Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Rabi-Ul Awwal/Rabi-Ul Akhir 1423 H
June 2002
Volume 15-06 No:186

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Our Dialogue

What do you think happened in Ayodhya under Babur's Rule ?
What happened at Godhra station?

By Abdullah Tariq

What do you think happened in
Ayodhya under Babur’s Rule ?

Q. I have been following the newspapers about what is going on especially in Gujarat.
I would appreciate if you can answer a few of my questions:

 1. What happened in Ayodhya under Babur's rule?
 2. Do you accept that a Hindu temple was destroyed to build this mosque?
 3. If you accept, what makes you think that prompted Babur (or for that matter Aurangzeb or just any other      Muslim ruler) to destroy a Hindu or a Sikh or any other non-Islamic place of worship?
 4. Do you reject that a Hindu temple was destroyed to build this mosque?
 5. If you reject, what are the reasons?
 6. You see, "hatred of the other" is not unique to one community alone. Please reply in all your honesty and      frankly on whether you have read any translations of Quran or Hadith in the past?
 7. If so, what is your take on the verses in Quran, which are against unbelievers, idolaters, and people of the left      hand?
 8. Do you think the verses in Quran have any role to play in this violence between Muslims and non-Muslims in      general?
 9. Just what is the connection between the destruction of several temples in the past and the verses in Quran?
10.Pogrom means "an organized massacre of helpless people, specifically: such a massacre of Jews" Is the      killing of 55 Hindus by Muslims by burning them alive not a pogrom in your thinking or as per the standards      set by the secularists? If not, how many Hindus should be killed and how must they be killed to call it as a      pogrom? Did the secularist conduct any investigation worth its name (if it has one) or salt (if you can taste the      pulse of its readers) into this carnage by Muslim mob? Does secularist media think Hindus deserved to die      because they are Hindus?

(Pratyush Vajpayee : Chicago, USA)

A 1-5. It is a disputed point that Babri Masjid was built in place of a Hindu Temple by destroying it while it is undisputable history that Babri Masjid stood at the place of the disputed site since the period of Babar. In 1949, some miscreants sneaked in the mosque and placed the idols inside it claiming that gods appeared there by miracle. Subsequently different courts barred Muslims from praying inside the mosque while Hindus were permitted to perform Darshan of the miraculously appearing gods. Most of the Hindus were led to believe by VHP, spearheading the movement of restoration of temple, that they possessed proof of the destruction of the temple by Babar where Babri mosque was built. Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) has also evidences in its possession proving that no temple existed there prior to the construction of the mosque. The problem is that a large number of Hindus sincerely believe in the claims made by VHP while almost all Muslims believe in the evidences held by BMAC.

When there is a dispute and both sides claim to have evidence in their possession in support of their contention, the most proper and just solution would be to refer the dispute to a third and neutral party and that is what the Muslims exactly did. What would be more judicious than to refer the dispute to the courts of our own country? That the courts let the matter hang for a long time is neither any fault of Muslims nor it is in their interest? What else do you suggest in this situation? Should the matter have been decided by a foreign neutral agency? Should it have been referred to a neutral commission consisting of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains? Should both sides have made an out of court settlement? Should the Hindutva Brigade have taken the law into their own hands and grabbed the disputed structure (which was historically a mosque before the settlement of the dispute) claiming that the minority community should bow to their wishes? Hindutva brigade opted for the fourth alternative, the third being unsuccessful and the first two not tried for obvious reasons.

They demolished the Babri mosque forcefully and illegally and set up a make shift temple there. It was condemned the world over including by a large number of Hindus. Now you demand to know the reasons of our rejection of your claim that the mosque was built by destroying a temple! Don’t you think that the onus is on to you to prove that the temple existed there before the mosque? Babri mosque was a reality while the temple’s existence has never been established by any neutral body. The Muslims have all along maintained that they will abide by the court’s decision while the Hindutva claimants have been running away from the decision of the court, sometimes saying that the courts have no Jurisdiction over the matter of their (mythological) belief and sometimes declaring that they will not accept the court’s order if it went against them? What are they running from if they have irrefutable evidence of the temple’s existence in their possession? Since you have raised the question of being unbiased, you seem to be a just person swept by the Hindutva propaganda, accusing even the just loving Hindus and not being aware of the whole facts of the case. As for Muslim rulers’ demolition of the temples, history does not tell us that Babar destroyed any temple. Aurangzeb did attack a few temples that had become the centres of conspiracy against his rule like the Indian Government’s attack on Golden Temple, but the charge of a large-scale destruction of temples by him is a false accusation.

