A day before the negotiation panel constituted by the Supreme Court begins the process in Ayodhya, Muslim litigants in the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi title suit case reached Islamic Seminary Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow Tuesday where they held a meeting with the chairman and prominent office-bearers of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), and clerics.
AIMPLB chairman Maulana Rabey Hasan Nadwi is also the rector of the Islamic seminary. At the meeting, the litigants, who will be appearing before the panel to reach an amicable solution for the dispute, and others reportedly talked over the argument to be presented in favour of their case.
Iqbal Ansari, whose father Hashim Ansari was the oldest litigant in the case, representing his father after his death, said Hindu seers in Ayodhya have raised objection over Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar being in the panel and that should be considered. Others litigants present at the meeting included Mehboob Ali and Mahfuzur Rahman.
Babri Action committee convener Zafaryab Geelani, who is also a member of AIMPLB and a lawyer, AIMPLB general secretary Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani, Sunni cleric and AIMPLB member, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind’s Uttar Pradesh president Maulana Ashhad Rasheedi were present at the meeting.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Iqbal Ansari said, “Ravi Shankar ka virodh pehle Hinduon ne kiya hai, baad mein hum kar rahe hain… Hum Ayodhya mein rehte hain. Sadhuo ke saath mein rehte hain. Agar sant saath mein nahi hai, toh hum Ravi Shankar se koi baat nahi karenge (Ravi Shankar’s name was first opposed by the Hindus, now we are opposing it… We live in Ayodhya. If they (sadhus) are not with us, then we won’t talk to Ravi Shankar).”
Asked if he was opposed to Ravi Shankar being a mediator, Iqbal Ansari told The Indian Express over phone, “Hum toh yeh keh rahe hain ki hum court ka samman karte hain. Panel ka bhi samman karte hai, jo ki court ka hi banaya hua hai. Jab Ravi Shankar ka Ayodhya ke sant virodh kar rahe hain, toh baat kaise hogi? Humein virodh nahi hai (I am saying that we respect the court. We also respect the panel constituted by the Supreme Court. When Ravi Sankar’s appointment is being opposed by the seers in Ayodhya, how will a disucssion happen? We have no objection).”
“Panel jaise hi bana, Ayodhya ke santon ne Ravi Shankar ka virodh kiya (The moment the panel was formed, seers in Ayodhya opposed his name),” he said adding the seers of Hindu Mahasabha and Nirmohi Akhara are opposed to Ravi Shanker being in the panel.
“This is a 70-year-old issue. We want to settle it peacefully. We don’t want any conflict between the Hindus and Muslims. Harmony between the two communities should not be disturbed… We will first listen to what the panel says and will then decide what to do,” Ansari said.