Sunni Waqf Board is still to clarify stance on 5-acre land
Babri Masjid against which 5-acre land is being offered
A new twist to the Ayodhya saga could still come about if the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board or other prominent Muslim bodies refuse the offer of a 5-acre land for a Mosque construction as compensation to the demolished Babri Masjid, as directed by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the Indian state to allot a 5-acre plot to assuage the feelings of Muslims, retain communal amity and put a lid on a simmering dispute between the two communities which had lasted for decades.
But within no minutes of the judgment being announced, most prominent Muslim parties and leaders, including the intransigent Asaduddin Owaisi, expressed outrage over the idea that a land in compensation could be accepted by their community.
“We don’t need a 5-acrre land as a donaton…don’t patronize us,” said Owaisi in his first reaction to the reporters.
Kamal Faruqui, a member of the AIMPLB, said even if the government gives 100-acre land, it’s not enough. “Is this justice,” he bristled in dissatisfaction.
UP Sunni Waqf Board, who are designated as a body which would get the 5-acre land as compensation by the government, has announced that it would not challenge the SC judgment though it has reservations on the ruling. Still, it hasn’t clarified if it would accept the 5-acre land when it comes about in three months time.
A one-page statement by Zufar Faruqi, chairman of the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, read thus:
“We welcome and humbly accept the verdict of the honourable Supreme Court.
“I as chairman of the UPSCWB make it clear that it will not seek any review of the Apex Court’s order or file any curative petition, hence any statement in this regard by an individual, lawyer or organization which mentions that the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board will go in review is not our line.”
However, there is no mention to their stance on the proposed 5-acre land awarded for a mosque.
So far a nation of over a billion Indians have shown remarkable restraint following the emotive judgment with both Hindus and Muslims refraining from aggressive posturing or violent reactions. The reaction of India’s vituperative media too has been remarkably toned down, neither triumphalism or dejection marking their coverage though a directive by the Centre in this regard surely played a critical role.
Millions of Hindus, who waited for this verdict for decades, put a lid on their celebrations all across the country. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cautioned restraint in the days leading up to the judgment. So was the reaction of Indian prime minister Narendra who cautioned his ministers and party members to refrain from any chest-thumping on the positive verdict for the Hindus.
Indian state had feared for the worst as police had fanned out in districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh and paramilitary forces were called out in Ayodhya, ground zero of the Ram janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. This, along with aerial surveillance, is still on to prevent any communal incident.
Still, if the Sunni Waqf Board rejects the offer of a 5-acre land by the government or is opposed by other Muslim bodies and leaders, it could vitiate the atmosphere of amity and peace and provide a fresh flashpoint to the dispute.
Admittedly, accepting the offered land wouldn’t dear the Sunni Waqf Board too to their Muslim audience, especially the clerics and hardliners who are fundamentalist in nature.
India’s liberal and secular brigade is already upset at the verdict and reactions from Pakistan are stoking insecurity among Indian Muslims. Any confrontational stance would add fuel to the fire.
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