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24 Mar 2017

Ayodhya first round but without hawks

Piyush Srivastava, TT, Lucknow, March 23: Three people key to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute sat together in Ayodhya last evening with their supporters and began the process of an "out-of-court settlement", with the emphasis on "respecting the sentiments of both communities".
Among them were Ram Das, a priest from the Nirmohi Akhara, and Mohammad Iqbal, a plaintiff who is representing his late father and the first plaintiff, Hashim Ansari. Iqbal and the Nirmohi Akhara are parties to the land title suit, now pending with the Supreme Court.
The third was Mahant Gyan Das, head of the Hanuman Garhi in Ayodhya and former head of the Akhara Parishad, which represents two dozen organisations of sadhus in the country. He was there because of his stature.
Ansari, who died last year, and Gyan Das had prepared a formula in 2014 for an "amicable solution" of the dispute and sought an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to present it before him. They received no response to their letter.
According to their formula, a Ram temple was to come up at the 2.77-acre disputed site, and the Babri Masjid to be reconstructed at some other spot within the 67-acre compound.
Yesterday's meeting was held at Gyan Das's home, barely 200 metres from the disputed site, and was attended by more than 20 Hindu and Muslim residents of Ayodhya.
Iqbal told the meeting that his father would always say he didn't want Ram Lalla (child Ram) in a tent (the makeshift temple).
"He was pained to see the idols of Ram and Sita in a tent at the disputed site and wanted a temple there. But he and Gyan Das also wanted to rebuild the Babri Masjid somewhere nearby to instil confidence among the Muslim community," Iqbal said.
Ram Das supported Iqbal and Gyan Das, saying: "We want a solution without spilling a single drop of blood from any community. We shall keep holding similar meetings and bring the parties to the case on this platform to reach a solution soon."
The two other main parties to the case are the Sunni Central Wakf Board, which is receiving legal assistance from the Babri Masjid Action Committee, and Ram Lalla Virajman (the child Ram installed at the site), represented by Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Triloki Nath Pandey.
Several of the speakers recalled how Pandey, described as "friend of Ram Lalla Virajman (infant Ram)" in the title suit, has ruled out a Babri Masjid in Faizabad district, where Ayodhya is located. Zafaryab Jilani, counsel for the Sunni Central Wakf Board, has refused to accept this.
"We want them to understand the intricacies of the situation and desist from making vicious statements or demands," Gyan Das told The Telegraph.
He added: "The sants of Ayodhya don't want any politician to be involved in these discussions because the BJP leaders want to humiliate the minority community."
He accused BJP politician Subramanian Swamy, whom the apex court has allowed to intervene in the case, of "insulting" Muslims by saying they can build a Babri Masjid north of the river Saryu (which will take it out of Faizabad and into Gonda district).
In September 2010, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court had directed an equal division of the disputed 2.77 acres among the Sunni Central Wakf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and representatives of Ram Lalla Virajman.
A large number of petitions had challenged the verdict in the apex court, which had in May 2011 stayed the high court order, calling it "strange".
On Tuesday, when Swamy pleaded for urgent hearing of the matter, the Supreme Court suggested an out-of-court settlement on the basis of a "give a bit and take a bit" approach. Chief Justice J.S. Khehar offered apex court judges, including himself, as mediators.
Babri case
The Supreme Court today adjourned to April 7 the hearing of CBI's appeal challenging the discharge of BJP leader L.K. Advani and 12 others in the conspiracy case in the Babri Masjid demolition, after senior lawyer K.K. Venugopal, appearing for Advani, said he was preoccupied with some other cases.
A bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and R.F. Nariman, while granting the brief adjournment, asked the parties to the dispute to file their written submission by April 6 so that the court can expedite the hearing.

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