The scope of mediation for the three member team appointed by the Supreme Court is limited. The mediation team headed by Justice F M I Kalifulla, (retired judge of the Supreme Court) along with with Sri Sri Ravishankar (Art of Living) and Sriram Panchu (Advocate) has to resolve the dispute between the Muslim bodies and the Hindu organisations over construction of the Ram Temple within the stipulated time frame of two months. One thing is certain that the talks would begin from the point that the temple would be built at the same spot where make shift Ram Temple under a canopy stands today in the dispute land measuring 2.77 acres. The temple site can’t and will not change or shifted from its present location.
When I say that the scope of mediation or negotiation with the two parties in dispute is limited I say it because the temple will not shift and that as and when Ram Temple is built it will be at the same site. Now the question is will the other party in the dispute, the Muslims organisastions, would agree to concede this point to the team. The main litigant Iqbal Ansari of the Sunni Waqf Board whose petition is pending for adjudication before the Supreme Court over the title of the 2.77 acre land has welcomed the move to settle the dispute through negotiation. It is possible that Ansari may concede the disputed land to Nirmohi Akhara, the other claimant to the disputed land to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple. It is also possible that other Muslim bodies particularly the All India Muslim Persona Law Board which has been the main spirit behind the opposition to the construction of Ram Temple at the site where once Babri Masjid stood may fall in line.
Once the Muslim bodies agree to forego claim over the land, the major hurdle to the settlement of the Temple dispute will be crossed. What next?
The real problem before the Mediation Team will be to face the demand of the Muslim bodies on construction of a new Mosque in whatever name. Construction of new Mosque is not a problem at all as per se but the problem lies in selection of the site for building a new Mosque. The Muslims would like to place first demand that the new mosque should be in Ayodhya and that too in the vicinity of the Ram Temple. At the initial stage of negotiation it is possible again to find some radical elements and some leaders of the Muslim community to insist for a mosque in the vicinity of the Temple citing the example of the Gyanvapi Masjit in Varanasi that stands by the side of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and in Mathura the site of the Shahi Idgah that is next to Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple. But this demand is set to be rejected by the Hindu leaders involved in the talks.
At best, the mediation team with the consent of the Hindu bodies may offer some site in Ayodhya some distance away from the Ram Temple and this too again depends on the Hindu leaders agreeing to this proposal. There are leaders who want that the new Mosque should be built outside Ayodhya. Here again, the Muslim leaders are unlikely to agree to this proposal. What is the way out?
The solution lies in both the parties in dispute adopt a ‘give and take’ approach to settle the dispute. Once a site for the mosque is agreed upon by both the parties in dispute then the initiative has to come from Hindu leaders to offer assistance in building of the mosque. There will be no problem of allocating land by the government for construction of the new mosque. The Muslim leaders may ask for bigger chunk of land given the fact that the Ram Temple building plan is of grand scale in large area. The Temple will be built with great architecture and art to make the place not only a place of worship but also to attract tourists from India and abroad.
One should not at the same time look over optimistic that the appointment of the Mediation Team itself will bring an end to the dispute in Ayodhya and that everything will be resolved amicably within the stipulated period of two month time. There are elements who might make every attempt to frustrate the sincere attempt of the team to resolve the dispute. If the team fails in its assignment, the matter will be back to square one. The Supreme Court will have to start its judicial responsibility by resuming the hearing the case to decide claim of the disputed land of 2.77 acre in the title suit case.
The statement of the RSS in this regard is important. The RSS has said, “The judgment on the dispute must be expedited: We are experiencing that Hindus are constantly being neglected. While having full respect in the judicial system we would like to say emphatically that the Judgment on the dispute must expedite and remove the obstacles in constructing a grand Temple.”
The writer is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha