaj Pachauri a few weeks later.

“Ashok Singhal, general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), makes it clear that no amount of blood-letting will stop his cadres from constructing the Ram temple at the controversial site which includes a 16th century mosque.”


The religious demand had already become a political one.

The BJP was formed in 1980 by pracharaks (full-time workers) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) paramilitary as a political arm to advance the RSS’s Hindu supremacist agenda. In June 1989, the BJP formally joined the VHP’s campaign. Religion and politics are always a volatile and inevitably explosive mix, this time was no different.

BJP President L K Advani led the charge in 1990.

Setting out from Gujarat on a Ram rath yatra, Advani rode in a minibus mocked up as Ram’s chariot. Heading for Ayodhya, he plotted a circuitous 10,000 kilometer route across the heartland of the Indian subcontinent.

Flanked at times by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a member of parliament, and Narendra Modi, a RSS pracharak, he was trailed by thousands of kar sevaks (activists) from the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, and other groups.

As reported by News18, “Modi was the architect of Advani’s yatra plans.”

The procession halted in multiple cities per day so Advani could deliver rousing speeches. His remarks were apparently over-stimulating, his swelling body of itinerant followers killed scores of Muslims along the way.

The day before he was scheduled to enter Uttar Pradesh, Advani was arrested. With the icon of the movement behind bars, anti-Muslim riots erupted in several states, leaving hundreds dead.

In Ayodhya, VHP activists surrounded and surged towards the Babri Masjid, attempting to demolish it as they erected a saffron flag atop its dome. Police intervention left approximately 20 people dead. “This episode reinforced the champion-of-Hinduism image that the BJP had been trying to acquire,” wrote political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot.

It also set the stage for the drama to be fully played out.

In 1991, the BJP campaigned on a pledge to build a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, calling it “a symbol of the vindication of our cultural heritage and national self-respect.” They fell short nationally but rose to power in Uttar Pradesh. With the state government in the BJP’s hands, the Babri Masjid soon came tumbling down.

On 6 December 1992, hundreds of thousands rallied around the mosque to listen to speeches by the then BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi, MP Uma Bharti and Advani. Sparked by their fiery rhetoric, an activist or two burst past police, climbed up the mosque, and once again planted a saffron flag atop it. A firestorm ensued.

“We saw them break through the first police barrier,” said journalist Mark Tully, who was an eyewitness. “The police did not seem to resist them at all, I saw this sight of a police officer pushing his way through his men so that he could run away faster than the men. And the police just deserted.”

Given free rein, activists swarmed the mosque. Armed with crowbars, pickaxes, sledgehammers and their bare hands, they tore apart the structure in a matter of hours, subsequently erecting a makeshift temple in its place and installing a statue of Ram Lalla.

Then came the pogroms.

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the police in Ayodhya were either absent or participating when mobs of hundreds roamed the streets in the pre-dawn hours of 7 December, beating, sometimes lynching, Muslims and burning their homes and businesses.

“This was not just some mindless and wanton destruction of human life and property by the kar sevaks in order to sustain the high they had achieved only a few hours ago by razing the Babri Masjid to the ground,” one eyewitness stated. “On the contrary, they worked to a carefully crafted plan.”

The flames of violence fanned across the land and were still burning bright when the new year dawned.

“The violence of the 1992-93 riots following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992 exceeded anything India had yet experienced since Partition,” wrote Jaffrelot. Thousands, perhaps up to 3,000, died. Most were Muslims.

In the wake of the violence, the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal, collectively known as the Sangh Parivar (family of organizations), were all briefly banned, but their willingness to embrace brutality as the means to the end they desired had already set the tone for the anthem the Hindu nationalist movement continues to sing.

For Muslims, the destruction represented what international relations expert Dibyesh Anand called a “poetics of fear” where “minority Muslims have no option but to accept their subjugation or face further violence from the awakened Hindu nation.”

For Hindu extremists, however, it was what sociologist Prema Kurien defined as “a watershed event in the history of the Hindu nationalist movement” which “propelled the BJP and its Sangh Parivar affiliates into the limelight.”

As HRW reported: “The campaign to build a Ram temple at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, which was hugely successful in cultivating a national Hindu vote bank, helped catapult the BJP into power in the early 1990s.”