How can a Hindu and temple - hater marry in Rajputs, employ even more Hindu officers in civil and army than by Akbar and help build hundreds of temples across the country? Late Mr. B. N. Pandey, ex-Governor of Bihar and Orrisa had written a book after collecting documentary evidence of Aurangzeb’s aid to more than 300 temples. The book was published by ‘Khuda Bakhsh Library’, Patna. The list of those temples that were either built or given as land by Aurangzeb compiled by Mr. B.N. Pandey has surely not covered all such temples. For example it does not include the name of a temple in Ramnagar (District Nainital) at a distance of about 100 kms. from where the writer of these lines lives. A procession is taken out every year by Nanda Devi temple management in October with Aurangzeb’s Farman (written command) in full display awarding a large area of the land to the temple. We know of Mahmood Ghaznavi’s attack on Somnath and other temples, but then he was not a Muslim ruler of India.

He looted the temples and took the loot to Afghanistan while the Moghals after coming from Afghanistan settled here permanently. They did not flush the country’s wealth away from our country like our present rulers (ministers and big businessmen) do. True, Babar came from Afghanistan but he made India his homeland (like Advani and Sonia Gandhi). Later Moghals were as much Indian as Advani’s and Sonia’s progeny are. They did not rule India from Afghanistan but brought Afghanistan under Indian rule, which we later lost when Moghals became weak. We never held the territory earlier (in recognised history) and never regained it ever after. Had Aurangzeb been an indiscriminate temple destroyer, there would not have remained a single temple in the country considering that he was the single most powerful and stable ruler of India in known history. No other king, Raja or ruler ruled for 50 years and the Indian Territory was never larger before or after Aurangzeb. The Moghals contributed to the development and architecture of the country. In fact their biggest contribution to the nation is that they gave us an Indian nation.

India was never a big single country before them in known and recognised history, its segments being ruled by hundreds of tiny Rajas at a time. They might have their quota of excesses on their adversaries but the charge of their massacre of Hindus and indiscriminate destruction of temples can never be sustained by common sense if you yourself remain unbiased. There would have been no Hindu and no temple in the country after their 250 years rule, leave alone an overwhelming majority of Hindus and thousands of temples. Notwithstanding anything said earlier, neither Babar or Aurangzeb nor any other Muslim ruler is the role model or hero of Indian Muslims. I was simply stating the facts and history. If any one of them razed such temples that had not become the centres of lewdness or conspiracy, he did a condemnable act.

A. (6-9). Qur’an is the word of God and forbids idolatry. It warns the idolaters and non-believers of grave consequences in the life Hereafter. Not only Quran but all Words of God do the same. Vedas too deplore idolatry. Here is one of the large number of Vedic Mantras condemning idolatry: “Deep into blinding darkness fall they who worship Asambhuti (nature in its germinal state like air water, earth, fire etc., according to Shankara). They sink into deeper darkness yet who are intent on Sambhuti (things made of Asambhuti like wooden or stone carvings, idols etc.) (Yajurveda 40:9) It is Arya Samaj from amongst Hindu sects that justifies abusing or reviling idols and gods. Quran, while admonishing idolaters, asks its followers not to use abusive or insulting language for the gods and goddesses, the idolaters have taken to besides One God: “Do not revile those whom they call upon besides Allah lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance...” (6:108) Quran is the only religious scripture in the world that specifically forbids it followers from forcefully demolishing the places of worship of other religions stating that one of the reasons of Allah’s replacing the ruling groups in the world with one another is that most of those who remain in power for long tend to destroy the places of worship of others: “Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another then monasteries churches synagogues and mosques in which the Name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure, would surely have been pulled down ...” (22:40) Except when the war is imposed upon the believers and they are asked to defend and fight for the just cause, they are asked to be just and kind to non-believers: “Allah does not forbid you from dealing kindly and justly with those who do not fight you and drive you not out of your homes for (your) Faith: for Allah loves those who are just. Allah only forbids you from (making your friends) those who fight you for (your) Faith and drive you out of your homes and support (others) in driving you out. Those who befriend such people do wrong”. (60:8-9) True followers of Quran can neither harm a temple nor resort to violence except to defend themselves or the oppressed people. Contrary to what you think it is those who either do not understand Quran or wish to manipulate it for their own wishes, can be a source of defaming it by hating or fighting others. But equally responsible for the Hindu-Muslim clashes are the torchbearers of the fascist Hindutva who have denounced the peaceful and tolerant Hinduism of Swami Ram Krishna Param Hansa and Swami Ram Tirtha.

