Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar today welcomed the Supreme Court verdict on the decades-old Ayodhya dispute, terming it as a landmark decision that turned the page on one of the most contentious issues facing the country while fulfilling the dreams of many devotees. "This needs to be welcomed by one and all. It's good for both communities, it's for everybody, and it fulfils the dream of millions and millions of countrymen," he said.
Earlier today, a five-member constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had ruled that the disputed land in Ayodhya should be given to a government-run trust for constructing a temple. Acknowledging that the Babri mosque was illegally demolished in 1992, it also directed the government to allot a "suitable" piece of land elsewhere for the construction of a new religious structure.
While Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board lawyer Zafaryab Jilani termed the verdict as "unjust" and said that they will seek a review, others like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - who was one of the many mediators who tried to resolve the issue over the decades - dubbed it as a historic decision.
The spiritual leader told NDTV in an interview that though he had suggested a similar proposal during the mediation process, it was not accepted by everybody. "There were a few voices against any sort of settlement. Even today, a miniscule minority wants the conflict to continue, probably because it's some kind of a cash cow for them. This judgment has silenced all those voices. It's such a wonderful judgment, with all the five judges agreeing on it," he said.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar refused to comment on Zafaryab Jilani's claim that the verdict was "self-contradictory" in accepting the illegality of the mosque's demolition while still forming a government trust for the temple's construction. "The court will deal with whoever opposes the decision, but as far as I am concerned, the judgment was a good and fair one that kept in mind the sentiments, demands and requirements of both communities," he said in the interview.
According to him, the large number of stakeholders made mediating on the dispute difficult at the best of times. "Mediation usually happens between two parties, but here we had 25. Obviously, it was not possible for all of them to come on one page. But this verdict has put an end to all sorts of contentious issues," the spiritual leader told NDTV, adding that the country can look forward to moving ahead now.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had a word of praise for the people of the country, given that the verdict had elicited no extreme reactions. "There were no celebrations, no agitations. Everybody in the country, from our Prime Minister to religious leaders, called for peace and it went down well with the people. It is a great achievement that shows how resilient and harmonious our country is," he said.