During the 1998 national elections, the BJP declared its commitment to facilitating construction of a “magnificent” Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. The party emerged victorious with Vajpayee as Prime Minister. Advani was tapped not only as deputy prime minister but also as Home Minister (tasked with law and order) while MM Joshi was made minister of Human Resource Development (tasked with education).

All three were RSS men.

Vajpayee was 15 years old when he joined the RSS in 1939, a year before M S Golwalkar took over as the second and longest-serving leader of the paramilitary.

It was the same year that Golwalkar published his infamous manifesto, We or Our Nationhood Defined, in which he proclaimed: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to shake off the despoilers.”

He declared that “we, Hindus, are at war at once with the Moslems” who “take themselves to be the conquering invaders and grasp for power.” The “cause of our ills,” he insisted, was the day that “the Moslems first tread upon this land.”

Yet Golwalkar saw a glimmer of hope, claiming that the Hindu “is rousing himself up again and the world has to see the might of the regenerated Hindu Nation strike down the enemy’s hosts with its mighty arm.”

In 1947, as India was about to become independent from the British Empire, Golwalkar visited the maharajah of the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir to pressure him to expand his militia.

His visit came within weeks of a pogrom against Muslims in Jammu in which the maharajah and the RSS collaborated to wipe out tens of thousands, or more. That was the year that Vajpayee became an RSS pracharak.

Despite growing up immersed in the Islamophobia of the RSS, Vajpayee’s administration was generally moderate.

The BJP, unable to win an absolute majority in the 1998 elections, was forced to form a coalition with other parties. Consequently, Jaffrelot explains that it “reverted to its moderate line, discarding the manipulation of religious symbols for political purposes in favor of touting more legitimate issues such as national unity and economic independence.”

The party “put on the backburner contentious issues” such as the pledge to construct Ram Mandir, as well as its promise to abolish Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Everything changed with the advent of Modi.

After assisting Advani’s Ram rath yatra, Modi swiftly advanced up the BJP hierarchy. In 1998, he was rewarded with a national position as organizing secretary of the BJP. By October 2001, political wrangling in Gujarat ended in his appointment as the state’s Chief Minister.

Almost immediately, the Ayodhya conflict engulfed Gujarat. Ten years after the Babri Masjid was destroyed, Modi earned the ignominious appellation of Butcher of Gujarat.

On 27 February 2002, a train filled with VHP activists was returning from Ayodhya to Gujarat when someone pulled the emergency cord. The train stopped, it was allegedly set upon by a mob of Muslims, and several coaches caught fire. Fifty-nine Hindus, mostly women and children, died in the blaze.

Modi responded by immediately (and without evidence) declaring it an act of terrorism perpetrated by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In a televised event, the dead were removed from the train as Modi ordered their charred corpses to be transported, uncovered, for 100 kilometers from Godhra to Ahmedabad. The dead were handed over to the VHP, which then paraded the bodies through the streets.

On 28 February, the Sangh Parivar initiated a statewide pogrom against Muslims.

As reported by HRW, the attacks “were planned, well in advance of the Godhra incident, and organized with extensive police participation.” Over three days, the Sangh slaughtered thousands.

“The groups most directly responsible for violence against Muslims in Gujarat include the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal, the ruling BJP, and the umbrella organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh,” reported HRW. Leaflets distributed by the VHP vowed to kill Muslims in the same way as the Babri Masjid was destroyed.

Overseeing it all was Modi, a fact repeatedly revealed by whistleblowers like BJP State Minister Haren Pandya and Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence Sanjiv Bhatt as well as participants in the pogrom who were caught fingering the chief minister on camera in a 2007 sting conducted by an Indian magazine.

VHP chief Ashok Singhal, the architect of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, reportedly described the Gujarat pogrom as a “successful experiment which will be repeated all over the country.” He lauded entire villages “emptied of Islam” as a “victory for Hindu society.”

Then, in 2003, Singhal denounced Prime Minister Vajpayee for supposedly being “the only person in the BJP and Sangh Parivar opposed to the Ram temple movement.”

“The destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, and the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002 are two spectacular events that have been etched into the memory of Hindu nationalists as symbols of the awakened Hindu nation,” wrote Anand. “These are held out as the prime illustrations of the Hindu nationalist awakening.” The election of Modi was the culmination of that awakening.


