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Ayodhya door open but don’t push
Muslims wait for proposal

New Delhi, Oct. 4: Muslim leaders today said they had an open mind on the Ayodhya verdict but required time to absorb the fine print, as the Sangh piled pressure on the community to “surrender” the land allotted to it.

Yusuf Hatim Muchhala, the convener of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s legal cell, denied a statement attributed to board member S.Q.R Ilyas claiming that the Muslims would move the apex court against the judgment.

Muchhala told The Telegraph: “Our basic policy is to keep our doors open to negotiations within the framework of the Constitution and the Shariat. People are talking of reconciliation and settlement in the air because there is no proposal before us so far. If a proposal comes, we will consider everything.”

If there was a contradiction between the positions of the Constitution and the Shariat, “we will consider its constitutionality and whether the principles of the Shariat are compatible with constitutional provisions or not.”

Muchhala rued the subtle but sure campaign by the BJP and some “mainstream” Muslim politicians to hand over the land in what was deemed as Ram’s “birthplace” even before the board and other representatives could meet and firm up a decision. “We have already been told to give up that one-third and not to go in appeal,” he said.

Abdul Rahim Qureshi, the assistant general secretary of the law board, said the issue was not about another mosque but the “ideology that created and nourished” the Ram temple movement.

“It was an ideology that inspired someone to surreptitiously place those idols (Ram’s) inside the mosque and to demolish it. The problem before us is should we accept a judgment that legitimises a negative ideology?” he asked.

Another member said at the heart of the dilemma over “reconciliation” was the issue of “whether we should go in for settlement from a position of parity”.

He added: “We had hoped the judgment would legally vindicate our stand on the mosque. It would have been much easier to celebrate goodwill towards the other side.”

However, those in two minds admitted pressure from the Muslim community to let bygones be bygones and attain closure.

When Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav created disquiet by saying Muslims were upset with the ruling, his former confidant Mohammed Azam Khan was the first to reject the suggestion. Khan, a founder member of the Babri Masjid Action Committee, said the country was passing through a critical phase and everybody should work for “peace and tranquillity”.

In an article in a Hindi paper, Congress MP Rasheed said: “If India is secular, it is because of the Hindus and not the Muslims. That place (Ram’s birth spot) is for a temple and will remain only with a temple. If a mosque is built anywhere, it will not make a difference.”

In a blog posted on October 3, BJP leader L.K. Advani urged the Muslims to let go of their land. “My only wish and appeal is that our Muslim brethren come forward with a gesture of magnanimity and goodwill that matches that of the Hindus.”

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