I have always admired Cho Ramasamy, the late Editor of ‘Thuglak Magazine’. He was a multi talented personality and a role model for many. He was someone who was clear in his thoughts and actions and never compromised on his stand.
Cho donned many hats in his life time, but what made him very popular was his magazine ‘Thuglak,’ which was started in 1970’s. I was introduced to ‘Thuglak’ magazine by my father. What attracted me was the cartoon on the cover page and since my childhood I have been a fan of ‘Thuglak’. Unlike other magazines, ‘Thuglak’ had a very different way of conveying a message on its cover page. The cover will be filled with satire and the cartoon will sum up the most complicated issue in simple terms for the readers.
After becoming a full time journalist, I started following Cho Ramasamy closely and would keep an eye on his take on all major issues. No matter what, he would say what’s honest and was on his mind. One may agree with his view or disagree but one simply could not ignore his views.
He was one of the journalists who faced the wrath of Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi and several threats to shut down his magazine. Despite threats, he refused to bow down or change his views. In the end, those who tormented him always came around and became friends with him. Cho was often outspoken and had the guts to call a spade a spade. That’s what made Cho Ramasamy stand apart from the rest.
Recently, I happened to read ‘Thuglak’ magazine dated 15-12-1992. This issue was released just days after the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. ‘Thuglak’ is known for its cover page cartoon and I have heard that Cho ‘blacked out’ ‘Thuglak’ cover page protesting against the Emergency and he repeated the same during 1992, after the demolition of Babri Masjid. This edition of ‘Thuglak’ is historic for multiple reasons, despite being close to BJP and RSS leaders, Cho never hesitated to criticise them. I was surprised after reading his take on Babri Masjid demolition. He had termed Babri Masjid demolition as the most barbarous act.
Since it’s in Tamil, I have tried to translate the article so that the nation knows – why Cho Ramasamy was one of the greatest journalists of our times.
ATORICITY IN AYODHYA
“As a practicing Hindu, I too hang my head in shame for this act by Hindu fanatics”
An atrocity has happened in Ayodhya…
BJP, RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and other Sangh Parivar affiliates have demolished a Mosque. A most barbarous act has been completed in the name of Kar Seva.
The assurance of the BJP that the Mosque will be protected has been thrown to the wind. The written assurance given by the Uttar Pradesh BJP government before the Supreme Court has been thrown in the dustbin. A senior counsel, who appeared on behalf of the Uttar Pradesh government declared before the court “I hang my head in shame”.
Just for the sake of a few votes in the name of Ram Temple, BJP has done a huge damage to the nation. Excuses may follow now…RSS members tried to prevent the Kar sevaks, but they couldn’t. VHP members pleaded, but it didn’t work. BJP members begged the Kar Sevaks to stop, and they failed. But these are all just empty words.
Were these organisations in their sane mind when they gathered this fanatic crowd? Where did their humanity go while they shouted mindless slogans to ‘bring down the Mosque?’ Where did their responsibility hide when they shouted in high pitch that ‘courts have no jurisdiction on Ram Mandir issue’? These people conveniently shift the responsibility after actively mobilising the crowds in thousands on the disputed site.
As a journalist, who has never seen these Kar Sevaks even once was able to quite easily sense that there was every possibility that the mosque will be demolished. It is unbelievable that the BJP, RSS and VHP outfits that mobilised the crowd were not aware of the impending danger. Of course they knew. Their mad obsession for votes made them ignore the public interest.
Media reports say that BJP President LK Advani had instructed the Kar Sevaks to obstruct the central reserve forces, if they tried to intervene. The BJP, VHP leaders while terming the demolition as ‘unfortunate’ also added that this is a reflection of pent up emotion of Hindus. Are they trying to say that when the pent up emotion is released they turn into barbarians? What sort of nonsense is this? It is unfortunate that even after such a catastrophe no realisation has dawned on them.