The BJP was voted out of power in 2004, but returned with a roar in 2014 after Modi campaigned on his identity as a Hindutvavadi, an adherent of Hindutva, the religious nationalist political ideology of Hindu supremacy which guides the Sangh.

Modi’s first term as prime minister was marked by a sharp rise in anti-minority violence but little in terms of advancing the Sangh’s political goals on a national level. Rather, he focused on consolidating his power and stacking his cabinet with RSS men.

Within six months of his reelection in May 2019, however, his government achieved the top two most controversial items on the BJP’s religious nationalist agenda.

In August, the Modi regime scrapped Article 370 and stripped Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim majority state in India, of statehood. Boosting its troop presence by tens of thousands, instituting a communications blackout and mass-arresting the entire civil society, the BJP accomplished a full annexation of the previously mostly autonomous region.

Then, three months later, came the Ayodhya verdict.

Welcoming the verdict, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat declared: “The building of Ram Mandir will end a major issue of friction between Hindus and Muslims.” Top VHP executive Alok Kumar called it “one of the greatest judicial verdicts in the world.” Yet, implying continued friction, Kumar insisted that the “judgement is not the end of the story, it is the beginning.”

Friction remains over the impunity enjoyed by the Sangh after the devastation it wrought in Ayodhya.

Advani, Joshi, Bharti, and several others (including Mahant Nrityagopal Das, head of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas) are still facing criminal conspiracy charges for the role they played in instigating, perhaps even organizing, the destruction of the Babri Masjid and the pogroms that followed it. Yet no sentence was ever passed on anyone involved in the bloodshed of 1992-1993.

The Supreme Court’s verdict acknowledged that “the destruction of the mosque and the obliteration of the Islamic structure was an egregious violation of the rule of law.”

In 2003, however, journalist Saba Naqvi wrote: “No court can possibly give a verdict that hands over the disputed land to the very people who wantonly destroyed the Babri Masjid.” Yet the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict did just that.

The verdict set a precedent for legitimizing a Mafia-style approach. If someone has built a house on land you want, first destroy their house. Then stage a massacre. Then ask the courts for a stamp of approval on the land-ownership demand.

The verdict represents that vision of the future in which a boot is forever stamping on a human face. “Always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler,” wrote Orwell.

“Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless.” The verdict sanctions those boot-wearers who exult in crushing the downtrodden. It codifies injustice.

Ayodhya is a symbol of rule of lawlessness.

Pieter Friedrich is a South Asian Affairs Analyst who resides in California. He is the co-author of Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent.

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Scroll.in – Ayodhya Verdict – What explains the silence among Muslim communities on the Ayodhya judgment?

Ipsita Chakravarty

Ayodhya – UP – India, 15 November 2019. “People had already decided that we will accept whatever decision the court makes. This is about respecting the court,” said the 45-year-old businessman in Varanasi. He was referring to the city’s Muslim community.

The court decision that had been accepted calmly was the ruling on the Ayodhya land title dispute, which paves the way for a Ram temple on the site where the Babri Masjid had been demolished. The Supreme Court had also ordered the allocation of five acres of land for a mosque in Ayodhya.

“It does not mean that we are happy with it,” the businessman said. It had been a property dispute but the court seemed to have no evidential basis for its judgment, and was there no other land to build a temple?

A young Muslim journalist based in Varanasi was more blunt. “We had expected that there would be a decision, not justice,” she said. “But we had not expected the judgment to go so much against us.”

There was no proof of a Ram mandir ever having existed on the site, she pointed out, and the Supreme Court had admitted that a mosque built by Babur had stood there. “The Supreme Court gave such a baffling judgment,” she said.

But if there is bitterness, both businessman and journalist also speak of keeping the peace, of not wanting “more damage to the country”.

The businessman preferred to dwell on how people from all faiths had been invited to a chhat puja on the ghats of Varanasi, how Eid-Milad-un-Nabi processions had passed off peacefully a day after the verdict.

An unquiet silence

With the November 9 judgment, the Supreme Court decided on an matter that has riven the political life of India post Independence. What began as a sullen legal dispute in 1949, when idols were smuggled into the inner sanctum of the mosque, became a communal flashpoint after 1992, when a Hindutva mob demolished the mosque.

