Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Today I spent the entire day sitting inside, waiting. But I guess that days worth of killing time is nothing compared to the 60 years many people have waited for what transpired.

It was a big day in India, as you may or may not have heard. After decades of waiting, demolitions, murders, riots, religious furor and constant delays the Allahabad High Court declared a verdict on who controls 2.7 acres of land in Ayodhya.

You might wonder why so much drama and history was needed over a small piece of land. I would ask the same thing about certain parts of Jerusalem. But, as with many epics, it came down to religion. Is the alleged birthplace of Ram (a king who, in the legend of Ramayana, served as the human ‘avatar’ for the god Vishnu) as well as the site of a 16th century mosque that was demolished by Hindu nationalists in 1992. The demolition caused widespread riots and over 2,000 people were killed (riots 10 years later after a related train bombing saw another 1,000 people killed).

It is a long and complicated story as to how this tale that started with a mosque in 1528 and a court case beginning in 1949 ended up in a courtroom today. If you’re interested in a full timeline of events, I suggest you look at this helpful timeline, and if you want a full accounting of the ruling today read this.

For me this is not interesting just because of the outcome – the ruling stated that the land should be divided between 2 Hindu groups and one Muslim group, but all sides said they would appeal – but because it is just another fascinating display of what happens when religions collide.

How can a court even begin to decide whose religion deserves or has right to land? But they certainly tackled it head on here. To me the most befuddling part of the ruling is this: One of the justices, Dharam Veer Sharma actually wrote in his opinion, “The disputed site is the birth place of Lord Ram.”

As an American it is fascinating to see how religion can be woven into a court decision as though it is fact. And perhaps for many it is. But that’s hardly consolation to Muslims who think that their almost-500-year-old mosque was destroyed. And the land for the Muslims is no consolation to those who would swear that the mosque was built only after an original Hindu temple was destroyed.

The thing that gives me faith is this: as of now (knock on wood), there have been no major instances of violence. After a week of delays and waiting with bated breath to see what would happen, there’s a collective sigh that nothing has happened.

Has India moved beyond its religious tensions? Of course not. But in a country that is reeling from its embarrassment over the Commonwealth Games, maybe this is a moment to stand proud. It’s not over yet, but perhaps the long-running suit can now hope for closure, instead of fearing more bodies will be added to the count of this saga.

And birthplace or no birthplace, mosque or no mosque, that is something to celebrate – especially now that I feel safe enough to leave my house.

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