Mosque complex in Ayodhya gets Hindus’ backing
The five-acre site was handed over to the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board (UPSCWB) on August 2 in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling last November on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit.Updated: Aug 13, 2020 07:19 IST
At least 60% of calls pledging donations and support for a proposed mosque complex outside Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh are from Hindus, the trust building the project said, holding out hope that communal amity can return to the city at the centre of decades of strife.
The five-acre site was handed over to the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board (UPSCWB) on August 2 in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling last November on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit.
The ruling cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple on the 2.77 acre disputed site in Ayodhya and awarded the Muslim parties an alternative site to rebuild the Babri mosque, demolished by a mob in December 1992.
“We are overwhelmed by the response that we are receiving from all over the world. Sixty percent of the callers are Hindus,” said Athar Hussain, spokesman for the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation, the 15-member trust formed by the Waqf Board for the development of the site.
According to him, the trust will have “more than enough funds” for the project. Besides a mosque, it plans to build a hospital, a community kitchen, and an educational centre on the site. The trust has already received a deluge of commitments, Hussain added.
It has opened an office in Lucknow, is working on procedures to receive foreign donations and on Tuesday, opened two bank accounts.
Members of the trust plan to visit Dhannipur, the village where the site for the mosque has been allotted, soon for the demarcation of the area, occupied currently by a small shrine and rice fields. A virtual conference of the trust, which has filled nine of its 15 proposed positions, to finalise the architect of the project is also on the agenda.
“The pandemic has slowed our pace but soon we will be moving ahead,” said Hussain, also a member of the trust. He expressed hope that a galaxy ofpolitical leaders will attend the inaugural ceremony of the complex. Under Islamic laws, a groundbreaking ceremony is not permitted for a mosque.
The developments come a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the ceremonial cornerstone for the Ram temple at a grand ceremony in Ayodhya that was attended by chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat and governor Anandiben Patel.
Also invited for the event were three Muslim individuals – title suit litigant Iqbal Ansari, Padma Shri awardee social worker Mohammad Sharif, and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) secretary Zafaryab Jilani, also a party to the title suit. Temple trust chief Mahant Nritya Gopal Das announced that donations from Muslims were welcome after some Muslim leaders said they would like to contribute to the temple as a symbolic end to the dispute.
Soon after, a controversy broke out when the trust for the proposed mosque complex said it would like to invite the PM and CM for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Dhannipur complex. The office of the PM has not responded to the statement; the CM’s office said it was premature to do so.
The trust has not revealed details of its plan for the site, but Hussain told HT that it was setting up an Indo-Islamic Research Centre, comprising a library, research centre and museum. The complex will depict the confluence of cultures and highlight the contribution of poets Kabir and Rahim, sites like Deoband, home to one of the world’s oldest Islamic theology schools, Firangi Mahal, an educational centre that was an important site of the independence movement, and the first war of Independence in 1857.
“Who would not like to lay the foundation stone of a centre that would pitchfork Ayodhya as a city of communal harmony,” Hussain said.
The trust faces significant opposition within the community. After the apex court’s verdict last year, the AIMPLB and some other litigants urged the UP Waqf Board notto accept the land, and since then, other leaders have opposed the project because they say the 16th-century Babri Masjid was illegally demolished .
The latest to join the ranks of those not in favour of the complex was Urdu poet Munawwar Rana, who wrote to the PM on Monday and suggested the construction of a hospital on the allotted five-acre land.
In his two-page letter, the poet also offered to donate his ancestral land, measuring 5.5 acres, along the river Sai in Rae Bareli district for the construction of a mosque. His suggestion was dismissed by the trust, which said it would be a violation of the apex court’s order.