DR SAMY CAN BLAME THE ACT OF GOD MADE FROM THE GOD FACTORY OF KOLKATA
MISSING THE TARGET: MCA’S HOMEGROWN JIHADIS OUT TO DESTROY ISLAM AND THE MALAYS
SOI LEK YOUR DEATH WILL BE IN HANDS OF MUSLIM MOB
The potters who earned a meager livelihood out of making clay pots, slowly started to sculpt images of deities for the various Hindu religious festivals that were becoming popular during the British Raj. The most prominent of the festivals of Bengal, of course, was and still is the Durga Puja. Potters from the neighbourhood were hired by the rich Babus, in those days, to live in their houses and sculpt the deity in the thakurdalan or the courtyard attached to the ancestral temple, of the Babus
Have you ever wondered where God is created? Is there a factory that makes them as per order? There is such a factory, where men toil through the year to create deities out of straw and clay, in the heart of an aging metropolis.They say that God rested on the seventh day, after Creation was complete. But the God-makers of Calcutta know no rest. The festival season is on. Come Monday, lorries would make a beeline outside their alleys for idols of the Goddess Laxmi. Meanwhile, the apprentices have started to create the basic straw and bamboo structure of the other incarnation of Durga, Ma Kali. The wheels at the God Factory have to keep turning as there will be no seventh day when the God makers would get a day of rest after creating God.
The former works minister accused the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) of having approved the construction project without a proper study. He said legal action could be taken against the council.
“This project is not planned properly and without referring to any professional party,” Samy Vellu told a 300-strong crowd of Hindus and non-governmental activists who had turned up at the famous temple complex this morning to protest the condominium construction, saying the work was an environmental risk and would jeopardise the temple grounds.
“And the developer and MPS did not meet the temple committee to discuss and give notice about the project they planned,” said the country’s special envoy to India and South Asia.
The Sri Maha Mariamman Devasathanam temple committee chairman, Datuk R. Nadarajah, who was among the frontliners in today’s “Save Batu Caves” rally, had criticised the state government for failing its duty to act responsibly and passing the buck over the approval of the condominium project to MPS.
The PR state government however has refuted it was responsible for approving the project, saying it was the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration led by Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo that had in 2007 awarded the approval to developer Dolomite Properties Sdn Bhd.
The Minerals and Geoscience Department (JMG) had also given its clearance for the condominium project to go ahead after having conducted a study of the land near the temple, PR state executive councillor (exco) Ronnie Liu was reported to have said recently after a meeting with the temple committee, the developer and MPS.
But Senator A. Kohillan Pillay, a former MPS councillor who was also present at today’s rally, denied the former state BN government had granted approval for development work.
The Gerakan politician admitted he had been aware of the project since 2007 but stressed that MPS had only given approval for a commercial development proposal on “Lot 622”.
“But it is not about the approval for ‘Development Planning’ to build the 29-storey building,” he said.
He backed calls for the PR state government to take responsibility.
The last rally organised to protect the temple complex from potential destruction due to development was in the 1970s and 1980s, when residents near Batu Caves had raged against two private companies, Dolomite Industries and Kenneison Brothers, who had used dynamite to quarry for marble and allegedly weakened the limestone hill’s structure.
The then Selangor BN government had issued a stop work order to the two companies in 1980 and relocated them to Sungai Long, in Cheras.
The current condominium project is by Dolomite Properties, and is to be built on one of the former quarry sites which is about 120m from the statue of Lord Murugan at the foot of the hill.
MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel was reported to have endorsed the rally, and urged Indians nationwide to join in the protest.
“The public and NGOs irrespective of political affiliation should show continuous displeasure over the project,” he was reported by The Star newspaper as saying yesterday.
A mere handful of professions are honoured with an honorific that survives beyond the office. Priests, judges, armed services officers, professors and doctors, of both the medical and academic disciplines: that’s about it. Journalists, even editors, and politicians, even cabinet ministers, would invite ridicule if they handed out visiting cards marked ‘Editor X’ or ‘Cabinet Minister Y’. Indians are, at best, ambivalent about media and politics. They respect our guardians of law, knowledge and security. There is a new tendency among former envoys to add ‘Ambassador’ before their name, a practice borrowed from America, but this is a title snatched from vanity rather than bestowed by popular acclaim.
Ego sometimes persuades a pompous politician to flaunt a bogus ‘Dr’ on his nameplate. This is not a reward for academic brilliance but an upgrade to a peacock feather, the ‘honorary doctorate’, a worthless piece of paper handed out by an institution desperate for attention. However, this does not matter too much, since we do not expect a high level of honesty from our politicians. Only two letters separate use from abuse, so there will always be a quack preening himself in the garb of a doctor. But when a person held in high esteem dilutes the trust reposed in him, it affects the collective reputation of the brotherhood.
Justice M S Liberhan did not need 17 years and a thousand pages to tell us what has been public knowledge since December 6, 1992. The Babri mosque was not torn down in the dark of night. It was brought down slowly, stone by stone, in Sunday sunlight, before hundreds of journalists, to the cheers of countless thousands of kar sewaks in and around Ayodhya. The mosque was not dynamited in a minute; it was demolished by crowbar and shovel.
Of course, senior leaders of the BJP and RSS were present, for they were kar sewaks as well. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not there, but he was in nearby Lucknow, albeit a reluctant guest, but unable to refuse the invitation to the party. Newspapers the next day, and magazines the next weekend, published their pictures, some of which became iconic. We did not need a wait of 17 years to learn that Vinay Katiyar was responsible: he has been claiming responsibility for over 6,000 days.
