25 June, 2021

What If Rajiv Hadn't Unlocked Babri Masjid?

Fundamentally, his decision didn't alter the Ayodhya equation. But, then, his successors didn't continue his equitable and pragmatic Ayodhya policy.

D. Ravinder Reddy
What If Rajiv Hadn't Unlocked Babri Masjid?
In 1985, prime minister Rajiv Gandhi gave in to the Muslim zealots in the Shah Bano affair. Overruling a secular court’s decision that repudiated wife Shah Bano was entitled to alimony from her ex-husband, he enacted a law abolishing the alimony provision in conformity with the Sharia. Since India, unlike purely secular states, already had religion-based civil codes, this concession merely brought the minor matter of alimony under the purview of the prevailing arrangement. More importantly, it prevented riots.

Only months later, Rajiv restored the balance by giving the Hindus something as well: he ordered the locks on the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid in Ayodhya removed. Until then, a priest had been permitted to perform puja once a year for the idols installed there in 1949. Now, all Hindus were given access to what they consider the birthplace of Rama, the prince posthumously deified as an incarnation of Vishnu.

Fundamentally, this decision didn’t alter the Ayodhya equation. Architecturally, the building was and remained a mosque while functionally, it had been and...

In this article:

Latest Magazine

July 05, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section