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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 31, July 20, 2013

Ayodhya Conspiracy 1949: The Real Story

Sunday 21 July 2013, by Anil Rajimwale

BOOK REVIEW

Ayodhya: The Dark Night, The Secret History of Rama’s Appearance in Babri Masjid by Krishna Jha and Dhiren K. Jha; Harper Collins; 2012; pp. 193; price: Rs 499.

This extraordinary research work unravels the key missing link in the Ayodhya conspiracy that deliberately and artificially created the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi controversy to communalise Indian politics to pave the path to power for communal-fascism, with the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha as the main culprits behind what the book calls the ‘Ayodhya strategy’. Though the mosque was demolished in 1992, it is revealed that the conspiracy was hatched way back in 1949 and executed in a typically Nazi and Goebbelsian manner. The book is an amazing exposure of how it was all done.

While the nation was engaged in rebuilding itself after the colonial past, the communal-fascist forces, opposed to the freedom struggle itself, were busy hatching well-planned conspi-racies to dismember it under the garb of ‘Akhand Bharat’ and ‘Hindu Rashtra’. The year 1949 is the key to know the essence of the sinister conspiracy.

The authors have done painstaking research on how the ‘Ayodhya episode’ was really launched by the British rulers after the 1857 revolt or the first war of independence through various phases, and eventually given the final shape by the Hindu extremists in 1949. The history of Hindu-Muslim cooperation was rewritten. The Awadh nawabs had provided lands and property to the Hindus to build temples and forts (‘garhis’) and for agriculture, something that the communalists want people to forget. Significantly it was Nawab Safdarjang (1739-54) who granted seven bighas of land at Hanuman Tilla to Baba Abhay Ram Das. And it was during his grandson, Asaf-ud-Daullah’s time (1775-93) that funds were raised to construct part of temple-fortress on this land. This very Hanumangarhi was later to play a sinister role in the Hindu-Muslim conflict, aided and abetted by the British rulers and orchestrated by the communalists of the Akharas, Mahasabha and RSS.

Then occurred the great Indian revolt or war of independence of 1857, fought jointly by Hindus and Muslims, under the leadership of Bahadur Shah Zafar. Soon after the revolt was crushed, the British rulers rewarded selected mahants, pandas, purohits and rajas of Ayodhya/Faizabad for helping them.

The history of Hindu-Muslim cooperation was desecrated, distorted and turned upside down by the British rulers, invoking Babur to set Hindus against Muslims by creating the communal spectre. Their work has been carried forward uninterrupted by the communalists before and after freedom, by shifting the ‘janmabhoomis’, creating the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi ‘problem’. They fomented dissensions on the very place where Hindus and Muslims lived and worshipped peacefully together.

Gandhi Murder and Ayodhya Conspiracy

Another shocking discovery made by the authors is the close relationship between the Gandhi murder (1948) and Ayodhya conspiracy (1949), which too is a fall-out of the Gandhi murder. Gandhiji was sought to be killed at least six times by the people connected with the RSS and Mahasabha, with Godse and his associates involved on most occasions as public masks. Most of the attempts were made before indepen-dence, and therefore had nothing to do with partition. They finally succeeded in treache-rously murdering the Mahatma, on January
30, 1948, months after India had achieved independence. That was simply because he was the foremost leader of our freedom movement based on Hindu-Muslim unity.

It was revealed and later confirmed by the Kapoor Commission that the Mahasabha leader, V.D. Savarkar, himself was a key figure behind the Gandhi assassination conspiracy.

The authors inform us that there was a failed attempt to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi on January 20 (1948) by a Mahasabhaiite, Madanlal Pahwa. (p. 29) And then Mahant Digvijai Nath, “politically the most cunning sadhu of the twentieth century” (p. 31), gave an open call on January 27 (1948) to kill the Mahatma, at a meeting held in Connaught Place by the Hindu Mahasabha, barely three days before the latter was murdered.

