Archives  >  2019  >  November  >  18th

Ayodhya, Again

1. What’s the story?

As 6 Things had covered here earlier, the Supreme Court of India had delivered its much-anticipated verdict on the Ayodhya dispute earlier this month. It had ruled that a Ram temple was to be built on the controversial piece of land, while a separate, 5-acre plot of land was to be awarded to Muslims to build a mosque.

However, not everyone seems to happy with this verdict. And now, multiple bodies have filed a review petition against this ruling — effectively setting the ball rolling on another lengthy legal process. (However, according to experts, these petitions are most likely to be dismissed before they reach the higher courts.)

Tell me more.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind have filed review petitions against the Supreme Court’s controversial Ayodhya verdict. (Quick recap: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board is a non-government organisation constituted in 1973 to adopt suitable strategies for the protection and continued applicability of Muslim Personal Law in India. The Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind is one of the leading organizations of Islamic scholars belonging to the Deobandi school of thought in India.)

“Saying that the judgment in the Ayodhya land dispute case did not do any justice, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Sunday decided to file a review petition challenging the Supreme Court verdict. The decision was taken at an AIMPLB meeting in Lucknow.

“Once a mosque is built, it remains a mosque till the end of time. So Babri Masjid is, was, and will remain a mosque. However, if the Supreme Court had said that Babri Masjid had been built after demolishing a temple, we would have forfeited our claim. Also, if we do not have a claim, why give us land at all? That is why this is a baffling verdict from the Supreme Court,” he said.”

However, it seems that not everyone agrees with this dissenting opinion

“However, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, which has been awarded the alternative five-acre land for mosque by the apex court, as well as Iqbal Ansari, also a main litigant, distanced themselves from the Board’s decision and said they would not file a review petition.”

Apart from religious bodies, a number of prominent personalities have also asked India’s highest court to re-examine its unanimous verdict regarding the disputed land

“In a statement, the signatories said that the “first source of concern” is that the court has delivered a judgment “which has been made possible only by the criminal destruction of the Babri Masjid” on December 6, 1992, which the court itself described as an “unlawful act”.

They said the archaeological on the site, which the judgment relied on, would not have been possible without the destruction of the majid. “Nor would it have been as easy for the Court to hand over the site to the Hindu side if the Masjid had still stood,” they said.

The statement also says there is “no iota of proof” for the Supreme Court’s assumption that Muslims had ceased to pray in the masjid in Mughal and Nawabi times. “Nor is there any proof that Hindus anywhere before very late times believed that Lord Rama was born precisely at the site of Babri Masjid, which should, of course, not be confused with the belief that he was born in Ayodhya,” it says.

Among those who have signed the request are journalists Dhirendra K. Jha and Pamela Philipose, historian Irfan Habib, academics Jayati Ghosh and Badri Raina and Sohail Hashmi.”

So, what now?

Chances are, all these review petitions will be dismissed before they reach the country’s higher courts. A unanimous verdict by the highest court of the nation is not that easy to overturn. However, these acts do tell us that not everyone is happy or content with the long-awaited verdict, and many feel that the Court has been unfair in doling out justice. The matter is still far from over.

Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated.

2. Where else should I be keeping my eyes on?

Delhi, that’s where. As 6 Things had covered here earlier, India’s capital is struggling to breathe — and none of the steps taken by the Government seem to have worked. Now, in a dystopic twist, customers have been thronging a newly opened “oxygen bar” for a breath of fresh air

“Business was not great when 26-year-old entrepreneur Aryavir Kumar launched a new venture in South Delhi’s upscale Select City Walk mall in May. The way he saw it, his Oxy Pure “oxygen bar” would offer bursts of fragrant, purified oxygen to clients seeking relief from jet lag, sleep disorders, hangovers and even depression. But Delhi seemed less than enthusiastic.

Then, crisis struck the National Capital Region – and opportunity banged on Kumar’s door.

In October, pollution levels peaked to hazardous levels. Schools were shut. And for the last week, Delhi residents desperate for clean air have thronged Kumar’s establishment, eager to avail themselves of 15-minute sessions that start at Rs 299 and go up to Rs 499.

The dangerous pollution levels across North India have proved that he’d made a good business decision. In two weeks, Kumar will open a branch of Oxy Pure at Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Terminal 3 and he has been inundated with calls to start franchises of the bar.

