The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minority panel in temple effort

Calcutta, Oct. 30: The National Commission for Minorities is also taking a crack at resolving the Ayodhya dispute.

The decision to pitch in with its efforts came at a meeting in Bangalore last week where chairpersons of state minority commissions were also present.

After the talks led by national chairperson Tarlochan Singh, the commission decided to form two committees. One was given the responsibility of meeting Hindu leaders and organisations spearheading the “Ayodhya struggle” and the other to get in touch with Muslim leaders.

The objective, said one of those present at the meeting, is to find areas on which both communities agree. The points of agreement will be highlighted to bring the leaders of the two communities to a fresh round of dialogue, said a commission member. The last round, held a few months ago, ended in acrimony.

“The committees comprise five members each and are working under separate chairpersons,” said the chief of the West Bengal Minorities’ Commission, Justice K.M. Yusuf, who represented the state in Bangalore.

The panel given the responsibility of speaking to Muslim groups is led by national commission vice-chairperson M.S. Usmani; the other by former army vice-chief A.M. Sethna. Both committees have been told not to limit themselves to the temple problem. “They have been given the authority to liaise with community leaders on every problem they feel may be standing in the way of a conflict-less relationship,” Justice Yusuf said. “But, with the Ayodhya problem overshadowing every other source of conflict, it is natural that both the committees will have to address this issue first.”

The committees will submit their observations to the national commission, concentrating on common points that can be the basis of future discussions. These observations may be given to the central government if they help in finding a solution, commission members said.

The commission also decided to send a team to Jammu and Kashmir to look into the possibility of rehabilitating Kashmiri Brahmins. The team, led by former state chief secretary Musah Reza, started on its job last week itself.

But another proposal — mooting “some sort of an anti-hate law” — did not find unanimity. Most members present at the meet, inaugurated by Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna, said the proposal was “meaningless”. “There are already so many rules to book offenders fanning disharmony,” Justice Yusuf said. “A new set of rules would achieve nothing except giving misguided rulers more opportunity to harass political opponents, most members felt.”

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