Vidana Soudha (1956). Building of the Legislative Assembly of Karnataka in Bangalore (India)| Religions play an important role in politics (article). They shape identities of South Asian nations (article). Here the front of the building is inscribed with the words Government’s Work is God’s Work.
Manzilgah Mosque in Sukkur (Sindh/present Pakistan)| Principal political power battles in South Asia are staged on religious places. With the beginning of the freedom struggle, the Muslim League takes up the issue of the mosque in Sukkur in 1939/40. Party workers occupy the area of the mosque and demand the opening of the mosque for Muslim prayers. The access to the building of the mosque, however, was restricted due to the near Hindu pilgrimage centre (next image). The Government of Sindh (in coalition with the Congress) is weak and the campaign of the Muslim League is eventually successful. This success of the League shows the actual strength of the party and is a turning point in Muslim politics. In February 1940, the All India Muslim League passes a resolution demanding Pakistan. (article)
Hindu pilgrimage centre in Sukkur (Sindh/Pakistan) ‘Sadhu Belo’ opposite to the Manzilgah mosque. Only Hindus or their guests are allowed to enter the island Sadhu Belo.
Imagining India I: Bharat Mata Mandir á la Congress in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh/India)| How is India to be imagined? This is a vital question for the independence movement and beyond. In October 1936, Bharat Mata Mandir is inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi with Hindu rituals. Bharat Mata (Mother India) is the personification of India as mother goddess. The temple was the idea of the local Congress leader Shiv Prasad Gupta in the year 1913 on his way back home from the annual Congress meeting in Karachi. There is no deity but a relief of India inside the building. (article: India’s identity)
Imagining India II: Bharat Mata Mandir á la Congress in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)| The construction of the marble relief takes place during the years from 1918 to 1923/4. Durga Prasad leads the construction works.
Imagining India III: Bharat Mata Mandir á la Vishva Hindu Parishad in Haridvar (Uttar Pradesh/India)| In the 1980s, Swami Satyamitranand Giri founds the Bharat Mata Mandir in Haridvar. Swami Satyamitranand Giri is close to the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). Inside of the temple, many images, gods and goddesses are installed. The temple is inaugurated by the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 15th May 1983. Her presence signals the growing acceptance of Hindu nationalist ideas in Indian society. Only a year later, the RSS takes up the Ayodhya issue. (article)
Arrest of L. K. Advani (BJP) on 23th October 1990| Central government employees discuss the arrest of the President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), L. K. Advani on the same day. L. K. Advani is on his legendary tour ‘Rath Yatra’ to Ayodhya where the start of the contruction of a temple was to take place on 30th October. The Rath Yatra is an open confrontation against the basic national ideas sustained by the Indian National Congress since independence. In Samastipur (Bihar) the BJP campaign is eventually stopped by the government. The then Prime Minister V.P. Singh says in a television message that “in these few moments of time, the future history of India will be written.” (BJP: history and ideology)
Humayun ‘s Tomb in Delhi| Shakha of the Rasthriya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS is the cadre base for Hindu nationalist/fundamentalist organisations. Also, Lal Krishna Advani and Prime Minister (1998 – 2004) A. B. Vajpayee are volunteers of the RSS. Volunteers of the RSS meet on a regular basis.
To Ayodhya!| The Ayodhya campaign lead by the BJP and the VHP is on the rise. This image is in front of the Palace of the Maharaja in Jaipur (Rajasthan). The picture was taken two months after the arrest of L. K. Advani (January 1991).
Elections in exciting times| Bye elections in Lal Krishna Advani’s former constituency in New Delhi in June 1992. The elections turn into a battle between government and the opposition. Famous actors are candidates: Rajesh Khanna (Congress) und Shatrughana Sinha (BJP). Rajesh Khanna (Congress) wins. So, the Congress is under the impression that she is on the rise. Six months later, BJP turns the tables. (power balance between Congress and BJP since 1951)
Babri mosque in Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh/India) in summer 1992| Legendary place of birth of Lord Rama and, according to VHP, also place of a former temple. The Hindu Mahasabha took up the issue in 1949 for the first time and placed idols inside the mosque. The mosque is put under temporary injunction and Muslims are not allowed to go inside the mosque. In 1983, RSS and VHP demand the building of a new temple on this site.
Babri mosque in Ayodhya II (Uttar Pradesh/India)| Countdown against the building of the mosque. The BJP government of the state under Chief Minister Kalyan Singh allows construction works on the premises belonging to the “property in dispute” in front of the mosque. By doing so, court decisions are undermined.
Exactly here, the temple will be built!| The area of the former Babri mosque after the demolition of the mosque on 6th December 1992 by volunteers of the RSS, VHP, BJP and Shiv Sena. Now, there is a makeshift shrine on this site.
Communal riots| India’s modern history is also a history of riots and assaults on particular communities. In 1987, riots against Muslims take place in Meerut (Uttar Pradesh). The police is accused of taking sides against Muslims. The poster near Jama mosque in Delhi demands an investigation of the riots. In 1993, this demand is raised one more time after the Bombay riots, again in 2002 in Gujarat.
Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) I – Conflict No. II| There is another conflict in the making on the alleged birth place of Krishna in Mathura. The birthplace is situated against the wall of the Shahi Idgah Mosque. In 1968, local leaders agree to manage both religious places. A passage to the birth place and a temple is constructed.
Imagining India IV: Mother India á la RSS (calendar for the year 1993)| India according to the RSS. Mother India is attacked by a demon. India that is Love, the demon represents domestic and foreign enemies such as economic imperialism and so-called Muslim appeasement.
Rashtra Chetana rally in New Delhi I| The political power battle between Congress and BJP reaches a new climax. BJP workers gather near Khan Market and are attacked by security forces during the ‘Rashtra Chetana’ rally. The rally at the Boat club is banned. The demands of the BJP are: reversal of the ban of RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal, fresh elections in four former BJP-ruled states and fresh general elections.
Conflict in the paradise on earth (Kashmir valley)| In 1989, a conflict starts in Jammu and Kashmir. Parts of the people demand independence from India. Also, Hindus are expelled from their home land. On the picture: a burnt house of a Hindu family in Srinagar. (situation in Jammu and Kashmir)
New ideas in Pakistan| In Pakistan, various political demands are made against the backdrop of nationalist ideas. This is a rally of Sindhi nationalist in front of the Press Club in Karachi. (gallery: Modern Sindh)
‘Jiye-Sindh’ is everywhere| The small town of Sann in Sindh is place of changes affecting the whole subcontinent. Sann is the home of late G. M. Syed. In the 1940s, G. M. Syed leads volunteers (satyagrahis) during the Manzilgarh campaign in Sukkur. Then, he is President of Sindh Provincial Muslim League. This campaign paves the way for the partition of India and the foundation of Pakistan. In the 1970s, he develops the idea of Sindhu Desh, the independent nation of Sindh. In 1986, he discussed the accession of Sindh to the Indian Union. By doing so, G. M. Syed advocates various political ideas: Pakistan, the state for Indian Muslims, unified India and independent Sindh. (article: G. M. Syed)
Jantar Mantar in New Delhi| Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observation site built in the 18th century. It is located on the street leading to the Parliament building. The site developed into an important place of protest in India. In 2011, it was the place of Anna Hazare’s hunger strike against corruption. The image shows a protest of exiled Tibetans against the situation in their home country.