A section of the Muslim leadership met key figures from Hindu organisations, including those associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), for the first time to explore ways for negotiations to settle the Babri Masjid dispute.
Emerging from the meeting at Delhi's India Islamic Cultural Centre, they said this would not in any way have a bearing on the decision of the respective parties to appeal the September 30 verdict by the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AMPLB) members Kamal Farooqui and Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali attended the meet, along with dewan (head) of Ajmer Sharif shrine, Zeinal Abedin and Islamic scholar Wahiduddin Khan.
RSS leader Indresh Kumar, Swami Chidanand, historian Devendra Swaroop, associated with the RSS, and Swami Agnivesh also attended the meet.
"The meeting is in line with the official stand of the AIMPLB that the Ayodhya verdict should be appealed and doors for negotiations, however, should remain open," AIMPLB member Kamal Farooqui told HT.
Arya Samaj leader Swami Agnivesh, who chaired the meet, said: "We are exploring options. These were not negotiations but discussion."
The leaders are scheduled to meet again on November 2.
A section of the Muslim leadership including Farooqui, Firangi Mahali and Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind leader Mahmood Madni have articulated the need to keep the door for dialogue ajar. Madni, however, was not part of Wednesday's meeting.
The Jamiat's working committee on Wednesday adopted a resolution on the Ayodhya verdict, which said the decision to appeal should be taken only after careful legal consideration.
Madni said: "Jamiat unequivocally declares that once a mosque is built according to Sharia, it remains in perpetuity. Muslims can never give up their claim to any part of the mosque. There is room for challenging the Ayodhya verdict. However, there are many aspects requiring deep study. Therefore, an expert legal committee has been constituted by us, which has been authorised to decide future course of action."