"Taken Aback": Muslim Petitioners Reject "Leaked" Ayodhya Mediation Plan

According to sources that claimed to be familiar with mediation panel's report, the Sunni Board had offered to drop its claim to the disputed temple-mosque site in Ayodhya and also had no objection to a Ram Temple being built on that land

'Taken Aback': Muslim Petitioners Reject 'Leaked' Ayodhya Mediation Plan

Ayodhya judgement is expected before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi retires on November 17.

New Delhi:

After reports that the Sunni Waqf Board has offered to drop its claim to the disputed temple-mosque site in Ayodhya, a group of five lawyers representing Muslim petitioners have put out a statement denying that they had agreed to any such proposal to a mediation panel that submitted its report to the Supreme Court on Wednesday. In the detailed statement released today one of the lawyers, Ejaz Maqbool, who represented M Siddiq in the case, said Muslim parties, with the exception of the Waqf Board, had rejected the settlement plan suggested by a Supreme Court-appointed mediation panel that Shahid Rizvi, a lawyer for the Board, called a "win-win" for Hindus and Muslims.

"... we must make it absolutely clear that we the appellants before Supreme Court do not accept the proposal made which has been leaked out to the Press, nor the procedure by which the mediation has taken place nor the manner in which a withdrawal of the claim has been suggested as a compromise," the lawyers said in their statement.

Ejaz Maqbool, who said the Muslim litigants had been "taken aback by media reports attributed to Mr Shahid Rizvi", alleged the report had been "obviously leaked out either by the Mediation Committee or Nirvani Akhara which claim the right on the Mosque or others".

On Wednesday, sources claimed the Waqf Board, in addition to giving up its claim to the disputed site, also had no objection to a Ram Temple being built on the land. According to these sources the Board had apparently also offered to build a mosque at any other suitable place.

The lawyers have hit out at those claims, stating "recent attempts before Mediation Committee were not representative" and pointed out the "leaks" came on the day that the top court finished daily hearings on this politically sensitive matter.

"We are given to understand that when mediation began while the Supreme Court was hearing the matter without affecting the hearing, only the limited persons attended this mediation which were Dharma Das of Nirvani Akhara, Mr. Zufar Faruqui of Sunni Central Waqf Board and Mr. Chakrapani of Hindu Maha Sabha," they said in their statement.

"It is difficult to accept that any mediation could have been done under the circumstances especially when the main Hindu parties had openly stated that they were not open to any settlement and all the other Muslim Appellants made it clear, but, they would not do so," the lawyers wrote.

On Thursday, asked if Hindus and Muslims would be happy with the terms of the now disputed settlement, Shahid Rizvi had said: "It is a win-win situation for both Hindus and Muslims."

"We have given our views to the mediation panel but we can't disclose the details of the settlement plan which has been submitted to the court. It is a positive one and everyone - Hindus and Muslims - will be happy," Mr Rizvi told NDTV.

The mediation panel, comprising former Supreme Court judge FM Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, started consultations with various groups in March. Its report was submitted to the top court on Wednesday.

The judgement in this case is expected to be delivered before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi retires on November 17. On Sunday, the Uttar Pradesh government imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 in anticipation of the verdict.

Both Hindus and Muslims claim the land where the 16th century Babri mosque stood before it was brought down in December 1992 by Hindu activists who believed that it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram. The cataclysmic incident shook Indian politics and caused riots across the country.

With input from PTI