BENGALURU: Spiritual leader and founder of Bengaluru-based Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who was part of the Supreme Court-appointed mediation panel on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue, told The New Sunday Express, the verdict has brought a closure to a long-festering dispute of history. That it holds a message of reconciliation: “The judgment has done justice to both communities,” he said in the interview. Excerpts:
From Ground Zero: Ayodhya stands up for communal amity after Supreme Court verdict
Your reaction to the apex court verdict?
It is a historic judgment when all five judges have unanimously come to the conclusion and given a verdict which would please both communities. It has removed the bone of contention, which has been looming for a long period in the history of India.
The mediation committee of which you were a part, played an important role by preparing the ground. Your comments?
Yes, it was a big task for the mediation committee. We had to sit 8-10 hours each day and listen to all the parties. We had to listen to about 25 parties and bring them on the same page. It was an enormous task. The atmosphere by the end had become very cooperative, although initially they were not ready for it. But as time progressed, there was harmony and goodwill among all the parties. And the judgment we have got today more or less confirms that attitude.
Do you think the verdict brings a closure to the long-pending dispute?
Yes, it has. By the end of the mediation, the parties started worrying about the repercussions their opposing parties would have if the judgment was not in their favour. This is something unheard of, that you worry about the losing party. Both parties were worried about the fate of the losing party. This is a great achievement of the mediation panel.
Some people have expressed displeasure over the judgment. Your views?
It is a small minority of people whose existence depends on the opposition. It is the same people who said they would accept the SC verdict and opposed mediation. Now they are opposing the Supreme Court itself. I think nobody can change them.
This is the reason the plaintiff, Sunni Waqf Board, came out in support of the judgment, while the person claiming to be their lawyer is opposing it. In this whole episode, All India Muslim Personal Law Board has no role to play because it was never party to the dispute. Even before the SC judgment, when I was espousing an out-of-court settlement, some people vehemently opposed it. They tried all they could to derail the process.
What is your suggestion to the central government on the next course of action?
If they ask me for suggestions, then I will give them.