India Today investigation: No takers for adverse Supreme Court ruling on Ayodhya
Regardless of their frenzied calls to settle the protracted Ayodhya title dispute urgently, litigants on either side of the case are not willing to accept any adverse ruling, an India Today investigation has found.
The Supreme Court cancelled a scheduled hearing for January 29 because of non-availability of one of the five judges of the constitution bench dealing with the matter.
Patience then wore thin, with both sides demanding a speedy disposal. "These dates after dates in the Supreme Court are wrong. These delays are wrong," remarked Haji Mehboob, a Muslim litigant.
Hindu holy men echoed the same sentiments in the wake of the January 29 cancellation.
But when India Today's undercover reporters reached out to the two sides in the title dispute, they found none of them is willing to accept any unfavourable ruling, no matter when it's delivered.
"Do you think anyone can place a single brick if a judgment is delivered (in favour of the other side?" Mehboob was caught saying on tape. "I had challenged them that I would allow not even a single brick to be laid till I am alive."
"Even after the Supreme Court ruling?" probed India Today's reporter.
"Yes, yes. I challenge them to place it. I am being absolutely clear. Till I am alive, they cannot put a single brick, no matter whatever they do," he warned. "Whether it's a Supreme Court or a doomsday judgment. I am a Muslim, an ordinary Muslim. They cannot place it in my lifetime."
The litigant said he would "abide by nothing" that favoured the opposite side. "I would not allow them to place a single brick (for a temple). Publically, I am saying we'd look at the ruling when it's delivered. But to tell you the truth, no Muslim would ever accept it (an adverse judgment)."
He warned of violence.
"Clashes are inevitable. There's no doubt about it," Mehboob said.
Triloki Nath Pandey, a VHP functionary appearing as a representative of the Lord, was also outspoken about civil unrest if a judgment didn't favour the Hindu side.
"It's the public that builds police; it's the public that builds the constitution; it's the public that builds governments. There will be a new constitution, new police, new courts and a new system," warned Pandey, referred to as the next friend of Ram Lalla in the Ayodhya case.
"We will go to the people's court. ...There will be a new constitution. Things will be turned upside down," he said.
"That will cause unrest in the country," the reporter asked.
"Let that be if the country wants it," he replied. "This is a settled affair that the Hindus would not compromise on the temple issue. A temple will be built by hook or by crook."
Iqbal Ansari, another litigant in the Ayodhya title dispute, said he would settle for nothing less than a verdict favouring the Muslim cause.
"This is Babri Masjid. The whole world knows about it. How can the Supreme Court issue a random verdict?" he remarked. "People remember their prime minister's name for years later. Similarly, the coming generations will remember Ayodhya's Babri Masjid."
"If the Supreme Court verdict goes against the Muslims, would they accept it?" asked the reporter.
"They would not accept it. There will be disturbance," he replied.
Official parties in the title dispute aside, passions still run high far and wide on Ayodhya's volatile religious ground, the India Today probe found.
Sourabh Das, a mahant of the Santoshi Akhara in the holy town, warned of an agitation in the event of a pro-Muslim ruling.
"We won't let it happen. If the ruling goes against us, we will have to launch an agitation. There's no doubt about it. We will go there ourselves to build a Ram temple," he said. "Let them bring in paramilitaries or any other force. We will resist them."
Such a movement, he warned, would not be peaceful. "Nothing happens with peaceful means. ...A Ram temple has to come up. It will come up."
In his reaction to India Today's investigation, Amit Malviya, head of BJP's IT cell, spoke about the proposals to build a temple over what is called undisputed land around the disputed site in Ayodhya.
On January 29, the central government had moved Supreme Court for its permission to return the undisputed 67 acres to their original owners, including the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.
"As and when the Supreme Court decides on this matter on this disputed land, it will be incumbent on the governments, both in states as well as the centre, to ensure that the orders of the Supreme Court are executed peacefully and a Ram temple is built there. Anyway, the 67 acres of land that you see there is undisputed land. It's just a small part, which is the matter of dispute," Malviya told India Today.
The VHP, however, adopted a tougher stance.
Its spokesperson Shriraj Nair claimed his organisation was law-abiding, but refused to settle for anything less than a temple on the contested land
"We are not fighting here for a mere temple. Who has the guts to remove deities from the so-called disputed site. That is a temple and will always remain a temple," he said.
Rights activist and Islamic scholar Asad Khan Falahi maintained the rule of law would eventually prevail, no matter the rhetoric.
"The litigants are not the last word. I keep hearing such kind of statements. The only thing that will prevail will be the judgment of the Supreme Court and the constitution of India," he remarked.
Mehmood Paracha, member All India Muslim Personal Law Board, echoed Falahi.
"In India, the constitution of India will prevail. I may not be happy with the judgement that the Supreme Court formulates or pronounces, but I have to accept it," he said. "Haji Sahib is no one to challenge the constitution of India. Anybody who does that, will be opposed tooth and nail. We will silence his voice by legal means. Once again, I am saying this full sense of responsibility that the constitution of India is supreme."