Opinion: Yet another opportunity to amicably resolve Ram temple tangle
The Supreme Court has given yet another opportunity to the parties concerned to amicably resolve the emotive issue of Ramjanmabhumi/Babri Mosque that has literally haunted the country’s psyche for over a century.
It was in 1853 when the first communal conflict was reported over the contentious issue while the first petition was filed in the local court in 1885. Since then, there have been umpteen twists and turns in the legal case with all the dialogues and formulas coming to naught.
At least three Prime Ministers, several Shankaracharyas, priests and a high-profile godman have evolved formulas since the demolition of the disputed shrine in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
Late godman Chandraswami had started negotiations in the late ’80s, former prime minister Chandrashekhar had set up an Ayodhya cell in his office which remained active in the PMO even during the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to negotiate a settlement. Several rounds of parleys, many behind the scene, were held in Delhi, Lucknow and Ayodhya.
Former high court judge late Palok Basu even launched a signature campaign in Ayodhya while Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had also pitched in to hammer out a solution, only to be snubbed by the Nyas.
The Art of Living founder held dialogue with stakeholders Ram Lalla Virajman, Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Waqf Board and had also met chief minister Yogi Adityanath before travelling down to Ayodhya in mid-November last year. All appreciated his efforts but refused to adhere to any formula.
The formulas have ranged from construction of a temple where a makeshift one exists today on the debris of the demolished shrine while shifting the mosque elsewhere in the temple town to building a mosque and temple side by side.
The issue is where the mosque should be built as any compromise on shifting the temple appears impossible and this even the minority community agrees. Thus, some of them agree to the construction of the mosque within 67 acres of land but Nyas wants it reconstructed outside the 84 kos parikrama route.
Even the protagonists of the temple movement are divided. Some agree to rebuilding of the mosque within the 67 acres of acquired land, the hardliners wanted it to be shifted out of Ayodhya.
VHP’s Ayodhya-based spokesman Sharad Sharma said, “The mosque has to be out of the 84 kos parikrama route, the cultural boundary of Ayodhya.”
The 84 kos parikrama route touches five districts bordering the temple town.
As both the parties stubbornly held to their ground, the
litigants as well as the political parties started preferring a legal settlement of the dispute.
WHY RAY OF HOPE NOW?
However the apex court’s mediation move has once again raised hopes for a negotiated resolution of the prickly issue.
It is for the first time that the Sunni Central Waqf Board has shed much of its intransigence by agreeing to come to the negotiating table. Its chairman Zufar Ahmed Faruqi had told HT that he would represent the board in mediation.
The Shia Waqf Board has consistently favoured building of a temple at the same site with its chairman Wasim Rizvi even offering to donate their share of land, when granted by the courts.
The All-India Personal Law Board has throughout preferred legal settlement. However, it has no direct role to play in the dispute as it is not a party in the ongoing case.
However, throwing the spanner in the efforts are the Hindu Mahasabha, Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and Ram Lalla Virajman.
While the Hindu Mahasabha has opposed mediation in the courts, the BJP-VHP supported Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (RJN) that had spearheaded the temple movement, also rejected the move.
RJN head Mahant Nritya Gopal Das said they disfavour mediation in the Ayodhya dispute even if it was conducted by a Supreme Court mediator.
Triloki Nath Pandey, who represents Ram Lalla Virajman in the Supreme Court, said: “I am against any form of mediation in the case at this stage. In the past, all efforts for an out-of-court settlement of the dispute through mediation have failed.”
Thus, the BJP and the RSS will have to use their persuasive skills to bring them to the negotiating table for last-ditch efforts to resolve the tangle.
And the discussions will have to be fresh, breaking from the past formulas.
The Supreme Court had first stirred the pot in August 2017 by suggesting a negotiated settlement of the emotive issue with the Chief Justice of India even offering to act as a mediator between the two sides laying claim over the historic site in the temple city.
An expert, who did not wish to be named, said: “Perhaps the settlement is buried in the pages of history. The Gyanvapi Mosque was built after destroying a Hindu temple, the remnants of which exist on its walls even today. Kashi Vishwanath temple was built adjacent to the mosque. Similarly in Mathura, temple and mosque co-exist at the Krishna Janma Sthan.”
Interestingly, both Mathura and Kashi are protected under the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991.
A day after Punjab's health minister Dr Vijay Singla was sacked by chief minister Bhagwant Mann and arrested for corruption, the Aam Aadmi Party legislator's family alleged a conspiracy behind the charges of kickbacks for clearing tenders. Dr Vijay Singla's wife Anita Singla declined comment, too. “We will issue a statement at an opportune time,” said a non-practicising Ayurveda doctor, Anita.
Karnataka BJP strongman B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday indicated the possibility of a bigger role for his son and the state Vice President B Y Vijayendra in the party, a day after Vijayendra was denied a ticket to contest the MLC polls. "I'm confident that the BJP will get a clear majority under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the next elections, and come back to power," he added.
A postal department official in Madhya Pradesh has been arrested on charges that sub-postmaster Vishal Ahirwar spent money handed over by customers for fixed deposit accounts on gambling, police said on Wednesday. Far, police have received 20 complaints about missing deposits worth ₹1 crore. Ahirwar was arrested on May 20 and remanded in police custody till May 26. He is accused of cheating and criminal breach of trust. He kept losing money.
A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Ranchi sent suspended IAS officer Pooja Singhal to judicial custody till June 8 in the mining case. Singhal was in the custody of Enforcement Directorate since her arrest on May 11. The probe agency carried out raids at the premises of Ranchi-based builder Anil Jha and another person named Vishal Chaudhary, news agency ANI had reported.
The toll from the suspected hooch tragedy went up to 13 as four more people died in Bihar's Aurangabad late on Tuesday. Aurangabad district magistrate Saurabh Jorwal said the hooch is suspected to have been brought from Jharkhand and supplied to sellers in bordering villages of Gaya and Aurangabad. Gaya's senior police superintendent Harpreet Kaur said Santosh Chaudhary, the alleged main supplier, and his four associates have been arrested.