- Just as Lord Ram found enlightenment after Sita made herself disappear into Mother Earth upholding her dignity, our fundamentalist brothers and sisters would now open their eyes.
I am at a loss these days. I find myself lacking in hope. When Ram Mandir celebrations were at their peak in India and among the fundamentalist diaspora in the U.S., my spirits and beliefs in humanity experienced a slow death.
When the Bharatiya Janata Party started its political journey decades back in the 1980s, my rational and secular friend shared with me that their messaging is so powerful about the alienation of Hindus in this world, where Muslims have their nation and Christians have theirs, that she wondered for a minute about supporting the idea. We laughed about it and moved on.
Fast forward to 2024, I am flabbergasted by the unapologetic and exponential growth of Hindu fundamentalism nurtured and bred by the political ideology of the Indian government under the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). I have always admired ants and their perseverance and tenacity to build huge anthills. If you observe the structure of anthills, it has many chambers within it with a robust structure deep down the soil and can be as high as 10ft above the ground. An ant colony in Europe was found to cover 3,600 miles stretching from the Italian Riviera to the northwest corner of Spain. The Argentine ants that created it were living in millions of chambers housing billions of ants. Any ordinary person who looks at ants would consider it as a frivolous being that could be crushed under the foot with ease, yet the ants do not perceive themselves as such but tread forward with their mission. Interestingly, while the ants build such architectural marvels, they never crush or destroy anyone else to achieve their goal. Although the Hindu fundamentalists aspired and build the architectural structure named Ram Mandir, it can never live up to the integrity or ethos of Argentine ants.
My ears are piercing with the screams of 2,000 Muslim lives that were taken during the religious riots in 1992. When BJP leader L.K. Advani commanded his followers and demolished the historical mosque ‘Babri Masjid’ built in the 16th century, it was merely the beginning of a political ploy to grab power in a country that celebrated communal harmony. A historical mosque was carefully destroyed by the RSS soldiers who came from different parts of India. One passionate soldier among them was Narendra Modi who laid his foundational brick towards his glossy political career woven with religious hatred. He is India’s Prime Minister today!
The demolition of Babri Masjid and consequent riots were indeed a calculated triumph for the BJP. The era of legitimization of minority killings and suppression of religious rights had just begun. A powerful and effective political strategy of igniting religious passion and injecting poison into the minds of Indians by reinforcing the communal seeds that India should be for Hindus alone like the Mecca of Saudi Arabia or the Vatican for Christians worked like a charm in a country where 80% of the total population, or 966 million people are Hindus.
Did any one of those destructors of Babri Masjid were ever held accountable? Was there any justice given to those Muslim lives that were taken in the name of the Hindu God Lord Ram’s birthplace? The answer is as obvious as daylight. When a supreme God rules the land, anyone who defies the supreme would be erased without any evidence. Lord Ram’s wife Sita herself had to disappear into Mother Earth without getting any justice when Ram’s followers questioned her virtue and violated her basic rights. The great Lord Ram stood there as a silent spectator without defending Sita’s rights while protecting his self-image and throne. Mythological history repeats itself. The Supreme Court of India gifted the Babri Masjid land to its Hindu masters to build a Ram temple in 2010 with not a single criminal act prosecuted for the demolition or the lives taken.
The disputes about Babri Masjid and Ram Janmabhoomi were not new. The historical documents show that similar conflicts have taken place since the 1850s. The difference here is that we live in 2024 and our expectations about human decency, and the fundamental rights of human beings have evolved. Tragically, the Indian national leaders have no plans to lead Indian fundamentalists to look towards progressive thoughts or have compassion and basic respect for the lives of minorities or religious diversity. If a bloodsucking bug is deprived of its basic food, how will it survive?
Ram Mandir is a glittering little castle offered as a token of gift to the diminutive minds across India and among the diaspora who are in denial about the atrocities on which it is built. My hope at this point is that just as Lord Ram found enlightenment after Sita made herself disappear into Mother Earth upholding her dignity, our fundamentalist brothers and sisters would open their eyes and realize that religious massacres and mob lynching of minorities will not serve as the dharma (righteous) path that led Yudhishthira to become the first mortal to reach heaven in physical form as detailed in Bhagavad Gita.
Therefore, I encourage the readers to educate themselves about hate crimes and mob lynchings in India as the country celebrates the historical Ram Mandir that has been built with the blood and tears of minorities who have no basic human rights in today’s India. Be the Lord Ram who opened his eyes and corrected his mistake by searching for Sita whom he had wronged!
Hope is a waking dream. I eagerly wait for a futuristic and pluralistic India that would celebrate communal harmony, religious diversity, and basic human dignity.
Litcy Kurisinkal, a Research Consultant focusing on Human rights issues, is a Public Policy Graduate from Harvard Kennedy School.