Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid: Muslims unhappy with Sri Sri in mediation panel

Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case took a new turn when the SC bench referred it to mediation. But Muslims seem to be unhappy with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as one of the mediator

PTI photo
PTI photo

S Khurram Raza

Ayodhya's Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case took a new turn on March 8 when a five-Judge Constitution Bench referred it to mediation for amicable settlement. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, appointed a three-member panel to act as mediators. The panel will be headed by former Supreme Court Judge FM Kalifullah with spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and mediation expert lawyer Sriram Panchu as other members. The mediation process will be held in Faizabad district and has to be completed within eight weeks. The court has barred the media from reporting the whole mediation process.

The vice-president of one of the three factions of Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha, Ravi Ranjan Singh, representing the faction in the court, stated, “We are for mediation as it has been asked by the Supreme Court but mediationis only about how the land is to be vacated and nothing else. Though the process may be futile, still we will give peace a chance.”

The Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, does not agree with people in the panel and thinks that this has no meaning. “We do not have any objection on the names of the people who are from the judicial background but as far the name of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is concerned, we have serious reservations as he is a party in this whole issue and his inclination is well known to everyone,” he said. He further added, “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has regularly toed the line of one side in this dispute and we have not agreed to statements he has made in the past. I think it’s not worth making a committee with people who are partial.”

Upset with the name of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, he said, “Who is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, what role does he have in all this? There are many like him on both sides. With him in the committee, we see no hope in this whole activity.”

He added, “Though we respect the offer of mediation, but any positive outcome is only possible if non-controversial people are included in the mediation panel. Now, I don’t think that this effort of mediation will be successful.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Mufti Mukarram, Imam of Fatehpuri Shahi Masjid, said, “The effort for mediation is welcome but my view is that there should be no one from outside, only the parties to the case and judges hearing the case should be a part of this process. As far as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is concerned, he is a controversial person and basically, he is an expert in funding. The Art of Living that he runs is itself under scanner. He is very close to the current regime and he is basically a political person. With Ravi Shankar in the panel we don’t have any hope as we can not trust him.”

Mukarram said that about a month back, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar sent him a letter. “After reading the whole text, I tore it off,” he said.

He further added, “The issue of faith should be a part of this process as it is a question of faith for Muslims too like that of the majority community. See I have been involved at various levels of talks in this regard and have been witness to it all from very close and know the intricacies. So, my view is, if the parties to the case sit together, only then there are chances of reaching some conclusion.”

Mukarram sniffs a conspiracy in all this. “There are chances that some kind of a decision could be imposed on Muslims. And if Muslims do not accept that, then the whole community will be defamed. I will request the Muslim parties to think about this, clear their stand and withdraw themselves from this process of mediation.”

Senior lawyer Mehmood Paracha has his own views on this and believes that it will not work. “I only say that it can not work because it is purely a legal issue and it has to be decided purely on legal basis because honorable Supreme Court has itself stated that there are no two identifiable parties. There is no single individual or party who can claim that he is the representative of the said community,” he said.

Even he is not happy about the inclusion of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s name in the panel. “I disagree with the name of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the panel as a matter of principle because his partiality is known to everyone. But since it is the decision of the Supreme court, we have to accept it,” he said.

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