The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nadwi reveals how close board had come to a positive response

Lucknow, July 7: When Atal Bihari Vajpayee learns how close he had come to cracking the Ayodhya dispute, he would be an even more unhappy man than what the collapse of the Sankaracharya’s initiative has left him.

Maulana Rabey Nadwi, president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said the board was almost prepared to consider the Sankaracharya’s proposal “positively”.

He said the board was examining the possibility of giving away the undisputed land without expecting much in return. “The demand for a new mosque was not there from our side. You will be aware that a mosque is needed in accordance with local needs,” he said.

The seer’s second letter that arrived on the afternoon of July 5 changed optimism about a groundbreaking agreement into shock. In his second letter, the Sankaracharya withdrew the earlier proposal that the Ram temple be constructed at the undisputed site while the title to the disputed area could be decided by the courts or settled through negotiations later.

Instead, he called on the board to gift the disputed area. Nadwi said: “It is like asking a person who has been evicted from his house to give up his claim to that property. Goodwill cannot be created by one side alone. All that we are demanding is a sense of justice, fairness and enforcement of the rule of law. We have been consistently saying that we will abide by the court verdict even if it goes against us. What else is expected of us'”

The Sankaracharya today tried to explain why he changed the contents of his proposal and expressed hope that the process could be resumed if the board wanted ( ), but the failure of the initiative has spread bitterness all around.

Nadwi is disappointed that the Sankaracharya withdrew the proposals for a settlement he had made on June 16, coming as it did on top of the lack of response in March 2002. “Last year, we had asked him to furnish maps, etc., but he never got back to us,” Nadwi said.

But he continues to hold the seer in high esteem. “I have no regrets that I got into a dialogue with him. He is a pious man. I cannot say what prompted him to change his statement but I guess it must have been pressure from some quarters.”

The Islamic scholar said given another chance, he will pick up the threads again for an out-of-court settlement. “My intentions are guided by community and national welfare. Let there be a dignified offer and I will come forward again.”

Nadwi said the board was aware of a deep-rooted insecurity among Muslims, particularly after the Gujarat carnage. “Our first preference is a court verdict but we are keen on an amicable settlement so that communal harmony is maintained. At the same time, you cannot browbeat anyone into making concessions.”

He revealed that he had received a huge response — “from within the country and abroad before Sunday’s meet. Everyone said the atmosphere of goodwill should be moved forward. I am sure Allah will help us tide over the crisis”.

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