Babri: Shia board alters stance

Days before the Supreme Court is to begin a crucial hearing on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, the UP Shia Central Waqf Board, one of the parties in the litigation, has favoured shifting of the demolished mosque to bring about closure to the vexed dispute.

The Shia Board has said the mosque can be constructed away from the disputed land, a move that marks a dramatic shift in stand, and which it says can end the 70-year-old legal battle.The board also suggested a high-level panel, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, to settle the dispute.

It pleaded with the court to appoint the committee, which could include two retired Allahabad high court judges, the chief minister of UP and a nominee of the PM, besides the representatives of litigating parties. The board, in its affidavit filed in the SC, submitted that the mosque be relocated from the “most revered place of birth of Maryada Purushottam Sri Ram“ to a nearby Muslim-dominated area to conclude the dispute over the 2.77 acres of land which houses a makeshift temple of Ram Lalla.

The Shia stand is, however, likely to pit the board against the Sunni Waqf Board. While Sunnis comprise a majority of Muslims in India, the decision of a section of the community represented through the Shia Waqf board is significant. This is the first time that the religious board has favoured shifting the mosque. Taking potshots at the Sunni Waqf Board, the Shia Board said in its affidavit that the Sunni Central Waqf Board should not be involved in exploring peaceful settlement of the dispute as “it is under the dominant control of hardliners, fanatics and non-believers in peaceful coexistence, who have absolutely no stakes in the case“. The Shia Board said: “It is of the view that closeness of place of worships -Masjid and Mandir -of the two litigating denominations should be avoided in as much as both denominations using loudspeakers tend to disturb the religious performances of each other, often leading to conflicts, bringing acrimony between the two factions. The answering respondent is of the view that to bring quietus, Masjid can be located in a Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the most revered place of birth of Maryada Purushottam Sri Ram.“ The affidavit was filed by advocate M C Dhingra.

The Shia Waqf Board, along with the Sunni Waqf Board, has been fighting a legal battle since 1945 claiming ownership of Babri Masjid and the HC gave its verdict in favour of the Sunni Board when it divided the disputed plot three ways between the board, Ram Lalla and Nirmohi Akhara.

The Allahabad HC order came on September 30, 2010. The verdict was immediately challenged by different parties before the SC but no progress has been made in the case so far and it is pending since 2010. Agreeing to grant an early hearing, the SC has posted the case to August 11. The Shia Waqf Board said in its affidavit that out-of-court settlement should be explored to end the dispute.

No comments: