The 800-year-old Malali mosque in Mangaluru city has become the recent subject of controversy when Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), raised the matter in court in Karnataka. VHP alleged that a temple’s ruins may be found inside the mosque’s walls. Such allegations are not new (Gyanvapi Mosque Case still in Court) and court granting permission to conduct substantiation is part of the procedure. The court’s decision to grant permission to the group’s petition must be seen from the principle of morality and constitutionality with the hope that it should not trample the religious rights of the minorities and must not bring direct implications on their lives.
The media coverage of mosque issues has always been phenomenal with obvious emotional collisions, given the religious sentiments associated with them. Therefore, courts must be conscious about such repercussions and make sensual judgements. The opposing parties must realise the importance of communal harmony and should work out ways through which communal disputes are resolved. It must be highlighted that historical odds cannot be undone, but there can be reconciliation about claims made by the party who feels injustice has been served by the then administrations.
Muslims must understand that, it is better to not sensationalise the issues and settle them with the help of law and institutions of justice. The courts of law must be impartial in their verdicts preventing destructive forces that are hell bent on disturbing the democratic spirit of this plural nation. The courts of law are the guardians of the secularism, guarantors of rights and justice, and the balancer that keeps watch on all forms of excesses that some agencies try to inflict on this democracy. The follow up of the legal procedures is the formal way-out to assert one’s true rights. Indian Muslims have nothing to fear, if their stakes are legitimate and their roots in India are ancestral. Their faith in secular institutions is shatterproof, thus, all they have to do is to avoid trap, which earns them bad name.
One agency that can play a greater role in de-communalising the Indian society is the civil society. It has the potential to engage with the extreme social forces and make them come to understanding with each other. However, it is not an easy task, at the same time it is not impossible. Community engagement and youth involvement are starting points. The de-politicisation is another; it is in fact a necessity in today’s India. As long as issues get politicised, peace and communal harmony are going to be the causalities, prolonging the atmosphere of uncertainty at least in case of Muslims, given the majoritarian nature of affairs. It brings along a sense of imposition and issues get an imprint of the majoritarian imposition. Therefore, the need arises to counter-balance incriminating matters which can be done only through the process of de-sensationalisation and de-communalisation of disputes. Muslims in this regard are convenient and at forefront to cooperate with organisations that works for communal peace. This way Muslims can take lead by living as an example to follow procedures of law and avert the efforts of communalisation of issues and obviate imposition of extremist dogmas by certain forces. In this way they can cooperate with law agencies to reach positive conclusions that upkeep pluralism.
In a democratic country everyone has the right to seek justice. But the pretext of that justice should not rest on the notion of correcting historical odds. If those historical instances become pretext, then it squashes the social balances resulting in communal estrangement.
(Written by: Saleem, PhD Scholar, JMI)