Demolition of the Babri Masjid
Demolition of the Babri Masjid

A tale of two mosques

Recent anniversaries have marked the demolition of two mosques, one very well known, and the other, much less so

(From our archives: this article was featured in our January 2009 issue 'The many faces of terror')

On 6 December 1992, the demolition of the Babri Masjid by rightwing Hindu forces heralded a major shift in the Indian political landscape. In a way, it signalled that the long-cherished Indian variant of 'secularism', or the Gandhian notion of sarva dharma sambhava ('Let all religions prosper'), which held as its ideal the symmetrical treatment of all religions, was now increasingly outliving its utility for the ruling classes. And no wonder: since that time, the academic community in India has unleashed vigorous debates on secularism, and Indians have been greeted with all kinds of communitarian and postmodern critiques of the same. While the times to come will surely pronounce a verdict of some type on these sophisticated intellectual endeavours, let us first digress in order to explore some areas less treaded by the Indian academic elite.

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Himal Southasian