By M. Rajaque Rahman— With the Supreme Court refusing to fast-track it and pushing for out-of-court negotiations, it is evident no legal verdict can resolve the vexed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.
Way back in 1993, the apex court had indicated that any court verdict is fraught with risks. Although much water has flown down the Sayaru since then, Ayodhya remains a dispute that cannot afford a loser.
A case connected with the sentiment and security of all Indians cannot be ruled upon as an ordinary title dispute. Any solution that entails a winner and a loser will be no solution. Such a verdict is bound to trigger passions and destroy communal harmony.
Suppose the court rules in favour of Muslims, Hindus will not take it lightly. And if it is the other way, it will create bitterness and insecurity among Muslims. The resultant jubilation among Hindus will only further vitiate the precarious communal equations.
So, it is a national duty for all well-meaning Indians to make all-out efforts for a win-win solution. Despite the odds, India has no choice but to push for an amicable solution that guarantees the building of a grand Ram temple without hurting the sentiment of the Muslim community.
Such a solution calls for major compromises and can emerge only when a spirit of give-and-take prevails.
For this, Muslims must concede that this disputed land has a lot of religious significance for the Hindus. On their part, the Hindus should show a lot of restraint and not indulge in anything that will trigger any feeling of insecurity and alienation.
This is no mean challenge and surely there is no shortcut. Of the many proposals being fiercely debated in social media, I see a lot of hope in a 2003 formula envisaged by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
That the three-option proposal is still relevant speaks a lot about its depth.
Unlike others, Sri Sri has always advocated a “consent-of-all” while pushing for a Ram Mandir. He often emphasizes that prolonging the issue is not in the interest of the nation and it will fuel fundamentalism.
His proposal can offer the Muslims an opportunity to earn goodwill and save it from further political isolation.
His preferred option of Muslims gifting to the Hindu community the place where the makeshift Ram temple stands and withdrawing all cases over that piece of land which is holy to millions of Hindus is prefaced with the offer of the majority community assuaging the Muslims about past hurts — ostensibly referring to the demolition of the Babri Mosque.
In case of this proposal not finding favour, he suggests the gifting of the place by the Muslim community to Hindu saints, who in turn help build a grand mosque in Faizabad.
And as a last resort, he talks about Parliament enacting legislation that will provide for gifting the Ram Janmabhumi to the Hindu community and maintaining the status quo of all other places of worship.
This should also warm the heart of the Muslims as such legislation will safeguard the mosques in Kashi and Mathura and prevent rabble-rousing over thousands of temples allegedly destroyed by Moghul invaders.
Keeping in mind Sri Sri’s impartial approach, it will be in the interest of the nation, and particularly of the Muslim community, to let him take the lead in hunting for a win-win deal. He has a track record of brokering truce even in unlikely conflicts. Will the Muslims of India sieze the proposal with a big heart?
(M. Rajaque Rahman is a former journalist and author associated with Art of Living. The views expressed are personal.)