Rediff Navigator News


Capital Buzz

The Rediff Interview


The Rediff Poll


Crystal Ball

Click Here

The Rediff Special



Commentary/Vir Sanghvi

Does Vajpayee have the guts to condemn the VHP?

Last week, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad took a party of journalists to Mathura. The VHP wished to draw the media's attention to a mosque located near a Krishna temple in the town. It claimed that the location and management of the mosque made it difficult for Krishna bhakts to enter their temple.

The Mathura issue has been raised in tandem with its traditional counterpart: The Kashi problem. In this case, the VHP claims that a fully functioning mosque poses enormous problems for a nearby temple mainly because it is situated on land that is really part of the temple complex.

Property disputes are a regular feature of Indian life. And though real estate squabbles of a religious nature are slightly more complex, they are not particularly different. Perhaps the management of the Mathura mosque does obstruct the Krishna bhakts. And perhaps the Kashi temple does own a part of the land on which the mosque is located.

It is hard to decide what the truth is without hearing both sides of the story. Certainly, the Mathura case is particularly complex. In the early 1970s the temple and the mosque came to an understanding about which area belonged to whom. This arrangement endured till the mid-1980s when a riot broke out but a new compromise was reached and peace restored.

By then however, the dispute had acquired a new and more worrying dimension. The way the VHP saw it, the problem was not one of access or ownership. It was one of faith. The reason the Mathura temple and the surrounding area were important was because it was in this area that Lord Krishna was born.

Of course, there was no historical evidence -- or no convincing evidence at any rate -- to prove that this was the birthplace. But a large number of Indians believed it to be so. In matters of faith, historical evidence is not important: Belief is enough.

If all of this sounds familiar, then you will not be surprised by the name that the VHP uses when it wants to refer to the disputed area.

It calls it Krishnajanmasthan.

Babri Masjid Few disputes can have divided India as completely and as unnecessarily as the fuss over the Ram Janambhoomi. The essential ingredients of the Mathura problem are the same as they were in Ayodhya. The VHP, a mosque, a temple, the claim to be the birthplace of a Hindu god and a complete disregard of historical accuracy in the name of faith. And the solution that is proposed is exactly the same: Shift the mosque.

When it came to the Ram Janambhoomi, many of us took the line that even if Ram had not been born on the spot, even if a temple had not been destroyed to build the mosque, it was in the interests of the Muslim community to enter into negotiations and to consider some kind of compromise.

We argued that the Babri Masjid was not worth fighting over and that by refusing to enter into some kind of arrangement, the Muslim leadership risked turning the mosque into a symbol of minority appeasement and the Hindu backlash.


Home | News | Business | Sport | Movies | Chat
Travel | Planet X | Freedom | Computers

Copyright 1996 Rediff On The Net
All rights reserved