A. 10. Killing of 55 Hindus could have been called a pogrom if the killing was organised and pre-planned. The whole world including the police officials in Godhra say that the killing was not pre planned. Godhra’s extremely unfortunate and despicable incident was the result of provocation by the Kar Sevaks traveling in the train. Everyone except the sources of Hindutva have come to this conclusion after making enquiries from whatever sources they could gain access to in Narendra Modi Raj. Strange, you talk of investigation. You seem to be grossly ill informed. It is Modi who has blocked all efforts of conduct of high-level impartial investigation. Who can deny that Godhra carnage was worth investigating at the highest level? More so when it became the excuse for an unprecedented show of barbarism in India. Modi, the fascist Pracharak stubbornly rejected all demands of investigation of Godhra incident by CBI or a sitting Supreme Court Judge and the Central Government backed him to the hilt. Instead, he appointed a handpicked retired High Court Judge for the enquiry. Why should he dilute the enquiry if he has nothing to hide? The burnt bodies were cremated without post mortem, autopsy or DNA tests and a diluted enquiry was set up. Still you blame the secularists for not having investigated. Only an enquiry at the highest level could have revealed the following: Whether all those burnt were Hindus or they included some Muslims also?

What was the conduct of the Kar Sevaks travelling on Sabarmati Express? Were they peace loving Hindu devotees or a blot on Rama’s name?

Was there provocation on part of Kar Sevaks? If yes, to what degree?

Was the burning a spontaneous mob fury or a pre-planned and organised crime?

Did the Godhra police and intelligence have no inkling to the crime if it was pre-planned to be executed by a whole mob?

Why did the Modi Government withdraw charges under POTO clamped on the Godhra accused after the international pressure that the accused of Godhra and other parts of Gujarat be tried under the same law?

Truth will always be a liability and in doubt unless the enquiry is made either by CBI or a sitting Supreme Court Judge. But then we have observed in Babri Mosque dispute that the Fascist Parivar has no faith in the Supreme Court. It believes in handpicking retired lower level judges of its own choice. Call what you may the Godhra carnage but it won’t conform to the word ‘Pogrom’ till it is established by an impartial enquiry that it was a pre-planned organised massacre. Literal dictionary debate apart, pogrom or not, there is no doubt that no amount of provocation can justify the heinous crime of burning people alive including ladies and children. Whosoever were responsible and whosoever committed the most inhuman crimes in Gujarat including Godhra should be given an exemplary punishment.


What happened at Godhra station?

Q.There are news reports that Karsevaks travelling in the Sabarmati Express beat up a bearded tea stall owner at Godhra station and lifted his 16 year old daughter, carried her inside the bogey and shut the doors. When all efforts to make the doors open failed and the train moved, some youth boarded the train and pulled its chain. The train stopped at a distance of one km from the station near a Muslim pocket where a mob gathered very soon. An altercation occurred but the captors did not free the girl. Somebody then torched the bogey. Another report published in Washington Post says the Karsevaks had gathered stones from the rail side at the entrance of the bogie. The paper says that some Muslim youth ignited fire near the joints of S5 and S6. Someone else started fire at the other end of the bogey. Earlier the Karsevaks humiliated and teased the Muslim passengers including women throughout the journey. The preplanned nature of the Gujarat massacre and open complicity of the Gujarat Government and the police clearly indicate that Godhra event was also planned by VHP to start what they did in Ahmedabad and other places. Why do the Muslim apologists like Asghar Ali Engineer condemn Hindus and Muslims alike as if the train at Godhra was burnt by Muslims?

