Ayodhya dispute: ‘Large number of stakeholders biggest stumbling block in negotiated settlement’
The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board is one of the key litigants from the Muslim sides that has been fighting the legal battle over the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya. In a candid interview with Hindustan Times, its chairman Zufar Ahmed Faruqui discusses how the presence of a large number of stakeholders derailed the negotiations with the Supreme Court-appointed three-member Ayodhya mediation panel. But, he says, a window for a negotiated settlement still remains open.
Yes, talks were initially moving in a positive direction, but then some of the parties could not overcome the last few remaining obstacles during the final round of negotiations. I would not like to name them.
As long as litigation is there that window remains open.
The presence of a large number of litigants and stakeholders, who were not there originally but latched on to the case later on.
It was a major stumbling block indeed. But let me tell you, more than ‘shariah’ a section of the Muslim clergy was more concerned and afraid of public-perception and the ensuing backlash from the community if they agreed to a compromise.
The Jamiat E Ulema Hind is the biggest Muslim organization in the country and it is the main and original litigant, along with the Sunni Waqf Board, since 1961, when the suit was filed. The AIMPLB is not a party in any of the appeal pending before the Supreme Court. It is the Jamiat E Ulema Hind, which has to take a call on everything regarding this case. I am not aware of any difference of opinion between Jamiat E Ulema Hind and AIMPLB. I cannot hold any one person or group responsible for the breakdown of talks. It must be shared by everyone who was a part of the negotiation.
We showed flexibility, but I regret to say that the same was missing from the other side.
We have been told by the panel to not reveal the details.
Mediation is always between the parties. The matter was very important and sensitive, the Board decided that I should participate personally.
I was not part of any previous attempt as this was the first such exercise after the judgment by the High Court in 2010. Yes, it was different in the sense that although the parties could not come to an agreement to end the dispute, the mediation process has been of value. The parties have gained a better understanding of their needs and interests, and have come to understand the needs and concerns of the opposing parties. To a considerable degree, there is more realism about their case and the overall situation. The exhaustive discussions on options and possibilities for settlement have highlighted the areas around which any agreement is possible, and what needs to be given up, and what can be gained, for the settlement to fructify.