A local effort to untie the Ayodhya knot

    By Mohit Dubey, IANS,

    Ayodhya/Lucknow : A temple where Ram idol is kept and a mosque barely few hundred metres away. This is the crux of a solution that a retired high court judge is working on to resolve the simmering five-decade old Ayodhya religious dispute. But there are few takers.

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    Palok Basu, retired Allahabad High Court (HC) judge, has been trying for the last one year to thrash out a solution.

    Basu’s efforts, seen as leading a move of Ayodhya residents, talk of construction of a Ram temple at the place where ‘Ram lalla’ (idol of Lord Ram) is kept under a tentage and a simultaneous construction of a mosque a few hundred metres away.

    The problem is that except a handful of supporters, who do not belong to either religious camp, the plans of the former judge have not found favour with the parties involved in the dispute.

    VHP spokesman Sharad Sharma criticised Basu’s “unwanted intervention” and said the former high court judge stayed in the Sangam city but had a “penchant of poking a finger in the Ram temple issue every now and then, without any reason or logic”.

    “Some weeks back he had said he will get a signed petition of 10,000 people and submit it before the Supreme Court. But nothing has happened so far. He keeps on with this flip flops all the time. No one takes him seriously,” Sharma told IANS.

    Vinay Katiyar, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and one of the accused in the the Babri demolition case, said Basu did not himself know what he was seeking to get.

    “Basu babu ko khud nahin pata hai wo kya chahte hain, roz naya shigufa chodte hain, kabhi maszid to kabhi mandir ki baat karte hain, ye saara khel Congress ke kehne par ho raha hai hai” (Mr Basu does not know what he is doing, sometimes he talks of mosque and some times of a temple, I know this whole game has been scripted by the Congress), Katiyar told IANS.

    Zafaryab Jilani, convener of the Babri Action Committee and now Uttar Pradesh additional advocate general, also feels efforts of Justice Basu were not only “an exercise in futility but also unwarranted”.

    “We are not even listening to what Mr Basu is trying to do or suggest but he should know that a mosque built at one place cannot be shifted elsewhere. In any case the matter is sub-judice and we will welcome what ever decision the apex court takes in this matter,” Jilani told IANS.

    Commenting on the efforts being made by Basu in thrashing out an out-of-court solution to the contentious issue, senior Congress leader and Gandhi family loyalist Pramod Tiwari says any efforts were only wastage of time and energy.

    “One must realize that efforts have been made in the past but to no avail. The matter is before the Supreme Court and it will decide on it,” he said.

    Local leaders cite the Sep 30, 2010 verdict of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court where the court had tri-furcated the 67-acre land, since acquired by the union government, between ‘Ram Lalla’, Nirmohi Akhara (an organisation of Hindu savants) and the Muslims. This verdict was followed by a slew of petitions in the apex court.

    Sole surviving petitioner Hashim Ansari had also ruled out any concession to the Hindus and went ahead with a writ petition.

    Ever since the Supreme Court stayed the verdict May 2011, efforts were undertaken by Basu to get the dispute settled “amicably and peacefully”.

    The plan, sources say, has the backing of locals. They have since signed a petition seeking settlement of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute through talks, without any external interference, by residents of Faizabad and Ayodhya and with a holistic approach.

    (Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])