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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to meet Adityanath, Ayodhya seers as part of ‘mediation mission’

Art of Living founder’s meeting with Adityanath assumes significance as it comes in the backdrop of the chief minister’s statement welcoming the mediation process.

lucknow Updated: Nov 14, 2017 16:24 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,Adityanath,Ayodhya seers
Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.(Keshav Singh/HT File Photo)

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s proposed meeting with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday has brought the focus back on the decades-long Babri Masjid-Ram Temple issue before the Supreme Court’s hearing on the land dispute case in December.

“Final touches are being given to the programme. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will meet the chief minister in Lucknow on Wednesday as part of his ‘mediation mission’. He will visit Ayodhya on Thursday to hold talks with seers on the temple issue,” sources said.

Ravi Shankar said on Monday he was involved as a mediator in the temple dispute of his own will and does not have an agenda in the issue and will listen to everybody during the visit.

The spiritual leader’s meeting with Adityanath assumes significance as it comes in the backdrop of the chief minister’s statement welcoming the mediation process.

“Efforts at any level are welcome,” Adityanath said in Lucknow on Tuesday before leaving for Ayodhya to launch the Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign for the upcoming civic elections.

Adityanath, who has paid several visits to Ayodhya after taking over as the chief minister, has been regularly underlining the importance of the Ram temple in the last few weeks.

He attended celebrations in Ayodhya on the eve of Diwali and his government’s first budget allocated Rs 1,240 crore for the promotion of religious tourism with the introduction of ‘Swadesh Darshan Yojana’ through schemes to develop the Ramayana Circuit, Buddhist Circuit and Krishna Circuits in the state.

An additional Rs 800 crore was allocated for “prasad yojana’ to develop infrastructure facilities at Ayodhya, Mathura and Varanasi.

Ravi Shankar’s visit to Ayodhya is also being viewed as a follow-up exercise to further the mediation process.

“Seers from Ayodhya have already met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Bangalore. His visit to Ayodhya will be a follow up of these meetings,” retired IAS officer Surya Pratap Singh, who has been arranging meetings between Ayodhya seers with the Art of Living founder, said.

Ayodhya is considered a political cornerstone after the Babri Mosque there was destroyed by a Hindu mob in 1992 to build a temple in its place.

The disputed 2.7-acre piece of land remains India’s most potent religious flashpoint. Many Hindus believe that god Ram was born where Babur, the first Mughal emperor, built the mosque. More than 3000 people were killed in the communal violence that followed the demolition of the mosque by a Hindu mob in 1992.

Though some seers from Ayodhya and representatives of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board have met Ravi Shankar, his efforts for mediation have not found many takers.

“Ravi Shankar is not a saint. He runs an NGO and should stay happy with it. He should not meddle with the reconciliation process. Such people try to get public attention,” president of Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad Mahant Narendra Giri said.

The Congress in October dubbed the spiritual leader as a “government agent”, who was “representing its interests” in the Ayodhya dispute. The opposition party’s spokesperson Tom Vadakkan even asked who appointed people like the Art of Living Foundation chief to take charge.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing the final arguments on the Ayodhya land dispute on December 5 - a day before the 25th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid.

Former Chief Justice of India JS Khehar constituted the special bench after BJP leader Subramanian Swamy approached the top court on July 21 to seek an early hearing of the civil dispute between Hindu and Muslim organisations over ownership of the Ram temple-Babri Masjid land.

The Allahabad high court had ruled a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acre-site between the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla in 2010. The three-member Lucknow bench passed the verdict by a 2:1 majority.

However, the dispute has become more complicated with Uttar Pradesh’s Shia Wakf Board seeking to become a party in the case. The new applicant, in a recent affidavit filed before the top court, said it favoured relocation of the mosque to an area where Muslims reside.

First Published: Nov 14, 2017 16:24 IST