Since then, the dispute has triggered riots that killed thousands, cut through the social fabric of villages across North India and poisoned political speeches, especially those of the Hindu Right. For close to three decades, Ayodhya has been a byword for polarisation in Indian politics.

The final judgment, decades in the making, has been read by many as serving majoritarian interests. Yet there have been few protests from the minority, whose claims to the site have been dismissed.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi rejected the offer of alternative land for a mosque, and has found growing support on social media. A few voices have urged a review petition.

But, on the whole, Muslim political and socio-religious leaders said the verdict in favour of a Ram temple had to be accepted. Even in North India, where Ayodhya resonates the most, Muslim communities took in the judgment with stoic calm.

Going by reports, Muslims in Ayodhya expressed sorrow and helplessness. In Old Delhi, Muslim shopkeepers were more worried about businesses that had struggled after demonetisation and a shrinking job market.

After years of contestation, what explains this lack of protest? There are no easy answers. But social scientists point to the place of the Babri Masjid in the Muslim faith, how the dispute figured in Muslim identity politics, the absence of a monolithic Muslim identity in India, as well as a growing majoritarian consensus.

Not a special mosque

“Babri was a mosque for us but not a special mosque,” said the businessman from Varanasi. “It is not like Muslims from all over the country came to pray there. For us, the important places are Mecca and Medina.”

The Babri dispute has always been a mix of the sacred and secular. For a section of Hindus, the site was the birthplace of Ram. For Muslims, it was consecrated ground. But it was not central to the faith, many argue.

“Babri wasn’t even a grand mosque like Jamia Masjid,” said Saeed Naqvi, journalist and author of Being the Other: The Muslim in India. “If you say Ramchander ji was born here and I say Prophet Muhammad was born here then we have a contest.”

Over the years, the Mughal-era mosque had paled in religious significance for Muslims. Even if the plot had been allotted to Muslims, the journalist from Varanasi explained, they would not have been able to pray there, the tenets of Islam said prayers could not be offered on disputed land.

Political scientist Hilal Ahmed even contends that Babri had become an “irrelevant mosque” for Muslims, especially after 1992. “The mosque or at least the structure of it, was demolished in 1992, hence, there is no mosque at all there on the disputed land,” he explained.

“On the other hand, there is a functional Hindu temple, which is open to all Hindus.

A Hindu can visit this temple, offer bhog to the deity and commemorate lord Ram’s birthplace on the site where Babri Masjid once stood. However, this is not the case with Muslims. A Muslim is not allowed to offer prayers on this land.

This legal restriction discourages the Muslims from asserting their religious claim on this site for regular namaz etc, as the Babri Masjid does not have any special religious status for Muslim communities.”

A secular debate

Rather, Muslim claims to the site have been rooted in questions of historicity and legality.

In his book, Muslim Political Discourse in Postcolonial India: Monuments, Memory, Contestation, Ahmed writes that the dominant Muslim position on the dispute hewed close to the “secular, objective” position: that there was little evidence to support the presence of a Ram temple on the site, the monument was a part of India’s national heritage, the dispute was not just a local issue but spoke to the rights of religious minorities in India.

Local Muslim narratives, Ahmed argues, connected legal and historical facts with myths and folklore.

The deserted hilltop in Ayodhya had been a site for Sufi worship, according to local folklore. The prayers of Sufi mystics had helped Babur win the Battle of Panipat against Sikander Lodhi, and so the victorious Mughal ordered the construction of a mosque on the spot.

Local histories also note the presence of Hindu bairagis who forced their way in and built a platform in the outer courtyard of the mosque but continued to worship there at the indulgence of the nawab of Awadh. The Hindu-Muslim unity of Awadh was only disrupted by the British, who created the dispute, according to the local narrative.

At least some of these ideas still endure in the former kingdom of Awadh. For centuries, Hindus and Muslims had lived together and fought together, said the businessman from Varanasi. “It was the British who created these divisions to get power,” he explained.

Both dominant and local Muslim positions sought negotiations in the domain of law. It was only briefly, in the 1980s, that these legal contestations entered the political domain, Ahmed argues.

The political Babri

The 1980s saw Muslim political responses shaped by an increasingly animated Hindu Right. In 1984, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad started an active campaign for the Ram temple and in 1986, the Faizabad district court allowed the mosque to be unlocked after decades.

