Muslim leaders unhappy with alternative land for Babri Masjid, say site too far from Ayodhya city, demand mosque within 67 acres acquired by Centre

Centre's announcement of alternative site to build Babri Masjid has been met with disappointment with a section of Muslim leaders and litigants demanding that the Sunni Waqf Board, which will receive the land, move the Supreme Court

FP Staff February 07, 2020 17:37:10 IST
Muslim leaders unhappy with alternative land for Babri Masjid, say site too far from Ayodhya city, demand mosque within 67 acres acquired by Centre
  • Centre's announcement of alternative site to build Babri Masjid has been met with disappointment with a section of Muslim leaders and litigants demanding that the Sunni Waqf Board, which will receive the land, move the Supreme Court

  • The new Babri Masjid is located in Dhannipur village in tehsil Sohawal in Ayodhya on the Lucknow highway, about 30 kilometres from the Babri Masjid site

  • Haji Mehboob, a key litigant in the Ayodhya title dispute, rejected the alternative five-acre plot saying the allocated land should have been close to Ayodhya

  • The main litigant Iqbal Ansari said that the Centre has wrongly interpreted 'Ayodhya' in the SC verdict stating that th court referred to Ayodhya town and not Ayodhya district

  • AIMPLB's MR Shamshad said that the govt shouldn't have transferred the four-acre land surrounding Babri Masjid to the Ram Mandir trust as it is a Muslim graveyard

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced in the Parliament that the Uttar Pradesh government has allotted five acres of land in Ayodhya district to the Sunni Central Waqf Board as directed by the Supreme Court, however, the announcement has been met with disappointment with a section of Muslim leaders and litigants pressurising the Sunni Waqf Board, which will receive the land, to move the Supreme Court.

Reacting to the development, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind president Maulana Arshad Madani said the Babri Masjid was a mosque in view of law and justice, and in light of the Shariah.

"It would remain a mosque till the Day of Resurrection, no matter what form and name it is given because no individual and party has the right to withdraw his claim from any mosque to any alternative," he said in a statement.

Muslim leaders unhappy with alternative land for Babri Masjid say site too far from Ayodhya city demand mosque within 67 acres acquired by Centre

The AIMPLB said on Wednesday that if the Sunni Central Waqf Board accepts the Centre's offer for land to build Babri Masjid, it should not be 'considered a decision of all Muslims of the country'. Getty Images

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) went a step ahead and said that the Sunni Central Waqf Board is not the "representative of the entire Muslim community", and if it accepts the Centre's offer, it should not be "considered a decision of all Muslims of the country".

AIMPLB senior executive member Maulana Yasin Usmani said that the AIMPLB and those associated with it have decided that they "will not take any land in Ayodhya".

Though the AIMPLB and other Muslim bodies may find it difficult to impose their opinion, considering the final call will be taken by the Sunni Central Waqf Board on whether or not to accept the land, the reactions to the announcement are not surprising. Here's a look at the possible reasons that may be behind the call to reject the alternative site for Babri Masjid.

Location of alternative site

The location of the alternative site to build the new Babri Masjid is one of the key reasons behind the call to reject it. According to reports, the land to construct the new Babri Masjid is located in Dhannipur village in tehsil Sohawal in Ayodhya on the Lucknow highway, about 18 kilometres from the district headquarters, and about 30 kilometres from the Babri Masjid site.

According to a report in Economic Times, Muslim litigants in the Babri Masjid case are disappointed the alternative land is located outside the Ayodhya city.

Haji Mehboob, a key litigant in the Ayodhya title dispute, said that the litigants have said that they don't want land, and if the land was allocated it should have been close to Ayodhya. “What is the point of giving land so far away? I don’t accept it,” he said, according to the report.

Muslim leaders unhappy with alternative land for Babri Masjid say site too far from Ayodhya city demand mosque within 67 acres acquired by Centre

'Masjid should be built in the 67 acres acquired by Centre'

Ever since the Supreme Court announced its judgment on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case in November 2019, Muslim leaders in Ayodhya, including the main litigant Iqbal Ansari, have demanded that the alternative site should be within the 67 acres of land acquired by the Centre in 1991.

"If they want to give us the land, they must give it to us according to our convenience and only in that acquired land of 67 acres. Then we will take it. Otherwise, we will reject the offer, as people are saying 'Go out of Chaudah Kos and construct masjid there'. This is not fair," Ansari had told PTI in November, soon after the verdict.

He echoed the same sentiment on Wednesday, stating that the government has wrongly interpreted “Ayodhya” in the SC verdict, according to a report published in The Indian Express.

The report quoted Ansari as saying that "Ayodhya" in the judgment refers to "Ayodhya town, spread over a 5-kilometre radius", but the government has changed the name of Faizabad district to Ayodhya and provided land in Raunahi area of the district.

Senior AIMPLB member Zafaryab Jilani also echoed the demand to build the masjid in Ayodhya town on Wednesday.

"The decision of the Uttar Pradesh government to give five-acre land for construction of the masjid (mosque) almost 18 kilometres away from the district headquarters of Ayodhya is against the judgment delivered by a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court in 1994 in the cases of Ismal Farooqui."

"In the judgment, it was said that the 67 acres of land acquired by the Centre will be used only for four purposes — temple, mosque, library and resting place (thahraav sthal). If any land is left, then it will be returned to its owners. Hence, the land for the mosque should be given from this 67 acre of land," he said.

“Neither is the land at a prominent place nor is it in Ayodhya, which the actual case relates to. Ayodhya in the case was part of Faizabad district,” Jilani was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

Jilani also said, "AIMPLB has already decided that it will not take any land in lieu of the land of the mosque. Now, it depends on the Sunni Board to keep this point of view before the government."

The issue of Muslim graveyards

Speaking to The Economic Times, AIMPLB member and advocate MR Shamshad claimed that the Babri Masjid was surrounded by a Muslim graveyard on three sides and that the Centre shouldn't have transferred at least that portion of the land (about four acres) to the Ram Mandir trust, which was announced on Wednesday.

“It is obvious that the foundation of the Ram temple will be not only on the land of the mosque where Muslims offered namaz for centuries but also on the graves of Muslims that surrounded the mosque. The centre could have avoided giving this land for the temple," he said.

According to the report, in 1961, the Sunni Central Waqf Board while filing a case against the "placing of the idols" inside the Babari Masjid, had claimed rights to the mosque and surrounding land that it said was a graveyard. However, after the 1994 SC judgment, the dispute was confined to just 1,480 square yards. While the November 2019 judgment resolves that dispute, Shamshad said that the fact remains that the mosque was surrounded by graveyards from three sides.

Meanwhile, the Shia Board has called for communal amity irrespective of the decision.

"The Supreme Court had directed to provide the land to the Sunni Waqf Board. It's their decision whether they take it or not. Whatever decision, it takes there should be peace and communal amity," said All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) spokesman Maulana Yasoob Abbas.

He, however, said that the Shia Board is with the AIMPLB on the matter.

With inputs from PTI

 

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