Wednesday, October 20, 2010



The following are the excerpts from the interview Professor D N Jha, former Professor of History at the Delhi University, gave to the People’s Democracy on September 30. Professor Jha was one of the four independent historians who had submitted “A Historians' Report to the Nation” on the historical dimensions of the Ayodhya conflict before the demolition of the Baburi Masjid on December 6, 1992.

What is your opinion of the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya title suit?

I think the verdict is flawed in more than one way. In the first place, the court has placed an undue emphasis on the report of the excavations carried out at Ayodhya in 2003 under its own orders. The report consists of about nine chapters and each chapter carries the name of the author and so one can attribute the findings recorded therein to individual archaeologists. But the last chapter, called the “Summary of Results”, does not mention its author. The authorial anonymity of the conclusions makes the entire report suspect. This is evident from the fact that whereas no reference to a temple is made throughout the report, it suddenly pops up in the “Summary of Results” whose author is not known. This contradiction between the main text of the report and its unsubstantiated conclusion is too glaring to be ignored. The report therefore is undoubtedly a doctored one.

In the second place, the report unambiguously refers to the presence of animal bones, Muslim glazed ware, lime mortar and surkhi under the floors of the Baburi Masjid. These three are the characteristic features of Muslim architecture and thus, rule out the possibility of the existence of a Hindu temple, much less a Ram temple or any Vaishnava temple, under the mosque. It is an insult to human intelligence to argue in the face of such archaeological evidence as mentioned above that there was a pre-exiting temple which Babur/Mir Baqi destroyed to build the mosque at Ayodhya.

The judgement is also flawed because it asserts without justification that the Hindus have believed from times immemorial that the sanctum sanctorum of the mosque, where the idols were surreptitiously kept in 1949 with the connivance of the deputy commissioner of Faizabad, K K K Nayyar, who was a member of the RSS, was the real birth place of Ram. This can be countered on several grounds. The Hindus have not been in existence since eternity; nor does the mosque whose central dome, according to the court verdict, they believe to be the place of Ram’s nativity. The belief that Ram was born in a pre-existing temple under the mosque at Ayodhya was first clearly mentioned by a French Jesuit priest, Tiffenthaler, in 1788. The seed of this myth is thus sown not more that 222 years or little more. It was subsequently nurtured by several British authors. But even they were not unanimous in their view about the birthplace of Ram. For example, a Scottish physician who served in the Bengal Medical Service, Francis Buchanan, who visited Ayodhya in 1810 wrote clearly that the temple destruction theory was ill-founded. The earliest evidence of the Hindu-Muslim conflict over the issue of the birth place of Ram belongs to the time of Wajid Ali Shah who set up a three-member committee to diffuse the situation.

The absurdity of the assertions made in the court verdict can be easily demonstrated by historical facts. If one goes back in time, before 1528, there is evidence of several religious groups who had claims on Ayodhya. The Chinese pilgrim Huan Tsang wrote in seventh century that there were 3,000 Buddhist monks and 100 monasteries and only 10 temples. There was thus a strong presence of Buddhism in Ayodhya in the seventh century. The Jain tradition has it that the first and fourth Jain Tirthankars were born in Ayodhya; even now it remains a holy place for the Jains. There is also much irrefutable evidence of the existence of Muslims in Ayodhya since the twelfth century onwards when Sufi saints began to visit the place and preach there; one of the earliest Sufi saint to come here was Qazi Qidwatuddin Awadhi who came from Central Asia and is said to have been a disciple of Hazrat Usman Haruni, the spiritual preceptor of India's most famous Sufi saint, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer. Even now there are many Sufi shrines there and both Hindus and Muslims visit them. Thus, there is substantial evidence of Buddhist and Jain presence as well as of the existence of Muslims centuries before the construction of the Baburi Masjid in 1528-29. One is amazed at how the court judgement has completely ignored all this evidence to prove that sanctum sanctorum of the mosque was the place where Ram was born.
This verdict is based more on faith and belief, than on history. Can the court adjudicate on matters of faith?

This judgement is a puerile exercise in theology, and has nothing to do with history even remotely. Based on faith and belief and not on any sound analysis of historical evidence, the verdict is absurd. It does not give relief to any of the litigants who were fighting a title. By converting a title suit into a partition suit the judgement has become ridiculous. It assumes that the entire land belongs to Ram and gives a third of the land to the Muslims out of charity and two thirds to the Hindu organisations. It has given a serious blow to the secular values enshrined in our constitution.

The court verdict has negated the past. The historians and archeologists have the right to file an appeal against the verdict. It is imperative that the site notebooks, artefacts and other material evidence relating to the ASI’s excavations in 2003 and earlier be made available for scrutiny by scholars, historians and archaeologists. It may be recalled that our request to the ASI in 1991 to provide us the site notebooks, especially of the Trench 4, which could have yielded clear evidence of the presence/absence of a pre-existing Hindu temple, was not even acknowledged. In the past, the ASI has played fast and loose with the academic community interested in Ayodhya controversy. Now it is absolutely essential to compel them to allow us access to the evidence generated by them at the behest of the court.

Courtesy: www.pd.cpim.org

Monday, October 4, 2010


ONE of the many myths surrounding the so-called Maoists is that they are driven by the motive of liberating the most downtrodden sections of the society – tribals, dalits, agricultural workers etc – from poverty, exploitation and tyranny of the State. The people of Jangal Mahal area in Bengal, through their personal experience of last two years, realised the bogusness of this motive. The poorest of the poor saw the 'Maoists' savagely kill, maim and torture fellow tribals, dalits and agricultural workers on imaginary grounds of being police informers or for being CPI(M) supporters or even for not heeding their diktats. They also saw how these “guardians of the poor” systematically disrupted all developmental work in the area denying them scope for finding work or receiving welfare benefits. The education of their children was being disrupted through targeting of the schools and the mental health of their wards being seriously affected due to the brutal killings of their school teachers right in front of their eyes.

