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