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‘We need to keep lines open’: RSS, BJP to Muslim leaders ahead of Ayodhya verdict

Abantika Ghosh
Ayodhya verdict, RSS, BJP, Supreme Court, Ayodhya site, Muslim community, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Ram Lal, Mohan Bhagwat, Narendra Modi, RSS leaders

With the country bracing for the Supreme Court ruling on the disputed Ayodhya site, RSS and BJP leaders reached out to the Muslim community on Tuesday, urging its leaders and clerics to remain in touch with local Sangh leaders to keep communication channels open to avoid any "misunderstanding" or threat to the spirit of "peace, unity and brotherhood" among communities.

At a meeting hosted by Union minister for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sah Sampark Pramukh Ram Lal told influential Muslim clerics, academics and community leaders that it is important to bridge the "communication gap" between the Sangh and the community, and to do that they should be in touch with the local Sangh leaders so that there is no misunderstanding.

RSS Sah Sarkaryawah Krishna Gopal said that in 90 years of the Sangh's existence, the top leadership of the organisation never made any anti-Muslim comment. Muslim leaders welcomed the initiative and the calls by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to accept the Supreme Court verdict, whatever it may be, without bad blood on either side. But they also said it is imperative that action be taken against those who violate that call or act against it.

A Constitution Bench ruling on the Ayodhya matter is expected before Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi retires on November 17. It has to decide on appeals against a 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court which ordered three-way division of the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site between the Nirmohi Akhada sect, the deity Ramlalla Virajman and the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board.

Naqvi said: "This is a historic meeting in which Muslim intellectuals, clerics, academics, social workers and others who have influence over the community had a detailed and long interaction with senior RSS leaders. They talked about peace, unity and brotherhood and said that under no circumstances should these be allowed to weaken. Everybody has faith in the SC but whatever the outcome, neither celebration nor dejection should be at such a scale that hurts the other community."

BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said this was just the beginning of the conversation and such meetings with Muslim community leaders would continue to build their confidence. Both sides admitted to a communication gap. "That is why it is important that such meetings continue," Naqvi said.

Ram Lal was quoted as having said: "Is it essential that only Muslims lead Muslims? Is it essential that only Hindus lead Hindus? Why can't it be so that a Hindu leads Muslims and a Muslim leads Hindus? You have come from all over the country, please be in touch with local RSS leaders in your respective areas."

Krishna Gopal underlined the inclusive tradition of India and its unity in diversity. "In the entire history of RSS, not a single RSS leader has said a word against the Muslim community, be it Mohan Bhagwat or any other RSS chief. They talk of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas," Gopal was quoted as having said.

Advocate Kamal Farooqui, who attended the meeting on behalf of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said: "This is a very good initiative and everybody was on the same page. No matter what the outcome of the SC case, peace and welfare of the country is paramount. It is important that the rule of law is maintained."

Professor Akhtarul Wassey, president of the Maulana Azad University, said the entire spirit of the meeting was "dialogue not dissent". "We also told the meeting that while we welcome the messages of peace from the PM and from the Sangh, if anybody from the government or close to the government acts contrary to that spirit, strict action should be taken against them too. The central point was that there are misunderstandings and we need to work towards dispelling them," he said.

Muslim participants at the meeting included Maulana Mahmood Madani, general Secretary of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind; Shahid Siddiqui, former MP and editor Nai Duniya; Syed Moin Sarkar, president, Anjuman Ajmer Sharif; Justice (retd) Zakiullah; Maulana Athar Dehlavi; Syed Hammad Nizami, Sajjada Nasheen, Dargah Nizamuddin; Sirazuddin Qureshi, president, India Islamic Cultural Centre; Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed, founder, Inter Faith Harmony Foundation of India; Prof Zafar Jung, Muslim scholar; Prof Qazi Ubedul Rahman Hashmi, Muslim scholar; Babar Ashraf, president, Sada-e-Sufi; filmmaker Muzaffar Ali and Professor Furqan Ahmed of Jamia Millia Islamia.
Advocate Kamal Farooqui, who attended the meeting on behalf of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said: "This is a very good initiative and everybody was on the same page. No matter what the outcome of the SC case, peace and welfare of the country is paramount. It is important that the rule of law is maintained."

In answer to a question he said: "We attended this meeting because this is not an RSS meeting but that of the ministry of minority affairs."

At a press conference Tuesday, Syed Sadatullah Hussaini, president of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, said the Central Advisory Council of the organisation had passed a resolution that it would accept the verdict of the Supreme Court on the Ayodhya dispute. It appealed for peace and order following the ruling.