Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s initiative to resolve the Ayodhya issue today hit a road block with former BJP MP Ram Vilas Vedanti rejecting the move and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Babri Action Committee opposing an out of the court settlement. The Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar does not qualify to mediate on the matter as he has never been associated with the movement, Vedanti, who has been associated with the Ram Temple movement, told newspersons here. “How can someone who has never been associated with the movement and never had darshan of the Ram Lalla mediate on the matter of temple construction…we have gone to jail for it, faced house arrest and have been fighting court cases …Sri Sri does not qualify to mediate on the matter,” Vedanti said. “We want Muslim religious leaders to come forward. We will sit together and discuss the issue…We want Hindus and Muslims together to find a solution to the dispute and that temple is constructed on the basis of mutual agreement,” he said. Vedanti said the Ram Temple movement has been led by the Ram Janmbhoomi Nyas and Vishva Hindu Parishad and these two organisations should get an opportunity to hold dialogue on the issue. The Art of Living Foundation had said last week that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been in touch with several imams and swamis, including Acharya Ram Das of Nirmohi Akhara, to help find an out-of-court settlement to the Ram Temple dispute.
The AIMPLB too said they do not favour arbitration and the dispute can only be settled through adjudication. AIMPLB member and Convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee Zafaryab Jilani denied that any of their authorised representatives met the Art of Living founder for an out of the court negotiated settlement of the Ayodhya dispute. “The Ayodhya dispute cannot be settled by arbitration. We will never withdraw our claim on the land in Ayodhya where once the Babri mosque stood and demolished on December 6, 1992. “If Sri Sri Ravishankar wants to mediate on this issue then he should send a formal proposal to the AIMPLB,” Jilani said. “If some individual members of the board did meet the Art of Living founder, it doesn’t represent what AIMPLB stands by. The position of the board is very clear on this and that the solution is possible only through adjudication and not mediation. There has been no attempt by the board to meet Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,” he said. “We have 251 members in AIMPLB and many of them are from Bangalore. But the AIMPLB did not authorise anybody to negotiate on its behalf,” he clarified against the backdrop of reports that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been in touch with several imams and swamis, including Acharya Ram Das of Nirmohi Akhara, to help find an out-of-court settlement.
The AIMPLB wields considerable power and influence in the Muslim community, which is represented by the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board. The Board is not a direct party to the dispute. There are about a dozen contestants in the court case, with six each from both the communities. The title suit, however, is being fought between the Nirmohi Akhara and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board. Babri Action Committee member Haji Mehboob said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had “never talked with us nor had he sent us any message.” The Allahabad High Court, in 2010, had ruled a three-way division of the disputed 2.77-acre area at Ayodhya among Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Lord Ram Lalla. The oldest Hindu litigant, Mahant Ram Das of the Nirmohi Akhara, however, said they were ready for talks but refused to budge from their stated positions. “We are ready to talk to anyone for peaceful and early construction of Ram temple on the disputed side, but we won’t accept construction of any mosque in the disputed acquired area or near it,” he said.
Khaliq Ahmad Khan, nominee of Maulana Fazlurrahman, who is a party to the case, said that Muslims have always welcomed efforts towards negotiations in Ayodhya issue. “But before starting talks, the mediator must make it very clear in his mind that we will talk of mosque also,” he told PTI. Iqbal Ansari, who replaced his father Hashim Ansari as litigant in the case after his death, said, “It is a good move by Ravi Shankar, but we will talk on Babri Masjid also”. “He must have some solution for our demand also,” he said. Ansari said Ravishankar must make it clear as to “with which Hindu party we have to sit for the negotiations”.