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Muslim leaders rule out further talks with shankaracharya

Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad | June 09, 2003 18:16 IST

The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board today denied that any Muslim religious leader is talking to Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal, shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, on Ayodhya, or that anyone is ready to hand over the site of the Babri Masjid for constructing a Ram temple.

The AIMPLB also ruled out further talks with the shankaracharya and said he could no longer be considered a mediator. "He has now taken a partisan stand in favour of the temple and against the mosque," the board pointed out.

Moulana Abdul Raheem Qureshi, AIMPLB secretary, and spokesman Dr Sayeed Qasim Rasool Ilyas blamed the shankaracharya for closing the door on talks by describing the reconstruction of the Babri Masjid at its original site as impossible.

Reacting to the shankaracharya's remarks in New Delhi yesterday that 90 per cent of Muslim leaders are ready to hand over the mosque land for the temple, they said, "It is a baseless and misleading statement, which is not befitting a respected religious figure like the shankaracharya."

They sought to know who the Muslim leaders or individuals are to whom the shankaracharya is talking. "As far as we know, not a single respected Muslim organisation or important individual is talking to him," Ilyas remarked. "If he is talking to people like Shahnawaz Hussain and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, he should know that they do not represent the community."

Qureshi said the shankaracharya's latest stand was in sharp contrast to the stance he had taken a year ago in talks with the board. "At that time he had told us that the court verdict must be accepted by both parties and the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas will give him an undertaking that if the court verdict is in favour of the Muslims, they will not create any problems in the way of reconstruction of the mosque," he recalled.

Ilyas, however, said the shankaracharya's efforts from the beginning were aimed at paving the way for a Ram temple and not at finding a just solution. "He was always supporting the cause of the temple, but we did not want to suspect his intentions," he said. "But now he has come out openly and such a person cannot be a mediator."

The board officials said that now a court verdict is the only way left to resolve the dispute. "The people should understand it clearly that a negotiated settlement is not possible and only the court can resolve this issue," Ilyas said.

"We are very clear that we will accept the final verdict of the court even if it is against us," Qureshi added. "It is a question of justice, the Constitution, and the law. Let the law take its own course."

The board officials felt the shankaracharya had raked up the issue at this juncture to help the Bharatiya Janata Party in the forthcoming assembly elections in four northern states and in next year's general elections.

Commenting on the shankaracharya's statement that then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao had done a 'virtuous deed' by allowing the installation of an idol at the site of Babri Masjid, Qureshi said this only confirmed what the board had been saying for the past 11 years. "It was impossible for anybody to demolish the mosque without the involvement of the central government," Ilyas said.

On the allegation of some karsevaks that Lal Kishenchand Advani, now deputy prime minister, had provoked them to demolish the Babri Masjid, Qureshi said this was the clearest evidence yet of Advani's involvement and demanded that he resign immediately. "He does not have any moral right to remain in the ministerial chair," he observed.

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