Haji Mehboob, 77, is a well-known figure in Ayodhya for residents as well as the journalists who travel there every so often to report on the mandir-masjid dispute.
A member of the Aman Committee, he is held in high regard but his standing was not able to prevent the arson and looting that accompanied the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. He fled to a neighbouring village relatively untouched by the tension. His Ayodhya home is just a stone’s throw from what used to be the Babri Masjid.
Asked what prompted him to petition the Supreme Court at a time when the BJP was in a full majority in the Centre and L K Advani had been awarded the Padma Bhushan just hours earlier, he replied, “I believe that there is justice and I have full faith in the Supreme Court.
Woh bikaa nahi hai. We all saw what happened in the 2010 Ayodhya verdict in the high court, which was like a bandar baant (random lottery), a gumbad (dome) each being gifted to three parties. The judgment should have clearly stated whose title it was and who was in the right. The Supreme Court on the other hand was very rational and sensible. As far as this goes, I have made this appeal hoping that justice will be done, however late and whoever may be powerful or in power.”
Haji Mehboob recalls how he moved court even when Advani’s name had been removed from the list of accused, incidentally at a time when Advani was deputy PM and home minister. “Yes, we all saw what was made possible when he was the deputy PM and home minister and was suddenly freed of charges. Zafaryab Jilani and I appealed against it in 2003 and we got justice when he was made an accused again in 2005 and had to go to the Rae Bareli court. I am hopeful that things will work out. It is not about me but the injustice done to a whole set of people would be rectified and corrected.”
Haji Mehboob says courts are “the only way” ahead at a time when the government is controlled by those accused in this matter.
Notices having been issued, the petition is to be heard in three weeks, said his lawyer, M R Shamshad.