Ayodhya dispute: ideas for an amicable settlement
The sanctity of Ayodhya is significant because the city has so far never witnessed any communal violence. The city is not only considered sacred for the Hindus but also for Muslims, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists as all share some historical facts to support this perception.
In Ayodhya, there are more than a dozenmazaars of historical importance and people of all religions visit these places to pay respect and seek blessing. Khurd Makkha (Little Mecca) of Muslims is located here. For Sikhs, Guru Teg Bahadur performed penance here and the place is now known as Brakund Sikh Gurudwara. Jains’ first Tirtankar Rishab Dev was born here. As per Bodh Granth, Buddha lived and preached at Saket Nagari for four years. Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya lived in harmony and peace for decades but over the years the historical place has been used to cultivate hatred and animosity between people and followers of different faiths. The place has now become for some very fertile for spreading religious intolerance.
When VHP began its Ram Mandir movement in the year 1984, it was thought at that point of time that the long cherished tradition of tolerance may get shattered. But with the relentless efforts of various social organisations peace still prevails in this city. From the year 1985 communal or religious violence across India in one way or the other got sparked due to hatred rooted within communities because of the turmoil in Ayodhya. Placement of an idol inside Babri Masjid in the year 1949 and the demolition of the structure on 6 December 1992 was based on the ideology of hatred and inhumanity. After the demolition of Babri Masjid, violence spread everywhere. Karsevaks burnt 165 houses of Muslims. A number of Muslims were burnt alive. Even in those turbulent times Ayodhya was peaceful and people lived as usual.
RSS still peruses its divisive agenda from this place and from Karsevakpuram they preach and spread their ideology. Here, throughout the year, people from far off places are invited to train them on how to propagate hatred. Without exposing the nefarious design of RSS, it would be futile to think of peace and prosperity in our country. By using the temple movement the Sangh has been trying to destroy the constitutional institutions, peace and tranquillity. The temple movement by VHP is purely based on propaganda. The truth is that Babri Masjid does exist there and only a Masjid is needed to be built at the disputed structure.
Over the years there have been many formulas or action plans put forward in order to evolve a consensus between the two communities. So far all efforts to reach a consensus had the reference point as Ram Mandir and even secularists tried to suppress Muslims. If parties, association or institution involved had the Masjid as a focal point then things could have been different and I could have walked an extra mile in this direction.
Before 1857, there had been an agreement where the outer portion from the Mosque door was earmarked for Ram Lalla and after giving the mosque to Muslims a boundary wall was to be built in between. During those days Ram Lalla sthal was known as Vedi and not as Ramjanambhoomi. However, it can be said that most of the efforts made to arrive at a consensus were formulated in such a way that aimed to suppress the Muslims. Some of them are as follows:
- 1985-1986: Adnan Khashogi and Chandra Swami tried to solve the age-old problem at the local level and it was decided to change the place of the Mosque but this failed.
- 1986: Gaurav Samiti formulated two points: One was to solve the problem locally and the other was the development of Ayodhya. The solution was to build a boundary wall for the mosque and Ram Mandir to be constructed at Ram Chabutara.
- 1984-1994: Hamari Awaz Movement made efforts to reach a consensus by involving the people of Ayodhya.
- 30 December, 1989: Jain Muni Acharaya Sushil Muni and Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Abdullah Bukhari formed a 21-member committee and it was decided that after inspection if it was found that the Mosque was built after destroying a temple then Muslims should give up their claims and vise-versa. On 24 January 1990, 11 member delegation from the Hindu community visited the place and declared that the mosque was built after demolishing a mandir.
- 20 October, 1990: At the initiative of Shri Chimanyanand and Maulana Abdul Karim Parekh, members of Muslim Personal Law Board and Hindu Mahants sat together but in vain.
- 1 December, 1990: Babri Action Committee and VHP in their open talks decided to present their views. Papers and documents could not be exchanged and talks failed.
- 12 January, 1991: Shia Conference took the initiative and a formula was prepared under the guidance of Anjum Qadar. They asked the government to enquire directly or through Judiciary to find out whether the mosque was built after demolishing a mandir. Central government was asked to pass a law to ensure the status quo of religious places as per 1945.
- 1993-94: Former Prime Minister Narashimha Rao proposed to build the mosque and mandir after establishing a Muslim trust. Ramalay trust came into being. Muslim trust could not come up, thus this initiative failed.
- 8 March, 2002: Kanchi Kamkot Sankarcharya wrote a letter to the Muslim Personal Law Board seeking permission to construct a Ram mandir. Board asked him to give the site plan of the Mandir, which he failed to provide.
- 2003: Ayodhya Ki Awaaz organisation on the initiative by Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey and Yugal Kishore Sharan Shashtri gave a call "Ayodhya ka faissala Ayodhya ke hath" and "Ram Rahim kahaan rahenge, Ayodhyawasi jahaan kahenge."
Solution of the disputed site:
- All parties must accept court's verdict.
- And if the parties involved wish to arrive at a consensus out of court, there should be flexibility. Rigid behaviour from any side will not help.
Common points of agreement
- Muslims consider the place to be sacred.
- In Hindu Sanatan Dharma, mandir and idol are not that important as compared to Bhoomi which is also sacred for the Hindus. It means that the place is sacred for both Hindus and Muslims.
- Let us accept the disputed site as National Holy place or Rashtriya Pavitra Sthal and there must not be any construction on it.
- In the east of the Pavitra Sthal, land should be left for construction of Mandir while on the west side of the Sthal for the mosque.
- Hindus should be allowed to visit the pavitra sthal.
Amicable solution-2Hindus and Muslims should accept the status as before 22/23 December 1949 when Ram Chabutara was within the boundary of the Babri mosque and in the westside Babri mosque stood.
Yugal Kishor Sharan Shastri is mahantof Saryu Kunj mandir in Ayodhya and editor of the Hindi journal Ayodhya Ki Awaj. He may be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org /