Confusion confounded over Ayodhya meet
Sri Sri backs out at the last minute; head of Ajmer Dargah says his impersonator had met Rajnath
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.
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.