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AIMPLB rejects Kanchi seer's proposals

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | July 07, 2003 00:19 IST

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board on Sunday rejected Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Sarawati's proposals for resolving the Ayodhya issue.

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AIMPLB vice-president Maulana Kalbe Sadiq told rediff.com the seer had sent two proposals to the Board. The first one wanted the Muslims to 'gift' the disputed site at Ayodhya to the Hindus and second wanted the Muslims to give up their 'claim' on the Kashi and Mathura sites, he said.

He said the Board decided to reject both the proposals, especially in the context of 'unfortunate' statements issued by the Kanchi seer on Saturday.

The Kanchi seer reportedly said in an interview: "There is no need for another mosque in Ayodhya, where there were eight mosques already."

But Sadiq added the Board has not closed the door for talks on the Ram Temple issue. He added that a Board's committee would meet the Shankaracharya shortly to suggest its formula for resolution of the issue.

Sadiq said the seer's first letter to AIMPLB chairman Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadvi was encouraging, but his second letter received on Saturday in response to some clarifications sought by Nadvi, was disappointing.

It appeared that the seer wrote the second letter under pressure from the Sangh Parivar and the VHP, he said without elaborating.

Many hardliners who were opposed to AIMPLB chief Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadwi's decision to put up the seer's proposal for debate before the Board's highest decision-making body felt 'vindicated' by the Shankaracharya's reported remarks.

"The Shankaracharya's statement clearly showed how he was working under the pressure of the Sangh Parivar, that had in any case also challenged the seer's authority to negotiate on behalf of 820 million Hindus of this country," said Banatwala.

Banatwala, who is also the president of Indian Muslim League, even went to the extent of terming the Shankaraharya's moves as 'political stunt'.

Another member Zafaryab Jilani, who apart from being the counsel for the Sunni Central Waqf Board and convenor of the Babri Masjid Action Committee, also took serious affront to the Shankaracharya's reported remarks.

"I find it strange the Shankaracharya was referring to the construction of some new mosque; perhaps he has not realised that Muslims are seeking reconstruction of the razed Babri Mosque," Jilani said.

In the morning, the 41-member executive of the Board met at the Dar-ul-uloom Nadwatul Ulema, the Lucknow based internationally acclaimed centre for Islamic studies, to discuss the seer's proposals. Thirty-nine of the members rejected the seer's proposal.

"Such proposals are not just and reasonable and are totally inconsistent with the honour, dignity and self respect of the Muslims and the same cannot therefore be accepted," said the resolution passed after the meeting.

What seemed to irk the Board members most was the alleged 'one-sided' approach adopted by the Shankaracharya. According to them, the seer stressed only on construction of the temple, while completely ignoring the question of reconstruction of the  Babri Masjid.

Reading out the four-page resolution, at a crowded press conference in the evening, Board secretary Yusuf H Muchala, who is also a Supreme Court advocate, even went to the extent of accusing the Shankaracharya of issuing veiled threats to Muslims.

In this regard he sought to draw the attention of the media to the contents of the second letter sent by the Kanchi seer to the Board president Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadwi, who was also present at the press conference together with a host of the members.

The contents, seen as 'veiled threat', went as follows, 'Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya  -- all three belong to the Hindus. Keeping in mind the larger interest of the country and communal harmony, if not today, but at some time or other, these places have to be given to the Hindus. The Muslims have to mentally prepare themselves for this.'

Maulana Abdul Rahim Quraishi further charged the Kanchi seer of also changing tack. "Way back in March 2002, when the Shankaracharya wrote to the Board president, he stressed on the need for both sides to abide by the court order," Quraishi said.

"However, in his renewed efforts for an out of court settlement in June 2003, he pleaded for the Board's no objection to construction of a temple on what he termed as undisputed and acquired land; but finally in his letter dated July 1, the Shankaracharya insisted on donation of the mosque land to Hindus for construction of the temple, since the earlier desired no objection would not be acceptable before the Supreme Court that had emphasised on maintenance of status quo," he added.

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