With that, Babri entered a wider current of Muslim identity politics, Ahmed argues, becoming the symbol of a “collective Muslim resistance”.

The Babri Masjid Action Committee was formed soon after the gates were unlocked, Muslim parties such as the AIMIM as well as Muslim political and religious leaders joined in political mobilisations, mostly in North Indian cities.

It was a decade marked by other battles of identity, the Shah Bano case, which triggered a debate over Muslim personal law, and the Satanic Verses, the Salman Rushdie novel which incurred a fatwa.

The Babri case was folded into the demand for a law to protect the right to worship in other mosques. But the Muslim agitations could not prevent the performance of the shilanya, or stone laying, for a Ram temple in 1989. That same year, Ram Lalla Virajaman, the deity itself, represented by a “sakha” or “friend”, became a party to the title suit.

It proved to be an inflection point for Muslim identity politics around Babri. “The common Muslims, who were mobilised in the name of protecting the mosque, were always told that Babri Masjid was a political failure for them,” said Ahmed.

There was a victory of sorts in 1991, when the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act was passed, ensuring that the religious character of places of worship would be maintained as it existed on August 15, 1947. But while it boosted the legal proceedings, political mobilisations receded, especially after the demolition.

“All Muslim parties and groups decided to recognise the AIMPLB’s [All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s] High Power Committee as the core body to look after the legal case on Babri Masjid after its demolition,” said Ahmed. “The Babri Masjid Action Committee passed a resolution on December 1, 1993, to suspend all the agitational programmes and activities.”

Which Muslim politics?

In the decades after the demolition, the Ram Mandir became a core issue for the Bharatiya Janata Party and its Hindu nationalist project, which involved the attempt to construct a homogenising Hindutva politics.

It helped propel the party from two seats in 1984 to over 300 seats in 2019, Naqvi observes. But after the mobilisations of the 1980s, no such consolidated identity politics was visible among Muslim communities across the country.

Naqvi, for one, is indignant when asked about a “Muslim response” to the Babri dispute. Muslims in India were a diverse group, ranging across states, speaking different languages, with varying political impulses and responses.

Most Indian Muslims wanted social harmony, he said, it was a section of the religious and political leadership which kept Babri alive to stay relevant.

Besides, social scientists and writers point out, Muslim communities wanted to be identified as political subjects outside “Muslim issues”. But they had been boxed in, by socio-religious and political leaders from within the community and by the wider sweep of politics, even apparently secular politics.

“Muslims wanted jobs, security, entrepreneurial help. But what has the system imposed on them? Babri, Shah Bano, Satanic Verses,” said Naqvi.

Living in a majoritarian state

Beneath the quiet after the Ayodhya judgment, there is also a dry-eyed recognition of political realities. Even if the court had awarded the land to the Muslim parties, Naqvi says, they would never have been able to build a mosque their in the current climate of majoritarian bullying.

Some of the silence is dictated by fear. The journalist in Varanasi spoke of FIRs against Muslims in Uttar Pradesh who had criticised majoritarian policies or politics on social media. The businessman did not want to be named, “you know what the political situation is”.

It had created silences in personal relationships. “Even with Hindu friends, we don’t discuss the the mandir-masjid issue. We don’t want to ruin our relationship with them,” said the journalist.

As for protests, there was no space for the political articulations that were possible even a couple of decades ago. “Earlier, there were politicians who would listen to us. Now, no one will listen to us,” said the journalist.

The sense of political marginalisation was sealed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech after the Ayodhya verdict. “He congratulated Hindus for the mandir but did he talk about Muslims even once? What are they getting?” she asked.


Gent: Burgstraat – De Lijn Tram 1

07 November 2019

Laying of new tracks

Tracks for trams to Flanders Expo are in place

Karmel – Roman Catholic Church

Heavy machinery

Work on the tracks for trams to Evergem has not yet started

Tram stop not in use

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Sikh24.com – Janam Sakhi does illustrate Guru Nanak Sahib’s visit to Ayodhya but not to Ram Mandir, says Dr. Harpal Singh Pannu

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 11 November 2019. Although the Supreme Court of India has cited Guru Nanak Sahib’s visit to Ayodhya to favor the claims of Hindu community over the 2.77 acres disputed land of Babri Masjid, Sikh intellectuals don’t hold the same opinion as of Supreme Court’s judges.

