LUCKNOW: The Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who is on a ‘mediation mission’ over the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid tangle pending in the Supreme Court, met Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday amid mixed opinions over his efforts. The CM welcomed his initiative but stakeholders trod a cautious path, sources said.
The meeting at Adityanath’s residence, which lasted about 40 minutes, came through as the spiritual leader ramped up his efforts to mediate in the dispute and asserted that he would meet “all stakeholders” to find an amicable out-of-court settlement. He will visit Ayodhya on Thursday to meet a cross-section of people from both communities.
Sources said Sri Sri had not come with any concrete formula to the chief minister. But Adityanath supported the mediation move, saying that though the UP government was not a party in the litigation, a consensus out-of-court solution would be the best option. “It will help keep the state and both communities together with amity and communal harmony,” Adityanath said.
Sri Sri conveyed to the CM that he had stepped up his efforts after people from both communities, including some Muslim clerics and leaders and seers of Nirmohi Akhada (one of the parties in the case), met him in Bengaluru recently and invited him to Ayodhya to hold talks. In October, UP Shia Waqf Board chief Wasim Rizvi had met the spiritual guru in Bengaluru. Rizvi had claimed that his meeting with the spiritual leader was “ very positive”.
But this mediation bid has failed to cut much ice with stakeholders. While the Muslim parties involved in the litigation rejected the move saying they would only accept the Supreme Court’s order and would never relinquish their claim on the disputed land, Hindu saints and seers took the efforts of Sri Sri with a pinch of salt.“I wonder why Sri Sri is approaching the UP CM as the state government is not a party in the issue. We have made our stand very clear to him right in the beginning,” said Zafaryab Jilani, convenor of the Babri Masjid Action Committee. Jilani is representing the Sunni Waqf Board in the case.
Jilani, who is also a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, turned down Sri Sri’s invitation to meet him, saying there was no point in doing so. No Muslim body but the Central Sunni Waqf Board has a stake in the case.
The Muslim community seems widely divided over the efforts to resolve the imbroglio. Senior Shia cleric Yasoob Abbas has rejected the Shia Waqf Board chief’s role in any negotiation, saying he does not represent the popular sentiment of the community.
Senior cleric and Imam of Lucknow Idgah, Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahli, said Muslims were awaiting the SC verdict and no other option was under consideration.