The Supreme Court Friday ordered for mediation to find a solution to the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Mosque title suit dispute in eight weeks and named Art of Living (AoL) founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar among two others in the mediation panel.
It was in 2017 that Sri Sri first began the effort – thus far unsuccessful – to mediate between the disputing parties. The AoL founder toured Lucknow and Ayodhya to meet all the stakeholders in the dispute.
Sri Sri first met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow on November 15, 2017. Adityanath welcomed the talks and later told reporters, “Since the government isn’t party to the case, I have already told the stakeholders that if they can come to a final decision on the matter through dialogue, then the government is committed to fully back it. But if they can’t come to such a decision… if they can’t talk it out… then it is in the court… and we will obey whatever is the court’s decision.”
After meeting the CM, Sri Sri met RSS pracharak Mahirajdwaj Singh, Mahant Suresh Das of Ayodhya’s Digambar Akhara, BJP leader Vinay Katiyar and representatives of several other Muslim organisations. He also met Raja Ramachandracharya of Nirmohi Akhara, Swami Chakrapani of Hindu Mahasabha and Shiv Sena state chief Anil Singh in Lucknow.
The next day, on November 16, Sri Sri visited Ayodhya and said the only solution to the Babri Masjid-Ram temple dispute was to construct a grand temple with the cooperation of both Hindus and Muslims. “After 100 years, one particular community could think justice was not done… same issue could be raised again… If this issue has to be resolved forever, the only solution is that a grand temple is
constructed with the cooperation of both communities… This dream could be made true. There is generosity, love and bhaichara among the people of communities and youths in the country,” he had said.
Sri Sri also said he was not offering any solution and has not come to Ayodhya with an agenda or formula. “I am visiting Ayodhya with an open mind, to give a platform for everybody to come and discuss their strategy. I have come with a hope that this could be done through dialogue.”
Explained: The three mediators in the Ayodhya dispute
That day, Sri Sri met Ram Janmabhoomi Nyashead Nritya Gopal Das, land dispute case plaintiff Iqbal Ansari, sants of Nirmohi Akhara and Haji Mehboob, the litigant in the Babri demolition case.
Sri Sri with Nritya Gopal Das held a meeting where saints opined that the Ram Janmabhoomi movement should not be diverted and temple should be constructed only under the leadership of Nyas.
After the meeting, Das said, “He (Sri Sri) said an agreement should be reached in an atmosphere of harmony.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CM Yogi Adityanath will find a solution, he quoted Sri Sri as saying.
Ansari had maintained that the issue could not be resolved through dialogue and only the Supreme Court could settle it.
Haji Mehboob had said: “I told him (Sri Sri) I am not against his initiative and the temple. But the disputed site should be left for a mosque and the temple should be built elsewhere.”
After those meetings, Sri Sri had also said: “Muslims by and large are not opposed to Ram temple.”
The next day, the AoL head met Sunni cleric Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali in Lucknow. After meeting him, he said that unlike any court verdict, a solution that comes from people’s hearts will be recognised for ages.
“We both agree that we have to build bridges. There is really no conflict between the communities. We have been living together for centuries and we have to create an atmosphere of friendliness and togetherness,” he said.
He also said that courts cannot resolve the issue and that a solution should come from our hearts.
“Adalat ko hum sab maante hain..adalat ka bahut samman hai..par adalat dilon ko nahin jod sakta..aage..abhi nahin.. 50 saal baad, 100 saal baad.. adalat ka faisle… adalat ka faisle hi rahega.. magar yadi hum logon ke dil se ek faisla nikle…uski mannyata sadiyon tak rahegi,” he had further said.
During his meeting with Mahali at the Islamic Centre of India in Aishbagh Eidgah, Sri Sri urged Mahali to speak to other Muslim clerics, prominent persons of the Sunni sect and also members of the Sunni Waqf Board to find a way to hold dialogue of all stakeholders.
Mahali, who is also a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), assured Sri Sri that he would speak to the people of the community but a consensus within the community would be needed before holding a meeting with opposition parties.
At a meeting of All India Sant Samiti held in Delhi in November last year, Sri Sri said there were three possible ways forward in the matter – that of dialogue; an appeal to the Supreme Court seeking an early verdict; or of making a request to the government.