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VHP rules out negotiations on Ayodhya issue

Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Wednesday met UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, purportedly to discuss a solution to the Ayodhya issue. Hours later, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) ruled out any negotiations on the issue, saying there was sufficient evidence to prove that a temple existed at the site and the court would go with the evidence.

The Sunni leaders also said that there would be no negotiations unless Sri Sri Ravi Shankar came up with a definite proposal. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, however, refused to divulge details of his meeting with the chief minister and said he had discussed issues related to “peace, welfare of farmers and cleanliness” with the CM and that the meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes,  was “good”.

Yogi Adityanath had said a day earlier: “Any effort of mediation and at any level is good and worth welcoming. Talks had begun earlier also… and one party always excluded itself from it, so the problem is not that there should be talks, but that both parties should agree to it. Good results can come out of such talks, but the intention should be right.”

Later, the spiritual leader left for Ayodhya, where he will be meeting saints and seers. After the meeting, VHP spokesman Sharad Sharma said in a statement: “There is no relevance of the recent clamor for agreement over the Ram Janmabhoomi because the archaeological evidence in this regard has been found to be in favour of Hindus. The courts also go by evidence.”

He added: “The VHP respects Sri Sri Ravi Shankar but he should know that efforts in this regard in the past, in which Prime Ministers, governments and shankaracharya were also involved, have failed to give any result.”

The VHP spokesman further said: “Even those who have no contribution in the movement are leading the campaign for striking an agreement.”

Mr Sharma said the VHP is keeping an eye on the activities of those involved in the activities for an agreement. “It was a temple in Ayodhya and will remain one. The only work remaining to be done is to give it a grandeur, which will be done through Parliament,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sunni cleric Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali said in Lucknow he had no inkling of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s proposal and would not comment on his initiative. Mr Zafaryab Jilani, counsel for the Sunni Central Waqf Board in the Babri dispute, said: “All those who are talking of a negotiated settlement are those who are not even a party in the case. We are firm on our stand and will wait for the court verdict.”

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had earlier met representatives of the Nirmohi Akhara and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to help find an out-of-court settlement to the dispute.  However, the AIMPLB had said they don’t favour arbitration and the dispute can only be settled through adjudication.

The UP Shia Waqf Board, meanwhile, released the “front page cover” of what it claimed was a draft proposal that would amicably settle the Ayodhya dispute. “We have issued the front page of the draft proposal to amicably settle the long-pending Ayodhya dispute”, its chairman Waseem Rizvi told reporters.

“The board’s stand is very clear. The Ram Temple should be built at the spot where the Ram Lalla is currently placed and the mosque should be built anywhere other than in Faizabad or Ayodhya,” he said.

The front page had the title “Ek rasta, Ekta ki ore” (A way towards unity) written on it, with pictures of the proposed Ram temple as well as the Babri Masjid juxtaposed with an image of a Hindu man hugging a Muslim man. Mr Rizvi did not reveal the contents of the document and said it was yet to be finalised.

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