The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Board shuts door on talks

Hyderabad, June 9: As the Prime Minister opened twin doors to talks on the Ayodhya temple tangle, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board today shut one of them — that of negotiated settlement.

Taking exception to the Kanchi Sankaracharya’s claim yesterday that Muslim leaders were ready to hand over the disputed site to Hindu religious heads, the Board ruled out further talks with the seer.

The Board rejected him as a mediator in talks on Ayodhya, saying he has now taken a partisan stand in favour of a temple and against a mosque.

Board spokesman Qasim Rasool Ilyas and secretary Moulana Abdul Raheem Qureshi separately said here today that the Sankaracharya closed the talks door by dubbing the mosque’s likely rebuilding at the Babri Masjid site “asambhav (impossible)”.

Swami Jayendra Saraswati had claimed the proposed hand-over at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam in New Delhi yesterday.

“It is a baseless and misleading statement which is not befitting a respected religious figure like the Sankaracharya,” Ilyas said. “It is very unfortunate that such a statement has been made by him.”

Denying talks between the Sankaracharya and any Muslim religious leader, he demanded to know who these supposed leaders or individuals were.

“As far as we know, not a single respected Muslim organisation or important individual is talking to him. If he is talking to people like Shahnawaz Hussain and Mukhtar Naqvi (BJP leaders), he should know they do not represent the community,” Ilyas said.

According to Qureshi, Saraswati’s latest stand was in sharp contrast to that of a year ago during talks with the Board.

“At the time, he had told us that the court verdict must be accepted by both the parties, and the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas will give him an undertaking that if the court verdict is in favour of Muslims, they will not create any problems in the way of reconstruction of the mosque.”

“Now, he is saying that the reconstruction… is impossible. How can talks be possible with a person who has closed the door on talks' We will talk to the people who keep their minds open, but he has closed his mind,” Qureshi said.

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