This heinous crime aroused widespread revulsion against the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS among the common people. They were banned, people ostracised them in many places, and a large number of their leaders and activists simply gave up politics altogether. They were really on the backfoot, with their organisations in shambles, a large number of their members and leaders having been lodged in jail.

The communal organisations desperately wanted a way out of the deep crisis they had found themselves in so that they somehow come back to the mainstream of Indian politics. For them the only way was to desecrate the achievements of the freedom struggle and to polarise the people communally, and this they did by conspiring to create a ‘miracle’ of sudden ‘appearance’ of the idol of Ram, announcing that ‘Shri Ram wanted to shift to his original birthplace’ in the Babri Masjid! (Chapters 1, 5) The book revolves around the way this conspiracy was hatched and the gory details of how the lumpen communalised elements were used to do it. It builds the whole edifice of political developments around this crucial event. The return to politics by the Hindu Mahasabha/RSS proved to be traumatic for the whole country. A pseudo-religious cover was used to regain the political ground and respectability, employing thoroughly non- and anti-religious methods and the vilest lies and subterfuges. Every kind of lies was resorted to.

The Mahasabha and RSS clawed back gradually to further widen the internal division within the provincial Congress between the Hindu conservatives and progressives, and to convert it into a full-scale communal schism. They also worked overtime to use and exacer-bate the conflict between Nehru on one side and Pant and Patel on the other. Thus, they were successful in drawing attention away from Gandhi’s murder and use that to rise in the eyes of the conservative Hindu population. Such is the history: they raise their reactionary head when the progressive, secular forces are less than vigilant and divided.

The book excels in bringing all that out in a gripping narration combined with deft political analyses and indepth research.

Profoundly Original Work

The two researchers of this profoundly original work are not journalists in the normal sense; they have proved their worth as social-political thinkers dedicated to objective research, digging out a huge number of forgotten and unknown documents, bringing new ones to light and interviewing a large number of historical persons concerned, old and new. They negotiate with the communal blots on history spread further by the gory and murky activities of the cons-pirators belonging to the increasingly communa-lised Akharas replete with the communal-fascist outfits engaged in joint conspiracies, not only to further poison the atmosphere communally but to dismember the very entity known as India, yet chanting the mantra of ‘Akhand Bharat’! Reading through the book, one is inevitably reminded of the means the German Nazi conspirators used through similar subterfuges and hypocritical slogans while misappropriating the state machinery to organise a series of conspiracies. The Nazis also worked for ethnic cleansing under the garb of the purity of the ‘German Aryans’, a slogan directly picked up from them by the RSS.

And also let us remember, the Hitlerite fascists had used the division between the social democrats and Communists to come to power.

The book describes the serenity in Ayodhya and Babri mosque before the storm broke out through deliberate design. No communal riots had taken place in Ayodhya and Faizabad even during the height of the mass communal frenzy at the time of the country’s partition. Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully before and after, both worshipping in a friendly manner. Purohits, the muezzin and mullahs lived and ate and slept and talked like close friends. In fact, more conflicts could be traced among the Hindus than between Hindus and Muslims.

All this was not to the liking of the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS, and thus they set about to destroy the prevailing peace and harmony. The researches confirm that fascism always works and builds upon the society’s most backward, anti-social and lumpen elements.

The book starts by reconstructing the whole story around one Abhiram Das, a foul-mouthed pseudo-sadhu, who became a key local carrier of the Mahasabhaiite/RSS conspiracy, later becoming one of their leaders!

The book details in a very absorbing way how characters like Digvijai Nath, Abhiram Das, Dharam Das, and such others were mobilised by and worked in concert with the Hindu Mahasabha, RSS and their leaders like V.D. Savarkar, N.B. Khare, V.G. Deshpande, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, and the RSS führers. They were helped by one of most dishonest, conspiratorial and communal government officials, one K.K.K. Nair, the District Magistrate there, who virtually betrayed the secular foundations of independent India by colluding with the communal conspirators.