(Mohd. Sajid : Deoband)

A. The report of Kar Sevaks lifting the girl of a Muslim tea stall owner is a totally fabricated one. Unfortunately a number of Muslim papers and magazines have published it without trying to verify the authenticity of the report which was possible. When I first heard the news by word of mouth I did not believe it. The national English dailies had left nothing to disclose and condemn the designs of Fascist Parivar and Narendra Modi. They also minced no words in condemning the rowdy behaviour of Kar Sevaks. Why should none of those publish this key incident, I argued? Then I saw the report on internet on and knew immediately that it was a false report in circulation. There were three reasons in addition to the one I described above.

1. The story was made out to be copied from Gujarat Samachar, the most widely circulated Gujarati paper. Gujarat Samachar could not have published this report even if it were true. With Sandesh the next most popular Gujarati paper in the lead, Gujarat Samachar had played a dubious role in inciting the carnage in Gujarat. Both these papers had circulated false stories of Hindu women abducted from Sabarmati Express in Godhra by a Muslim mob.

2. The story was made over as authentic to be true. How many news items you have seen in a big paper with the telephone numbers of the correspondents also mentioned? The phone numbers of Anil Soni and Neelam Soni who were said to have filed the report were mentioned in the news item.

3. Besides this, there was only one other report in the media since Feb. 28 which had tried to somewhat justify the Godhra incident. The other being filed by Rajiv Chandrasekaran of Washington Post Foreign Service and published in its March 6 issue (Later International Herald Tribune reproduced it referring to Washington Post). The contents of both these reports, the one attributed to Gujarat Samachar and the other appearing in Washington Post (WP) differed with each other in every detail. It was obvious that the source of information of Rama Laxmi, special correspondent of WP were Muslims. Why did they not report the abduction of the girl to Rama Laxmi. The said girl was not any passer by. If she was the daughter of a permanent figure at Godhra Station, then the Godhra Muslims should have known her by name and the incident should have been on the tip of the tongue of every Muslim in Godhra. Still the WP did not mention any abduction. The details of bogeys catching fire were also very different in both news items. Not leaving any place to conjecture I called the phone numbers given in the report. The numbers were correct and Mr. Anil Soni answered from Godhra. We had a long conversation twice. He seemed to be a nice and polite gentleman. He told me that neither he filed any story of the sort with Gujarat Samachar nor any such news item appeared in Gujarat Samchar, March 3 issue. Yes, he was a correspondent with Gujarat Samachar and UNI and he was fed up with the phone calls from all over the world to verify the report that someone had circulated in his name giving also his phone numbers. He tried to explain very patiently that there were miscreants in every community and unfortunately some Muslim miscreants had torched the train in Godhra. Naturally, neither the Minority Commission or the Human Rights Commission, or even any Islamic Organisation reported from Godhra that any Muslim girl was abducted by the Kar Sevaks on the Sabarmati Express on that fateful day. I do not say that it is beyond VHP activists to plan and execute Godhra in such a way that the blame goes to Muslims but their capability alone is not proof enough to believe that they actually did it in the wake of other evidences to the contrary so far. It is more probable as most analysts report that they had planned Gujarat in advance and waiting for an excuse. Unfortunately it was Godhra event that gave them the required excuse. You should note the contradictions in your own statement. You refer to the reports that tend to justify the burning of the bogeys by Muslims and then you put the blame on VHP activists in the next sentence. I cannot say till all truth filters out that some Muslims did it but we should not hesitate in condemning Godhra incident also in no uncertain words without naming any community and that is what Asghar Ali Engineer and others did. There is no question of apology in it. The Muslims should come out of the psyche of keeping silent on such deplorable incidents that may have been committed by ignorant Muslims. For over a decade, Indian Muslims in general did not loudly condemn the Pakistani backed terrorism in Kashmir, speculating that the Indian side was masterminding it. We must not take sides in the matter of justice and truth. Only then we shall be able to gain more credibility and support of the secular non-Muslims in combating the communalism of Hindutva. The Quran ordains us: “O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that you deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Informed of what ye do.” (5:8) .


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