The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Everest parallel for temple ‘gift’

Kancheepuram, July 7: The Kanchi Sankaracharya today said his appeal to Muslims to “donate or gift” the disputed land in Ayodhya was not laced with any “veiled threat” on the Kashi and Mathura shrines.

Stoutly defending his proposals at a news conference at the Kanchi Mutt this evening, Swami Jayendra Saraswati iterated negotiations between religious leaders of both communities were the only way to a solution.

He was clarifying the contentious aspects of his July 5 letter to All India Muslim Personal Law Board president Maulana Rabey Nadwi.

The Sankaracharya said he had picked up the thread from where it was left off after the proposals sent last year in the run-up to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s bhoomipujan that was to mark the beginning of the temple construction at the undisputed site.

The board back then had sought clarifications on the temple plan, Saraswati said. “When we replied then, there was no Supreme Court stay on any activity either in the disputed or undisputed part of the land in Ayodhya.”

Now that the apex court has passed a “status quo” verdict on both the disputed and undisputed sites, Saraswati said the two could no longer be separated.

The seer said his “new proposals” were sent in the backdrop of the changed situation. “I had suggested that as in matters of dharma, there cannot be any buying and selling, and in the overall national interest and to ensure communal harmony, the Muslims could voluntarily come forward and magnanimously donate or gift the (disputed) land,” Saraswati said.

This, he said, was the major difference in “my formula now” as the apex court’s verdict on the undisputed site would have to wait for Lucknow High Court’s judgment on the disputed site.

“In our lifetime, we are not going to see any court verdict coming on the Ayodhya issue as no court will like to deliver a verdict which will go either against Hindus or Muslims,” the seer said.

He claimed that even his first letter to the board had referred to a “discussion” on the disputed site to come up later, implying that the concept of “gift” would be brought up. These topics were brought up sooner than later because the board sought clarifications and so “we gave it”, he said.

The point of the whole exercise was to reach a negotiated settlement as, otherwise, both sides could well wait for the court verdict, he said.

The Sankaracharya disagreed with the board’s view that Waqf property could not be donated or gifted as it was “Allah’s property”. Saraswati said Waqf property had been donated earlier for purposes such as building educational institutions. One such property was gifted to the Kanchi Mutt, he said.

As a small section of “unlawful and terrorist elements” was seeking to besmirch the fair name of Muslims, the community’s standing would be enhanced if they generously parted with the disputed land, the seer said. “If they donate the land, Muslims will be elevated to the position of Mount Everest.”

Saraswati admitted that the reference to the Kashi and Mathura shrines in his second letter had hurt Muslim leaders and derailed the dialogue process. But he denied any implicit threat to the community. “We will not lay any claim to Kashi or Mathura, though the Hindus and me personally are in favour of it,” the seer said.

Saying he was “hopeful” that Muslim leaders would “come back (to the talks table) as in the past”, Saraswati said: “I will not take any more initiative.”

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