Thirty years after the attack, Ayodhya remains a hotbed of religious intolerance

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Thirty years after the attack, Ayodhya remains a hotbed of religious intoleranceOn 6 December 1992, the Babri mosque was destroyed by Hindu nationalists, who claimed the site as their own. This sparked a wave of violence that left 2,000 people dead. “Majoritarianism is today's rule,” said Fr Mathew. Christians are working to create an “environment of religious tolerance, peace, and communal harmony,” said Bishop of Lucknow Mathias.

Lucknow (AsiaNews) – India today marked the 30th anniversary of an event that has sadly epitomised the recent history of relations between the country's religious communities: the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, a sacred place in Uttar Pradesh claimed by Hindus.

Within hours, a mob of 150,000 radical Hindus, including numerous members of the extremist Sangh Parivar, demolished the mosque which they claim was built on the remains of a temple dedicated to the god Ram.

The assault resulted in violent clashes with the Muslim community, which killed about 2,000 people.

Recently, the Supreme Court of India granted the holy place to Hindus and acquitted BJP leaders from any responsibility for the attack.

But the story does not end there. Another mosque in Gyanvapi has now become the target of claims in Uttar Pradesh, while intolerance towards all religious minorities continues to grow in India.

Fr Anand Mathew – coordinator of Sajha Sanskriti Manch, an advocacy group dedicated to interfaith dialogue in Varanasi – spoke to AsiaNews about the tragedy of 30 years ago in Ayodhya.

“The Babri mosque was cruelly demolished. I remember some of our senior national leaders silently watching that ghastly event,” he said. “In their silence they loudly supported those violent crowds climbing to the top of the three minarets.”

Since then, “The scars have not healed. After 30 years, attitudes towards minorities have only worsened. It is unfortunate that some political groups and most of the media portray the Muslim community as anti-national, terrorist, and antisocial.

“These are the same people who attack the Christian community with accusations of ‘forced conversions’."

For Fr Mathew, "Majoritarianism is today's rule. This morning, reflecting on these events, I prayed for things to change, for India to be able to reclaim its heritage of composite culture, joyful coexistence, and democracy."

Bishop Gerald Mathias of Lucknow spoke to AsiaNews about what Christian communities must do in the current situation.

"We live in a society where intolerance and disharmony seem to be growing. Today it is necessary to create an environment of religious tolerance, peace, and communal harmony.

"The Church has always worked and continues to work towards this goal; our priests, sisters, laity are actively involved in interfaith dialogue, promoting peace and harmony among people of all faiths.

"Diversity is the beauty and strength of our beloved nation,” Bishop Mathias noted. “We must work hard to preserve and protect it, be bridge builders and agents of peace."