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"Two wrongs do not make a right"

Vinod Kumar


In the aftermath of the demolition of Babri masjid two common themes have emerged in the media. The first is that ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ and the second, 'the Muslims of today can not be held responsible for the acts of their ancestors'. One commentator went on to write "greater attention to the precepts of Lord Ram would have reinforced the truism that two wrongs do not make a right. Even should the Babri masjid have been built on the ruins of a demolished temple, that is no justification for repeating the crime of the invaders by a second pull down".

Let us first examine the first: ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ with the truism of the precepts of Lord Rama. Ravana had abducted Sita – a wrong by any means. To avenge the abduction of Sita, Lord Rama attacked Lanka and Hanuman burnt it down – another set of ‘wrongs’(?) to avenge the earlier ‘wrong’ of Ravana. I fail to see where is the ‘truism’ of the precepts of Lord Rama that ‘two wrongs do not make a right’. Lord Rama did not say just because Ravana had abducted my Sita there is no justification for me to commit another ‘wrong’(?) and attack Lanka because ‘two wrongs do not make a right’. According to this truism Lord Rama should have made peace with himself and lived without Sita and let Ravana get away with Sita’s abduction. According to the Nalapat’s theory that would have been very magnanimous of Lord Rama. That would have been a brilliant example of ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ but unfortunately Lord Rama did not do that. Lord Rama thought it appropriate to attack Lanka to reclaim Sita and I have no doubt if Lord Rama was alive today he would have done the same to reclaim his birthplace. Why?

Nalapat has got it wrong in connection with the demolition of Babri masjid. Nalapat is not alone; many in India have propounded this theory lately. Definitely, two wrongs do not make a right. That is only in as far as the wrongs are not related. An action to right a previous wrong can not be termed a ‘wrong’; it is a 'right'. Lord Rama’s action in attacking Lanka and bringing Sita home can not be termed a ‘wrong’; it was a ‘right’ and the same is true of Babri masjid. Lord Rama’s attack on Lanka would have been a wrong if there were no previous provocation by Ravana. Similarly, demolition of Babri masjid would have been a wrong if an earlier Rama temple had not been demolished and masjid built at its place.

The same is the story of another Indian epic Mahabharata. If Duryodhana had committed a ‘wrong’ by depriving the Pandavas of their rights, by fair means or foul, according to the theory ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ it was ‘wrong’ for the Pandavas to wage a war to avenge the ‘wrong’ done to them. Even when Arjuna had doubts about the war and expressed concerns about the slaughter that would ensue, about killing his near and dear ones, Lord Krishna did not justify Arjuna’s reluctance to fight on the premise ‘two wrongs do not make a right’. To the contrary he counseled that a ‘wrong’ must be avenged; dharma, law and justice must be protected. Lord Krishna action in urging Arjuna to fight was not a ‘wrong’; it was a ‘right’ to protect dharma. If Lord Krishna had asked Arjuna to fight and kill without any previous ‘wrong’ on the part of the Kauravas, that would have been a ‘wrong’.

Even Allah Almighty in His Divine Wisdom in His Holy Book, the Koran says: "Believers, retaliation is decreed for you in bloodshed: a free man for a free man, a slave for a slave, and a female for a female."(2:178) The religion of the Muslim invaders not only expects but also demands retaliation from those who were wronged. A Muslim has no trouble understanding retaliation to the ‘wrongs’ done to him or by him. To him, a ‘wrong’ in retaliation to an earlier ‘wrong’ in the Only Divine law.

The Koran goes on to say "He who is pardoned by his aggrieved brother shall be prosecuted according to usage and shall pay him a liberal fine."(2:178) Even if the Hindus pardon the Muslim invaders, they (Muslims) still, according to their own religion should pay Hindus a liberal fine.

The entire criminal justice of the world is based on the premise that a ‘wrong’ must be punished. Should a country believe ‘two wrongs do not make a right’, there would be no need for any laws or courts. If a man steals or kills somebody, according to newly found ‘blanket’ wisdom of ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ there is no need to punish the guilty and confine him to the jail or send him to the gallows. But sadly, even the killer of the apostle of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi was sent to the gallows. Where was the principle ‘two wrongs do not make a right’? Why do we have an army of half a million in Kashmir? If ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ why should the government of India try to capture and kill the terrorists? Just because the terrorists are doing a ‘wrong’, why should we in our infinite wisdom do another ‘wrong’, after all ‘two wrongs do not make a right’?

