The Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board today said it would prepare a draft proposal for a peaceful settlement of the Ayodhya dispute by December 6, the day the Babri Mosque was demolished in 1992. Board Chairman Wasim Rizvi, who has made public his opinion that a Ram temple should be built at the site, said he would visit Ayodhya this month to meet seers and mahants. “I have already discussed terms and conditions with many of them and some petitioners for the draft proposal for agreement to settle the dispute mutually,” Rizvi told PTI. “By December 6, I hope we will be able to prepare our draft proposal for a mutual agreement,” he said. Rizvi last month met Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Bangalore and apprised him of the Board’s stand on a Ram temple at the site. The Board does not want a mosque constructed at the site. Instead, it should be constructed elsewhere in a Muslim- populated area, he has said. In 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled a three-way division of the disputed 2.77-acre area between the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Lord Ram Lalla. Rizvi, however, was of the view that partition of the disputed land in Ayodhya would not be a “practical idea” and would not be “peaceful and long lasting”.
He did not divulge the contents of the draft he was preparing but said he would convene a meeting of the Waqf Board to get consent of the members before moving ahead on it and making it public. The Shia Central Waqf Board has impleaded itself as a party in the Ayodhya case by submitting a 30-page affidavit to the Supreme Court on August 8 this year. It has staked claim to the Babri mosque, maintaining that it was a Shia mosque. Rizvi, who claims to be authorised by the Board to move ahead on the issue, said the number of mosques in Ayodhya was sufficient for the Muslims residing there and there was no need for a new mosque.
He said that those demanding construction of a mosque at Lord Ram’s birthplace, or near it, only wanted to prolong the dispute. “The demolished mosque belonged to the Shia Waqf and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has no right to decide on it. Only the Shia board has the right to decide,” Rizvi has said earlier. About his meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, he said he had conveyed his intentions to him, adding that the initiative for the out-of-court settlement would strengthen Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. In a bid to resolve Ayodhya issue, Ravi Shankar reportedly met Nirmohi Akhara leaders and Muslim law board members recently.
Though the AIMPLB is not a party in the case, it wields considerable influence as the apex Islamic body on religious and personal matters. AIMPLB member and Convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) Zafaryab Jilani has denied that any of its authorised representatives met the Art of Living founder for an out-of-court settlement. “The Ayodhya dispute cannot be settled through arbitration. We will never withdraw our claim to the land in Ayodhya where once the Babri mosque stood and was demolished on December 6, 1992,” Jilani has said.