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‘Mediation’ unlikely to solve complicated Ayodhya dispute

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By Ajaz Ashraf

The only salutary aspect of the Supreme Court’s decision to appoint a three-member panel to mediate in the controversial Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, also known as the Ayodhya dispute, is that its forbidding shadow will not fall on the forthcoming Lok Sabha election. Yet, from whatever perspective the hellishly complicated Ayodhya tangle is perceived, it is very unlikely that the mediation process will succeed.

It is possible to argue that the mediation panel, comprising Justice (retd) FMI Khalifullah, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, may have been caught on the wrong foot. This is because none of its three members, according to sources, was on the list of negotiators that lawyers representing the Muslim side in the Ayodhya dispute presented to the Supreme Court.

It is possible that the names suggested by lawyers of the Hindu side, too, were excluded from the mediation panel. Yet the inclusion of Ravi Shankar has already stirred up a controversy given Shankar’s publicly articulated position on the Ayodhya dispute echoes that of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Take the Palampur resolution that the BJP’s national executive passed on 11 June, 1989. It stated, “The BJP holds that the nature of this controversy (Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid) is such that it just cannot be sorted out by a court of law… The sentiments of the people must be respected, and Rama Janamasthan handed over to the Hindus — if possible through a negotiated settlement, or else, by legislation. Litigation certainly is no answer.”

Compare that resolution to Shankar’s stance in March 2018. In a series of media interviews then, he asked Muslims to give up their “claims on Ayodhya as a goodwill gesture.” Explaining, Ravi Shankar said, “If the court rules against (the building of) the temple (in Ayodhya), there will be bloodshed. The government may not be able to implement the court order. Do you think the majority community will accept such an order?”

The AOL founder, thus, went a step further than even the BJP, explicitly spelling out the fate awaiting Muslims in case they refused to hand over the site where the Babri Masjid had stood before it was demolished on 6 December, 1992 — and which is claimed to be the spot where Lord Ram was born.


© The Kashmir Monitor