Babri Masjid in Ayodhya
File photo: Babri Masjid in Ayodhya being demolished on December 6, 1992. Image Credit: AP

Lucknow: The secret negotiations seeking an out of court settlement for India's over a century old Babri-Mosque-Ram temple dispute have failed, Gulf News has learnt.

The final negotiations were taking place since July 29 at UP Sadan in New Delhi where Muslim clerics, legal representatives of the Muslim and Hindu litigants held talks with a high-powered mediation panel appointed by the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court had set up this panel in March to seek an out of court settlement between Hindus and Muslims who want a small piece of land in Ayodhya town of Uttar Pradesh state.

During the four-day long negotiations in New Delhi, the media panel members, including Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu held talks with representatives of Hindu and Muslim organisations.

"Technically, the talks have failed. All the negotiating Muslims, including litigants and stakeholders, except one or two, wanted a negotiated settlement," a source who was briefed on the talks told Gulf News on Thursday.

It was not immediate clear what were the sticking points that led to the derailment of the talks. However, this source said: "This is a representative suit of the two parties that includes [in addition to Hindu litigants] Sunni Waq Board and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind [an organisation of Islamic scholars]. For any negotiated settlement, they all have to agree."

"The negotiations have been derailed because of one or two people," said another source without elaborating. All the sources declined to be identified for this article in view of the Supreme Court gag order banning India from reporting the deliberations of the mediation panel.

From the Muslims' side, among those who attended the final negotiations included Zufar Ahmad Farooqui, Chairman,. Sunni Waqf Board and Maulana Arshad Madani, the president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind.

The mediation panel will now submit its report to the Supreme Court when a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will hear the dispute on Friday. It was not immediately clear what the panel will stay in its final report. Also, the sources could not say if the mediation panel will seek more time to continue the negotiations or if it will request the court to start day to day hearings. In 2010, a high court had divided the dispute piece of land into three parts -- two for Hindus and one for Muslims. The Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the high court order.

Another source, a Muslim lawyer, who will attend the hearing in Supreme Court on Friday, told Gulf News: "The talks have not been successful, but I will not call them a failure too. Lets see what happens in the court hearing on Friday."

The case, known as Babri Masjid-Ram Temple dispute first started during the British rule in 1885 when Hindus sought control of the Mughal era mosque claiming that their revered deity Ram was born at the spot in Ayodhya town. This mosque was demolished by a Hindu mob in 1992.

On July 15, Gulf News reported that an out of court settlement was expected after Muslim litigants indicated to the mediation panel that they were ready to give up claims on the 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya.