In a major development, Mohammed Hashim Ansari - who has fought legal battles since 1961 for the land where the Babri Masjid stood - on Sunday visited a prominent Hindu seer to urge him to jointly work out a negotiated settlement on the lines indicated in the Sep 30 verdict of the Allahabad High Court.
The 90-year-old Ansari walked down to the residence of Mahant Gyan Das, who not only heads Ayodhya's Hanuman Garhi temple but also the Akhara Parishad.
"We are quite optimistic that we would be able to find a pragmatic solution to this tangle through mediation and talks - minus politicians, who have been using us all these years," they said after their meeting.
"I have full faith in Mahant Gyan Das," Ansari said over telephone from Ayodhya on Sunday evening. Das reciprocated his feelings, saying: "I am really touched by the fact that this 90-year old gentleman came down to my place to express his desire to being an end to this whole issue through talks instead of spinning it into another endless legal battle before the apex court."
"As long as outsiders do not poke their nose, I am confident that the people of Ayodhya like Hashim Ansari and myself could find a mutually acceptable solution in consultation with other prominent locals who have been closely associated with the issue from either side," Das said.
After 21 years of hearing in the Allahabad High Court, the final verdict was passed by a three-judge special bench, comprising Justices SU Khan, Sudhir Agrawal and Dharam Veer Sharma, which divided the disputed land (measuring 90 ft x 120 ft) into three parts - one for Ram Lalla, one for the Nirmohi Akhara and one for the Sunni Wakf Board.
The court also suggested re-adjustment of land to the parties out of the surplus 67 acres of adjoining land acquired by the central government.
"Since the court has given three months time during which status quo will be maintained, it is a golden opportunity for both sides to find ways and means to see that the dispute does not linger on endlessly once again" said Ansari.
"I had always maintained that I would abide by the order of the court; now that the court has found a novel way to balance the whole issue, we must take the cue and close the chapter amicably, without re-entering into another legal war that would probably not conclude in my lifetime," he added.
"I can see that the court has relied heavily upon the sentiments and feelings of the people, much to the chagrin of a large chunk of Muslims who were looking up to the court to give its verdict strictly in accordance with the law book; but still I am of the view, it is high time that Muslims and Hindus sit across the table and resolve the age old issue through talks and reconciliation," Ansari said.
Ansari also wanted to keep politicians at a distance from any out of court settlement. "Both sides have seen the fate of our prolonged dependence on politicians, who have only used the issue to fulfill their own political ends in all these years," he emphasised.