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Ayodhya dispute: Mahant Gyan Das questions Sri Sri locus standi

Sadiq Naqvi | Updated on: 20 November 2017, 20:53 IST
(AFP PHOTO/Farooq Naeem)

The Shia Waqf Board, the latest to enter the Ayodhya Ram Temple-Babri Masjid dispute, has proposed that a temple be built in Ayodhya and a mosque in Lucknow.

This comes amid efforts to mediate for an out-of-court settlement by Sri Sri Ravishankar of the Art of Living Foundation. His efforts have evoked angry reactions from various sections including Mahant Gyan Das, the chief of the Hanuman Garhi in Ayodhya, who called it “an exercise for personal benefits,” and a “drama” which will not achieve anything.

“Either the Supreme Court should appoint somebody to talk to all parties for talks or Prime Minister Narendra Modi should depute someone,” he says.

Meanwhile, Waseem Rizvi, the Chairperson of the UP Shia Waqf Board says he will approach the Supreme Court with this proposal on 5 December, the day the matter comes up for hearing in the apex court.

This development comes even as other Muslim groups, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which has been the most active group, remains opposed to any out-of-court settlement since the matter is already pending in the Supreme Court.

Rizvi, however, says that a mosque in Ayodhya will keep the issue alive and will not be in the long term interest of communal harmony. “A mosque should be built in a Muslim-dominated area outside Ayodhya. There are anyway few Muslims there,” he told Catch.

Mahant Gyan Das of the Hanuman Garhi who had been trying to mediate in the dispute in the past says Shia Waqf Board is entitled to its opinion on the matter. “Ayodhya as so many mosques. There can be more. But what is the need to call it Babri Mosque?” he asks.

The Hanuman Garhi chief, however, was unsparing in his criticism to the efforts of Sri Sri Ravishankar. “Is there a point to these efforts when the matter is now in the final stages in the Supreme Court,” Gyan Das asks.

Gyan Das says that there have been efforts in the past to come to an understanding on the dispute. But the Vishwa Hindu Parishad scuttled those plans even when most parties had agreed to it. “Only two parties were against that plan,” he says. He refused to share the details of the plans but called Ravishankar’s entry into the dispute as a “conspiracy.”

Ravishankar is there for personal gains, Gyan Das says. “He wants to shore up his image in the eyes of the government,” the Mahant claims. “The time for an out-of-court settlement is over,” he says.

Looking for a resolution

Sri Sri Ravishankar, who is also involved in talks with insurgents groups in the Northeast and has been to the Kashmir Valley too in the past where he met Muzaffar Wani, the father of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani killed by the security forces in an encounter, claims that a solution through talks to all stakeholders is the best option for all sides.

"Even after 100 years, the judgements of courts will remain but if we find a solution through our hearts, it will be recognised through the ages," Ravi Shankar told media last week.

"We accept that it is a little late for such efforts but we want that the issue should be resolved soon," Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said.

In the last few days he has held talks with different sections including Maulana Kharid Rashid Firangimahli, member of the All India Personal Law Board even when the AIMPLB had refused to meet him. Ravishankar also met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat recently.

Gyan Das says, “Yeh aadambar hai (this is just frippery).”

First published: 20 November 2017, 20:53 IST