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EDITORIAL: 1-15 February 2001

Saffron game-plan defeated

The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) should be lauded for its balanced and wise stand on the Babri Masjid issue in the thick of the rekindled Ayodhya controversy. When the saffron outfits are talking in loud, provocative and reckless manner and openly challenging the courts’ jurisdiction, the AIMPLB in its executive committee meeting held recently in the capital did not respond in kind to the vitriolic and rabble-rousing tactics that was being anticipated by the saffronites and their friends in the media. The VHP-sponsored Dharma Sansad merely a day back had announced the start of construction of the Ram Temple at the Babri Masjid site and everyone was anticipating an equally fiery response from the Muslim Personal Law Board in line with the stupid and childish announcements made by some in Lucknow and elsewhere.

Fortunately the AIMPLB did not give in to the provocative tactics of the VHP and its handmaiden, the Dharm Sansad, and refused fall for the provocative tactics of the saffronites. The wise decision should be complimented as it has saved the community from another round of humiliation and frustration that the saffronites wanted to impose on the community by taking the route of violence to solve the problem as it suits their petty political interests. It seems that the community has matured enough over the years to decide its own course of action unmindful of others’ agendas. 

AIMPLB general secretary Maulana Nizamuddin's comments while talking to this paper portrays the mature thinking of the community’s leadership in sharp contrast with the course adopted a decade ago. The septuagenarian Maulana's response to a question of this newspaper was that we don't want to respond in the same way as they want us to. They want to drag us to the streets by inciting us. This way they wish to perpetuate the media-manufactured perception of the common people that Muslims are law-breakers, aggressors and always tend to be on the wrong side of the fence. His further comment was even more encouraging and was a ray of hope to us all. He added that we want to continue our constructive activities that we have started. 

The AIMPLB decision mirrors the feelings of the whole community. It does not show that Muslims have forgotten the Ayodhya issue. All Muslims want to see the mosque at the same site where it once stood, nevertheless they don't want to give in to the futile emotions generated in the name of rebuilding the mosque, knowing fully well that the extremists who demolished it are ready to exploit any mistake to inflict more injury on the hapless Muslims and yet their friends in the media will be quick to show that it was Muslims’ mistake all the way. It is only recently when Muslims have perceived the importance of business and education and of late have started giving some attention to these fields. It is only now that we hear about schools being established by Muslims every where, madrasas being modernized (technical and computer education is being made an integral part of the madrasas), women being given more attention and there is at last some attention for their education too. It is also a recent phenomenon that we hear about success stories of Muslim businessmen in the country. 

This is certainly what the Muslims need at this critical hour. This does not mean at all that Masjid at the site is not important or any less important than education and business. But the case is pending in the court and it should only be decided by the court or by mutual understanding between the responsible elders of the two communities. By involving ourselves in the issue in a provocative way we will do no justice to the cause. Instead we will be making our case weaker and giving a bad name to Muslims. Taking to the streets will not only weaken our case but will also give a fresh lease of life to the dwindling fortunes of the saffronites in the next round of elections for which they are raking up this controversy once again. Their game plan is only to provoke the Muslims and gain politically by consolidating their vote bank and pitting it against Muslims. 

For the time being their game plan seems to have been defeated by the wise reaction of the AIMPLB. But will we be able to resist the temptation of provocation in the months to come as the saffronites heat it up in anticipation of the U.P. elections?

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