Ayodhya’s anniversary: Donations for barbarism

A US-based scholar concludes that overseas Hindutva is using pretence to raise the cash that funds mayhem at home.

Ten years ago, on 6 December 1992, a fascist spectacle was on show in northern India. In the small town of Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, a well-organised band of Hindutva activists demolished a 16th century mosque erected by Mir Baqi. Soon thereafter, blood flowed from the outskirts of Delhi to the centre of Bombay. The Hindutva forces' contempt for law and order matched the disregard for the Indian constitution shown by Indira Gandhi and the Congress party in the mid-1970s. Neither cared for the rules or for peace; both were interested in the exercise of power.

When asked why they thought the site of the mosque was the site of the Ram Janmabhoomi (translated, the birthplace of the Hindu god, Ram), some Hindutva cadre told the filmmaker Anand Patwardhan that they were "just sure" that it was. Patwardhan then asked them what century Ram had been born in, but they had no answer. The need for empiricism tends to muddy the certainties; besides, the excitement of religious activism far outweighs the basic protocols of historical method.

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Himal Southasian