Sharad Pawar, then defence minister, showed a filmed record of December 6 to an invited group at the home of a party MP a few days later. The Liberhan Commission could have completed half its report by taking a look at that film. The media was equally comprehensive in its coverage of the brutal riots that followed: The Sri Krishna report has done far greater justice to the truth in its findings on the Maharashtra riots, so much so that there is all-party collusion on its non-implementation. There was only one question trapped in doubt: What was prime minister P V Narasimha Rao doing while Babri was destroyed on the longest day of the last two decades? Why was home minister S B Chavan, father of the present Maharashtra chief minister, immobile, inscrutable and stolid?
Shock raced through Delhi when word filtered through that an assault had begun in Ayodhya. Phone calls began to pour into the prime minister’s residence in the hope that he would use the authority of the state to uphold the rule of law and fulfil a political and moral obligation. There was a monstrous response from the prime minister’s personal secretary. The PM was either unavailable or, worse, asleep. It was a lie. Rao’s inaction and Chavan’s collaboration were deliberate.
Liberhan protects Rao with an equally conscious fudge, shuffling the blame on to unspecified intelligence agencies. Everyone knew what was going on, IB officers better than most. Rao called a Cabinet meeting only in the evening, when there was nothing left to be saved — not even reputation. By this time, fires of hatred were lighting up the dusk of Mumbai and dozens of cities across the nation. An elaborate programme of blame, reward and punishment was put into place. Those (including bureaucrats and journalists) who acquiesced in Rao’s charade were rewarded; Congress Muslims got a bonus for silence. Rao remained in power till 1996, but he neither ruled nor lived in peace.
The words of this column will make no difference. A government can reduce the past to rubble as easily as an Opposition party can erase a centuries-old mosque. My apologies for a rare detour into the personal, but this is a rare moment. I was a minor part of the Rao government and resigned on the night of December 6 since the stone wall constructed around the prime minister’s house had become impervious to anything except sycophancy. Words demand a different kind of loyalty, and one was relieved to return to the world of words.
The first inquiry into the demolition of the Babri mosque on December 6, 1992 was completed within seven days. On the morning of Sunday, December 13, Sharad Pawar, then defence minister, invited a group of friends and colleagues to the home of an associate MP. He watched a film – live footage of the whole episode, taken by some government agency, possibly intelligence. Those antique reels should still be somewhere in the archives. There was little that any inquiry committee could have added about the sequence of events on December 6 that ended with the fall of the mosque by the evening.
The causes of this historic event were also a matter of public record. L K Advani’s rath yatra was not a surreptitious journey. Indeed, extensive media coverage may have been part of the purpose, since he wanted to create mass momentum for his political project. Neither was there any secrecy when Congress laid the foundation stone of the temple to Lord Ram in the middle of the 1989 polls. Babri was a central theme, along with Bofors, of those dramatic elections. The 1989 BJP versions of Varun Gandhi were full-throated, not muted, in their slogans as parties sought votes with a rhetoric that has been subsequently banned: Mandir wahin banayenge! and Mussalman ke do sthaan, Pakistan ya kabristan! No one hid anything: We shall build a temple on that precise spot! Muslims have two options, either Pakistan or the graveyard!
Democracy is a volatile game played in the open. What was there left to inquire into?
All that an official inquiry could do was place a stamp of judicial impartiality on known facts. It did not seem strange, then, that Justice M S Liberhan, appointed on December 16, 1992, was asked to deliver his report in three months. If he had extended it to six months or even a year, it would have been reasonable. Why did he take 17 years?
The key actors were known and available. No sleuths needed here. Why did Liberhan take more than nine years to obtain V P Singh’s deposition, and nine-and-a-half for P V Narasimha Rao’s? Surely they were not evading his orders? Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti were ministers in a BJP-led government when they gave evidence. Former RSS chief K S Sudarshan appeared only on February 6, 2001. Rao could have said all he had to long before April 9, 2001, four years after he lost his job as prime minister.
Had the commission already served its first purpose by 2001? It had outlived Rao’s term in office and thereby, ensured that its findings could not be used to demand Rao’s resignation. Rao survived December 6, 1992 by the cynical expedient of buying out those he feared most, Muslims within the Congress. Some inside government were given promotions; most outside were inducted in a January 1993 reshuffle. Conscience purchased, life went on.
It would be interesting to know if the Liberhan Commission has disclosed the one mystery of December 6: what was Rao doing that entire day? Babri was not destroyed by a sudden, powerful, maverick explosion. It was brought down stone by stone, the process punctuated by the rousing cheers of kar sevaks.
So, what was Rao doing during those minutes and hours from morning till sunset? Sleeping. That is what his personal assistant said to the many agitated Congressmen and women who phoned to ask why the government was asleep. They were shocked to learn that this was, literally, the official explanation. Their agitation cooled when they realized that the party would have to pay a horrendous price if government was destabilized. Plus, of course, there were concrete benefits in silence.
There may not be a rational explanation for a 17-year inquiry, but there is a political explanation. Every government between 1992 and 2004 had a vested interest in delay. The minority governments of H D Deve Gowda and Inder Gujral could not have survived a day without support from the Rao-Sitaram Kesri Congress. (Mrs Sonia Gandhi was not party president then.) Neither Gowda nor Gujral would have wanted a report that indicted their benefactors.
The BJP-led coalition that ruled for six years had the guilty on its front row. Only Uma Bharti has been candid enough to say that she was delighted when the mosque fell (“I’m ready to own up to the demolition and will have no problem even if I’m hanged”). Justice Liberhan could have punched mortal holes into the BJP front row when it was in office. And so when he sought one extension after another, there was public silence and private relief.
Whether advertently or inadvertently, Justice Liberhan protected politicians on both sides of the great divide. There remains a curiosity question. Why did he not submit his report in 2004? Admittedly Dr Manmohan Singh was finance minister in the Rao government, but he had nothing to do with the politics of Babri. When delay becomes so comfortable, why bother?