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In a bid to solve Ayodhya issue, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar meets Nirmohi Akhara and Muslim law board members

Though Nimrohi Akhada mahant Ram Das admitted that Nagpur wing sarpanch Raja Ramchandracharya met Ravishankar to find an amicable solution to the dispute, he refused to elaborate on the outcome.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2017 23:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Birds fly at sunset over a temple in Ayodhya. (AP File Photo)

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is understood to have met representatives of two groups in the Ayodhya dispute in a fresh attempt to find an out-of-court settlement to the legal case over the Babri Masjid-Ram Temple issue.

Sources said Ravi Shankar met representatives of Nirmohi Akhara and and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to discuss the legal tussle over the disputed land in Ayodhya.

Although the AIMPLB is not a party in the case, being the apex Islamic body on religious and personal matters helps it wield considerable influence over the community. The Muslim side is represented by the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, with Jafaryab Jilani – incidentally a member of the AIMPLB – as its counsel.

Representatives of both the AIMPLB and Nirmohi Akhara refused to disclose details of the meeting with Ravishankar, held in Bengaluru earlier this month. When contacted, Jilani said a few local members may have participated in the meeting without the law board’s authorisation. “We have 251 members on the board, and many of them are from Bangalore. But the AIMPLB did not authorise anybody to negotiate on its behalf,” he told HT over the phone from New Delhi, without confirming if the talks pertained to the Ram temple controversy.

Though Nimrohi Akhada mahant Ram Das admitted that Nagpur wing sarpanch Raja Ramchandracharya met Ravishankar to find an amicable solution to the dispute, he refused to elaborate on the outcome.

Ramchandrachrya, for his part, said the meeting was meant to establish goodwill between the two communities. “We feel that a solution should be arrived at in a cordial manner,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Art of Living Foundation said that the prevailing mood on the Ram Mandir issue provides people from both the communities with an opportunity to “come together, show their magnanimity” and settle the dispute out of court. “Gurudev has been in touch with several imams and swamis, including Acharya Ram Das of Nirmohi Akhara. These discussions – not done on the behalf of any government or organisation – have brought to the fore the positive energy and willingness of leaders from both communities to move in a progressive direction and arrive at an amicable solution,” it said in a statement.

There are about a dozen contestants in the court case, with six each from both the communities. The title suit, however, is being fought between the Nirmohi Akhara and the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board.

Jilani claimed that former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi came closest to finding an acceptable solution to the dispute, but the Supreme Court nipped the idea in the bud. “Senior Supreme Court lawyer Siddharth Shankar Ray, acting as an intermediary in the initiative, vetted a proposal mooted by Gandhi that Muslims would give up their claim if any evidence of a ‘living’ temple was found at the disputed site. Under this formula, the verdict in this regard was to be pronounced by a five-member Supreme Court bench comprising Muslim, Parsi, Christian, Sikh and Hindus judges. However, the apex court turned down the idea,” he said.

Former prime ministers PV Narasimha Rao and Atal Behari Vajpayee also tried arranging face-to-face meetings between the Sangh Parivar and Muslim organisations through various back-channels, such as the National Commission for Minorities, but failed. Attempts to use the services of non-Muslim religious figures such as Ravishankar, Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati and the Dalai Lama raised hopes of a harmonious resolution, but eventually went in vain.

First Published: Oct 27, 2017 23:23 IST