Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow on Wednesday, ahead of his visit to Ayodhya tomorrow. The Art of Living founder who is involved as a mediator in the Ram Mandir- Babri Masjid dispute had earlier said that he has no agenda and that he would meet all the parties involved in the dispute.
In the “courtesy meeting” that lasted about 40 minutes at the CM’s residence, Ravi Shankar briefed Adityanath about his plan to bring a mutual consensus over the long-simmering debate. “As far as the Ayodhya issue is concerned, Adityanath’s stand is very clear. The state government is not a party. We welcome any settlement and will honour the decision of the court,” a senior state government official told PTI.
“I am hopeful… I am not disheartened. No one is opposed to amity. This is just a beginning, we will talk to all,” Ravi Shankar told the media. He also said that his discussions with the Chief Minister included “everything about how can we bring more peace in the nation, in the country, and the welfare of farmers and cleanliness and many other issues”. He also said that he has got no proposals from any side. “Neither I have given any proposal nor have I got it from anyone,” he said.
Governor says Supreme Court’s decision to be binding
Expressing hope that Ravi Shankar’s efforts might turn successful, Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik, however, stressed that the decision by the Supreme Court would be final. “This (mediation) kind of effort is being made by those who believe it will help resolve the issue at the earliest. I wish their efforts bear fruit. But the apex court’s final verdict will be binding,” Naik said. The Supreme Court had earlier this year suggested amicably resolving the issue by taking all concerned parties on board. The court in its observation had said that issues of “religion and sentiments” can be best resolved through talks.
However, not many are happy with the Ravi Shankar’s involvement in the issue. Various Muslim organizations have expressed their reservations, saying that the spiritual guru should first disclose his plan.
“It is being said that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is talking to all the stakeholders in the case but he has not yet contacted the top leadership of the All India Muslims Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) which is leading the Muslim side,” AIMPLB general secretary Maulana Wali Rehmani told PTI. He also claimed, “About 12 years ago, Sri Sri had made a similar move and had concluded that the disputed site be handed over to Hindus…what new formula he has found this time should be disclosed.”
The leaders also raised an objection to the statements made by Shia Central Waqf Board chairman Wasim Rizvi. Rejecting Rizvi’s stand that a temple should be built on the site, Rehmani said that the chairman of any board does not have the power to hand over any disputed site to any party. “If Rizvi’s logic is that Mir Baqi, who got the Babri mosque constructed, was a Shia then also it (mosque) was made for all Muslims,” Rehmani said.
Rizvi, who had met Sri Sri earlier this year had said that the Shia Central Waqf Board does not want any mosque on the site and that it is drafting the terms and conditions of a mutual agreement. Claiming that there were enough mosques in Ayodhya for Muslims, Rizvi yesterday said, “It was amicably decided that no new mosque would be built in Ayodhya or Faizabad and the Shia Waqf board will identify a piece of land in a Muslim-dominated area and inform the government.”
Shia Personal Law Board spokesman Maulana Yasoob Abbas refused to comment on Rizvi’s statements but said his board was with the AIMPLB on the matter. Babri Masjid Action Committee convenor Zafaryab Jilani, meanwhile, said that while Rizvi might be the chairman of the Waqf Board, he had no standing in the court of law. He also added that in case Ravi Shankar had any proposal other than rejecting the claim of the Muslim side, the meeting of the executive committee would be convened to discuss it. He also expressed his reservations over the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s objections to the mediation process.
VHP says no mediation needed, temple will be built on the site
VHP spokesman Sharad Sharma ruled out the need for any kind of dialogue over the Ram Temple row saying that archaeological evidence in the matter was in favour of the Hindus and that the courts go by proof.
“The Ram Janmbhoomi belongs to the Hindus and they need not beg anyone for it…the Muslims should themselves take the writ petition back as they had stated in the affidavit in the court. The VHP is keeping an eye on the activities of those involved in the activities for an agreement…It was a temple in Ayodhya and will remain as one…the only work remaining to be done is to give it a grandeur which will be done through Parliament,” he said.
In a jibe against the spiritual guru, Sharma added, “Even those who have no contribution in the movement are leading the campaign for striking an agreement. The VHP respects Sri Sri Ravi Shankar but he should know that efforts in this regard in the past, in which prime ministers, governments, and Shankaracharya were also involved, failed to give any result.”
VHP Joint General Secretary Surendra Jain said the issue of constructing a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya can never be resolved through talks. “This is not for the first time that Sri Sri has taken this initiative. In 2001, he made attempts but failed. The reaction to his efforts was the same as today. Somebody is calling him an agent of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi while another is dubbing him a VHP agent. In fact, he is being insulted,” Jain told IANS. “A way out cannot be found through talks. We doubt his (Sri Sri’s) efforts will succeed.”
(With inputs from agencies)