Notably, the Supreme Court judges have given reference to several Janam Sakhis to back their verdict in the favor of Hindus.

Speaking to Sikh24, Sikh intellectual Dr Harpal Singh Pannu said that there is an illustration about Guru Nanak Sahib’s visit to Ayodhya in the Bhai Bale Wali Janam Sakhi but it has not been written anywhere that Guru Nanak Sahib went to a Ram Mandir.

It is pertinent to note here that the authenticity of Bhai Bale Wali Janam Sakhi has always remained under questions and it has never been accepted by all the sections Sikh Panth.

Dr Harpal Singh Pannu is currently serving as a Chair Professor of Guru Gobind Singh Chair at the Central University Punjab (Bathinda).

Disagreeing with the lines written in the Supreme Court’s verdict that Guru Nanak Sahib went to Ayodhya to have darshan of Ram Janam Bhumi, he said that Guru Nanak Sahib also went to several prominent cities like Banaras, Kashi, Mecca etc. and everywhere he taught the humanity to get rid of superstitions.

It is noteworthy here that the five member SC bench delivered its verdict in favor of Hindus by citing Guru Nanak Sahib’s visit to Ayodhya in 1510-11 while the Babri Masjid came into existence in 1528-29.

Earlier, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had told the Supreme Court of India that the mosque was constructed on pre-existing structure which was not Islamic. However, the ASI also didn’t say that this structure matched to Hindu architecture.

“Janma Sakhies, which have been brought on the record contains a description of visit of Guru Nanak Devji to Ayodhya, where he had darshan of birthplace of Lord Ram. It is true that from the extracts of Janma Sakhies, which have been brought on the record, there is no material to identify the exact place of Ram Janma Bhumi but the visit of Guru Nanak Devji to Ayodhya for darshan of Janma Bhumi of Ram is an event, which depicted that pilgrims were visiting Ayodhya and were having darshan of Janma Bhumi even before 1528 A.D.
The visit of Guru Nanak Devji in 1510-11 A.D. and to have darshan of Janma Bhumi of Lord Ram do support the faith and beliefs of the Hindus,” reads the point no. 71 of verdict’s addenda.

Janam Sakhi does illustrate Guru Nanak Sahib’s visit to Ayodhya but not to Ram Mandir, says Dr. Harpal Singh Pannu

Scroll.in – Ayodhya Verdict: No, the Supreme Court did not uphold the claim that Babri Masjid was built by demolishing a temple

The Archaeological Survey of India’s report on the site did not provide evidence for this, the judges concluded.

Shoaib Daniyal

Ayodhya Verdict, 11 November 2019. Two intertwined contentions drove the Ramjanmabhoomi movement three decades ago.

The first was religious: supporters claimed that the central dome of the Babri Masjid in the Uttar Pradesh town of Ayodhya marked the exact spot where the Hindu god Ram had been born.

The mosque was built on the Ramjanmabhoomi or birthplace of Ram in Hindi, they insisted, a point closely examined in both the Allahabad High Court in 2010 as well as Saturday’s Supreme Court judgment in the Ayodhya case.

The second involved history, culture and nationalism. It was claimed that the Babri Masjid had been constructed by officials of Mughal Emperor Babur after demolishing a Hindu temple at the site.

At the time, many leaders associated with the Ramjanmabhoomi movement claimed that their efforts would not stop till all temples that had allegedly been demolished and replaced with mosques during the medieval period had been reclaimed by Hindus.

Hindu nationalists view the medieval age and its Muslim rulers as a period of subjugation so removing symbols of the Mughals is an anti-colonial act for them.

Right after the Supreme Court verdict on Saturday, for example, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Madhav proceeded to compare the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid to the erasure of British road names and imperial statues after Independence.

Seen from within a Hindu nationalist framework, demolishing a Mughal mosque that had been built after demolishing a temple was not an act of vandalism, it was a righteous deed.

The basic problem with this argument was that there is simply no historical evidence that the Babri Masjid was built by demolishing a temple.

Problematic ASI report

To bolster their claim, Hindutva supporters often cite a 2003 report released by the Union government’s Archaeological Survey of India.

