Lord Ram’s will that I attend ceremony: Title suit litigant
The son of the oldest litigant in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, a Padma Shri awardee and the chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board (UPSCWB) are three Muslim invitees among the 175 guests attending the foundation-laying ceremony of the Ram temple on Wednesday.
The first invitee is Iqbal Ansari, 69, son of Hashim Ansari who died at of 95 in 2016 after which the son started pursuing the case in the top court. The second is 80-year-old Mohammad Sharif, who is known across the state for his work in holding final rites for at least 5,000 unclaimed Hindu and Muslim people.
The third is Zufar Ahmed Faruqi, the chairman of the UPSCWB that was the main Muslim party in the title suit and the head of the 15-member trust that is helming the construction of a mosque at a five-acre site in Ayodhya district.
“We have invited Iqbal Ansari and Mohammad Sharif from Ayodhya for bhumi pujan of Ram Mandir,” said Champat Rai, general secretary of the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirath Kshetra Trust. “Mohammad Sharif’s contribution to the society cannot is priceless. He has given respectful cremation or burial to unclaimed bodies in Ayodhya,” added Rai. A top state government official confirmed Faruqi’s invitation on condition of anonymity.
Ansari welcomed the invitation.
“I am delighted to be invited for bhumi pujan. Lord Ram and Ram Mandir will usher in development in Ayodhya,” said Ansari, who had opposed filing of a review petition to the Supreme Court’s 2019 verdict that cleared the way for the construction of the temple. “Our Prime Minister is coming. I will meet him and give him a ‘Ramnami’ stole (a piece of cloth with Ram’s name written on it) and Ramcharitmanas as a present,” Ansari added.
“The dispute is over now after the court’s verdict. I respect sadhus and saints.. I think it is Lord Ram’s will that I attend it”.
Sharif, a cycle mechanic popularly known as chacha (uncle), was awarded the Padma Shri, the country’s fourth-highest civilian award, this year and hit the headlines for his work in giving a respectable send-off to unclaimed bodies during the coronavirus pandemic. “I am very happy after receiving the invite. I am thankful to the PM and hope that Ram temple will also bring development in Ayodhya,” said Sharif.
Faruqi’s spokesperson confirmed the invitation. ”Yes , the chairman has got an invite, ‘’ said Athar Hussain.
In his press conference, Rai announced that the trust also invited Purnima Kothari, sister of two brothers from Kolkata who were kar sevaks, or Hindu religious volunteers, who died in police firing in Ayodhya on October 30, 1990 while on a procession to the 2.77 acre site.
The trust also invited family members of local kar sevaks in Ayodhya who died in the firing. “We wanted to invite more Karsevaks. But due to pandemic we have only invited local Karsevaks and Purnima Kothari, sister of Kothari brother of Kolkata,” said Rai.
The trust will felicitate the kar sevaks at another function — Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Nirman Yajna —after the coronavirus pandemic, Rai added.
He appealed to the kar sevaks to be patient. “In the Ram Mandir movement, a large number of kar sevaks contributed. They all want to come to Ayodhya for the bhumi pujan. We also wanted the same but due to the pandemic this is not possible at present,” said Rai. “But bhumi pujan by the PM is necessary to start the construction work of Ram Mandir.”
(with agency inputs)