June 23, 2003
An impression has gained ground that the Shankaracharya of Kanchi has proposed a compromise for settling the dispute over the Ramjanmabhoomi. No doubt, the record is that Muslim opinion is carried by the extremists in the community. Nevertheless, the moderates are beginning to become vocal and may well be in a mood of give and take.
The formula might crystalise around the famous three places, namely Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi. The Hindus would have their way here while the Muslims would be made secure in all the other converted or recycled masjids and dargahs across the country.
The converted mosques like the Adhai Din ka Jhopda at Ajmer, the Bijamandal at Vidisha, Bhojshala at Dhar, Ataladevi at Jaunpur or the Adina mosque at Pandua in Malda are still original temple buildings. The idol was broken and mostly buried at the entrance of the edifice, the statuary was disfigured or beheaded, a mehrab was installed and a mimbar built.
The procedure of recycle was the demolition of a mandir upto the plinth level and thereafter rebuilding of the masjid upwards with the help of the rubble. These desecrated places of worship are objects of loot and plunder. No one with decency would like to possess the fruits of dacoity and certainly not make an open display of them. Above all, to pray to the one and only God with the help of such properties is surely sacrilege. On grounds of civic morality alone, such a compromise would not be justified.
Such a compromise would also smack of being UP-centric. One has to visit Vidisha, about 40 kms from Bhopal, and listen to the local citizenry to appreciate how deeply hurt they feel. Their Bija mandir was desecrated four times. By Shamshuddin Iltutmish (1234), then by Allauddin Khilji (1293). The third was Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat between 1526 and 1537 and finally the redoubtable Aurangzeb in the 17th century. To the Vidishans, this mandir is far more important than the distant one at Mathura.
A similar reason applies to the Rudramahalaya complex at Siddhpur in Gujarat. Seven out of eleven Shaivite chapels are still buried under a Bora mosque. Incidentally, Siddhpur is also the matrigaya of India. The nearby Bindoo Sarovar is where a Hindu offers final shradh to his departed mother. To the citizens of Jaunpur, the Ataladevi would be dearer than any other. There are three other masjids in Jaunpur which were converted by Ibrahim Naib Barbak of the Sharqi dynasty. What would be the sentiments of the local populace if these were given away by the wave of a seer’s wand?
Read the Wail of a Valley by R.M. Kaul and find out how 70 temples have been desecrated over the last 50 years in Kashmir. In Pakistan, 244 places of worship were destroyed. One of them was a gurudwara and another was a church. The rest were Hindu temples. Bangladeshis were equally prolific in their iconoclasm.
In this context, is there hope for any settlement to endure?
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