Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Suhil Srivastava & why Hindus want to be castrated

Caravan Magazine has a article about  Sushil Srivastava, a professor of medieval and modern history at Allahabad University,  whose 1990 book, The Disputed Mosque: A Historical Inquiry, contributed to the Left strategy on the Ram Janmabhoomi issue. 
Srivastava was inspired to work on the book while studying historical land-revenue records from the erstwhile princely state of Awadh for his doctoral research. “During my research, in the early days of 1986, I began to feel very deeply that communalism in north India had worsened to a large extent, and that this was directly tied to my profession,” he told me. “The Vishva Hindu Parishad had announced, in 1978, that it would capture a number of mosques that it said were built on the sites of demolished temples. I felt that with so many popular, but baseless, myths giving rise to communal hatred, I should work to popularise the truth of these historical distortions.”
The distortion Srivastava introduced was to pretend there was no rivalry between Hindus and Muslims. Everything was the fault of Whitey and the VHP. Genuine History was all about how everyone used to cuddle and kiss till Imperialists or Fascists or Neo-Liberals turned up and misled by them.
Srivastava points out in The Disputed Mosque that Awadh’s Hindus and Muslims lived in relative harmony, with religious differences “either undermined or overlooked,” and the ruling classes celebrating all religious festivals. Although there was sometimes conflict between the Shias and Sunnis, and between Vaishnavite and Shaivite Hindu sects, he writes, “Religious conflicts between Hindus and Muslims were generally unknown.”
 In 1989, the University of California press published 'Roots of North Indian Shi‘ism in Iran and Iraq- Religion and State in Awadh, 1722-1859- by Prof. J. R. I. Cole.
Consider the following 2 excerpts-
  A second issue was the attitude of Shi‘i clerics, government officials, and laypersons toward Hindus. The clerical attitude can be easily summarized. Sayyid Dildar ‘Ali Nasirabadi harbored an almost violent animosity toward Hindus, arguing that the Awadh government should take stern measures against them. He divided unbelievers into three kinds, those (harbi ) against whom Muslims must make war, those (dhimmi ) who have accepted Muslim rule and pay a poll-tax, and those (musta'min ) whom their Muslim rulers have temporarily granted security of life.[8] He insisted that Imami Shi‘ism accepted only Jews and Christians as protected minorities (dhimmis ), and even they could only achieve this status if they observed the ordinances governing it. He differed with Sunni schools that considered Hindus a protected minority.
He wrote that Muslims could only grant infidels personal security (aman ) in a country they ruled for one year, lamenting that the government had long treated as grantees of personal security the Hindus of northern India, who openly followed their idolatrous religion, drinking wine, and sometimes even mating with Sayyid women. He complained that the irreligious Sunni Mughal rulers of India neither made war against the Hindus nor forced them to accept Islam. Legally, nonetheless, the lives and property of Hindus could be licitly taken by Muslims. Nasirabadi shared this rather bloodthirsty attitude with other Muslim clerics, of course. The Sunni Naqshbandi thinker Shah Valiyu'llah (1703-62) wanted the Mughals to ban Hinduism.[9]
