Waqf Board Was Ready To Vacate Claim On Ayodhya Land, Say Sources

The top court, which favoured the process of mediation to arrive at a solution to the decades old dispute, started day-to day hearings this week after the three-member team failed to make any headway.

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Waqf Board Was Ready To Vacate Claim On Ayodhya Land, Say Sources

The dispute involves 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya


Lucknow: 

One of the most prominent Muslim stakeholders in the Ayodhya case had agreed to let go of the disputed site, but due to paucity of time, the others could not be taken on board, sources told NDTV. Muslim clerics now say that a fresh mediation should be attempted alongside the day-to-day hearings of the Ayodhya title suit that are being conducted by the Supreme Court.

The top court, which favoured the process of mediation to arrive at a solution to the decades old dispute, started day-to day hearings this week after the three-member team failed to make any headway.

Sources told NDTV that the Sunni Central Waqf board -- the main Muslim litigant in the case -- told the court appointed three-member mediation panel that they were ready to withdraw their claim on the 2.77 acres of disputed land.

In return, the Waqf board wanted the court to ensure that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991, be implemented strictly. This law prohibits conversion of any place of worship. It also demands maintenance of the religious character of a place of worship as it existed on the day of Independence.

The Waqf board also wanted the top court to direct the Archaeological Survey of India to permit Namaz in mosques protected by them wherever possible.

Its other conditions included the repair of prominent mosques in Ayodhya and more help for the Muslim families that lost its members during the riots in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992.

Sources say the Waqf board did not even want an alternate plot of land for vacating its claim to the disputed site, as it felt that would mean striking a deal over a sacred space - an idea unacceptable to them.

Athar Hussain, the director of the Centre for Objective Research and Development, who was involved in counselling the Muslim parties involved in the mediation, told NDTV that to arrive at a solution, other parties who filed representative suits needed to be on board.

Principally, these were the Sunni Central Waqf Board and the Jamiyat Ulema-e-Hind.

Many of the eight Muslim litigants - four of them individuals -- had a flexible attitude to the question of vacating claim on the disputed land.

But due to lack of time, it was not possible to get everyone on the same page. "I feel very guilty that if we had got some more time, if the mediation process was extended by another week to 10 days, we could have met and convinced them about the formula," Mr Hussain said.

Many people involved in the litigation process, and those who observed it outside, say irrespective of which side the court verdict goes, the other side will feel humiliated and this could lead to violence. It was a sentiment also echoed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who was part of court-appointed mediation panel.

A big section of the Muslim clergy feels a fresh attempt should be made at mediation without disrupting the Supreme Court proceedings. Others question the time given by the Supreme Court for the mediation, asking how it was possible to come up with a successful mediation in such a short time.

"It is very much possible that mediation happens alongside a court hearing. If we could all decide this, maybe something can be worked out," said Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, a prominent Lucknow-based cleric.



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