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Cocking a snook at law

VHP leaders call Vajpayee napunsak, Advani ghaddar, and commit contempt of court with impunity 

Lucknow: Last week two divergent points of view on Babri Masjid dispute were aired that caught media attention. While Kendriya Marg Darshak Mandal (central advisory committee) of Vishwa Hindu Parishad in its Dharam Raksha Sammelan declared to wage a mahabharat (civil war) if peaceful means of constructing a Ram temple at the Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya failed. On the other hand, the newly floated Vishwa Dharam Raksha Samiti offered two alternative sites for the construction of “Babri Masjid” if Muslims withdrew their claim from the original site.

On the face of it, there seems to be little difference in the two views as they are adamant on constructing a “Ram Temple” on the Babri Masjid site. In fact, they are poles apart as one wants to construct the temple through the brazen display of numerical strength, while the other proposes a deal on the basis of give-and-take and the amicable solution of the imbroglio in the greater interest of the nation.

The VHP asked Muslims to hand over the disputed site on their own, failing which it desired that the government enact a law in parliament to pave way for the construction of the temple. 

Parvin Togadia addressed the convention by posing the ridiculous questions: Will Muslims tolerate construction of a temple in Mecca and Medina? Will America allow the construction of Osama ben Laden mosque at the debris of World Trade Centre? On High Court's suggestion of excavating the disputed site at Ayodhya to ascertain the fact whether there was any other religious place beneath the Babri Masjid before its construction, Parvin Togadia demanded that before this excavation was undertaken, thirty thousand mosques, including Jama Masjid of Delhi and Teele Wali Masjid at Lucknow, should also be excavated .

If Hindus can give millions of acres of land for the creation of Pakistan, why can’t Muslims give only 80x40 feet land for the construction of a Ram temple, and if the country could have three Muslim presidents why could there not be a single Hindu chief minister in Jammu and Kashmir, were a few other posers Dr Togadia hurled at Indian Muslims. 

Another VHP leader Ashok Singhal came down heavily on Vajpayee government and termed it as napunsak (impotent). He called both Vajpayee and Advani anti-Hindu and warned that the Hindu community would not tolerate their ghaddari (treason), and will teach them a lesson at the appropriate time. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi emerged as the new hero of VHP.

The divisional organising secretary of VHP looking after this area, Purushottam Narain Singh, declared that the epicentre of Ram temple movement would now be Lucknow, instead of Ayodhya. For the first time their convention was held at Lucknow. Earlier the usual venues had been Karsevakpuram of Ayodhya or other holy cities like Hardwar or Allahabad.

This change could well be understood . A majority of Hindu priests in Ayodhya is opposed to VHP and its militia, Bajrang Dal. Non-VHP priests in Ayodhya have formed another body to spearhead the temple movement, and consecrated 108 lathis to beat VHP extremists with if they enter Ayodhya. 

The inflammatory speeches of the VHP leaders should be sufficient ground for getting them booked under POTA, but thanks to the newfound love between the BJP and chief minister Mayawati the administration in Lucknow overlooked not only the anti-Muslim tirade but their open contempt of court. 

The special bench of Allahabad High Court hearing the Babri Masjid title suit has banned any public comment on court's observations and proceedings. Paramhans Ram Chandra Das, president of the Ram Janambhoomi Trust, was summoned by the court for his indecent remarks on court’s suggestion of excavation of the Babri Masjid site. He had to eat humble pie. Das meekly tendered unconditional apology in the court, but true to character, on emerging out of court claimed that he had not apologised! He, however, decided to abstain from the Lucknow convention to save his skin as he was aware that if he spoke even a single word on this case, he would be sent behind bars. Conversely, if he avoided speaking against court cases the hotheads of VHP would be baying for his blood.

Though the district administration and Muslims of Lucknow didn't bother to initiate any legal action against the VHP, one of the founders of newly floated anti-VHP organisation and the main litigant in the Ram Mandir case, Mahant Dharam Das, filed a contempt of court case before the said bench of Allahabad High Court ,which has summoned the accused Paramhans Ram Chandra Das and Ashok Singhal to appear before it on October 22. Mahant Dharam Das has attached many newspaper clippings in support of his claim. 

The non-VHP priests held a meeting with prominent Muslim leaders in Lucknow and offered two alternative sites for the construction of Babri Masjid if Muslims withdrew their claim from the disputed site. One of these places is a 17th century mosque in Argarhi locality near Ayodhya, which lies abandoned after Muslims lost a legal case in 1808 during the Awadh nawabs’ rule. The court had then ruled that as the mosque was constructed on the land of Hanuman Garhi temple. Muslims should abandon it, the mosque should not be repaired or renovated and, after its natural decay, the land should be handed over to Hindus for the construction of Hanuman Garhi. 

The other site, on offer is 10 acres of land adjacent to the Babri Masjid site itself. In this connection a meeting was held in Lucknow, which was attended by Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, Maulana Fazlur Rahman Waizi Nadwi, Imam of Teele Wali Masjid, Lucknow, Baba Lal Shah of Agra, and Dr MA Haleem a senior socialist leader and president of Muslim Samaj. Mahant Dharam Das and Swami Hardayal represented the newly floated trust .

Jointly addressing a press conference Mahant Dharam Das said this vexed issue could be solved in the spirit of sacrifice and give-and-take. It was time the two communities gave up their adamant attitude and solved the problem amicably. He said that the adamant attitude of the two communities provided fertile ground to VHP to spread its tentacles in the Hindu community and to exploit the community emotionally by its anti-Muslim tirade. Terming the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders as "political terrorists" the mahant said, "Paramhans Ram Chandra Das is a history-sheeter and he should be sent behind bars."

Dr MA Haleem said that though he did not fully endorse the ideas put forward by mahantji, such generous offers on the part of the communities would help in narrowing the gap which would go a long way in bringing the two communities closer. 

Maulana Jawwad was more forthright and declared that his stand was very clear that only the All India Muslim Personal Law Board could take any stand on this dispute. The board and other ulama should be taken into confidence, he added.

¯ Obaid Nasir, Lucknow

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