The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Talks open deep divide

Lucknow, June 12: Talks for a settlement of the Ayodhya dispute are driving a wedge through the Muslim leadership.

Two members of the 11-strong committee — entrusted with handling the Ayodhya issue — of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board have resigned over what seems to be differences on continuing efforts to arrive at a solution through the mediation of the Sankaracharya of Kanchi, Swami Jayendra Saraswati.

Maulana Kalbe Sadiq and Maulana Abdul Karim Pariq, known doves on the committee, resigned yesterday.

“I sent my resignation on Wednesday,” Sadiq said, refusing to elaborate the reasons. He only added that he would speak “at the right time”.

Sadiq is the leader of the country’s Shia community, which forms about 17-18 per cent of the Muslim population.

Pariq, from Nagpur, is believed to have ties with former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, whose role, if any, in the effort for a negotiated settlement, is not known. Sadiq is also vice-president of the personal law board, a post he does not appear to have relinquished.

“He has only resigned from the board’s committee on the Ayodhya dispute and not from the vice-presidentship of the board,” said Zafaryab Jilani, who represents the hardline section.

Ever since the Sankaracharya revealed last Sunday that the exercise to cobble together an out-of-court settlement was apace, Jilani has been among the most vocal in denying that any talks have been held.

Earlier, Sadiq and Pariq had issued a release challenging this right Jilani and others of his ilk claim as spokesman for the community. “The Muslims have paid the price for a hardline stance and the time has come for an amicable solution to the Ayodhya dispute through talks,” the release had said.

Their resignation comes in the wake of the Sankaracharya’s visit to Lucknow on Saturday to hold talks with Maulana Rabey Nadvi, who heads the board.

It is significant that after these talks the Kanchi seer lifted the veil off the negotiation process. At the hour-long meeting with the Maulana, the Sankaracharya laid out his plan for a consensus solution, said a cleric close to the Maulana.

“He was asked to give it in writing so that the issue could be discussed with other members of the board and the meeting ended in a cordial atmosphere,” he added. The Maulana confirmed the talks. “I told him that once we get his proposals (in writing), we will put them before the board members for discussion. But so far I have not received anything,” he said.

“Till the board has received and discussed the Sankaracharya’s proposals, there is no sense in more talks.”

He refused comment on Sadiq’s resignation. Sources said clerics were sharply divided over the seer’s proposals. “Kalbe Sadiq’s resignation is a reflection of it,” said a board member.

Senior functionaries of Sadiq’s Tohidul Muslim Trust indicated that the Shia leader favoured a positive response from the board. “He resigned because most other members of the committee did not want talks with the Sankaracharya to continue,” they said.


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