On the other hand, Shi‘is and the Shi‘i government, although they often exploited Hindus, seldom violently persecuted them. Violence most often broke out between the two communities during the Shi‘i mourning month of Muharram, as in Jaunpur in 1776 or Lucknow in 1807.[14] Some Awadh governments showed less tolerance of Hindus than others, those of Nasiru'd-Din Haydar (1827-37) and Amjad ‘Ali Shah (1842-47) being the most anti-Hindu. In 1829 the king forced a Brahmin boy to go through with circumcision even after his family changed their minds about having him convert to Shi‘ism. He told the outraged resident that he had a divine right to dispose of his subjects as he wished. Ricketts angrily retorted that the British Government recognized no such right. When, three months later, Hindus provoked violence by defiling a mosque in Rikabganj, the king vindictively sent troops into the area, who plundered, ripped nose-rings off the faces of Hindu women, and destroyed all forty-seven Hindu temples in that quarter, putting to flight its entire population of three thousand. When rioting threatened to spread to other quarters, the British resident intervened with the king, who reluctantly sent criers through the city warning that he would punish anyone found molesting a Hindu or insulting his temples.[15]
Most Awadh governments considered order more important than keeping Hindus in their places. When, in November 1840, some Hindus defiled a zamindar's mosque with pig's blood, his sons rounded up a crowd of angry Muslims to exact revenge. On 3; December, at the order of the heir apparent, Amjad ‘Ali Mirza, the chief of police took the ringleaders to Sayyid Muhammad Nasirabadi, who ruled that the blasphemer should be apprehended and punished after conviction, but forbade vigilante action. The mob refused to listen to the mujtahid or the police chief. On 4 December two hundred Muslims killed cows, profaned temples, and damaged shops in Yahyaganj and ‘Ayshbagh. British administrator Colonel Sleeman saw such perils of com-
munal violence as an argument for the Indian need of British government, but he exaggerated their frequency and severity.[16]
The last three Awadh rulers initiated programs that enhanced the prestige and the power of the Usuli ulama in north Indian society. Proclerical Shi‘is remembered the twenty years before British annexation as a golden age. Sunni and Hindu writers, on the other hand, deplored the "sectarian narrow-mindedness and crooked religious policy" of such clericalist rulers as Amjad ‘Ali Shah (1842-47).[17] As was seen in chapter 8, Amjad ‘Ali Shah enacted anti-Hindu policies, founding Shi‘i shops to drive Hindu merchants out of business, and rewarding Hindu officials who adopted Imami Shi‘ism. The provision of government welfare monies to only the Shi‘i poor encouraged thousands of Hindus to convert to Shi‘ism in the 1840s, according to clerical sources. Awadh's fiercely Usuli governments showed little understanding of their Hindu subjects, allowing communal resentments to fester, a policy that culminated in a major battle over a religious edifice in Faizabad, discussed later.
Although the Shi‘i ulama may have preached government violence against Hindus, they disapproved of mob action. The growth of a formal Shi‘i establishment and its intermeshing with state institutions like the judiciary · made it possible at times for the mujtahids to enact highly discriminatory policies toward Hindus, whom they viewed as idolaters. The ulama practiced exclusionary closure by urging Shi‘is to treat Hindus as ritually impure (reciprocating Hindu treatment of Muslims), making Shi‘is almost a caste. They used jobs and welfare money to convert Hindu civil servants and urban poor. Since the Usulis had campaigned so hard against Sufism, few Shi‘i pits existed to mediate among Hindu and Shi‘i disciples, and the ulama strove mightily to stop Shi‘is from patronizing Hindu holy men. The Usuli destruction of mediating groups between Muslims and Hindus aided the growth of communalism, of religion-based group identities hostile to one another.
The Hindus had good reason to hate the Shia aristocracy. Boys from Hindu Rajput families were gelded and used as eunuchs by the Muslim nobility. Srivastava may think that being turned into a eunuch is a case of loving and affectionate treatment. He may resent the British for putting an end to this delightful practice. However, other Hindus may disagree with him.

Prof J.R.I Cole describes an attempt by the Muslims to grab a Hindu temple- the Hanumangarh temple- in 1855.

