The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Muslim leader speaks in voice of reason

June 26: Guided by Maulana Rabey Hasan Nadvi, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board is coming round to the view that in no circumstances should it be seen to stand in the way of a negotiated settlement of the Ayodhya dispute so long as the community’s honour is not compromised.

Signals emerging from the board suggest Swami Jayendra Saraswati’s formula does not contain any element that calls for such a compromise. It does not, for instance, talk about any exchange or compromise on the suit over the disputed land.

Rather, it favours creating an atmosphere of mutual trust, construction of a temple and a mosque outside the “disputed area” and a legal apparatus to maintain status quo at the shrines in Kashi and Mathura.

This is, perhaps, the reason why Nadvi, the board’s chairman, has advised senior leaders — whether or not they agree with the formula — that any political or legal objection should be couched as a query and not voiced as outright rejection.

Nadvi, who commands respect worldwide as a theologian believes that the Muslim community had paid a heavy price for its rigid stand in the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992.

This time, pursuing a hard line that might lead to collapse of the Sankaracharya’s effort will only dent the community’s image and strengthen the hands of its detractors who have dubbed it unreasonable, sources close to Nadvi said.

Even the BJP has tried to keep critics of this ilk, such as the VHP, at bay. Party president M. Venkaiah Naidu today rejected the VHP’s demand for a law handing over the land for temple construction. This is the first time anyone in the ruling party has dismissed the proposal altogether.

A negotiated settlement has emerged as the only possible solution, other than a court verdict.

Sources close to Nadvi said the Sankaracharya’s proposal envisages construction of a wall between the “disputed” and “undisputed land” and suggests that the undisputed area could be used for erecting a Ram temple with the consent of Muslims. As a concession, a mosque will be constructed nearby.

However, the sources said, the seer is silent on whether the mosque would be built next to the temple or across the Saryu.

Aware of the community’s feelings about the Babri Masjid, the maulana and the Sankaracharya have agreed to leave the core dispute over the land to the judiciary. Under the formula, the disputed site, on which the mosque stood, will be kept vacant subject to the court verdict.

About Kashi and Mathura, the seer has indicated that the two communities must accept the existing positions as permanent and a law should be enacted to prevent future dispute.

While Muslims offer prayers at the two shrines, Hindus are permitted to carry out puja.

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