The entire world politics and dealings of the countries are based on the principle of reciprocity. If Hitler and the Nazis had committed a ‘wrong’ by sending six million Jews to their death, should the world have said, there is no sense in having a trial and punishing the guilty, after all ‘two wrongs do not make a right’? Just because the Nazis killed six million Jews, what purpose would punishing the guilty serve? After all those six million Jews would not be brought back to life! Try to tell that to a Jew. History will neither forgive nor forget what the Nazis had done to the Jews.

I wonder if those who preach in ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ really believe in it in their personal or social life?

The fallacy lies in what one terms a wrong. An action to correct an earlier wrong is not a wrong; it is a right and if not exercised would throw the world in chaos. Similarly to define the demolition of Babri masjid as "wrong" is itself "wrong" and seriously flawed. Even if some term it as a "wrong", it was done after all attempts to correct the earlier "wrong" had been exhausted. And further the so called Hindu "wrongs" have been done after the Hindus have suffered "wrongs" against themselves on multiple occasions.

Now let us look at the other common theme – Muslims of today are not responsible for the crime of their ancestors! I am willing to agree with it but before I do so let us look at it little more closely.

There is no denying the fact that the Muslim invaders plundered the country, massacred the people of India, demolished Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples, and converted people to Islam at point of sword or through economic coercion. This is all well, proudly and with glee documented by Muslim historians themselves. If the Muslims of today are not responsible for these depredations, they also can not be the beneficiaries of the property built from the ruins and plunders of these temples and the labor of the people they enslaved. If one claims oneself to be heir to the invaders’ legacy, he has to accept both, the assets and the liabilities. One can not just choose the assets and ignore the liabilities. If they are not willing to own up to the demolition of temples, they can not claim the ownership of the masjids built by those invaders. You can not eat your cake and have it too.

It is sad that the Muslims of India are not willing to accept the responsibility for anything. They are not only not willing to accept the responsibility for the depredations of the country during Islamic rule, they are also not willing to accept the responsibility for the partition of the country for which they voted overwhelmingly because it promised them a "land of Islam". They are not willing to accept the responsibility for their own pathetic condition by refusing to educate their children in secular schools instead of madrasas and listening to the mullahs rather to their own intellect. Not only they are not willing to accept their responsibility for their own acts they can not even tolerate others’ talking about it. Such a political climate has been created that well-meaning people are even afraid to talk about it.

The Muslims of India claim to believe in secularism after having voted overwhelmingly for Islamic Pakistan. But even today when in one breath they claim their total devotion to secularism and freedom of religion, they do nothing to force Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia to allow the freedom of religion which they so arduously and vehemently demand in India. If the Muslims of India are really committed to the concept of secularism and freedom of religion, they should boycott the pilgrimage to Haj as long as Saudi Arabia does not subscribe to the principle of secularism and freedom of religion and open their country to temples and churches and synagogues and gurudwaras. It is realized and understood that Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state with full freedom to make laws they deem right but the Muslims of India have the prerogative not to support what they do not subscribe to. The second largest Muslim population in the world can make a very strong statement of their commitment to secularism and freedom of religion and challenge the very foundations of hatred and bigotry in the world. They can show that their commitment to secularism and freedom of religion is not cosmetic – they are really committed to it. It will be good not only for themselves but also for the world at large. They will thus become the true champions of secularism. I am not asking them not to believe in Haj but only not to subscribe to the bigotry of the country they go to perform the Haj in.

In the same context I fail to understand why the Muslims of India committed to secularism and freedom of religion as they are – and I do not doubt their commitment – would honor the memory of and the masjids built by the bigots like Babar and Aurangzeb. The Muslims of India should have come forward in 1947 and done something about these masjids built on the sites of Hindu temples or from their ruins or by the bigots like Babar and Aurangzeb – to name just two. This would have gone a long way in proving their secular credentials – albeit the Islamic history and their wholesale support to partition of India.

In concluding, yes, I agree ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ but an action to correct a previous ‘wrong’ is not a ‘wrong’; it is a ‘right’. Babri masjid and Rama temple are only peripheral issues. India needs much more than that. It needs complete reappraisal of its history and its past without any bias. You can not build a mighty edifice on broken foundations much less the future of a nation on the neglect of the realities of its past. It needs complete overhaul of mental make up. India needs a real commitment to secularism – real secularism -- from every segment of its population not just lip service. This commitment has to come from the heart, not from the feet. India does not need ‘secularism’ for the sake of political expediency. Above all, it needs the courage to accept the responsibility for one’s own and one’s ancestors’ actions and not just demand rights -- there can be no rights without responsibilities – and especially so in a democracy.


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