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Muslim bodies brush aside Sri Sri’s mediation bid on Ayodhya dispute

Quamar Ashraf | New Delhi |

Several leading Muslim organisations, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), have brushed aside the Art of Living (AoL) founder and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s mediation bid to ensure out-of-court settlement of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoommi dispute through negotiations.

They have also maintained that the Ayodhya case has been pending in the Supreme Court and that they will abide by its judgment in the decades-long dispute. The apex court is set to hear the case from 5 December which will mark the eve of the 25th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid.

The AIMPLB has even decided to take action against a couple of its members who have reportedly held talks with Ravi Shankar.

AIMPLB general secretary Maulana Wali Rahmani told The Statesman that he learnt

about the involvement of some of its members in the dialogue process initiated by Ravi Shankar. He maintained that that their talks “hold little significance in the face of our stated position” on the issue.

Rahmani said, “When the AIMPLB has clearly said that the Supreme Court judgment will

be acceptable to us, there is no significance as to who met whom”. He added that the Board would however take action against its members for taking part in such meetings.

An AIMPLB member Ejaz Arshad Qasmi had recently held talks with Ravi Shankar in Bengaluru on the Ayodhya issue while another Board member Kamal Farooqui had met the AoL founder in the national capital on 13 November.

Ravi Shankar recently said he was “voluntarily” involved as a “mediator” in the Ayodhya dispute and will visit Ayodhya on 16 November to meet various stakeholders.

The AoL founder is said to have been holding talks with some Muslim and Hindu leaders for over a month for an out-of-court resolution of the Ayodhya dispute through negotiations. His attempts have, however, not been fruitful so far.

Most of the Muslim organisations are of the view that the Ayodhya issue should better be

left to the apex court for a final decision.

Maulana Jalaluddin Umri, who is Jamaat-e-Islami Hind president and AIMPLB vice-president, pointed out taht there are several litigants in the Ayodhya case, so the  position of any individual would have little bearing on it. He said, “Out-of-court settlement is a vague idea. In the past, several rounds of dialogues to resolve the Ayodhya dispute have failed, so there is no need to hold any further talks now.”

Zafaryab Jilani, convener of Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) ~ which had been a party to the Ayodhya dispute in the Allahabad High Court ~ brushed aside Ravi Shankar’s mediation bid as a “futile exercise”.

“The case is pending in the Supreme Court and the Muslims will accept its decision even if it goes against them. But we are sure truth will come out,” Jilani said. Amid allegations levelled by some quarters that the BJP-led central government might be behind Ravi Shankar’s mediation move, he charged that “Such attempts would favour the Narendra Modi government by deflecting public attention from its failures”.

The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), an umbrella body of nearly

a dozen Muslim organisations, said that any Ayodhya talk without the involvement of litigants concerned was “meaningless”. AIMMM president Navaid Hamid asked, “Some Muslim leaders might be engaged in this regard as their PR exercise. But, are they party to the dispute?”

The Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind (JUH) also dismissed any “out-of-court” bid, saying such efforts in the past had failed despite involvement of all the stakeholders. JUH president Maulana Arshad Madani said some “self-proclaimed Muslim leaders” engaged in Sri Sri-initiated dialogue process should first establish their mandate from the community on the Ayodhya issue.