The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wary board in rush to registrar

Lucknow, July 5: Believe it or not, the Muslim law board has finally decided to get itself registered fearing a split in its ranks on Ayodhya.

Set up in 1972, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has so long been functioning without any formal registration. But it seems to have “woken up” — although late — to the need to register itself, members, who have been tight-lipped, said in private.

The apex decision-making body will now get itself registered according to laws pertaining to associations, trusts and societies with the Registrar of Societies, Delhi, under the Societies Registration Act, XXI, of 1860.

Board members, though confident that chairman Maulana Abdul Rabey Nadvi will carry the day tomorrow, are wary of some colleagues. Given the sharp polarisation on Ayodhya, they fear some might try to float a parallel board. There are already several groups and individuals questioning the board’s locus standi in representing the community.

The vocal section of the Barelvis has challenged the board’s authority to negotiate on Ayodhya. Yasin Usmani, who represents the Barelvis in the board, has not been able to silence leaders like Imam Tauquir Raza. The pro-Congress Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind is toying with the idea of floating another board along with the imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmad Bukhari.

There are several parties, including Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, that are bitterly opposed to the Kanchi Sankaracharya’s formula as it could give the BJP an edge in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. There is talk that the Samajwadi may prop up a section of Muslim clerics if Nadvi moves closer to an out-of-court settlement.

The pro-settlement group, too, has upped the ante. Shia cleric Kalbe-Sadiq is clear the board’s failure to act decisively will make it redundant. “If we fail to protect the lives of innocent Muslims, what is the point of having such a forum'” he asked.

Maulana Abdul Kareem Parikh, a Nagpur-based cleric, supports Sadiq. Parikh is so upset with a section of the board that he has decided to skip tomorrow’s meeting.

The Bohras, led by 93-year-old Syedna Burhanuddin, have strong reservations against an out-of-court settlement. Syedna’s representative, Yusuf Hatim Muchala, says the court alone should be allowed to resolve the Ayodhya dispute.

The bickering has made Nadvi bitter. He wondered how people could reach conclusions without seeing what the Kanchi seer has to offer. He said he was greatly pained by the slur and accusations hurled at board members. “Do they think we would compromise' I want to make one thing clear. I would act solely in accordance to the community’s interest,” he said.

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