CHENNAI: The long-drawn legal battle on Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute has come to an end and Tamil Nadu played a key role in the issue, including efforts to find an amicable out of court settlement.
From the late Sankaracharya of Kanchi to the present-day Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living besides Subramanian Swamy, Justice Fakir Mohammed Ibrahim Kalifulla and an advocate Sriram Panchu were among those hailing from Tamil Nadu, who played a significant role in this issue.
From Ground Zero: Ayodhya stands up for communal amity after Supreme Court verdict
In early 1992, when Sri Jayendra Saraswathi took efforts to resolve the issue, Tamil Nadu assumed centre stage.
Before demolition of Babri Masjid, Jayendra Saraswathi was the only spiritual personality involved in the negotiations with the Muslim community at the behest of the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.
Moderates among Muslim community reposed faith in him for a fair solution to the dispute.
Jayendra Saraswathi’s first effort to broker peace among the contenders for disputed land at Ayodhya was in March, 2002 when AB Vajpayee was Prime Minister. All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s delegation met Sankara Mutt chief many times.
However, the efforts did not fructify due to many reasons. Though he continued the efforts to find a solution out of court during 2003 and 2004, they did not succeed as Muslim body believed that VHP, which took a hardline on the issue, was using Kanchi seer as its tool.
Another key leader from Tamil Nadu who had been involving himself in Ayodhya issue till now is Subramanian Swamy of BJP. In February 2016, Swamy filed a petition before the SC seeking early construction of Ram temple.
In March this year, after nearly 15 years, Tamil Nadu assumed centre stage when Supreme Court referred the land dispute to a panel headed by a retired judge of Supreme Court, FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, Sri Sri Ravishankar, and a senior advocate Sriram Panchu, all of them from Tamil Nadu. However, this team’s efforts also failed a few months ago.
At a time when most parts of India witnessed violent incidents after the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, Tamil Nadu remained calm by and large.
J Jayalalithaa was the then chief minister during her first tenure.
Just ahead of the demolition of Babri Masjid, participating in National Integration Council (NIC) meeting in New Delhi in November 1992, she spoke in support of building Ram temple at Ayodhya. She consistently supported the construction of the temple. She wondered if Ram temple could not be built in India where else could it be.
But, after the demolition of Masjid, she also came out strongly against the dismissal of BJP governments in Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.
However, when the then DMK president M Karunanidhi charged that Jayalalithaa had sent Kar Sevaks to Ayodhya, she denied it. When Babri Masjid was demolished, among other leaders, Jayalalithaa too condemned it.
She called for a 12-hour bandh to protest the demolition of Babri Masjid saying the destruction was in violation of court directives and aimed at undermining the country’s unity. The then DMK president M Karunanidhi, along with his allies gave a call for a bandh separately the same day.
In March 2017, Supreme Court suggested an out of court settlement for Ayodhya issue and Subramanian Swamy was asked to consult with the parties. However, the parties did not accept Swamy as a negotiator saying they did not want political interference.