As the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case reaches the final stage in the Supreme Court, a group of Muslim intellectuals has called for a negotiated settlement to the case, including the option of gifting the disputed land at Ayodhya to Hindus even if the Muslim side were to win the legal title suit in the top court. The group calls themselves 'Indian Muslims for Peace' and includes intellectuals like former Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Lieutenant General Zameer Uddin Shah, who has served as the Deputy Chief of Army Staff.
"We have to face reality and I am a realist. Even if the court rules in favour of the Muslims, will it be possible to build a mosque there (at Ayodhya)? I think it's an impossibility. Seeing the surcharged atmosphere in the country, that is a dream that cannot be fullfilled. In case the judgement is in favour, the option for Muslims is to gift it to the majority community in return for a cast iron guarantee that the places of worship amendment act has to be given strength," Lieutenant General Shah told NDTV in an interview after a marathon meeting of the group at a Lucknow hotel.
In August this year, sources had told NDTV that 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 in a court-appointed mediation effort that eventually failed.
Sources told NDTV that the Sunni Central Waqf board - the main Muslim litigant in the case - had told the court-appointed three-member mediation panel that they were ready to withdraw their claim on the 2.77 acres of disputed land.
The Supreme Court, which favoured the process of mediation to arrive at a solution to the decades old dispute, started day-to-day hearings after the three-member team failed to make any headway. A fresh mediation effort is now on alongside the day-to-day hearings of the Ayodhya title suit that are being conducted by the top court.
During the press interaction in Lucknow, members of 'Indian Muslims for Peace' conceded they had no role in the court litigation in the matter and had also not taken any of the litigants on board.
"It is a contradiction," Lieutenant General Shah told NDTV, adding, "Our aim is to bring forward to the country the requirement that an out of court settlement would benefit all in the country."
A few days ago, the Supreme Court said it would wrap up hearing in the politically sensitive Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute at Ayodhya by October 17, a day sooner than the earlier schedule. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is hearing the case. The judgement in the matter is to be pronounced by November 17, the day the Chief Justice will retire.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the top court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties - the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished, sparking communal riots in the country.