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Ayodhya legal battle is only beginning

Though the VHP is no direct claimant to the disputed site, they are supporting some of the contesting parties, reports Sunita Aron.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2006 04:51 IST

The street fight is over. What has intensified is the legal battle for a small chunk of disputed land in Ayodhya — 120ftx90ft to be precise. As per the order of the apex court the winner of the title suit would get the adjoining land acquired by the Centre after the demolition of the disputed shrine on December 6, 1992.

On the 14th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition this year, lawyers will fight for the title suit of the inner and outer courtyard of the demolished shrine before a special three-member bench in the High Court even as their representatives will hold low-key functions to celebrate/mourn the day in the temple town.

There will be no prominent BJP-VHP leader at the VHP’s annual shaurya diwas show at the Kar Sewak Puram in Ayodhya. Muslims would wear black badges and keep their shops closed.

Both Jafaryab Jilani of the Babri Masjid Action Committee and Champat Rai of the VHP agreed that the legal battle is far from over. They know that arguments will soon start as hearing on evidences and excavation report of the ASI, submitted in 2003, is on the verge of closure. However what worries them is the retirement of one of the judges in January end and of another in mid-2007.

Since 1989, when the case was transferred from Faizabad sessions court to the HC, about a dozen odd judges have retired or got transferred. Thirty-two witnesses who represent the Muslim point of view and 55 from the rival side have appeared before the court. The documents run into about 30,000 pages. Rai said: “But the judge retiring in end-January has been hearing the case for the past 10 years. He has read all evidences and heard every witness. His retirement would be a setback.”

Though the VHP is no direct claimant to the disputed site, they are supporting some of the contesting parties. In all there are four claimants including Bhagwan Ram lalla himself, Nirmohi Akhara, Rama Janma Bhumi Nyas (after the death of Ram Chand Paramhans, his son Rajendra is contesting the case) and the Sunni Waqf Board.

Though the title suit case has made ‘some progress’, the other two cases filed against prominent BJP-VHP leaders including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Ashok Singhal and against lakhs of kar sewaks has not made much headway.

Email Sunita Aron: saron@hindustantimes.com