The 1855 dispute began when a Sunni zealot named Shah Ghulam Husayn started a campaign against the Hindu temple establishment in Faizabad dedicated to the Ramayana's monkey-god, Hanuman. The Muslim crusaders claimed that the site had originally supported a mosque subsequently supplanted by the Hanumangarhi. Shah Ghulam Husayn's followers clashed in July 1855 with thousands of Hindus, ending in a massacre of the zealots in a mosque at Ayodhya, a suburb of Faizabad. The news of, this military defeat inflicted on Muslims by Hindu holy men and their supporters (among them large landholders and their peasants from the Hindu countryside) inflamed Sunni and Shi‘i passions throughout North India. Sayyid ‘Ali Deoghatavi, Faizabad's Imami prayer leader, visited the mosque during the investigations ordered by the government. The issue split the Shi‘i population between those very religiously committed and the secular officials; Faizabad Shi‘i administrators like Mirza Acla ‘Ali took measures against Sunni mobs to keep the peace.[59]
Vajid ‘Ali Shah enjoyed Hindu festivals and plays about Krishna, but as an Usuli he believed in Shi‘i rule and superiority. Furious about the killing of Muslims by Hindus at the mosque, he nevertheless wanted Sunni ringleaders apprehended as troublemakers. His officials in Faizabad sought to defuse the situation. The governor of Sultanpur and Faizabad, Agha ‘Ali Khan, attempted to pacify the Muslims under his jurisdiction, while the Hindu Raja Man Singh controlled Hindus.[60]
The governor's conciliatory approach provoked resentment in Lucknow among Muslim militants, including Chief Mujtahid Sayyid Muhammad Nasirabadi. On 24 August 1855 he conducted Holy Day prayers at the Great Imambarah in the presence of the heir apparent, the chief minister, and multitudes of notables close to the court. At the end of the service he denounced the governor, Agha ‘Ali Khan, and all those he said had taken bribes to side with the Hindus. The officers of state greeted this outburst with embarrassed silence. A Sunni delegation then sought a ruling. from him, asking if he accounted the slain Sunnis martyrs, and whether individual Muslims should avenge their deaths. Sayyid Muhammad cautiously replied that the Muslim state had a duty to put an end to the wickedness of the infidels.[61] He steadfastly refused to encourage mob action, insisting that the Shi‘i state had a duty to intervene on the Muslim side. The implication, that if the king refused to act, nothing could be done, angered Sunni vigilantes eager to set out independently.
On 30 August, Outram, the resident, met with Chief Minister ‘Ali Naqi Khan. The Awadh government endeavored to avoid taking a decision bound to offend Muslims or Hindus or the British by putting the whole matter in the chief mujtahid's lap. It proposed that the commission of inquiry headed by Agha ‘Ali Khan be disbanded and replaced by Sayyid Muhammad Nasirabadi. The chief minister also insisted that the evidence for the existence of a mosque at the Hanumangarhi was good. The resident took strong exception to both points, blaming Shah Ghulam Husayn and his followers for provoking the violence. He allowed that the chief mujtahid could take part in the investigations, but demanded that the final decision be made by the king. He further objected to Nasirabadi's rulings urging retaliation against the Hindus. ‘Ali Naqi Khan explained that given the way the questioners framed their inquiries, no other answer could have been given.[62]
On the same day, the government investigative commission announced its conclusion that no mosque existed at the Hanumangarhi, at least in the past twenty-five to thirty years, and most probably never had. Western descriptions of the temple thirty years earlier bear out the first part of this conclusion.[63] In Lucknow pandemonium broke loose, with Muslim vigilante groups forming. A certain militant, Mawlavi Amir ‘Ali Amethavi, among the Sunni ulama calling for holy war, had earlier been brought to the capital from Amethi to meet with Vajid ‘Ali Shah. The king, aware of the appeal for his Sunni military men of the mawlavi's brand of communalist militancy, wished to pacify him, offering him a robe of honor and pledging to send Rs. 15,000 to Mecca on his behalf. He may also have promised him that a mosque would be built at the side of the temple. In a flash of lower-middle-class pride, the mawlavi told, the king that he was not a revenue collector, to accept a robe of honor.[64]
When news of the commission's findings broke, Mawlavi Amir ‘Ali left for his qasabah base again with two hundred men, in protest. Court emissaries failed to convince him to return to the capital, but he did agree to wait one month to see if the mosque was restored at the Hanumangarhi. Outram, meanwhile, worried that Vajid ‘Ali Shah's Muslim troops, approving of the mawlavi's cause, might well refuse to fight him. Vajid ‘Ali's own proposal for compromise involved building a small mosque onto the side of the temple to the monkey-god, with its own door entering from the side, thus preserving the building's sanctity for Hindus while meeting Muslim demands. But the Hindu Vairagis, or holy men, at the temple rejected the proposal out of hand. In the meantime the king began pressuring prominent ulama to support the government in the face of the challenge posed to it by the holy-war movement.[65]
The Sunni warriors thought that the king considered Hindus a protected minority (dhimmi ) in Shi‘i law and that he held holy war (jihad ) forbidden during the Occultation. Vajid ‘Ali may have held the first belief, but the Usuli ulama did not. Sayyid Dildar ‘Ali denied protected-minority status to Hindus, as idolaters. Rather, the Mughal, Hanafi tradition sometimes extended protection to Hindus. The Imamis did hold that in the absence of the sinless Imam no one could lead an offensive war. From Buyid times, however, Shi‘is recognized the possibility of defensive holy war, and Usulis in Iraq and Iran emphasized defensive jihad in the nineteenth century in response to the Russian threat to lran. Sayyid Muhammad Nasirabadi permitted holy war in the time of the Occultation whenever the lands of Islam were attacked. No such grave situation existed in Faizabad, however, so that Shi‘is did not phrase their calls for retaliation against the Hindus in the idiom of holy war.[66]

The Awadh government elicited a more specific ruling from Sayyid Muhammad Nasirabadi, asking:
Q. What is your guidance concerning those who go to Faizabad to fight the Hindus? For they desire to take revenge on them for their uncivilized behavior with the mosque and the Qur'an. According to the Law is it permissible for them to go there and fight, and will this be rewarded? Or is it forbidden?
