I understand the reasons why a lot of people want to see the Ram temple built at Ayodhya on the ruins of the destroyed mosque. I also understand that it is quite possible that the mosque was built on top of a temple. Therefore I sympathize with the feelings of those who want to rebuild a temple there. But the real question is whether this is the sensible thing to do right now?

Aren’t there more pressing and urgent things for us to do? Why is this the most important thing that is occupying the attention of the media, the government, and a lot of individuals? The war on terrorism, the real war that kills thousands of Indians every year, is still going on. And there is a tense stand-off with Pakistan. Are we ready to face the Hindu-Muslim communal violence that will be let loose?

The answer to all the above is a resounding “No.” We have far more pressing matters on our agenda now. The right answer to the problem at Ayodhya may have been for the Muslims to voluntarily hand over the land to the Hindus. After all, for the Muslims, this old and unused mosque is of very little consequence. The Hindus would almost certainly have been willing to compromise by building a temple without tearing down the old mosque. But nobody wanted to do this. It was clear that there was political capital to be made out of this issue, and so people took extreme positions.

Is it possible that over time the Muslims will come to see that they gain nothing by refusing to negotiate with Hindus in this regard? Today, in the wake of the American war on Afghanistan, it is clear that militant Islamism is losing its appeal. The many young men who found the call of jihad so appealing are now very quiet. Maybe Hindus should give Muslims a chance to make a gesture that would bring this unholy row to an end. Call me an optimist, but I think people change, and sometimes for the better. On the other hand, building now will definitely cause bloodshed. Even if no Muslim from India causes trouble, there will be plenty of Pakistani agents ready to create it.

In addition to all this, an Indian move towards rebuilding the temple will be seen, by the rest of the world, and most definitely by the large sections of the Indian left-wing, as clinching evidence of the non-secular bent in Indian society. While this is not really be true, we can expect so much propaganda that it will rapidly become a “fact” that Hindus are violent and medieval barbarians.

Bindu Raghavan is a software engineer and housewife in India.

 

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