Political Economy of Communalism and Murky World of Akharas

The book follows the story of Abhiram Das into the murky world of the Akharas of Ayodhya, crucial not only as pseudo-religious and utterly obscurantist semi-feudal organisations but also as powerful economic and political power- centres. Abhiram Das, the key figure behind surreptitiously installing Lord Ram’s idol in the Babri Masjid, used by the Mahasabha and RSS for this cowardly act, belonged to one of the influential Akharas of Ayodhya, which wielded enormous power. He also, with time, joined the inner circles of the Mahasabha conspirators planning precise steps of putting the idol in the Masjid. His hands were trembling with fear and cowardice with the idol in his hands at the dead of the night of December 22-23, 1947, when he was assigned to place it there, because he was doing something quite unholy. Others too were not very confident, and would have run away at the slightest indication of firm opposition. The gang was allowed to gain confidence, thanks to the indifference on the part of those who mattered.

Today, most of these Akharas are typically lumpenised organisations of musclemen, with little religious feeling, if any. The book presents an extraordinary insight into the inner world and history of the various Shaivite, Vaishnavite and other Akharas and their branches, of their origins, development and transformations. There are, for example, Nirmohi and Nirvani Akharas within the Ramanandi sect of the Vaishnavites, as also Digambari and other Akharas among the Shaivites. The authors trace the interesting history of how the Shaivite and Vishnavite Akharas fought bloody battles against each other for the possession of land, property, temples and booty, and used the lowliest means to put down one another. (See p. 9) It is interesting to note that an idol of Lord Hanuman at Hanuman Tilla was worshipped jointly by Shaiva Nagas and Muslim faqirs, something that the communalists were able to destroy later.

The Akharas were initially formed to protect the politico-religious power of the vested interests with arms and armies, a collection of powerful, well-built pahalwans (wrestlers), who were used principally to terrorise other Hindu sects; later they were also used against the Muslims. It is wrong therefore to present history in terms of conflicts between Muslims and Hindus alone. History is littered with mutual bloody conflicts between Shaivites, Vaishnavites and other Hindu sects too. It has much less to do with genuine religious beliefs and practices and more with control of wealth and power. The muscle-power of the Akharas protected this-worldy interests rather than the other-worldly ones of the class of clerics.

In the murky world of Akharas, murders, physical suppression, moral and material degeneration etc. are quite common. Much of the conflict flows from economic interests. Religion has been converted from pure and pious belief into a giant industry with concentration of wealth and dangerous power.

It is these outfits that were skilfully used by the Mahasabha and Sangh Parivar for their nefarious activities.

The book has excelled in exposing the mind-boggling details of this ominous world.

Fight for Booty among Communalists: Strategy Fails

The economic logic of communalism necessarily leads to inhuman mutual struggle for the distri-bution of the looted wealth and booty. The attempt to install Ram’s idol was as much a struggle of the Nirvani Akhara against the Nirmohi Akhara as against the Muslims. Both the Akharas bitterly vied with each other to control the Babri Masjid and other ‘properties’ in Ayodhya. Installing Ram’s idol was a way for one Akhara to gain full control over the whole precincts claimed as his ‘birthplace’. So for that, the very birthplace had to be ‘shifted’.

The book describes how the Ayodhya strategy began to fall apart once the struggle for the division of the booty began. Virakta, a Hindu communal journal, ‘was used extensively by one side to blame the other for pocketing wealth’. (p. 145) ‘Following a series of articles in Virakta about rampant corruption in the management of the growing wealth of the [Ram Janmabhoomi Sewa] Samiti, Visharad (a Sabhaite leader in-charge of the Samiti) filed a defamation case against the weekly’s editor and publisher.’ (p. 144) Details of how and how much money was gobbled up by the Hindu extremist groups in the name of ‘temple’ began to come out. Avarice killed the unity among the groups of communalists. ‘The Ayodhya strategy was dead; the fight Ayodhya’s booty now began.’ (p. 145)

Thus, the struggle against the Muslims seeks to cover up much of the mutual struggle among the Hindu extremist sects themselves.

