Ayodhya issue: Shia Waqf Board chief meets Sri Sri; supports temple at the site

31 Oct 2017

Amid reports of mediation talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the Ayodhya issue, Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board chairman Waseem Rizvi met the Art of Living founder in Bengaluru today and apprised him of the Board's stand that a Ram temple should be built at the site.

"I met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and apprised him of the (Shia) Board's stand that a Ram temple should be constructed at the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya. I have met all seers and mahants contesting the case for the construction of a temple in court. All of them are ready for talks," Rizvi told news agency PTI over phone. The Shia Waqf Board is drafting the terms and conditions of a mutual agreement, he said. "The Shia Central Wakf Board does not want any mosque to be constructed at Ram's birth place. Instead it should be constructed elsewhere in a Muslim populated area," he said. According to him, the existing mosques in Ayodhya were sufficient for the Muslims residing there. There is no need for a new mosque. The Shia Waqf Board chief claimed that those demanding the construction of a mosque at Ram's birthplace, or near it, only wanted to linger the dispute.

"The demolished mosque belonged to the Shia Waqf and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has no right to decide on it. Only the Shia board has the right to decide," Rizvi claimed. I have conveyed my intentions to Ravi Shankar, he said, adding that the initiative would strengthen Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. In a bid to resolve Ayodhya issue, the spiritual guru had reportedly met Nirmohi Akhara leaders and Muslim law board members recently. Though the AIMPLB is not a party in the case, being the apex Islamic body on religious and personal matters, it wields considerable influence.

Rizvi, however, declined to divulge as to what Ravi Shankar told him. The Art of Living Foundation had said last week that Ravi Shankar was in touch with several imams and swamis, including Acharya Ram Das of the Nirmohi Akhara, to help find an out-of- court settlement to the Ram Temple dispute. However, earlier, AIMPLB member and Convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) Zafaryab Jilani had denied that any of their authorised representatives met the Art of Living founder for an out-of-court settlement.

"The Ayodhya dispute cannot be settled through arbitration. We will never withdraw our claim to the land in Ayodhya where once the Babri mosque stood and was demolished on December 6, 1992. If Ravi Shankar wants to mediate on this issue, he should send a formal proposal to the AIMPLB," Jilani had said. If some individual members of the board did meet Ravi Shankar, it doesn't represent what AIMPLB stands by, he added. Jilani said the position of the board was clear that a solution was possible only through adjudication.