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The Destruction of the Babri Mosque and Its Impact on Indian Politics

The destruction of mosques in India has spurred anger. In the last few weeks the house of worship has been targeted, with Hindu activists filing charges in court or protesting saying if it was made on top of a Hindu temple, that needs to be recreated on the same website.

Such an invitation is part of a series of onslaughts on India's minority communes, which are often provoked by hindu nationalist ranks as the current Indian government.

Audrey Truscke, a South Asian historian and a professor at the Rutgers Campus, in a 2020 article for the South Asian Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, wrote that Hindu or Hindutva nationalism is a political ideology that suggests Hindu domination, particularly over Muslims divided into about fourteen % of the contemporary Indian community.

"Despite the similarity of names, Hindutva is different from Hinduism, a broadly based religious custom, although some Hindutva ideologues attempt to narrow and flatten Hindu customs," he wrote.

This risky political ideology has been monitoring several other Muslims throughout the years and can be retraced to the first "success" story of the Hindutva movement, namely the illegal destruction of mosques 30 years ago.

It was the late 1980s. India has been ruled by the Conference Party since August 15, 1947, when the country gained independence from the British Empire. National politics is about whether or not to support the Conference Party, and Hindu nationalism is a peripheral ideology.

In the midst of the following background of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, a campaign to 'reclaim' the website of the birthplace of the Hindu god, Lord Ram, began to grow.

Hindu activists claim that the Babri Mosque was made on the rubble of the remains of a Hindu temple identifying the birthplace of Lord Ram. The 16th-era mosque was created during the reign of the first Mughal king Babur in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.

The crusade was spurred by the nascent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Organization), which said the construction of Ram Temple was an alternative to the mosque. This movement reached its peak on December 6, 1992.

On that fateful Saturday, a mob of 150,000 people armed with pickaxes and sticks joined outside the Babri Mosque, shouting provocative slogans and saying if the Babri Mushola should be exchanged for the Ram Temple.

In the end, some of the successes broke through the police security, and were immediately followed by another mob, proceeding to damage the building. This resulted in further widespread chaos across all of India, where Hindu mobs targeted Muslims across the country.

About 2,000 people have died in the ugliest communal violence since the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan. Court cases were made too long throughout the year, and two important decisions were ultimately pronounced more than 25 years after that.

In 2019, the Supreme Court of India granted a disputed piece of land on which the Babri Mushola once stood on the Hindu side, which was allowed to create a Ram Temple on the website. Muslims were given five acres of land elsewhere in Ayodhya to make a prayer room.

The following year, a special court released all persons who participated in the destruction of the mosque, although the destruction of monumental places of worship in India was illegal.

Supreme Court decisions are notably, according to many political experts, not legal decisions as well as more as political recognition, which seems to have accepted that India is a Hindu state, apart from some of the secular principles documented in the Constitution of India.

While assessments are widely accepted across all political spectrums, they are secured by Hindutva forces who use them to legitimize their violence.

"(Hindu nationalists) want to make the story as if the courts have accepted their claim that Hinduism is the highest and there is no need to have a history or archaeology to provide support," Hilal Ahmed, Associate Professor at the Centre for The Study of Developing Citizens in New Delhi, told The New Arab.

Former BBC chief reporter in India, Mark Tully added to the issue of the destruction of the Babri Mosque at the time. He was the journalist who saw the mob demolishing the building. "(The destruction of the Babri Mosque is) the most meaningful victory for Hindu nationalism since independence and the most chronic decline for secularism," notes Mark Tully.

The political landscape of India until 1992 can be described as centralized around the Conference Party, which has been in power since India's independence in 1947. It will be different after the iconic mosque dome collapses. "The destruction of the Babri Mosque is a turning point in the direction of the new binary of Indian politics, namely secularism and communalism," Hilal Ahmed said.

The collapse completely replaced the conversation in Indian politics, and the parties were forced to choose which facet of the secular-communal division they occupied. The BJP was and still remains truly communal, and is trying to turn India into a Hindu state.

The events of 1992 moved their Hindutva parties and ideologies to the national consciousness. The BJP did not win a direct selection after the destruction of the mosque. They even lost the local selection in Uttar Pradesh in 1993, and the issue of the destruction of the Babri Mosque was slowly being left out.

It was rarely used as a campaign board by the big political parties, counting those against its demolition, and it has become a symbol of Hindu nationalist violent ability that is sometimes raised to demonstrate one purpose. "Gradually, all problems lose their electoral value, and therefore the argument becomes a symbolic problem," Ahmed said.

The destruction of the Babri Mosque is an important event in contemporary Indian history. But, it keeps little significance beyond symbolism and the majority still alive by some Hindutva ideologues to stay afloat as a great success story in 'reconquering' the lands already abducted on them.

Some of the incidents started since then, such as the selection of Narendra Modi as the First Minister in 2014, seen as more meaningful by political experts in explaining the contemporary revival of Hindutva hegemony.

India's secular and Muslim majority parties have moved, forced to participate with Hindutva supremacy by their own tricks. Evidence if the mosque, a heritage building, was illegally demolished is now missed.

"So the end of Babri's mushola of sociological thought is this. For Muslims it is a non-entity, but for the Hindu and Hindutva radical types, there is a need to keep that memory alive," Ahmed said.

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