THE cases of Masjid Shaheed Ganj and Babri Masjid bear a marked contrast. Sikhs and Muslims acrimoniously contested the Shaheed Ganj case (Lahore). Muslims’ claim was rejected for being time bar.
The Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj stands aplomb in Lahore as it did before Aug 15, 1947. Hardly any Sikh visits it now. Yet, no Pakistani Muslim ever tried to desecrate or demolish it. But Babri Masjid became a heap of rubble even before India’s Supreme Court declared it to be a temple.
The arguments in the two cases concerning property and longevity of possession were similar, less the myth of birthplace of Indian god Ram. Even L. K. Advani admitted on Sept 30, 1990, saying: “No one can prove that it was the birthplace of Shri Rama.”
It was a matter of belief. India’s secular constitution was no fetter to judges who delved into religious issues. Earlier, a court had declared that a mosque was not essential for Muslim way of worship.
Admirers of secular India’s democracy should wake up.
Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2019