The history of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute case is older than the history of Independent India itself. The case that could have been solved decades ago became a victim of judicial imperfections, anti-Hindu forces and apathy of the subsequent governments. An eager nation watched with bated breath as a packed courtroom awaited Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer to assemble at 2pm to hear the Ayodhya case once again. The expectations were crushed again as it was decided that the case will be considered as any other land dispute based on evidence. The SC posted the matter for hearing on March 14. But that didn’t stop a delegation of Muslims from meeting Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravishankar in Bengaluru to find an “amicable solution” to the issue. The six-member delegation consisted of executive member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Salman Nadvi, UP Sunni Central Waqf Board chairperson Zufar Farooqui, Ex-IAS officer Anis Ansari, advocate Imran Ahmed, Maulana Wasif Hasan Waizi of Teeli Wali Masjid and director of Objective Research and Development Athar Husain. Maulana Salman Nadvi who led the delegation suggested that the mosque can be shifted outside Ayodhya.
While it is an emotive issue for Hindus, it is purely a political ploy for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the self-styled custodian of Muslim rights in India. The AIMPLB launched a probe into Board member Maulana Salman Nadvi’s meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to discuss a possible out of court settlement of the Ayodhya dispute case. After the probe, they unanimously decided to expel Salman Nadvi. AIMPLB stated that it is not in favour of an out-of-court settlement. They further added that the struggle of re-construction of Babri Masjid remains the ultimate goal of the board and the community.
Undeterred by his expulsion, Salman Nadvi has decided to go ahead with the round 2 of his “peace talks” with Sri Sri Ravishankar which is likely to be held in Ayodhya on February 20.
It may appear that Maulana Salman Nadvi is an upright man with good intentions. No community wants communal tensions and the peaceful resolution of the Ayodhya Issue is a precursor to it. But there is more to the whole episode than what meets the eyes. Let’s scratch the surface a bit:
Maulana Salman Nadvi led delegation made the following suggestions to Sri Sri Ravishankar:
1.) Shift the mosque to some other spot in Faizabad
2.) Guarantee that all the other 400 mosques in India on the list of Hindu organizations should be safe and claims on them should be withdrawn. This also includes the Mosques in Kashi and Mathura
3.) Compensation for victims of the post-Babri-demolition riots
4.) Quick judgment and action in the Babri demolition conspiracy case
5.) A university to be set up at the site of the new grand mosque
So, we see the so called amicable solution that Maulana Salman Nadvi suggests isn’t as straight as it seems. To suggest that Hindus must give up their claims on Kashi and Mathura isn’t just ludicrous but also reeks of a nefarious agenda. While Ram Mandir is an emotive issue for all Hindus, Kashi and Mathura are no less. It amounts to abandoning Bhagwan Shiva and Krishna, both of whom are supreme deities in Sanatan Dharma.
Point number 3 seems a bit twisted too. What kind of compensation is Maulana Nadvi looking at? Suggestions mentioned in point number 4 refers to a sub judice matter, In April 2017, Supreme Court of India reinstated criminal conspiracy charges against L. K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and others. Can a private peace negotiation forum meddle in the affairs of judiciary? Seems far-fetched.
We’ll revisit point number 5 after taking a brief look at Maulana Salman Nadvi’s background.
In July 2014, Maulana Salman Nadvi had written a letter to ISIS Chief Abu Bakr Baghdadi congratulating him for his accomplishments and accepting his as the Caliph of Muslims. The Maulana had expressed excitement at the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate. By expressing glee and swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr Baghdadi’s caliphate, Maulana Salman Nadvi joined the elite group of banned terrorist outfits in Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria which expressed similar sentiments. Islamic scholars like Mufti Yousuf Al Qaradhawi had rejected Abu Bakr’s claim to be the caliph of the Muslims as un-Islamic.
Maulana Salman Nadvi followed this up with an open letter to the Saudi government where he urged them to prepare an army of five lakh Indian Sunni Muslim youth to fight against the Shia militias in Iraq and elsewhere.
So, we see Maulana Salman Nadvi has a rather dark history. Can we expect an ISIS supporter to broker peace between Hindus and Muslims? Or can we expect someone who advocates raising an army of Sunni Muslims to hunt down Shias, to find a ‘peaceful’ solution to a contentious issue? The answer to both the questions of course is a clear resounding no. After taking a brief tour of the Maulana’s profile, the idea of a university right in the heart of a city suddenly seems like a dangerous proposition. A university founded by a man of Salman Nadvi’s leanings could turn into a breeding ground of extremist ideologies.
So, what about Sri Sri Ravishankar?
Sri Sri Ravishankar is a renowned Indian Guru, who through his Art of Living Foundation created in 1981, aims to relieve individual stress, societal problems, and violence. Sri Sri Ravishankar also presents himself as a mascot of peace. He was awarded the “Padma Vibhushan” by the Government of India in 2016. He has received some of the highest awards of several countries including Peru, Colombia, and Paraguay. Sri Sri Ravishankar has a massive following across the globe. Needless to say, that he is a well-traveled and a very well-read man. It is rather unusual for a man of Sri Sri’s stature to miss background details of an ISIS Supporter Maulana before getting into a peace pact with him. It could be a classic case of being benevolent to the extent of being naïve. It could also be a case of letting go of the past to ensure a better future. In either case, the underlying threats remain too big to be ignored. Sri Sri Ravishankar has exhibited his large heartedness in the past too when he chose to get clicked with Slain Hizb Commander Burhan Wani’s father. He even claimed to have discussed several issues with Wani Senior.
While I laud Sri Sri Ravishankar’s social work and his zeal to cure the mankind, let this be absolutely clear that he has no rights to present himself as the representative of Hindus. Sanatan Dharma doesn’t have a centralized structure with well-defined seat of power. A person or Mutt or Temple of Shrine Board or Mahanth can discuss whatever they like in their individual capacities, but their decisions are in no way a binding on the Hindu Community. It was extremely naïve of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to meet and discuss Ram Janmbhoomi issue with a man like Maulana Salman Nadvi.
Hindus have waited for way too long for Ram Mandir at Ayodhya but that doesn’t mean that we’ll forego Kashi and Mathura to achieve it. Let this be absolutely clear to anyone trying to find an “amicable” solution to the matter.