Before Batra left, he bought a packaged bottle of “ultra-portable oxygen” for Rs 650. “It’s good for hangovers,” he claimed after he sprayed the oxygen in his mouth. “If we go to party at night then we can use it.” ”

Ironically enough, last week, a parliamentary panel on tackling air pollution in the National Capital Region had to be scrapped when only four of the 28 concerned MPs turned up. Most lawmakers and bureaucrats didn’t bother to attend. There’s been no news of the panel re-convening anytime soon. 

3. What more?

In a widely reported panicky move, the Government of India has acted to suppress a damaging National Statistical Office report that claimed a dip in consumer spending between July 2017 and June 2018 — a first in almost four decades. 

“A leaked report by the National Statistical Office (NSO), based on a consumption expenditure survey conducted by the organisation between July 2017 and June 2018, has shown a drop in consumer spending for the first time in more than four decades on weak rural demand, Business Standard reported on Friday, 15 November.

However, hours after the newspaper report, the government said that the 2017-18 consumer spending survey won’t be released due to “data quality issues.” It added that the government will release the next report in two years.

A copy of the report, accessed by Business Standard, shows that the monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE), which stood at Rs 1,501 in 2011-12, fell by 3.7 percent in 2017-18 to stand at Rs 1,446.

Experts told Business Standard that the most worrying point in the report is that it indicates a dip in food consumption for the first time in decades, which shows that malnutrition has increased in the country. In 2017-18, on an average, rural people spent Rs 580 monthly on food, showing a decrease of almost 10 percent from Rs 643 in 2011-12.”

4. Anything else?

In Kashmir, the Internet has been down for 100 days, and counting. Even though sporadic access has been granted to individuals and Government agencies throughout the valley, most of the population has not had continuous access to the World Wide Web since August. Among other things, this has effectively rendered a large number of people jobless — forcing them to migrate to other states to earn a living

“The Internet shutdown in Kashmir over the past 100 days has rendered several software engineers and those who developed content for online platforms, jobless. This blackout has forced many among these youngsters to either migrate to other states and look for new job opportunities or ensure their presence online to earn a living. 

The Internet shutdown since August 5–when special status of the J&K was revoked and the state was downgraded into two Union Territories–put these youngsters in extreme financial and psychological distress as they would otherwise earn good money working remotely from home for different companies across the globe.

Kashmir reports one of the highest government enforced Internet shutdowns across the globe and the ongoing communication blockade results in huge job cuts in private sector.”

5. Is that all?

If you thought the plague was something only Medieval Europe worried about — well, you thought wrong. Two people in China have just come down with this infectious disease — causing widespread panic across the nation.  
“If you thought it went the way of bloodletting and medicinal leeches, think again. Two people have just come down with the plague. Yes, the plague.
In China, two patients diagnosed with the infectious disease are receiving treatment in a Beijing hospital. Public health officials are working to make sure the disease doesn’t spread to others. But the news has reportedly sparked panic among citizens.

It’s not clear exactly how the two infected people caught it, but they didn’t catch it in Beijing: They came from Inner Mongolia and traveled to the capital seeking treatment, according to Chinese officials. A bacterium called Yersinia pestis, which is carried by wild rodents and the fleas that feed on them, causes all three types of the plague. Pneumonic plague is highly contagious and transmissible between humans — it can be spread when an infected person coughs.”

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at Hong Kong’s ongoing fight for democracy — where, last night, fires raged and rocks and teargas flew in a pitched battle at the Polytechnic University in Kowloon.

“Violence between riot police and protesters reached new heights on Sunday as the two sides waged a daylong battle and police threatened to use live rounds on demonstrators.

After more than 12 hours of clashes at Polytechnic University in Kowloon, during which officers fired teargas and water cannon and drove an armoured vehicle at demonstrators throwing molotov cocktails, the police said in a video statement the force would use live rounds on the “rioters” if they did not stop using lethal weapons to attack officers.

The university, which has been taken over by protesters since clashes last week, became the site on Sunday of some of the longest, tensest clashes between anti-government demonstrators and police of the last five months.

As a helicopter hovered overhead, riot police shot blue-dyed liquid laced with pepper spray at protesters who set fire to a pedestrian bridge packed with furniture, umbrellas and other materials, causing a blaze that was later put out by firefighters. Protesters on a roof of the university used catapults as well as bows and arrows to shoot at police, with one arrow striking an officer in the calf.”

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