A. Without the participation and aid of the customary-law ruler or the Islamic-law ruler, such actions are in no wise permissible. God knows best.[67]
The customary-law (‘urf ) ruler was, clearly, the king, whereas the ruler in Islamic law was the Imam (which in itself provides a clue as to how the Imami clerics really perceived their Shi‘i government).
But in a later ruling Sayyid Muhammad went beyond this terse answer, replying: "Under these circumstances the order for waging the Jehad does not apply; but the sovereign has the right to build the Musjid [mosque]—and the Hindu Ryots ought not to disobey."[68] Nasirabadi sympathized with the grievances of the jihad movement, but he wished to obviate such vigilante tactics by putting pressure on the ruler to intervene against the Hindus himself.
The resident had objected to Sayyid Muhammad's call for the king to make Hindus pay blood money for Muslims killed at the Ayodhya mosque. But he attempted to make use of his later rulings by pressuring ‘Ali Naqi Khan, in view of the chief mujtahid's prohibition on a holy war, to declare the mawlavi and his followers traitors deserving death. The chief minister warned that premature military action would cause needless bloodshed. On the other hand, Outram took strong exception to Sayyid Muhammad's call for the government to build the mosque. Vajid ‘Ali Shah denied any intention of forcibly building a mosque at the temple site, but called ridiculous Hindu claims to whatever ground their monkey-god had trod.[69]
With the arrival of October the resident handed the king a warning that he would be held personally responsible if he attempted to build a mosque next to the temple or if he allowed Muslims to attack Hindus. Dalhousie and Outram were warning him that his kingdom would be annexed unless he crushed the holy-war movement. Vajid ‘Ali Shah received the communication with emotion, pledging to do his duty. Outram speculated that the king had been relying on the British to quell any Hindu uprising. The chief minister had certainly asked for British help in fighting Amir ‘Ali, but was rebuffed. Although the volunteers in the mawlavi's militia tended to be lower middle class and laborers, he received financial assistance from influential families, so that the movement began to pose a threat to Awadh's stability.[70]
September, coinciding with the mourning month of Muharram, had brought fresh communal violence. To demonstrate their dissatisfaction, Muslims in Lucknow left fifteen replicas of Imam Husayn's tomb unburied. Sunnis and Shi‘is quarreled over greater Sunni willingness to employ Muharram symbols for protest. In Zaydpur the powerful Shi‘i Sayyids insisted on burying their cenotaphs, clashing with followers of Amethavi, who did not want them interred until the mosque was built at Ayodhya. In Sihala, the campaigners' base, the mawlavi's men attacked Hindus, breaking into temples to destroy their idols. Alarmed, Vajid ‘Ali belatedly agreed to order Hindu troops in Faizabad to guard the Hanumangarhi.[71]
Mawlavi Amir ‘Ali moved gradually through small towns on the way to Faizabad. Vajid ‘Ali Shah threatened his governors and revenue officials with severe sanctions should they support the mawlavi , with some success. He knew that his Shi‘i troops at Daryabad could be depended upon to fight the campaigners if it came to that.[72] Sayyid Muhammad Nasirabadi's commitment to law and order waivered when he saw that the king intended to bow to British pressure in neither punishing the Hindus involved in the massacre at the Ayodhya mosque (which the resident saw as self-defense) nor building a mosque at the temple site. Outram reported that Amir ‘Ali was said to be "urged on by the High Priest, who is reported to have replied insolently to the Minister's remonstrances."[73]
A turning point came on about 20 October, when a group of Sunni ulama supportive of the government went to Daryabad to debate Mawlavi Amir ‘Ali. They included several employees of the Awadh government, such as Mufti Muhammad Yusuf Farangi-Mahalli and Mufti Sacdu.llah Moradabadi. Independent members of the Farangi-Mahall family adamantly backed the holy war, creating a split in the ranks of the Sunni ulama. The pro-government clerics successfully debated the mawlavi , undermining his support both among lay followers and in the king's army.