These cowardly conspiracies were helped, and even orchestrated, by the fascist District Magistrate K.K.K. Nair, who himself was present at the site when the idol was about to be placed. He saw to it that the conspirators did not panic and run away, and ensured full police support, throwing all laws, duties and caution to the winds. He even shouted at them to smother any vacillation. He stooped so low as to create conditions so that the Muslims were forced to leave not only Ayodhya but also India itself! He was deprived of his rights to serve in the official posts for the rest of his life. He actually turned up in his true colours in the Hindu Mahasabha conference and later even became an MP on the Jana Sangh ticket!

Nehru-Patel Conflict

The fate of the nation depended on the outcome of the conflict between Nehru and Patel, the two stalwart figures representing two ideologies. The Hindu communalists understood this, and helped the conservative Rightwing Hindu-oriented group in the Congress led by the CM of UP, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant. They also helped the Rightwing in the ruling party and government led by Sardar Patel, the aim being to isolate and defeat the secular forces of the weak independent Indian Government led by Pandit Nehru.

It is necessary to note have that the assault on the secular and democratic fabric of Indian society and politics began immediately after freedom. The communal forces tried to keep alive all the contentious issues, taking advantage of the prevailing poisoned atmosphere. The murder of Mahatma Gandhi was part and parcel of a grand plan to dismember India. There was also a conspiracy to assassinate Nehru and Maulana Azad, which finds a passing reference in the volume.

It is a pity that the secular forces could not come together and organise a big offensive against the Rightwing reactionary forces, even though they were in an advantageous position.

The book sadly lacks a detailed analysis of these factors.

The book traces the controversy and conflict between Nehru and Patel, representing broader political trends. It also narrates the impatience and helplessness of Nehru in the given conditions. It is to the credit of Pandit Nehru that he fought back repeated threats to the democratic and secular polity of India at a time when the country was weak and on the verge of being broken into hundreds of units, courtesy the mechinations of the princely states. This factor should have also been taken into account.

India missed being a dictatorship by a whisker, thanks to Nehru. Therefore, it is surprising that the book tries to find faults with him on Ayodhya and other questions at a time when he was hemmed in from all sides and fighting bold battles with his back to the wall. Of course he did commit mistakes in calculations and policy implementation.

The Ayodhya strategy shows how Right reaction and communalism gradually clawed back to strong positions, thanks to the disunity and unconcern among the secular forces in 1948-49 and subsequently.

Debatable Positions on Power-shift

The book makes certain debatable formulations giving the impression that Nehru could have done much more than what he did to ‘save’ Ayodhya and not allow it to be communalised. The roles of Acharya Narendra Dev, Nehru and some others do not seem to have been put in the proper perspective. The relevant questions regarding the 1937 elections are missed.

It is not clear on what grounds the book states (p. 39) that Acharya Narendra Dev could have had the chief ministership (premiership) of UP in 1937 for the asking. He refused it on uncalled for moral grounds, it says.

Actually, the issue of the 1937 elections created dispute among the parties of the freedom movement on two counts: 1) whether to take part in the elections, 2) whether to accept office, if successful.

Those who opposed one or both had strong arguments, the gist of which was that nothing could be achieved within the limited Consti-tution. Therefore, Socialists, Communists, and some nationalists were opposed to the elections. The All India Kisan Sabha, though, actively worked for the Congress, and contributed to the victory of many anti-feudal elements.

Experience showed that the formation of the governments was a correct policy, helping the democratic movements considerably.

Discussing Ayodhya in this context raises a broader question, that of unity of the democratic and nationalist forces. The General Secretary of the CPI, P.C. Joshi, had advanced the slogan of a ‘national front’. But as freedom approached, the Congressmen, CSP-ites (that is, those belonging to the Congress Socialist Party) and Communists began to move away from each other rather than come closer towards one another, though not entirely. This weakened the progressive and secular forces and strengthened the fascist and communal ones, and that was reflected in the terrible communal carnage around the country’s partition.

