The Abuse of History: A Study of the White Papers on Ayodhya
On August 21, 1993 the Government of India declared the 'Rama Katha' included in the Buddhist text 'Dasratha ]aiakat and the 'Jaina Ramayana1 injurious to the Indian polity and implicitly accepted the Hindutva argument that Indian religious and cultural traditions did not have a pluralist base and content. This was not the first instance of the government's acquiescence through intimidation to the force of Hindutva. Earlier this attitude was discernible between February and August 1981 when 50,000 Christians and 4,000 Muslims were reconverted to Hinduism. Again, in 1984 several members of the then ruling political party suddenly became the moving force in the campaign to liberate the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. This was followed by the opening of the Ayodhya Mosque to the devotees of Rama in February 1986, the shilanyas of the Rama temple in Ayodhya in 1989 and the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. In the post-demolition period two instances clearly spellt out the intention of the Government of India to sheepishly follow the agenda of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) for political action. These included the release of the white paper on Ayodhya and the blatant attack on the Sahmat exhibition on 'Ayodhya*. In February 1993 the Government of India released the 'White Paper on Ayodhya1 (henceforth 'GOI Paper') and demonstrated its tacit acceptance of the BJFs kind of history. And, in August 1993 the government projected that if any voluntary cultural organisation dared to challenge the lies that had been circulated by the BJP as 'history', then it would use its draconian powers of censorship and seizure to suppress such organisations.
The Government of India and the BJP released almost simultaneously their white papers on Ayodhya to justify their roles during and after the events of December 6, 1992. Both papers took refuge in history to rationalise their actions. However in the process of rewriting the past they have depended heavily on fallacies and myths. Although the two parties charge each other for dereliction of duties
University of Allahabad, Allahabad.
Social Scientist, Vol. 22, Nos. 5-6, May-June 1994