The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh raises temple bar

Lucknow/Kanyakumari, July 4: If Atal Bihari Vajpayee had thought getting the Muslim leadership to agree to a settlement of the Ayodhya dispute was going to be the hard part, he had not accounted for his brothers in the Sangh family.

Most members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board are looking with hope to their July 6 meeting on the Kanchi Sankaracharya’s initiative for a resolution of the dispute.

“It’s a positive proposal which has come from a respected religious leader and we must not allow the initiative to be wasted,” Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, vice-president of the board, said.

At Kanyakumari, where the RSS leadership is meeting from tomorrow, the bar was raised in the name of Hindu expectations for the negotiators.

A Sangh spokesman said the Ram temple has to come up at the disputed site and that no commitment could be made to the Muslim leadership on Kashi and Mathura.

Ram Madhav said: “Hindu society wants Ram’s birth place to be handed over to the Hindus. We look at this issue as one of national self-respect and honour. We appeal to all parties to look at it from that perspective and allow construction of the temple where Ram Lalla is sitting.”

Simply put, he wants the disputed site whose ownership is under contest in the court.

The Sankaracharya’s proposals have not been made public but reports suggest he has proposed a temple outside the disputed area.

“No compromise and no bargaining on Kashi and Mathura. They should be delinked from the Ram temple,” Madhav said.

Whether Kashi and Mathura, where both Hindus and Muslims offer prayers, are part of the seer’s formula is not clear. In any case, a 1993 law prevents tampering with any shrine.

“We hope the Sankaracharya will keep our views in mind,” Madhav added.

Reasons for optimism may lie here for Vajpayee — the Sangh is not dismissing the seer’s initiative. Madhav said the RSS was not aware of what the seer is “actually negotiating. They are all well-meaning people and their intentions are good”.

Intentions appear to be good not only among known votaries of a settlement in the Muslim leadership — Kalbe Sadiq is one of them — but also on the part of a number of board members who have distanced themselves from the hawks.

The board’s spokesman, Maulana Sajjad Nomani, said: “We are approaching the issue with a genuine desire to work for a mutually acceptable solution.”

Even Zafaryab Jilani, the board member who has been against any talks at the cost of the Babri Masjid, sounded mellow. “It would be meaningless to comment on our attitude unless we know what the seer’s proposals exactly are.”

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