In a sharp reaction to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's rhetoric, the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board has launched a counter offensive against Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal as well as the VHP.
In a letter sent to the shankaracharya on Tuesday evening, board president Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadwi sought to make it loud and clear that the seer's formula to amicably resolve the Ayodhya dispute was "unjust".
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"Whatever proposals you had sent to the Board president were put before the working committee. Members of the working committee deliberated at length and came to the conclusion that the proposals were unacceptable to the Board as well as community members as they were unjust and against the Shariat and the rule of law," the letter said.
Moreover, contrary to the public assertions by different members of the board about its doors being open to a fresh proposal for a negotiated settlement, the letter makes no mention of such willingness.
But Maulana Nadwi has attached a copy of the four-page resolution adopted by the board's working committee in Lucknow on Sunday last, which authorises him "to deal with any proposal on the issue of the Babri Masjid", with the rider that such deliberation is consistent with the board's earlier resolutions of December 3, 1990, January 9, 1993, and March 10, 2002.
These resolutions not only rule out any compromise on the site of the demolished mosque, but also emphasise the need for a judicial solution to the vexed issue.
Refuting the VHP's charge that the AIMPLB had "insulted" the Hindu seer, the board's counsel, Zafaryab Jilani, said, "It is not we but the VHP which has indulged in ridiculing the shankaracharya by going about saying that since he is a Shaivite (worshipper of Shiva), the shankaracharya has no business to meddle in affairs relating to Ram."
Jilani said, "We have utmost regard for the shankaracharya and that was the reason the board gave him full respect and dignity."
He, however, refuted the shankaracharya's claim that he had no intention of issuing any "veiled threat". Quoting the contents of the board's resolution, he said, "The board puts on record with due respect to the shankaracharya that it looks upon the proposals contained in the letter dated July 1 as a thinly veiled threat to Muslims to submit and surrender themselves unconditionally to all the unreasonable demands made by the 'Sangh Parivar'."
Jilani said, "What appeared most objectionable in the seer's proposal was the fact that he wanted unilateral and unconditional donation of the Babri Mosque site. Apparently, the shankaracharya is not aware that the shariat does not permit any kind of sale or gift or any other transfer of a mosque site, which is treated as the property of Allah, the Almighty.
"What was worse was that the Kanchi seer did not mince words in virtually warning Muslims to be prepared to similarly give up their claims in Mathura and Kashi.
"The language used by the board in its resolution was dignified and did not in any way insinuate any kind of disrespect for the shankaracharya, whom we all hold in high esteem."