Expressing “extreme grief” over the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, a number of retired civil servants have said that the verdict creates a “false and illusory” notion that a verdict favouring those “who claim to speak for the majority community” can result in peace and reconciliation.
In an open letter on the 27th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya, these civil servants urged the fellow citizens to recall Mahatma Gandhi’s last fast, two weeks before he was assassinated.
“One of his three demands was that the mosques and dargahs in Delhi in which Hindu idols had been placed should be returned respectfully to the Muslims. Hinduism, he said, would be emptied of meaning for him if a single place of worship of another faith was desecrated in the name of the Hindu faith,” the signatories pointed out.
They said the Ayodhya case was neither a title dispute over a tiny piece of land nor a contest between a medieval mosque and a temple, rather it was a dispute about “what kind of country this is and will be in the future, to who does it belong, and on what terms must people of different identities and beliefs live together in this land”.
“We feel intense anguish because 27 years after the mosque was demolished, those who were responsible for this crime which tore India apart and led to the highest levels of communal bloodletting after the Partition riots, have still not been punished, even though the Supreme Court directed that this criminal case be heard on a day-to-day basis.
“Instead, many of those who led and participated in this assault not just on a mosque but on India’s constitutional morality, have held some of the highest offices in this country. We worry also that the recent judgment of the Supreme Court of India in effect rewards this grave crime,” the letter read.
“It also creates a false and illusory notion that a verdict favouring those who claim to speak for the majority community can result in peace and reconciliation and everyone should move on, injustice notwithstanding,” it added.
“We who sign this letter to the Indian people include a Jain, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, atheists and agnostics. On December 6, we first express our collective agony and atonement that a place of worship was pulled down with such hate. We also pledge that we will not allow our great Constitution to be emptied of its soul,” the letter concluded.
The letter bears the signatures of:
1. S.P. Ambrose IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI
2. G. Balachandhran IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal 3. Gopalan Balagopal IAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
4. Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Coal, GoI
5. Sharad Behar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
6. Madhu Bhaduri IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Portugal
7. Sundar Burra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
8. Anna Dani IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
9. M.G. Devasahayam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
10. Sushil Dubey IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Sweden 1
1. Arif Ghauri IRS (Retd.) Former Governance Adviser, DFID, Govt. of the United Kingdom (on deputation)
12. S.K. Guha IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development, GoI 13. Meena Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI 14. Sajjad Hassan IAS (Retd.) Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur 15. Kamal Jaswal IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI 16. Vinod C. Khanna IFS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, MEA, GoI 17. Rahul Khullar IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India 18. K. John Koshy IAS (Retd.) Former State Chief Information Commissioner, West Bengal 19. Subodh Lal IPoS (Retd.) Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI 20. Harsh Mander IAS (Retd.) Govt. of Madhya Pradesh 21. Lalit Mathur IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, National Institute of Rural Development, GoI 22. Aditi Mehta IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan 23. Sonalini Mirchandani IFS (Resigned) GoI 24. Noor Mohammad IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, Govt. of India. 25. Deb Mukharji IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal 26. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom 27. Nagalswamy IA&AS (Retd.) Former Principal Accountant General, Tamil Nadu & Kerala
28. P.G.J. Nampoothiri IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Gujarat
29. Surendra Nath IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Finance Commission, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
30. Amitabha Pande IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
31. C. Babu Rajeev IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, GoI
32. Satwant Reddy IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, GoI
33. Aruna Roy IAS (Resigned)
34. Deepak Sanan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
35. G. Sankaran IC&CES (Retd.) Former President, Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal
36. S. Satyabhama IAS (Retd.) Former Chairperson, National Seeds Corporation, GoI
37. N.C. Saxena IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI
38. Ardhendu Sen IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
39. Ashok Kumar Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia
40. Navrekha Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Indonesia
41. Raju Sharma IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
42. Har Mander Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, ESI Corporation, GoI
43. Parveen Talha IRS (Retd.) Former Member, Union Public Service Commission
44. Thanksy Thekkekera IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, MinoritiesDevelopment, Govt. of Maharashtra
45. P.S.S. Thomas IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
46. Hindal Tyabji IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir