Letter: India divided, a mosque destroyed

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The Independent Online
Sir: The destruction of the Babri mosque at Ayodhya by thousands of massed Hindus will not exorcise the two demons that set Indian consciousness aflame: the shame of their having connived in their own suffering over centuries of Muslim rule, and the establishment of Pakistan itself as an independent state out of the orbit of Hindu power.

The fact is that a genius for politics is not the Indian forte. Democracy - all those millions of voters - is unreal; the integrity of government, a tainted rag. Bumbling along, inflicting self-injury, without one principle to rub against another is the Indian truth, and the Indian style.

Last year, I suggested to Lal Krishna Advani of the Bharatiya Janata party (the principal Hindu protagonist at Ayodhya) that it should seek to have the mosque moved unharmed, on the model of the Abu Simbel temples that were displaced under the aegis of Unesco for the Aswan Dam. The Muslims could have been won over by the opportunity to yield on a non-vital point which the Hindus had blown up beyond reason. But these suggestions fell on deaf ears.

That the central government of a country as well-equipped with secret intelligence services as India could not have known that tens of thousands of extreme, devout Hindus, from a half-dozen organisations, were converging with pick and shovel, and hammer and cudgel, to bring down the mosque is a confession of such incompetence that the Narasimha Rao government should surely now resign.

Ayodhya must become a symbol for the damage that has been done by the split of the subcontinent into Muslim and Hindu states. A confederation of all three successor states to British India would be a worthy, if paradoxical, outcome of the present destruction.

Yours sincerely,




7 December