India

Wizened by time, they still wage an age-old battle

  • Sachchidanand Shukla, Hindustan Times, Ayodhya
  • |
  • Updated: Dec 06, 2012 01:54 IST
  • Ayodhya: 20 years on

    A man stands at a wall of bricks bearing the name of 'Shri Ram' at the Karsevak Puram workshop in Ayodhya on the eve of ...

  • Ayodhya: 20 years on

    A man stands at a wall of bricks bearing the name of 'Shri Ram' at the Karsevak Puram workshop in Ayodhya on the eve of ...

  • Ayodhya: 20 years on

    A Hindu holy man offers prayers by the Saryu River on the eve of the anniversary of the Babri mosque demolition in Ayodhya. In 1992, ...

  • Ayodhya: 20 years on

    A monkey is silhouetted against the setting sun as it sits on stone slabs earmarked at Karsevak Puram workshop for the construction of a temple ...

  • Ayodhya: 20 years on

    Policemen look on as a disabled cyclist travels past on a street in Ayodhya, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the demolition of ...

  • Ayodhya: 20 years on

    On the eve of 20th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition, a woman sit outside a temple in Ayodhya. (AFP Photo)

  • Ayodhya: 20 years on

    Hindus offer prayers after bathing in the Saryu River on the eve of the anniversary of the Babri mosque demolition in Ayodhya. (AP Photo)

  • Ayodhya: 20 years on

    Policemen stand guard near a Hindu temple, on the eve of the anniversary of the Babri mosque demolition in Ayodhya. (AP Photo)

  • Ayodhya: 20 years on

    A woman looks at stone slabs earmarked for the construction of a Hindu temple at a workshop in Ayodhya. (AFP Photo)

  • Ayodhya: 20 years on

    Policemen patrol on the eve of 20th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya. (AFP Photo)

Amid the all-star cast of the Ayodhya blackbuster, two faces go mostly unrecognised. Mohammad Hashim Ansari, 93, and Mahant Bhaskar Das, 85, however, remain central to the plot in the six-decades of the court battle on the issue. 

Hard of hearing, having a wobbly gait and few teeth now, Ansari was party to a 1961 Sunni Waqf Board petition that sought the possession of the disputed structure and the surrounding land.

And Das — who has kidney problems, is diabetic and has suffered a heart attack — is his Hindu counterpart for the Nirmohi Akhara.

The two main litigants in the case have spent six decades fighting for their respective causes.

Ansari’s cramped house a km away from the disputed site has a picture of the Babri Masjid in his room. And, Das’s single-room house 20 kilometres away in Faizabad has idols of Ram. But both talk about peace on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition.

Ansari says he believes in rule of law and is waiting for the Supreme Court decision. He favours an out-of-court settlement without the involvement of any political forum.

While Das, too, waits for the apex court verdict, he hopes for a favourable verdict. He also believes that political interference is the main hindrance in the process of peaceful resolution of the dispute.

 How the day unfolded | How politics claimed history | Long road to justice

 

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