Dubai: India’s Central Sunni Waqf Board, the main Muslim party in the 134-year-old temple-mosque dispute has given up claims on a disputed piece of land on which a Mughal era mosque stood in Ayodhya, Gulf News can reveal.
Highly places sources confirmed to Gulf News on Wednesday that the “Waqf Board has submitted a “settlement” to India’s Supreme Court giving up its claims on a 2.77 acre plot of land on which Babri mosque stood till 1992 when it was demolished by a mob of Hindu extremists in northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Supreme Court is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging a 2010 order of a lower court dividing the disputed land into three parts – two to Hindus and one to Muslims. The hearings in the case concluded on Wednesday.
The row over the land in the city of Ayodhya has resulted in violent sectarian clashes and thousands of deaths since the 1947 declaration of independence. Its escalation in December 1992 when the Mughal-era Babri mosque was demolished by a mob of Hindu zealots was especially wrought with communal tensions, and triggered a wave of nationwide riots that permanently altered the social and political landscape of the country.
Earlier in July this year, Gulf News exclusively reported that Muslim petitioners had decided to drop claims on the land in an attempt to amicably settle the issue. The Muslim petitioners had given assurances to a mediation panel appointed by the Supreme Court early this year. The mediation process, however, was derailed after some petitioners raised objections and the mediation panel submitted a closure report to the Supreme Court in August.
Weeks later in September, the Supreme Court again allowed the mediation process to resume.
The sources told Gulf News that the mediation panel submitted its report on Wednesday. “The mediation panel has submitted the settlement signed by the Waqf Board and four Hindu parties,” a source said declining to name the Hindu parties.
“It is up to the Supreme Court to take cognisance of this settlement or decide on the merit of the case,” the source who attended the final hearing on Wednesday said.
“It won’t be a one-sided judgement – nobody’s victory and nobody’s defeat,” he added.
In its settlement, the Sunni board has submitted a point-wise proposal. This includes:
- a) The Sunni Waqf Board is giving up claims on the dispute site in Ayodhya
- b) Places of Religious Worship Act 1991 should be made water tight
- c) Government should take over maintenance of around 22 mosques in Ayodhya. Many of these were damaged in in riots after Babri demolition in 1992.
- d) The Supreme Court must form a committee to check the status of other religious places under the control of Archaeological Survey of India.
Wednesday’s announcement by Sunni Waqf Board was followed by a series of meetings between mediation panel members, board chairman ZA Farooqui and two Hindu petitioners,” the sources said.
“The Supreme Court is now expected place on record the affidavit and the mediation panel report and it may order a status quo on all other religious disputes, including Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi,” the sources said.
The settlement was filed on the final day of Supreme Court hearing and a five-bench member is expected to issue a verdict ahead of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi’s retirement on November 17.