In another instance, a BJP MP elected from Delhi told a BBC correspondent ‘We don’t regret demolition of the Babri Masjid. It is a structure of shame which should have gone long back. A symbol of shame is removed’. Persons like this should not find a place in parliament.
BJP, VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal are collectively responsible for the gory incident that happened in Ayodhya. Each hit on the demolished Masjid is a hit on humanity and Hinduism. It would take a very, very long time for the Hindu religion to come out of this shame. The whole world would think, India is a country of barbarians. Hindu religion which is known for its tolerance, open mindedness has been put to shame.
Following the demolition of the mosque, violent communal riots have begun in several parts of the country. Even when the Masjid was brought down, several Kar Sevaks lost their lives in the debris. Some Hindu temples were attacked and destroyed in Pakistan and Bangladesh. India is hanging its head in shame before the world community. What is the reply of the Sangh Parivar affiliates for this humongous shame they have heaped on us? If the pent up emotion is the reason for demolition of the mosque, is it the basis for the communal riots too? The barbaric mob which demolished the mosque and the BJP, RSS and VHP leaders have destroyed India’s pride, prestige and our cherished history in one day.
It may be true that VP Singh drove BJP towards Mandir politics. But subsequently, the BJP failed to capitalise every opportunity it was given to advance alternative politics. But, the party consciously chose to ignore these opportunities and believed only the Mandir politics would fetch votes. Due to this avoidable route that the party adopted, it was forced to become a slave before this fanatic crowd, which resulted in the Ayodhya fiasco.
Though I had taken a tough stand against the BJP’s stand on Babri Masjid, I had continued to appreciate the discipline of the party, and the integrity of its leaders. I had several times mentioned that the BJP can become a strong alternative to the ruling Congress. But my belief in the party’s leadership is shattered today. They have proved that they only know how to ignite a fire and do not know how to control or douse the flames. It is the BJP’s responsibility to change this perception.
In the Supreme Court, the counsel for Uttar Pradesh government hung his head in shame. As a practicing Hindu, I too hang my head in shame for this act by Hindu fanatics. As a Hindu, I extend my whole-hearted apologies to Muslims and minorities for the atrocities committed by Hindu barbarians.
A FEW WORDS TO MUSLIMS…
“It is true that the perpetrators of mosque demolition are Hindus. But it doesn’t mean that the majority Hindus relished and enjoyed the act”
Muslim citizens should understand one thing. It is a fact that all the votes of Hindus have not gone to the BJP. Congress, Janata Dal, communists and several other parties continue to get Hindu votes. Only a minority of Hindus continue to fanatically support BJP. If you take the case of fringe outfits like VHP, Bajrang Dal etc, they have only a fraction of the support that BJP enjoys. The minorities need not consider these fringe groups as the representatives of Hindu or leaders of Hindu religion.
It should also not be construed that the ‘Trishul’ wielding saints who led the mob that destructed the mosque are representative of Hindu religion or leaders. No one can claim to be a representative of Hindu religion or leader of it. Several saints, have opened various mutts and declared themselves as its leaders. It doesn’t mean that the religious or political leadership of Hindu religion lies with them.
It is true that the perpetrators of mosque demolition are Hindus. But it doesn’t mean that the majority Hindus relished and enjoyed the act. Most of the Hindus are peace loving people. They would like to have a Ram temple but certainly not by demolishing a mosque.
If the minority folks think that majority of the Hindus have perpetrated this act of ravage, that would only help the leadership of Hindu religion towards this fanatics. There is no doubt that majority of Hindus would condemn this demolition and curse the perpetrators. But in this case, the whole country is united in condemning this barbaric act. Almost all political parties have condemned it.
It is understandable that the demolition would be etched as a scar in the mind of a Muslims. But, Muslims should not use this as a prism to view because it will help them in any political incident or any other issues. They should also not resort to violence or riots. Any instance of violence would only turn into a fodder for Hindu extremists. It would become a grave threat to the peace and secular fabric of this country. Minorities should feel safe that the majority of Hindus are with them and sympathise with them. Hindus also should be gracious towards minorities.
