March 23, 2017

Ayodhya Case - why mediation will not work: The Times of India interview with Zafaryab Jilani, convenor of the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC)

The Times of India

‘Muslims not willing for an out-of-court settlement on Ayodhya … charges should not be dropped against Advani and Joshi’

March 24, 2017, 2:00 am IST in The Interviews Blog | Edit Page, India, Q&A |  
After Chief Justice of India JS Khehar proposed an out-of-court mediation effort for the Ram temple dispute, Zafaryab Jilani, convenor of the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC), spoke with Rohit E David on why he thinks mediation will not work, why a speedy court verdict is needed and charges against LK Advani and MM Joshi in the temple demolition case:
Why are you opposed to the CJI’s proposal for an out-of-court settlement?
This is an observation made by the Supreme Court. This was made following the statements of Subramanian Swamy. He is not a party in any of the cases so the court told him to go and settle the matter outside the court. Earlier also, out-of-court settlement efforts have been made at the highest level and failed. The Muslims are not willing for an out-of-court settlement. None of the demands made by the other parties are acceptable by us.
Judicially speaking, what are the issues at stake here?
It is a case which originated in 1949 when idols were placed inside the mosque. The idols were put forcibly and an FIR was also lodged. A Hindu person had filed a civil suit seeking that the idols should not be removed. The court had granted that permission. This was the start of the court tussle. Nirmohi Akhara also filed a suit in 1959. This akhara is that body which has been doing puja on that platform in the outer portion of the mosque. Thereafter, Muslims also filed a case in 1961 that the surrounding area belonged to them. All these cases were kept together. In 1989, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) filed another suit. Allahabad high court passed an order in 1989 that all the suits in this matter be transferred to the high court. Meanwhile, the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992. All the cases continued in the high court.
On September 30, 2010, a judgment was given by three judges of the Allahabad high court that the property be divided in three parts – one portion to be given to Muslims, one to Ram Lalla and one to Nirmohi Akhara. The judges further observed that a leading portion be given to Ram Lalla, since the deity stands there. Against this, cases are pending in the Supreme Court.
Why do you feel LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti should face criminal conspiracy charges?
They are already facing trial in one case. Crime 198 named LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others for communal speeches before the demolition. The matter is pending in the Supreme Court. More than 50 witnesses have already been examined in this case. Crime 197 deals with actual demolition of the mosque by kar sevaks. In that case the CBI court in 2001 had observed that proceedings be dropped against them. The court said that the nature of allegations against them is the same as in crime 198. Against this CBI has filed an appeal in the high court.
After high court dismissed the appeal, CBI has gone to the Supreme Court. After formation of NDA government in 2014, we saw that CBI has been under the influence of central government and it may withdraw the appeal or get it dismissed. We have also filed a review petition. LK Advani, MM Joshi have been made accused by CBI and charges should not be dropped against them. They are liable to be prosecuted and punished.
Do you feel that UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath will pursue the Ayodhya case through Sunni Waqf Board?
Sunni Waqf Board is a corporate body created by an act of Parliament. It is not the department of the government. The state government is not directly in control of that body. Yogi cannot pursue this case because he is not an officer of this board.
Yogi has cleared 20 acres land for Ramayana museum in Ayodhya. Your views?
Yogi has not given this land. It was given by the earlier government. Yogi has nothing to do with it. There is no problem in having a museum. Museum already exists there for more than 20 years.
With Yogi’s anointment as UP CM, do you think it signals BJP’s return to a Hindutva strategy?  
BJP is a Hindutva party itself. There is nothing new. Yogi has been elected by BJP, nothing more.
Do you feel BJP is moving towards plans to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya?
Yes, it has been BJP’s agenda for so many years now. They had demolished the mosque for this purpose. No government can afford to violate the order of the Supreme Court. We have been demanding that proceedings be expedited.