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Sacked cleric sobs before students

Lucknow: Maulana Salman Hussaini Nadvi, who has been sacked from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board for suggesting a negotiated settlement of the Ayodhya dispute, wept inconsolably in front of his students at Lucknow's Darul Uloom Nadwatul seminary on Monday evening and claimed he was suffering because he was a true follower of the Almighty.

"I was trying to bring peace (between the two communities). The Almighty will take care of those who are doing injustice to me," Maulana Salman said as he wept in the classroom.

"Insha-Allah," responded some of the students. Eyewitnesses said some students also broke down.

The maulana was removed as executive panel member of the law board on Sunday, three days after he held a meeting with Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Bangalore. After the meeting, Maulana Salman had proposed a negotiated settlement of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute.

Since a three-day executive committee meeting of the law board had been going on at Hyderabad from February 9, Maulana Salman's meeting with Ravi Shankar was seen as a design of the ruling dispensation to dilute the Muslim organisation's fight in the Supreme Court in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case.

Ravi Shankar is said to be in favour of a temple in Ayodhya and a mosque away from the disputed site.

Maulana Salman was quoted as telling his students that he had put a "condition" before Ravi Shankar to "give us land elsewhere to build a magnificent university and masjid".

"I had also sought an assurance from him that henceforth no masjid would be damaged. But some liars are maligning me," Maulana Salman was quoted as saying.

Maulana Salman said he had resigned from the law board before he was sacked. The cleric alleged during conversations with reporters that the RSS had hijacked the law board with the help of some of its members.

Maulana Salman told his students that he was pained to hear his critics branding him an agent of Hindutva forces.

Asaduddin Owaisi, the Hyderabad MP of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and a member of the law board, had said on Monday that those who had agreed to shift the mosque from Ayodhya were against Islam. Owaisi had added that some people were "dancing to the tune of (Narendra) Modi".

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