The 59-year-old Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suit seems to be strictly a court battle. For, the representatives of the two main litigants have remained out-of-court friends for the last six decades.
Hashim Ansari (90) and Mahant Bhaskar Das (82) are in constant touch with each other and even travel together to the court often. But once inside the courtroom, they plead their respective cases.
The Allahabad High Court will give its verdict on September 24 on which side —the Sunni Waqf Board or the Nirmohi Akhara — is right about its claim on the piece of land where the Babri mosque stood before it was torn down on December 6, 1992.
Das, head of the akhara, claimed to have a decade-old formula for resolving the dispute. “I had offered land for a grand mosque inside the premises of our akhara if Muslims gave up their claim. But it is irrelevant today. Let the court decide.”
But Ansari feigned ignorance about Das’ formula. “If there was any formula, why wasn’t it presented in the court?”
Das feels the local people could have resolved the issue, but politics complicated the issue. Ansari also thinks that left to the local people, the problem would have been solved a long time ago.
He said, “I always had cordial relations with Hindus. Late Paramhans Ram Chandra Das was also a very close friend. Many times we shared transport to go to the court. His death dealt a personal blow.”
Das echoed: “I always enjoyed cordial relations with Muslims. Hashim and I are very good friends even today. But when we are in the court, he pleads his case and I do mine.”
Das insists that he wishes to remain apolitical and does not want any financial help from political parties. “I sold three acres of land to fight this case, but never accepted any contribution from any other source. The VHP and the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas are not parties to the case.”
He made it clear that he would move the apex court only in case of an adverse verdict, while Ansari said the board would accept the verdict. It would plead its case only if the opposition moved the apex court.
But Ansari assured: “Even if the judgment is in our favour, we will wait for the board to decide on the next move. And the board’s decision will not disturb the law and order situation.”
A Class II pass tailor by profession and local representative of Sunni Waqf Board, Ansari claims to have offered namaaz (prayer) on the disputed site days before the deities appeared surreptitiously in 1949. “I want it (the verdict) in my lifetime, whatever it may be.”