THE BABRI MASJID-RAM JANMABHOOMI DISPUTE AND STRATEGICAL SECULARISM
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© Oeendrila Lahiri 2009
This eBook is an enquiry into the Ayodhya dispute in India and the use and deployment of the disciplines and politico-conceptual categories in the case of the Babri Masjid-Ram Jamnabhoomi Dispute. I intend to look at the offensive launched by the VHP-BJP which heavily employs the mechanisms, strategies, rhetorics of strict academic historiography and the response of ‘secular’ historians or the anti-Mandir camp as they have come to be branded. Through it I look at the usefulness of secularism as a hallowed referent for combating the regressive forces of communalism and a possible relocation of the prime marker of the debate – was there or not a temple? I hope to show that a reformulation of the question, which would necessarily require a reconceptualization of the doctrine of a ‘secular nation-state,’ may open up newer possibilities.
The documents issued by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad entitled “Evidence for the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir” on December 23, 1990 and “Rejoinder to the AIBMAC Documents” submitted to the government on January 6, 1991, a year before the mosque’s demolition, are interesting in their dense argumentation for a Ram temple having pre-dated and pre-existed the Babri Masjid. The RSS, VHP and BJP’s claim of a historical event of demolition of such a mandir by Babar is well known by now.
Picture by Shaid Khan
OEENDRILA LAHIRI is on the Cultural Studies Research Training Program, Centre for Studies in the Social Sciences, Calcutta.
She obtained M.Phil in Cultural Studies/English Literature, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. This paper is based on her dissertation: Calcutta: Travelling through its Texts and Time
M.A. in English Literature, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
B.A. Hons in English Literature, Presidency College, Calcutta University, Calcutta