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Ready if talks held under govt aegis
Muslims refuse to talk to the Sangh on Babri
By Syed Ubaidur Rahman

Kaheen Ki eent, Kaheen ka rora, Bhaanmati ne kumba joda: Vinay Katiyar presiding over 'Muslims' picked from the streets of AyodhyaVHP militia Bajrang Dal chief Vinay Katiyar's initiative to have talks with Muslims has backfired. No Muslim leader of any consequence showed up at the much hyped talks in Lucknow on 13 January 'to resolve' the Babri Masjid imbroglio through 'talks' with the Bajrang Dal. Even Hashim Ansari, the only surviving first petitioner in the Babri Masjid case, who was billed to have agreed to attend the talks, bunked the meeting. Mufti Muhammad Mukarram, imam of Delhi's Fatehpuri Jama Masjid, who was also being said to attend the Lucknow meeting refused at the last minute to join Katiyar's show. Maulana Obaidullah Azmi was said to be another such person who refused at the last moment to join the talks. The chief mujawir of Hazrat Muinuddin Chishti's tomb at Ajmer, Syed Ghulam Rasool, also refused to participate in the proposed talks. 

A few persons who were transported all the way from Ayodhya by the Bajrang Dal chief were a bunch of nonentities picked from the streets of Ayodhya and brought to Lucknow for the show. They resolved to solve this contentious issue, foisted on the national scene by the BJP, VHP and Bajrang Dal, at 'the local level and to not allow the outsiders to exploit the situation for their political gains.' Among the great Muslim leaders brought to the show two were barbers, a tailor, two gram panchayat pradhans (village committee chiefs) and two imams of far-off village mosques and a few similar characters. All these people were brought to Lucknow from Ayodhya by the local BJP member of Parliament and Bajrang Dal supremo Viany Katiyar. During the press conference that followed the 'talks' these people remained mute spectators and not a single word was heard from them. It was the Bajrang Dal supremo who did all the talking during the whole press conference. Katiyar told the media that he wanted to talk to people of Ayodhya only and that it is only they who are able to take any decision on the issue. He conveniently forgot that he and his comrades had brought the whole of India to the small town to demolish the mosque only a decade ago.

The talks drama has not gone down well with the Muslim community. Muslim leaders have rejected any idea of talks with these Sangh leaders. They say that the Sangh leaders want to sow discord in the Muslim ranks by these tactics. They are persuading some Muslim leaders to come along with them and give them much needed assistance in building the temple at the Babri Masjid site to blur the fact that the mandir is being built by injustice and coercion. According to reliable sources, leaders of Sangh outfits are visiting Muslim leaders in the national capital and other cities to influence them on this issue. It is perceived by these Sangh leaders that if they are able to persuade some Muslim leaders on the issue they will be able to justify the injustice to the national and international public opinion which is sharply critical of the Parivar politics and equates it with fascism..

Muslim leaders have refused to talk to the Bajrang Dal or any Sangh organization on the issue. They say that only the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is eligible to take any decision on this issue. Maulana Syed Ahmad Bukhari, Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid Delhi, says that talks with the criminals who demolished the Babri Masjid are impossible. He says that talking to these criminals is tantamount to giving clean chit to these people in the Babri Masjid demolition case. He adds that these fascist organizations have a one-point programme of constructing Ram temple at the Babri site and they are active now with the full tacit support of the government. 

Syed Shahabuddin the convenor of Babri Masjid Co-ordination Committee told MG that no one is eligible to take any decision on the Babri Masjid except the AIMPLB. Shahabuddin laughs at the talks held in Lucknow. He told the MG that Muslims have never closed the doors to talks on that issue but the responsibility to hold talks or take any decision rests only with AIMPLB. He added that this was decided long ago when Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi was alive. According to Syed Shahabuddin, the late president of the AIMPLB had nominated members from both the Babri Masjid organizations, namely Babri Masjid Co-ordination Committee, headed by Shahabuddin and Babri Masjid Action Committee headed by Zafaryab Jeelani, in a committee formed by him. But, he hastened to say that it is futile to talk to Bajrang Dal or the VHP. Shahabuddin adds that if the government holds any talks the Muslims will attend the talks because it is only the government that can force these Sangh organizations to accept any decision.

He also says that Muslims are ready to hand over the waqf property adjacent to the mosque for the construction of the temple. He adds that late Maulana Ali Mian was also ready to hand over the waqf property for the construction of the proposed temple. He says that Muslims are ready to hand over the large waqf land for the construction for the temple if the Sangh leaders are ready to change the actual plan for the temple and do not include the actual site of the Babri Masjid in their proposed temple. 

In the meantime Vinay Katiyar has announced the dates for the second round of his 'talks' which, according to him, will take place in March. VHP's self-styled Dharma Sansad (religious parliament) has said that it will forcibly acquire the land in Ayodhya for the construction of the Ram temple. According to the news reports from Allahabad, where Maha Kumbh mela was organized recently, the Hindu akharas have refused to endorse the stand of the VHP. A number of senior sants and sadhus have also criticized the efforts of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal to politicize the issue.

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