Con­fu­sion con­founded over Ay­o­d­hya meet

Sri Sri backs out at the last minute; head of Ajmer Dar­gah says his im­per­son­ator had met Ra­j­nath

The Hindu - - NEWS - Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh met a del­e­ga­tion of Sufi cler­ics on Tues­day to dis­cuss the Ram Jan­mab­hoomi-Babri Masjid dis­pute.

Art of Liv­ing founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who an­nounced on Mon­day that he would be trav­el­ling to Ay­o­d­hya to open talks with all stake­hold­ers, was to lead the del­e­ga­tion, but he had to rush to Lucknow at the last mo­ment.

Mr. Singh’s of­fice said the Min­is­ter met the group of 12 cler­ics led by the head of Ajmer Dar­gah, Syed Zainul Abe­din, at his Ak­bar Road res­i­dence. How­ever, when con­tacted, Mr. Abe­din said the per­son who met Mr. Singh was not the in­sti­tu­tional head of the Ajmer shrine but an “im­per­son­ator”.

“Ajmer Sharif Dar­gah has around 4,000 khadims (at­ten­dants). The per­son who had been mov­ing around with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been pre­tend­ing to be the spir­i­tual head of the shrine. He even dresses like my fa­ther,” said Syed Naseerud­din Chishti, Mr. Abe­din’s son.

On Mon­day, on the side­lines of a lec­ture at Jawa­har­lal Nehru Univer­sity, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said he would be go­ing to Ay­o­d­hya this week and “so far, all talks have been pos­i­tive”.

The rul­ing BJP is non­com­mit­tal on Sri Sri’s ini­tia­tive to forge a con­sen­sus.

Ques­tions raised

Ram Vi­las Vedanti, a for­mer BJP MP and for­mer chair of the Ram Jan­mab­hoomi Nyas, which is com­mit­ted to build­ing a Ram tem­ple at the dis­puted site, had said Sri Sri did not qual­ify to me­di­ate as he had never been as­so­ci­ated with the move­ment.

The All In­dia Mus­lim Per­sonal Law Board, has main­tained that the dis­pute could be re­solved only through ad­ju­di­ca­tion.

The Art of Liv­ing Foun­da­tion, headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, said last week that the guru had been in touch with sev­eral imams and swamis, in­clud­ing Acharya Ram Das of Nir­mohi Akhara.

The Supreme Court de­cided to re­open the hear­ing based on 13 ap­peals filed in four civil suits against a 2010 judg­ment that or­dered a three-way split of the ter­ri­tory among Nir­mohi Akhara, a re­li­gious de­nom­i­na­tion; Ram Lalla Vi­ra­j­maan (the de­ity); and the Sunni Waqf Board.

The court will hear the case on De­cem­ber 5.

Ra­j­nath Singh

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