The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Muslim cell to oppose Centre plea

New Delhi, Feb. 9: The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board has decided to oppose the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s petition to reverse a Supreme Court order freezing religious activity on the controversial land in Ayodhya.

The board also resolved not to talk either to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or any other member of the Sangh parivar.

The decision to oppose the Centre’s petition was taken at a meeting called by the board’s legal wing this morning to discuss the Centre’s latest move on the mandir-masjid dispute.

However, the board will not file a fresh petition before the Supreme Court. The appeal will be made when it is called to give its views on the government’s petition.

The board also decided to stick to the February 2002 resolution of not talking to either the VHP or any other member of the Sangh parivar.

“There is also no question of talking to the Kanchi sankaracharya because we realised from our last experience that he cannot be trusted to keep his promise,” said former Union minister Syed Shahabuddin, a special invitee to the meeting and counted among the hardliners.

“If the government were to approach us with specific proposals, we will definitely consider them,” Shahabuddin said. “The sankaracharya has not approached us this time and we are no longer willing to talk to him as he has broken our trust.”

But diverse opinions do exist in the board. The convener and spokesman of the board’s committee on Babri Masjid, S.Q.R. Illyas, told PTI that it was willing to consider any fresh proposal from the seer on the issue. “The board has every regard for the esteemed sankaracharya and considers him as one of the great Hindu religious leaders,” he said.

Zafaryab Jilani, a member of the Muslim law board, said: “When Kamal Farooqui, Muslim personal law board member, told the press in Chennai two days ago that we are not against talks, it was misinterpreted to mean we are ready to talk to the sankaracharya. But our willingness to talk will depend on the sankaracharya getting a written assurance from the VHP that it will abide by the court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute. This will be our main condition,” asserted Jilani.

Baat cheet ka darwaza bandh nahi hua, hamesha khula hai (The talks door is always open). But last year when the Kanchi sankaracharya came to us with a set of proposals, we asked for certain documents, which would buttress these proposals. Those documents were not given. Even today if he gives the documents, we are ready to talk,” said board secretary Mohammad Abdul Rahim Quereshi.

The board members have no problem with the Centre’s plea before the apex court to expedite the hearings on the case.

But they feel that if the stay on religious activity is removed, matters may spin out of control and the VHP could exploit the situation in the run-up to the 2004 general elections.

The BJP has opposed the law board’s decision. “They have no stake in the issue. Why are they making comments and taking a stand' The government has not taken any move with regard to the disputed land,” BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu said.

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