An Open letter to Vir Singhvi

published on March 30, 2010

Vir Singhvi
Hindustan Times

Dear Mr. Singhvi,

I read with great interest your article ‘The New Castle of Lies and Hypocrisy’ your guest column in The New Sunday Express (28 March,2010).

I am writing to you because I appreciate the fact that you were one of the few liberals who categorically condemned MF Husain for moving from democratic India to autocratic Qatar i.e.taking citizenship there. And on the few occasions that I have watched you on NDTV programs you appeared to be reasonable, something of a liberal, albeit not extremely so. A liberal with a small l.

And therefore, I was disappointed with your article on the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the BJP response to it, which you call a pack of lies and hypocrisy. Let me explain with a quote early on in your article:

” Broadly, the consensus goes something like this: a temple existed at one of the holiest sites in Hinduism – the spot where Lord Ram was born. Muslim invaders destroyed that temple and built a mosque over it. That mosque is a symbol of Hindu humiliation. In the 20th century, because of a complex legal dispute, the mosque ceased to function, anyway. Namaz was not said there any longer. So when Hindus asked Muslims to hand it over so that a historic wrong could be corrected, the Muslim community should have cooperated. Instead, the Muslims aided by the pesudo-secular Congress, refused to co operate. So, they had only themselves to blame when angry Hindu kar sevaks tore the mosque down. All that remains now is for a temple to be constructed on that spot. As you may have guessed, this is not a version of history that I happen to share. . .”

And then you go on to say that for argument’s sake you will accept it and you go on to ask why the BJP is now covering up, and so on and so forth.

My disappointment is that you do not indicate to the reader what exactly is your version of history. Since you were not present some 500 years plus ago I have to assume that your
views are based on some relevant historian’s accounts.

My guess is that this is Romila Thapar, the dean of historians to most Indians of a certain generation. My problem with Thapar’s views on the Babri demolition is that she writes about ancient Indian history, not medieval. And here too, her credentials are not exactly de rigeur. She does not know Sanskrit or Pali . Now, here in the West, if an historian wrote about ancient Greece she or he would not be acclaimed as a scholar if she or he did not know ancient Greek !

There are other aspects of her ‘scholarship’ which are dubious.But to proceed. The  ASI, the relevant and accredited archeological society of India found in its excavations that there was a temple under the Babri. The assistant archeologist who helped in the excavations was a Muslim gentleman, Shri K.K.Muhammed and he confirmed this and went on to say : Mecca is important for Muslims, and likewise Ayodhya is important for Hindus.

I mention this for two reasons.

Apart from some diehards and extemists, most Muslims in India are now ready to concede that Ayodhya is important to Hindus.It seems that the pseudo secularists (O happy phrase coined by Shri Advani !) want to keep the dispute alive. Nitin Gadkari, President of the BJP has asked for Muslim cooperation.

In an interview with Times Now, Shri Mohan Bhagavat, leader of the RSS stated quite simply and clearly that it is a question of national pride. The invaders destroyed an Indian/Hindu temple, and that must be restored. Most of us know that Somnath(Gujarat) destroyed
by Mohammed Ghazni was rebuilt in independent India.

And the mood amongst progressive Muslims today is one of pride in the nation. Even the irrepressible Shah Rukh Khan said recently at an NDTV program ‘Being Muslim in India’ that yes, some people acted in a certain way and there was a response to that, and we
accept that.And SRK is influential with the youth of India.

And so it is incumbent for liberals not to dig up the disputes of yester year. Every Indian, regardless of religious affiliation, has heard about Ayodhya being the birthplace of Rama. This has been the scenario since long before the ’80s.

I look forward to seeing some national perspectives from you.


Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

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