New Delhi: The second round of mediation in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case has convoluted the course of resolution in the 70-year-old title dispute. The settlement, arrived at after having exhaustive rounds of discussion, has emerged as a bone of contention, as the major Hindu parties — Ram Lalla Virajman and Nirmohi Akhara — have emphasized on judgement rather than settlement. In the absence of all parties on-board, the mediation panel cannot formalize a settlement having a consensus.
The timing of the second round of mediation raises curiosity, as it was proposed after a deadline was set by the top court to conclude the hearing on October 18.
This proposal to mediate also made apparent the rift between two factions of the Sunni Waqf Board, as its counsel in the court preferred completion of hearing in the matter, and opposed the parties within Board inclined on settlement.
At this juncture, Hindu sides have already argued a large chunk of their arguments establishing the disputed land as the birthplace of Lord Ram. Therefore, it is learnt that Hindu parties strategically pulled-out of the second of mediation in the Ayodhya title dispute, as they identified parties engaged in discussion could not arrive on a common platform.
“We could see the difference of opinion in the Waqf Board, and the faction supporting mediation did not have the support of other key Muslim parties involved in the case for many years. We believed that mediation will end up creating more confusion instead offering resolution”, said a source in Hindu side.
Ram Lalla counsels clearly told the apex court that it is not inclined to participate in mediation process followed by the Nirmohi Akhara. The Hindu side believes it has already de-fanged the arguments of the opposite side, and established its case before the top court beyond doubt.
“The first round mediation miserably failed. None of the parties were inclined at having an out-of-court settlement. And, they believed that matter is best if it is resolved through adjudication. Then, after a month and a half into the hearing, the parties again propped up mediation. A major chunk of the hearing on the dispute was already over,” said a source familiar with the mediation.
The Allahabad High Court in its verdict in 2010 equally distributed 2.77 acre of dispute land between — Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Waqf Board. Ram Lalla and Nirmohi Akhara have always remained at loggerheads, none willing to compromise on its claim on the disputed site.
Ram Lalla, while seeking relief has categorically asked the top court to dis-entitle Akhara from any relief in the matter, as it has set up a claim adverse to the deity. With such diverging views in the Hindu side, it was virtually visible that Muslim side could extract more than it was anticipated by Hindu side through this mediation process, added the source.
The Nirmohi Akhara wanted the Sunni Waqf Board to give up its claim in Akhara”s favour. “Initially the case was between us and the Waqf Board. Ram Lalla got in 1989, which was very late into the case. Technically, the Waqf Board should have told the apex court that it is willing to give up its claim for us. It would have resolved the issue, being Shebait, we technically have rights on possession and management of daily affairs of the deity,” said a source in Nirmohi Akhara.
The apex court is yet to react on the mediation report submitted, and its reaction will be crucial in the background of controversy the second round of mediation has already generated. If court rejects this report then the judgement on the matter will be delivered on or before November 17, the retirement day of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
A faction within the Waqf Board has already echoed its opinion of reaching a settlement instead of judgement, which creates a win-win situation for all and it favours the larger public good. And, it will eventually wrest the controversy in the case once for all.
(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at email@example.com)