The Babri masjid-Ram janmabhomi dispute that has continued to shake India for almost four decades, leading to the collapse as well as elevation of several governments, is in the news again after the Supreme Court Chief Justice on Tuesday suggested a negotiated settlement between the parties.
The suggestion of amicable out of court settlement through negotiations by Chief Justice J S Khehar, came while considering the plea by BJP MP and controversial leader Subramanian Swamy for an early hearing of the dispute that has been pending the apex court for almost 7 years. The CJI said that he was ready to mediate between the parties if they wished adding that the court could choose another negotiator if required to resolve the issue. Swamy said that numerous attempts for a negotiated settlement had failed before and a judicial intervention was required. The Chief Justice has asked Swamy to mention his plea on March 31 for issuing a decision. What Swamy said is right. Many prominent leaders have made several attempts to find a solution for the Babri masjid-Ram janmabhomi issue by mediating between the parties. But all the efforts have so far gone in vain. However, the circumstances are such that one could easily doubt whether the parties involved in the seemingly perpetual issue would be willing for an amicable compromise, despite all the sincere desires and efforts by the CJI. The Babri masjid-Ram janmabhomi issue has been kept in cold storage for almost six decades. The Allahabad High Court has in 2010 had tried to find a political solution to the problem ruling that there be a three-way division of the disputed land, between all the three petitioners. However, the verdict was unacceptable for the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. The pleas separately filed by the three parties are now awaiting the final decision of the Supreme Court.
The Babri masjid built in 1526 by Mughal Emperor Babar’s general, Mir Baqi, in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh, had been a holy place of worship for the Muslims in the region until the night of December 22, 1949. As a result of a conspiracy led by Mahant Digvijay Nath, the chief priest of the Gorakh Shah ped temple in Gorakhpur, ram idols were placed in the masjid. The District Collector K K Nair, then ordered the shutting down of the masjid and the issue went to court. This is what led to the beginning of the crisis that has continued to remain unresolved until now. In 1986 the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi unlocking the doors of Babri masjid to the Hindus, the Sangh Parivar igniting the Ram janmabhomi issue stirring it up all across the nation and attempting to politically exploit it successfully, and the Kar sevaks on December 1992, carrying out a total destruction of the historic masjid are all unforgettable incidents. The Justice Liberhan Commission that was entrusted to probe into the Babri demolition, submitted a report after several years. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that no action has been so far taken against the culprits. Given that the obstinacy of the RSS in handing over the Chief Minister post of Uttar Pradesh to Yogi Adityanath, a hardline Hindutwa leader, the coveted disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath, the successor of Mahant Digvijay Nath, and an accused in several criminal cases, has been successful, he and other Hindutwa hardliners have the responsibility of accomplishing the promise of building a Ram temple on the controversial site at any cost. The RSS welcoming the negotiation suggestions by the Chief Justice of India that came in this backdrop is also relevant.
The Sunni Waqf Board that represents the minority community that naturally lives in fear and skepticisms might be apprehensive of the apex court’s suggestions. According to the official documents, the Babri masjid site has been registered with the UP Sunni Waqf Board in 1936 and 1944. Even if the Babari demolition issue gets resolved, the Muslim Personal Law Board that extensively looks into the matter, might be wanting to consider the future of other masjids that are infringed upon by the Hindutwa hardliners. Therefore, if the Muslim organisations adopt a stand of finding a solution if the negotiations discussions were still rife after the court legally settle the Babri masjid land dispute, wouldn’t be no surprise. Didn’t they earlier make it clear that they were willing even if the final verdict comes unfavourable?