The lower-middle-class nature of the holy-war movement contributed to the unfolding tragedy. Many of the mawlavi's followers had given up their shops or service to follow him and now threatened to murder him if he did not proceed to Faizabad soon. When negotiations finally broke down on November 7, the holy warriors met the government's Shi‘i regulars, reinforced reluctantly by the private armies of Shi‘i tacalluqdars such as the Mahmudabads, and were mown down.[74]

The Hanumangarhi dispute involved several levels of social closure. Social class and religious identity played a part, since the holy-war movement was spearheaded by lower-middle-class Sunni clerics and their followers, who had sold their shops or given up their service to join it and so had a total commitment to its sectarian goals. The resentments of these Sunnis against the wealthy Hindu rajas and merchants who supported the Hanu-mangarhi was fueled by Sunni loss of power in Shi‘i Awadh and by growing Hindu political influence.[75] Amethavi's sectarian movement, in addition, attracted the support of Sunni ulama and notables not closely connected with the Awadh court, echoing the appeal thirty years earlier of Sayyid Ahmad Rai-Barelavi to some of the same, out of power, groups.
The conflict caused a split within the ruling Shi‘i establishment. The Usuli ulama and their followers supported Amethavi's demands even while deploring his vigilante tactics. The central officers of the state in Lucknow and Faizabad, on the other hand, sought compromise. Barred from that course by British support for the Hindus, they acquiesced in the resident's demand that they destroy Amethavi's movement. The British showed "evenhandedness" in affirming Hindu rights, partially out of a hard-nosed political calculation of the consequences of a major Hindu-Muslim clash in Awadh. Convinced that the majority Hindus might well win or provoke a major conflict that would draw in British forces, they forced the Muslim government to give up its privileges. Hindus sensed British support for their position, which may have made them more assertive and intransigent.[76]
So, this is the real story about why Oudh had to be annexed by the Brits. Premchand's 'Shatranj ke Khilari' glosses over the truth of the matter. A small minority was behaving as though it could overpower the Hindu majority and turn their temples into mosques. But Muslim military power had declined. It was merely a fantasy. Prof. Shrivastava is, I suppose, a Kayastha- like Premchand. He is telling us a fairy story.
Before 1853, the mosque was known as either the Jami Masjid or the Sita-Rasoi Masjid. The name “Babri Masjid” came to be used only after communal violence first broke out that year.
This is not true. A European missionary notes, in 1767, that though constructed by Aurangazeb who razed the Temple previously on the site, some referred to the mosque as having been built by Babur.
The violence, Srivastava writes, was the product of British colonial policy, as the East India Company consolidated its hold over northern India.
Did British colonial policy destroy temples to raise mosques? Had the Hanumangarhi temple been destroyed in 1855, would Srivastava blame the Brits?
After anti-British riots in Bareilly, in 1816, under the leadership of the Pathans, Francis Rawdon-Hastings, the governor general, was made “alive to the possible effect that an appeal to Muslim religious susceptibilities might have on British authority in the north.”
Was the man a cretin? Did he not know that Muslims might jihad his white ass? The fact of the matter is, the Muslim ulema were behaving as if Muslims had greater military power. This was a fantasy simply. That is why Muslim power melted away in Northern India over the course of eighteenth and nineteenth century.

