LUCKNOW: Both sides to the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute by and large welcomed the chief justice of India's offer to mediate in it to bring about an "amicable settlement, but they differed in their interpretation of the nuances of Justice J S Khehar's exact remarks in court. While saffron leaders from the BJP and RSS saw it as an initiative towards an "out of court" settlement, groups arguing the Babri Masjid side of the case insisted that any settlement would have to bear the imprimatur of the Supreme Court.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) general secretary Maulana Wali Rehmani said the CJI's initiative is "the need of the hour" but added the nuanced proviso that "it is a question of the religious sentiments of both communities.”
Rehmani's views carry weight in two prominent seminaries -- Darul Uloom Deoband in Saharanpur and Nadtwatul-Uloom in Lucknow, both of which have time and again gone with the AIMPLB’s stand on the Babri Masjid issue.
Zafaryab Jilani, convenor of the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) and a senior lawyer who represents the Sunni Central Waqf Board, one of the main litigants in the case, also welcomed the CJI's move but added a pinch of salt. He felt that an out-of-court settlement is not possible given the lack of trust Muslims have for outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. However, he said he would support the chief justice's suggestion only if Justice Khehar himself played the role of the mediator.
Jilani also spelt out the conditions under which the proposed talks would have to be held. "The talks should involve only the two litigating sides. Those who are not party to the case should be kept away from this exercise.” Ideally, the talks should be held without any pre-conditions.
Other Muslim leaders in Lucknow were more guarded in their reaction to the latest development. Firangi Mahli, a leading Sunni cleric, sounded comparatively blasé about chief justice Khehar's offer of mediation. He said Muslims have never opposed a Ram temple in Ayodhya but any settlement ought to weight the sentiments of both communities equally. "We welcome the suggestion; however, all earlier initiatives remained infructuous. As the apex court has itself called it a sensitive and sentimental issue, it should decide the issue for us,” he maintained.
Other Muslim spokesman went further to discuss the possible options that might figure in talks. The national president of the Rashtriya Ulema Council, Maulana Aamir Rashadi Madni told New Indian Express that discussions are welcome provided they are honest and based on facts. ''If they want a temple to be built through goondaism, then we cannot help and they can go ahead. But yes, if they can talk facts and come for a discussion with honesty, then there is no problem in discussion.''
Asked to comment on the proposal to construct a grand mosque across the Sarayu river, Madni said angrily: "First, you forcibly take possession of my house in Delhi and then come up with a proposal of giving me another house in Bihar. Is that fair?''