Consequently, there were confusions galore on various questions facing the country on the eve of independence, complicated further by the turbulent and communally-charged atmosphere. The communal forces took full advantage of the problems to foster communal sentiments in Ayodhya and Faizabad.

The attitude of Acharya Narendra Dev was more a reflection of the trends within the Socialists. An influential section among them had began to move away from the nationalist Congressmen precisely at a time when Rightists in the Congress were also moving away from Nehru’s policies. The KMPP of Kripalani and other socialist outfits really began a trend of blind anti-Congressism. Secularism became a victim of this process of anti-Congressism to the delight of the rabid communal forces.

Had all the secular forces in UP and India put up a common front against communal-fascism, the Ayodhya strategy and such sinister conspiracies would not have succeeded. Blaming Nehru alone is thus unrealistic.

It is relevant to note here that the CPI too began to target the Congress at around 1948 after its adoption of what is known as the ‘BTR Line’, calling for a ‘socialist revolution’ by overthrowing the Nehru Government. This self-destructive line only played into the hands of extreme Right reaction and communal-fascism. This was precisely the time when Gandhiji was murdered. So, the government was under fire from both Right reaction and Left adventurism at the same time. The communalists of all hues could not have asked for more.

That the communal forces could have been defeated had there been no adventurist BTR Line of the CPI and blind anti-Congressism of the Socialists, was shown the 1952 elections. The CPI became the largest Opposition, the KMPP second, and the Congress the ruling party. The three Right reactionary parties together could muster only seven seats!

But their division only helped Ayodhya and other communal conspiracies.

That is why the fight in Ayodhya and UP had to be carried on in isolation by a few brave individuals like the famous Gandhian, Akshay Brahmachari, whose epic and glorious struggles are detailed so well in the book, and who is clear about the fascist nature of the conspirators. It is shocking to know the ghastly details of how the people who opposed the forcible desecration of the mosque including the guard, the secular sadhus and mahants, notably Akshay Brahmachari, the people of the minorities and true secular elements were beaten, isolated, jailed and ostracised. The graves of the Muslims were desecrated, dug out and destroyed in large numbers. The book brings out all these sickening acts in the most vivid and revealing manner.

The RSS had refused to recognise India’s freedom and declared that the ‘tricolour’ was not suited to the country; in fact, it was an insult! They always stood for ‘India’s freedom’ not from the Britishers, but from the ‘Muslim’ rulers! So, soon after independence the RSS-Mahasabha combine began putting their conspi-racies to work. This was the main background of the Ayodhya strategy.

The power-shifts within and outside the Congress in UP and elsewhere have to be under-stood against this backdrop. There were too many problems in the country, as the book itself points out, for the persons concerned to pay proper attention to Ayodhya at that stage.

Brilliant Exposure of Communal Forces

The authors have undertaken this timely exercise and deserve all the praise for bold and factual research, digging deep into documents and facts. The appearance of the book itself is a necessary wake-up call to the secular and progressive forces to unite and roll back the communal-fascism in the near future. Otherwise it would be too late. The latest events in the national political scene impart a greater sense of urgency to this task.

One shudders to think as to what would have happened if the communal-fascist forces had succeeded in capturing the Indian state.

The communal-fascists succeeded in doing something that still troubles and divides India. Putting an idol of Ram in the Babri Masjid, after murdering a real ‘bhakt’ of Ram, and posing as the ‘disciples’ of Ram itself was an anti-religious act. But the Mahasabha and RSS were never really concerned with religious beliefs as such including the Hindu religion.

Religion is only a garb for the pseudo-nationalists of the Sangh Parivar. They pose as if they draw their inspiration from the Hindu tradition, culture and religion. Nothing can be farther from the truth. They really draw inspiration from Hitler and Mussolini and the latter’s brand of ‘Aryanism’. After all, they were sent to the training camps of Hitler and Mussolini to be trained!

Therefore, the book is a timely warning to all the secular forces, who stand for the unity of the nation, to unite and roll back communal-fascism at the earliest. Or else it will surely devour us all.

The reviewer is a leading member of the CPI and a Marxist ideologue.

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