28 years ago, Babri Masjid, the 16th century mosque was demolished by a mob of kar sevaks, against the orders from Allahabad high court, incited by the incendiary speeches by leaders of the RSS like Advani and MM Joshi. The “dispute” was “settled” by the Supreme Court in November 2019 by handing over the entire land for building of the Ram temple, which was inaugurated by Narendra Modi, in his capacity as the Prime Minister, in August 2020.
The demolition of Babri Masjid is a synecdoche for the complete erosion of our secular fabric and inter-faith harmony, at the hands of Hindutva politics. It represents the abuse of executive powers by the present regime, servility of the judiciary and erasure of history in favour of crass majoritarian demands.
Gauhar Raza’s poem Ram Mandir shatters the fanatic claim to this land. It emphatically refuses to attribute an outcome of violence, hatred and devastation, to the worship of the supposed “Maryada Purushottam” [the most dignified man]. For Bol, activist and lawyer Teesta Setalwad, who has been at the forefront of battles against an India where equality, unity, diversity and communal harmony are under threat, reads Gauhar Raza.