Proud to be Indian

On 06 Dec 1992, the Babri Masjid was destroyed. Its destruction evoked a roar of anger from India’s liberals, who are overwhelmingly Hindu. I am proud of that fact — that Hindus stood up to protest the destruction of a Muslim place of worship though it was not in use any more. I am prouder of the fact that the liberals protested even though the place where the mosque was built is believed by many devout Hindus to be the birthplace of Shri Rama, an avatar of Vishnu, venerated all over India with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman.

It is obvious to me that the mosque, erroneously called the Babri Masjid, but actually built by Mir Baqi, one of Babur’s generals, was deliberately constructed over a place sacred to Hindus, in order to outrage a conquered population, just as the cow, an animal sacred to Hindus, was converted into a meat dish for consumption in a land where sheep and goats are plentiful, for similar reasons even though there are no Islamic injunctions making beef eating mandatory — there were no cattle in medieval Arabia. It is clear that the purpose was again to upset Hindus.

India’s history is full of the destruction of temples by Afghans, Turks and Persians, who all professed Islam and made temples their special target, following the initial attacks on Sind by Mir Kasim in 812 AD. Thousands of temples were destroyed in North India. The South escaped. So if you want to see an ancient Hindu temple, you generally head southwards.

However despite this rampant destruction, there are no reports of any destruction of mosques by Hindu kings. After hundreds of years of temple destruction, a mosque was destroyed that day in 1992 in Ayodhya. The outrage still simmers. Perhaps we need to see it in perspective. Deplorable though that incident was, perhaps it’s time to move on. Hindus are still among the most tolerant of people.

Perhaps we need to remember Robert Clive — Lord Clive of Plassey in a slightly different context, in response to questions in Parliament about his conduct in India :-

“A great prince was dependent on my pleasure; an opulent city lay at my mercy; I walked through vaults which were thrown open to me alone, piled on either hand with gold and jewels! Mr Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation.”

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