In order to prevent an anti-British alliance by driving a wedge between the Shia nawabs of Awadh and the Sunni Mughal rulers, Hastings encouraged Awadh to secede from the Mughal Empire, in 1819.
The 'Mughal Empire' was a small area around Delhi. The Emperor was a puppet first of the Marathas and then from 1803, a vassal of the British.  But the Nawabs of Oudh were equally under the thumb of the British though, no doubt, they could continue castrating Hindu boys so as to feel like big men.
(At the coronation ceremony, the nawab was serenaded by “God Save the King.”) Through a treaty concluded that year, Ayodhya was transferred to a British resident, who would have control over administrative and revenue matters. “It is clear that the general intent of British policy in Avadh was to keep the population divided,” Srivastava writes.
But who divided the population? It was the Usuli Ulema and the fanatical Sunni mullahs.
“This was achieved largely by encouraging the Hindu reaction against Muslims.”
Because Hindus have to be encouraged to react to having their little boys enslaved and castrated. Those Brits sure were mean! Why couldn't they let such charming customs continue to flourish? One answer is that not all Hindus are as sweet natured as Srivastava. Sooner or later, the majority of the Province would have turned on their tormentors and annihilated the whole lot of them.
A key plank to this strategy was to encourage the growth of Hindu revivalism and fundamentalism.
Very true! European missionaries and British officials were constantly pressurising Hindus to kill the mleccha and re-establish their independence. They also demanded that Hindus put an end to cow slaughter. Prior to the arrival of the White man, not only were Hindus and Muslims living very happily with each other- after the Hindus were castrated- but Hindus were constantly chopping up their cows to serve kebabs to all and sundry.
“I am convinced that before the second half of the nineteenth century the idea that the Mughal emperors had desecrated Hindu holy places was quite unknown,” Srivastava writes.
Why is he convinced of such an absurdity? Is the man unable to read English? J.R.I Cole's book was available for him to read. What was the matter with the fellow?
This idea, which he says cannot be substantiated through historical evidence, was first perpetuated by British writers in the 1830s, based on little other than local legends and speculation.
 Wikipedia states-
The European Jesuit missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler, who lived and worked in India for 38 years (1743–1785) and wrote numerous works about India, visited Ayodhya in 1767. Johann Bernoulli translated his work Descriptio Indiae (in Latin) into French, published in 1788. According to this account, Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707) had demolished the Ramkot fortress, including the house that was considered as the birthplace of Rama by Hindus. A mosque with three domes was constructed in its place. However, he also noted, "others say that it was constructed by 'Babor' [Babur]".
Srivastava is extraordinarily ignorant- even by the low standards of Indian Leftist historians.
It was against this background that the communal violence of 1853–55 took place, with Hindu monks claiming that the Babri Masjid used to be a temple, and Muslim clerics claiming that the nearby Hanuman Garhi temple used to be a mosque. Amid the violence, the Hindus took over the government land adjacent to the mosque, calling it the Ram Chabutra. The British refused to intervene in the violence and exploited these divisions to annex Awadh in 1856.
Srivastava & Caravan magazine refused to look up Wikipedia and thus published worthless shite.
In return for their loyalty during the 1857 mutiny, the British showered the Hindu zamindars and akharas—monastic orders—of Ayodhya with gifts, Srivastava writes.
And Srivastava, we know, is a good and accurate historian.
After hastily demarcating a boundary between the Ram Chabutra and the mosque, in 1859, the colonial authorities turned a blind eye to the Hindu land grab and the akharas’ activities. In 1934, the colonial government allowed the Hindus to demolish the dome of the mosque, although it later fined the community and used the funds to reconstruct the dome.
So it didn't really allow the Hindus to do anything. What happened after the 1935 Govt of India Act? Hindus refused to let Muslims worship there. Only Friday prayers were offered there, that too under heavy police protection.

Using Buddhist and Jain texts as well as accounts by travellers, Srivastava pieces together a history of Ayodhya, as a city that had a number of shrines of all major Indian religions. He notes that the first archaeological survey of the city, by Alexander Cunningham in 1862–63, found ruins of Buddhist structures—also seen by the Chinese travellers Faxian and Xuanzang—but no evidence of a demolished temple.
