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RSS-Jamiat talks on Ayodhya on Wednesday

Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi | January 13, 2004 21:50 IST
Last Updated: January 14, 2004 11:37 IST

Top leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind are meeting on Wednesday to discuss a formula to solve the Ayodhya temple-mosque row.

This is the second direct meeting between the RSS and Jamiat on the issue.

The 16th century mosque in the temple town of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh was razed by Hindu zealots on December 6, 1992. Ultra-Hindu organisations believe an ancient Ram temple existed at the spot where the Babri Masjid was built.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, an umbrella organisation of about a dozen Muslim groups jointly fighting the legal and political battle on Ayodhya, had criticised the first meeting of Jamiat and RSS held secretly last month.

The meeting was attended by RSS leaders K S Sudarshan, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Ram Madhav. From Jamiat's side, Maulana Mahmood Madni, Niyaz Ahmed Faroqui and Abdul Hameed Nomani were present.

Sources said the meeting will be held at the Jamiat headquarters in Delhi on Wednesday.

"We are looking for a possible solution to solve the dispute. We are trying to find out a formula that satisfies both sides. There will be no loser or winner," said a leader involved in the negotiations.

Formed in 1919, Jamiat opposed the creation of Pakistan. It is also an important constituent of AIMPLB.

The first RSS-Jamiat meeting was held in Delhi's Inter Continental Hotel on December 20 to discuss whether to talk on Ayodhya or not. A third party arranged the meeting, sources said.

The Muslim board had criticised the meeting saying Jamiat had no right to negotiate unilaterally on the Ayodhya issue.

"We have started from Jamiat because it is a very progressive group among Muslims. It is part of the Muslim board and Jamiat leaders are trying to convince the board members on the issue. We are optimistic about the talks," the source said.

Jamiat spokesman Abdul Hameed Nomani said: "Yes, we are meeting RSS leaders but it is not only on Ayodhya. It involves talks on various issues like misconception on various aspects of Islam. We are giving them the true picture of Islam."

He said a new formula to solve the crisis may be mooted but it should be put forward by the RSS. "We will not propose any formula of our own. We also welcome the statement by the other side that they would abide by the court's verdict," he said.

Without giving the date of the second meeting, Nomani said: "It will happen soon."

Rejecting the criticism by the Muslim board, he said: "It has been decided by our working committee that we will continue with the talks."

Nomani said the talks have nothing to do with the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing the press last week, Bharatiya Janata Party president Venkaiah Naidu had said: "Ayodhya is not an issue (for the polls)."

Sources said the idea of bringing the Jamiat and the RSS leaders across the table came up during the visit of Pakistan's leader of Opposition Maulana Fazlur Rehman to India three months ago. He was invited by the Jamiat.

"Since then, we were discussing Ayodhya with both the sides," the source involved in fixing up the meeting said claiming that the initiative had full backing of the government.

"We have also consulted prominent Muslim and Hindu leaders from across the country. We are getting positive signals from most people."

Earlier, a similar initiative by a leading Hindu pontiff, Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati, to bring the Hindu and Muslim leaders together and find a possible solution of the Ayodhya dispute had failed twice.

The National Commission for Minorities' attempt to bring together leaders of both the communities had also failed.


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