[ by Charles Cameron — religious India is divided over the question of the Babri Basjid / Ram Janmabhoomi — was the mosque built over a Ram temple in Lord Rama’s birthplace? and who deserves the land where the masjid was destroyed? The Supreme Court has ruled — but here’s a story that sets the Ayodhya question in a different light ]
The headline in India Today reads:
Kar sevak from Haryana who was part of Babri Masjid demolition, now preaches Islam, builds masjids
That’s from February 2018, but I only caught wind of it via a Brownpundits post by Dr Hamid Hussain yesterday.
Balbir Singh; a Rajput of Panipat was active member of right wing Hindu organizations Shiv Sena and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He had vowed to demolish Babri mosque and built the Ram temple at its site. In early December 1992, Balbir was part of the large crowd that had gathered at Babri mosque to demolish it. He was one of the first who climbed on the central dome of the mosque and removed brick after brick with pick axe.
He was given a heroes’ welcome when he came back to his town. He had brought back a brick from the destroyed mosque to be kept at local Shiv Sena office as victory trophy. However, his father Daulat Ram; a school teacher denounced his actions. It was time for reflection for Balbir and he was crushed with the guilt.
He found a novel way to atone for his actions. He converted to Islam (he was renamed Muhammad Ameer) and vowed to restore one hundred decrepit and abandoned mosques. So far, he has cleaned and rebuilt over ninety abandoned mosques in north India.
The message of this simple man is as powerful as that of a sage. Even if he had not converted to Islam, remained Hindu and repented in any other way to atone for his destructive act, he would have been a wonderful human being. He became exceptional by his conduct regardless of how rival communities view him.
That’s quite some story.
The Indian Supreme Court has ruled on the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi / Babri Masjid affair, giving a Hindu committee the disputed 2.7 acres on which the Babri Masjid was demolished, holding that an earlier Ram temple had been torn down and its columns repurposed to build the Masjid — and awarding 5 acres elsewhere for the building of another Masjid.
I like Dr Hussain‘s idea:
This is the story of Ram Mandar/Babri Masjid. If it was up to me, I would convert this property into a peace garden where everybody is welcome to reflect and pray in whatever way he wished to whatever God he wished.
This mother and child might be on their way to such a garden:
And look who they’ll meet when they arrive:
The wandering poet-saint Kabir “in discussion with persons of differing faiths”.