The evidence was under the mosque.
Hindu pilgrimages to Ayodhya as the birthplace of Ram, he writes, were a relatively recent phenomenon, beginning in the seventeenth century.
Nonsense. Many Hindu families have hereditary pandeys at Ayodhya. They know they have been coming on pilgrimage there for thousands of years.
The first English traveller to the city, the merchant William Finch, who visited during the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, does not mention a Ram Janmabhoomi temple in his memoirs either.
He does mention pilgrims coming to 'Ramachandra's house' where their hereditary pandeys updated their genealogical records.
Combing through Babur’s memoirs, Srivastava finds mention of the emperor stopping at the confluence of two rivers north of Ayodhya on 28 March 1528. There is no accounting of Babur’s whereabouts between 2 April and 8 September that year. “This is because the pages giving an account of Babur’s activities on these days are missing,” he writes. “The myth has developed because of this absence of information.” It was a number of “British scholars and administrators” writing in the nineteenth century—such as John Leyden, William Erskine, HM Elliot, Patrick Carnegie and WC Benet—who chose to fill in the gaps and perpetuate the myth that Babur visited Ayodhya on 28 March 1528 and demolished the Ram temple on the advice of local fakirs.
“My experience of collecting data on Babri Masjid–Ramjanambhoomi was an unforgettable one,” Srivastava writes in the preface. “While my students were interested in what I had to say, my academic friends and teachers, with only a few exceptions, were unsympathetic.”
In 1998, he was teaching modern history at Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda. At the time, Anandiben Patel, the future chief minister of Gujarat, was the state’s education minister. Srivastava told me that she sent him a message, through the Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Madhu Srivastav, that he should leave Gujarat. Once Anil Kane took over as the vice-chancellor at MSU that year, he called Srivastava to his office. “He asked me, ‘Why did you write such a book? Leave, or your legs will be broken.’” Srivastava soon took up a job at Allahabad University.
Srivastava, it seems, can take a hint.
I first met Srivastava in September 2018, when he was living in the university’s faculty residence. He did not have a copy of The Disputed Mosque and asked me to get him one from Delhi. However, procuring a copy proved immensely difficult. I checked the libraries at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Indian Council of Historical Research, Allahabad University and Aligarh Muslim University, as well as the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, but while all of them had once had the book, they could not find a copy. Not only had the book disappeared, there seemed to be an attempt to confuse potential readers. In the references to his book Ayodhyã Revisited, the retired police officer and VHP sympathiser Kunal Kishore incorrectly refers to Srivastava’s book as The Disputed Shrine.

After a week of searching, Saleha Rasheed, another professor at Allahabad University, found a photocopy of the Hindi translation. (A 1991 English edition can be borrowed from the Internet Archive website.) When I presented the photocopy to Srivastava, though, he did not seem pleased. Over two decades of living in fear had taken their toll. 
Srivastava told me that he had decided to move out of the faculty residence, to a Dalit neighbourhood fifteen kilometres outside the city, where he could talk more freely. I met him at his new house two months later. He was still afraid for his life, but nonetheless carrying on with his fearless academic work. He was writing a new book, which he could not finish before his death, on how the British constructed a colonial identity for India and imposed it on Indian culture and religion, and how that colonial identity has brought contemporary India to a point where religious minorities cannot see a future for themselves in the largest democracy in the world.
People like Srivastava thought they would be rewarded by the dynasty. Instead they lived in fear of having their legs broken. Their scholarship may have been lame but their genuine enthusiasm for getting castrated for being Hindu never abated. Without great souls like Srivastava, the Hindus of North India can never dream of becoming the eunuchs of Muslim landlords. This is a heartbreaking outcome for the soi disant 'largest democracy in the world'.

Speaking for myself- a South Indian Hindu of the vilest stripe- I regularly importune my Muslim neighbor to castrate me. She replies that she would need an atomic microscope to locate my genitals. I have pleaded poverty- where I'm supposed to get funds for any such instrument? Thankfully, Jeremy Corbyn has promised to supply all Muslims with atomic microscopes to locate and crush the testicles of Hindu gentlemen like myself. Hope he wins the election tomorrow by a landslide!

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