…had Justice Liberhan confined himself to the enquiry of demolition of the disputed structure alone rather than arbitrarily applying very higher moral benchmarks and adopting an irrationally broader outlook and suggested a just quantum of punishment to guilty, he could’ve done more justice to his work and have come off more justifiable, believable, and apolitical…
Liberhan Commission report, its credibility lost even before its release, is disgracefully exceptional in that it angers both secularists and communalists, still saves government as well as all the accused trouble, and tells people nothing they already don’t know. And this is the time when political significance of any such findings on the demolition of disputed Babri structure is on ebb. As many contradictions about report’s initial after-effects as its contents. Nothing surprising, you’d say, for enquiry commissions in India are farce in the first place. Yes, I share the popular resentment that this is not what Justice MS Liberhan, for whom discovery of an open secret was a 17-year long marathon, started, re-started, and re-restarted 48 times, was supposed to do.
Justice Liberhan tells us that the demolition of disputed structure was an outcome of the rise of communalism. This theory leads us to the query, can a government or its head be indicted when incessant inaction on their part leads to suicide, famine, Naxalism
Without, I hope, digging deeply, you’d notice that there’re many sides to the inconsistencies of the report, so wonderfully methodical that you can even pigeonhole them. For instance, legal: indictment of culprits but no recommendation of punishment; ethical, Atal Bihari Vajpayee is blamed but PV Narsimha Rao spared; harmonizing, both Sangh and Muslim organizations are held guilty; political, it robs BJP of its communal politics for ever and thus keeps Congress at advantage.
My opinion of the report is principally made of two distinct things: the arbitrary application of very higher benchmarks of morality and adoption of irrationally broader outlook, both so ostentatious that they lay inconsistencies of the report bare. Well, before moving on further, a disclaimer first: I’m strictly against communalism or use of religion in politics and liken demolition of the disputed structure to a cognizable offence.
The first thing, in this moral and broader outlook perspective, that crosses my mind is that Justice Liberhan tells us that the demolition of disputed structure was an outcome of the rise of communalism. Two, Vajpayee led the country to the brink of communalism and so is guilty of the crime. Theoretically, apart from morally, it’s absolutely correct, no doubt. And so this theory leads us to some very riveting speculations such as will a court, or an investigating agency, or an enquiry commission, go on to indict the government or its head when incessant inaction and apathy on their part not only brings hundreds of thousands of children to the brink of death due to preventable causes but actually kills them, when continuous government indifference forces farmers to commit suicide, when non-stop exploitation leads people to Maoism?
Right, there’s connect between poverty and crime, government inaction and Naxalism, exploitation and revenge, but is this how legal and judicial system of our country or that of any other country of the world exactly works? Then, why has it worked exceptionally in this case, connecting rise of communalism and demolition of disputed structure, instead of focusing on particulars of the incidence? It only goes on the show that Justice MS Liberhan was either steering clear of hard work required to pinpoint ins and outs of the event, or facing some kind of political pressure. He owes nation the answer to these questions. With the connect he established not being properly legal or judicious, Vajpayee’s indictment is straightforward convoluted.
There’s other side to the rise of communalism, too. Everyone knows that Sangh and BJP ran Ayodhya movement right under government’s nose. Government didn’t find it worthwhile to think about its implications and let it grow to the brink of communalism, to the extreme. Going by Justice Liberhan’s higher moral benchmarks and broader outlook, the rise of communalism in the country was something to which entire political community of that time should have been a party. It’s not something that an enquiry commission can wash its hands off merely by blaming Sangh and Muslim organizations and indicting the whole leadership of a right wing, communal organization. The sorrow of this report is greater than this all, though; it is that Justice Liberhan was scared of recommending a punishment to those whom he himself found guilty.
Talking of religion and politics, another moral and broader point of the report, Justice Liberhan has recommended outlawing use of religion in politics. I genuinely back the cause, however, it’s not as simple as that. At a time when BJP is in turmoil and Sangh is tightening its grip on it, such a law would be a positive thing not just for the country but for the BJP, too; for, in that case, it would be able to set itself free from Sangh’s grip smoothly. But it doesn’t absolve the report – prepared before BJP’s crisis – of its discrepancies. In the past BJP misused religion as its political weapon and the Congress, which failed to stop this misuse as a crucial political party of the country, always treated this misuse as a threat to its own political ambitions. Can Justice Liberhan, who fails to think of even punitive action against guilty, be justified in taking up the burdensome responsibility of cleansing the entire political system on his shoulder by suggesting a law? Like enquiry commissions, laws are farce in this country, as well.
Should a democracy opt for a law to rid itself of politics of communalism? The question is not moral or theoretical but a practical one. For success of healthy politics in a democracy, what’s needed is not law but public sanction
Yet, his recommendation broaches upon a significant topic. Should a democracy, a true democracy opt for a law to rid itself of politics of hatred and communalism? The question is not moral or ethical or constitutional or theoretical but a practical one. To put it simply, for success of healthy politics in a democracy, what’s needed is not law but public sanction. The very trend that misuse of Hindutva as a political ideology is on wane and has become ineffective, suggests that denizens will make country’s constitutional dream of secularism come true if things political don’t come to pass to adversely influence them. Contemplating a law is one such thing that might give communalists an opportunity of reviving a dead political weaponry. Secondly, why is that only communalism was made the subject of law, why not showy secularism, why not other things adopted to achieve division and to gain votes?
Had Justice Liberhan confined himself to the enquiry of demolition of the disputed structure alone rather than arbitrarily applying very higher moral benchmarks and adopting an irrationally broader outlook and suggested a just quantum of punishment to guilty, he could’ve done more justice to his work and have come off more justifiable, believable, and apolitical.
As for people, the report comes at a time when it doesn’t have much meaning for both Hindus and Muslims. Though 17 long years elapsed, neither of the two communities either insisted on ever or was expecting submission and tabling of report so assudden. The reason: country, brought to the brink of communalism by a breed of netas as report says, has been noticeably out of this political mess for quite some time. Nonetheless, when this report eventually came out, these are people who actually got a raw deal – both Hindus and Muslims. Culprits, taking into account complexities of country’s legal and judicial system, will never be chastised, while people (Hindus and Muslims) can still be used for vote bank purpose on the basis of communalism and secularism. Political parties – BJP, Congress, SP, BSP – which are busy politicizing a dead issue, bear this out.
(The views expressed by author are personal.)