The demand of the Muslims that the mosque should be rebuilt on the same place is understandable. But, such an emotional and hurried demand would further complicate the issue and would lead to various litigation’s and issues. It would be better for everyone who has stakes to wait for the Supreme Court verdict in this regard. The coming together of Hindus and Muslims to resolve this issue together would resurrect India’s fallen pride.
IS PRIME MINISTER RESPONSIBLE?
“The Masjid has been demolished. Peace is being demolished”
The opposition parties have demanded the resignation of Prime Minister following the demolition of Babri Masjid. It would not be a surprise, if such voices are heard in the congress camp as well. Till this editorial goes to print, there is no clarity on this issue. But let’s discuss the merits.
The main argument of the opposition parties is that had the Uttar Pradesh government been dismissed earlier, this catastrophe could have been prevented and, therefore, the Prime Minister is wholly responsible. VP Singh is in the forefront of such demand. I strongly believe that V P Singh doesn’t have any moral or political right to make such an argument. By joining hands with the BJP he tried to grab power. He had indirectly helped the BJP in increasing its Lok Sabha tally. He formed the cabinet with the help of BJP. He went to the extent of proclaiming an amendment for taking possession of the disputed land in Ayodhya just to please the BJP and VHP. So he didn’t realize that he was staring at a huge problem at that time; It is ironic that being the person responsible for fomenting this problem he is now blaming Narasimma Rao.
Though we can ignore VP Singh’s demands, there are several others who are demanding the same. Their main grudge is why the UP government was not dismissed before. But one should imagine what would have happened, if the UP government was dismissed. The BJP would have become a martyr by losing a government for Ram Mandir, they would have claimed that just to appease the Muslims, Lord Ram has been insulted by the Anti-Hindu Central government. The BJP would have given a call for the Hindus to unite and throw away the anti-Hindu government. Such a narrative would have been built by the entire Sangh Parivar.
Even a sizeable number of population would have opposed the dismissal of UP government. In spite of the repeated assurances of the UP government and a sworn affidavit before the Supreme Court, why should the UP government be dismissed would have been the chorus. These barbarians would have been glorified as saints. Such a scenario would have resulted in these barbarians poking their nose in every aspect of administration and wreaked havoc. This is why the Prime Minister carefully weighed all the options and refrained from dismissing the UP government.
But, now everyone would accept that the UP government should go. Now there would be no hesitation for anyone to condemn the cadres of VHP, RSS & Bajrang Dal as savages. This is an opportune and safe moment for the minorities and the secular thread for this country.
The Mosque could have been protected if the UP government was dismissed by the PM. But the future of the minorities and secularism would have suffered a huge setback. The delay in dismissal of UP government has resulted in the demolition of the Masjid, but has saved the future of minorities. Further, the prime minister would not have imagined in his wildest dreams that the UP government would go to the extent of violating the sworn affidavit before the SC and its promises in this regard. The central reserve forces were ready to be deployed in a moment’s notice. But, the UP government obstinately refused its deployment.
By any stretch, it is not right on the part of opposition parties to shift the blame for the fiasco from the BJP to Prime Minister.
Lets imagine the Prime Minister has resigned. Who will take the responsibility for the instability that would follow? Even, the congress party may implode due to its infighting. A minority government might be formed, and it may have survived for a short time and elections would have been called for. The country is definitely not in a position to face polls. While violence and hatred continue to spread, polls should be the last thought on our mind.
Let’s all hope for peace to be restored. All the parties should cooperate with the government in this regard. Problems won’t vanish due to the resignation of PM. But it may increase, if he resigns.
The Masjid has been demolished. Peace is being demolished. But there is a sort of blind hope that things can be managed even now. Opposition parties should not do anything to damage this hope.
(Shabbir Ahmed is a senior journalist based in Chennai. The content above first appeared on his blog page.)