It is in this context that the people of Jangal Mahal are increasingly picking the courage to resist the 'Maoists'. Of course, the relentless political and ideological campaign against the 'Maoists' being carried on by the CPI(M), backed up with the will to take on these murderers, is helping the people overcome their fears and channelise their anger into organised mass resistance. Large number of villages in West Medinipur district, including some that are a few kilometres away from Lalgarh, have been witnessing people's resistance against these anarchic forces in the past few weeks. The cornered 'Maoists' and goonda elements of Trinamool Congress are fleeing these villages into surrounding forests even as those who had to live as refugees in camps are returning back to their homes. There are a few instances of subsequent revenge hit-and-run attacks by these desperate forces on those who led the resistance.


In their bid to shatter the CPI (M) mass base in its strongest hold (the Party won the Jhargram Lok Sabha seat in this district with the highest margin in 2009 polls), the 'Maoist' adopted their version of 'shock and awe' tactics. It involved killing, in as brutal manner as possible, the CPI (M) workers and supporters in full public view notwithstanding the fact that they were usually the poorest of the poor in the village with land holding of less than an acre. And it had to be a spectacle also. So, the bodies were left to rot in the villages for few days with even the kin prevented from taking possession. All this has been reported in bourgeois media also, but mostly in war like fashion and devoid of the suffering and pain of the people. Actually some of the coverage has been in a manner justifying the killings by projecting those killed derisively as 'CPM cadre'. As though being CPI (M) cadre deserves such a brutal handling! It is another matter that the role of corporate media in its coverage of 'Maoist' violence in Bengal merits a separate study.

The 'Maoists' succeeded in creating this terror atmosphere in areas which they claimed as 'liberated'. During our visit to one such village, Budipala, that has now been freed of this 'liberation' by its own people, we could gauge the kind of terror faced by the people. A group of villagers, some of whom included Trinamool supporters, told us that they could not dare to move out of their homes after sunset. “After dark, we used to urinate in pots kept in our homes as we were too afraid of going out. They used to abduct anyone whom they suspected of being police informers and take them into jungles, never to be seen again. Sometimes they used to torture such people in 'gana adalats'”, said one person.

The terror campaign in the village began with the killing of CPI (M) branch secretary, Shambhu Mahato, on September 14, 2009. A poor tribal, 51 year old Shambhu owned around half an acre of land (20 decimal) and used to run a petty shop to survive. He had a son and a daughter who was married off. He was shot in the head in front of his shop by three youth who, according to Shambhu's wife, were guided by Trinamool goons. She told us that despite being warned a few times, Shambhu refused to leave the village saying he had done no wrong by being a member of CPI (M). After this killing, the TMC goons and 'Maoists' enforced a reign of terror on the people. People witnessed torture of fellow villagers in the so called people's courts. Incidentally, this gram panchayat is under the control of Trinamool Congress. Now after the freeing of the village from the terrorists, people are breathing free. The CPI (M) workers in the village told us that they have reached out to Trinamool supporters and reassured them about their safety. “We all want to live peacefully. We want to resume our normal lives which have been disrupted during the last one year of 'Maoists' sway here”, said one villager. Only the goonda elements of Trinamool have fled the village while their ordinary supporters are now peacefully living in the village.

How this terror is disrupting the lives of people can be seen from this statement of a graduate in Garimal village. “I have a lone son who is studying in Class 5. There used to be so much beatings and torture in village by the TMC-'Maoists' that my child was developing fear psychosis. I sent him away to my relatives in East Medinipur where he has been joined in a school.”


A 74 year old woman was coming out of Garimal Gram Panchayat office when we were entering it. She had come to collect her old age pension after a gap of nearly one year. Pashupati Singh, CPI (M) leader and elected pradhan of the panchayat told us that the office was closed for the past one year during the reign of 'Maoists' here. He too lived away from the village during this terror period which saw seven people killed by TMC-'Maoist' goons. Asked how the people picked up the courage to resist the armed 'Maoists', the pradhan says:

"People resisted because they suffered a lot as the 'Maoists' did not allow any work in the area. The people were not able to feed their families due to no work in the area; the roads were closed every now and then, so people started to protest.”

Houses under Indira Awaz Yojana, old age pensions and NREGA works are some of the works being done by the panchayat. A total of 17 projects have been taken up under NREGA providing jobs to around 1200 people. Works have begun in the last ten days only. Of these five involve land levelling work. The pradhan says that payment is becoming difficult as centre is not paying its share.

It is clear, with peace returning to this village, people are able to resume their normal living.


Similar urge for restoration of normalcy can be seen in many of the villages that have become free. The TMC-'Maoists' goons are of course trying their best to return to their “normalcy” – the killings, torture, extortion etc. Recently they killed a school clerk in Radhanagar village for daring to actively take part in the people's resistance in the village. They did not spare his aged parents who tried to shield him. A bullet grazed his mother's head while another brushed past his father's ear. Both have been hospitalised. It is to be noted that it was in Radhanagar that the 'Maoists' first tasted the shock of people's resistance. Women in large numbers with traditional weapons chased away these goons, sparking off similar resistance actions in adjoining villages. True to their perverted understanding, the mass actions are being sought to be defeated through individual annihilation. But they are up against a people that are united and resolute in guarding their hard won peace. The people have made their choice. It is for these degenerated lot to read the writing on the wall.

Source: www.pd.cpim.org