The report claimed that there was evidence of a temple under the (now-demolished) Babri Masjid. When it was released, the report was controversial. Two archaeologists, Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon, claimed that the report actually contained no evidence of a temple at all.

Though an abrupt claim is made in the conclusion that “there was a temple underneath the Babri Masjid”, Varma and Menon explained this by arguing that “the ASI was working with a preconceived notion”.

In an interview to the Huffington Post, Varma claimed, “underneath the Babri Masjid, there are actually older mosques”.

The Supreme Court judgment on Saturday did not take Varma and Menon’s criticism of the ASI report into account. Still, the court rejects the contention that the Babri Masjid was after a temple had been demolished.

No evidence of temple demolition

The judgment notes that the temple identified by the ASI dates back to the 12th century, about four centuries before the first Mughal emperor Babur came to India from Central Asia. “No evidence is available to explain what transpired in the course of the intervening period of nearly four centuries,” writes the Supreme Court.

Moreover, there is no evidence to show that this 12th-century structure has anything to do with the mosque itself. “The ASI report does not conclude that the remnants of the pre-existing structure were used for the purpose of constructing the mosque,” holds the court.

The court sums up why archeological evidence does not back up the Hindutva argument that the Babri Masjid was constructed after demolishing a temple.

“The ASI report has left unanswered a critical part of the remit which was made to it, namely, a determination of whether a Hindu temple had been demolished to pave way for the construction of the mosque.”

As a result, medieval history actually played little part in the Supreme Court’s judgment. “A finding of title cannot be based in law on the archaeological findings which have been arrived at by ASI,” ruled the court.

Instead, “title to the land must be decided on settled legal principles and applying evidentiary standards which govern a civil trial.” Eventually, the court decided the case not by relying on whether a temple was demolished but which side had possession of the Babri Masjid.

Narrative over facts

However, this part of the judgment got swept away. The fact that the court had finally decided in favour of building a temple was seen largely as a vindication of those who have argued that the Babri Masjid was a result of a temple being demolished in the 16th century.

K K Mohammed, a former member of the Archaeological Survey of India and a long-time supporter of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement argued that the Supreme Court “came to [the] conclusion that there was a huge magnificent temple earlier and we should build a new temple once more”.

Writing in News18 a day after the judgment, analyst Shantanu Gupta argued that with the court ordering a temple, a “500-year-old wrong was set right” since “around 500 years ago, Babar’s commanders destroyed the temple in Ayodhya and built a mosque”.

After the verdict, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, one of the main driver of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement, spoke of moving on to other mosques that it claims have been built after demolishing temples.

“About Kashi and Mathura, I must make it clear that Supreme Court judgement is not the end of the story, it is the beginning,” VHP working president Alok Kumar said at a press conference a few hours after the judgment was released.

The Ramjanmabhoomi movement had, 30 years ago, successfully whipped up nationwide hysteria claiming that the Babri Masjid had been built after a temple had been destroyed. So successful was the movement that, even as the claim has been dismissed by the Supreme Court large numbers of Indians continue to believe it to be true.


The Print – Supreme Court verdict refers to ASI report on ‘Hindu structure’ at Ayodhya site — this is what it says

In its order, Supreme Court refers to the Archaeological Survey of India’s 2003 findings that the Babri Masjid was ‘based on the walls of a large pre-existing structure’.

Kritika Sharma

New Delhi – India, 09 November 2019. In the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict announced Saturday, an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report released in 2003 played a key role. The report had stated that remains of a “Hindu structure” were found at the disputed Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site.

As it ordered the construction of Ram temple, the apex court ruling, based on the ASI report, drew the inference that the “foundation of the (16th century) mosque was based on the walls of a large pre-existing structure that dates back to the twelfth century”. It also said the “recoveries were suggestive of a structure of Hindu religion origin”.

The judgment also noted that the ASI report indicated “that pre-existing underlying structure has large dimensions, evident from the fact that there were 85 pillar bases comprised in 17 rows each of five pillar bases”.

These observations came over 16 years after the ASI excavated the disputed Ayodhya site, between May and June in 2003, on the directions of a Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court. The result was a 574-page report which was submitted to the court in August of that year.

The report has since served as crucial evidence in studying the ownership of the disputed site.

To read more about the ASI’s findings :

SC verdict refers to ASI report on ‘Hindu structure’ at Ayodhya site — this is what it says