The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Seer trust for truce, plainspeak for VHP

Chennai, June 25: A little-known trust floated by Swami Jayendra Saraswati could provide the understanding to soothe tempers on either side of the Ayodhya divide as the Kanchi Sankaracharya again gets down to solving the temple tangle.

The Kanchi-Ayodhya Nagar Development Trust, which focuses on employment generation activities among poor Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya, is an extension of the seer’s Jan Kalyan (people’s welfare) scheme.

Sources said the trust, formed about a year-and-a-half ago, has been instrumental in developing a rapport between the Sankaracharya and Muslims in the temple town even as he worked on a compromise formula to solve the dispute.

It was a small but significant step that has made the seer “quite popular” in Ayodhya, the sources said, adding that the trust not only helped beneficiaries learn production skills but also hel-ped them market their produce.

However, its activities have been low profile so far. The Sankaracharya, the sources said, wanted to do some “constructive work quietly in a bid to enable people from both communities to interact and understand each other’s problems”.

The trust has as its chairperson the srikaryam (chief administrative officer) of the Kanchi Sankara Mutt and two representatives each from the Hindu and Muslim communities in Ayodhya as trustees.

Even as the trust works to bridge the gulf between the two communities, the Sankaracharya, it is learnt, gave a piece of his mind to Ashok Singhal when the Vishwa Hindu Parishad working president called on him at Kancheepuram late on Sunday night.

The Centre’s chief mediator, it is understood, told Singhal that the VHP should stick to its core agenda of building a Ram temple in Ayodhya, where a make-shift shrine already exists, and not bring in extraneous issues.

The seer is learnt to have advised Singhal that the VHP should not bother if “certain things” are reciprocated to Muslims in a “spirit of give and take” to arrive at a peaceful solution.

The Sankaracharya is also understood to have asked Singhal why the VHP is raking up issues like the Kashi and Mathura mosques when even legally they could not make any claims to these structures in view of the Act regarding places of worship.

The Act stipulates that status quo ante must be maintained at all such places barring Ayodhya.

The shrines at Kashi and Mathura, unlike the situation in Ayodhya, continues to be “live places of worship”, where both Hindus and Muslims have been offering prayers for centuries, the Sankaracharya is believed to have emphasised at his meeting with Singhal.

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