Mediation must be explored

SC’s advice for an amicable settlement of the Babri Masjid dispute must be followed up with all sincerity

AuthorPublished: 28th Feb 2019  12:15 amUpdated: 27th Feb 2019  8:27 pm

The Supreme Court’s call for mediation in the Ayodhya case must be welcomed for its sagacity and its potential for healing the wounds and bruised relations. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has rightly ruled that even if there exists one per cent chance of mediation in the politically sensitive land dispute matter, it should be explored in right earnest. The apex court’s well-meaning advice for an amicable, out-of-the-court settlement of the decades-old Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute must be followed up with all sincerity that it deserves. The court will pass an order on March 5 on whether to refer it to a court-appointed mediator. In March, 2017, then Chief Justice JS Khehar made an extraordinary gesture, offering personal mediation to resolve the vexed issue. The petitioners from both sides should have seized the moment to restart negotiations in a spirit of mutual accommodation to end the tangle that has already taken a heavy toll on the country. Even now, mediation can be an option worthy of exploring. While some Muslim parties said they were agreeable to the court’s suggestion for a court-appointed mediator, some others, including those representing Ram Lalla Virajmaan, raised objections on the ground that mediation efforts had failed several times in the past. As many as 14 appeals have been filed in the top court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

India cannot hope to meet the aspirations of the post-liberalisation generation if it continues to cling on to the painful baggage of the past. Unless the ghosts of the tumultuous history are exorcised, it is not possible to build a secure future. It is in the interest of this aspirational generation that the present leadership must find ways for peaceful resolution of the Ayodhya dispute. The country went through turmoil and bloodshed in the wake of Ram Janmabhoomi movement culminating in the demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid more than 26 years ago. The mood in the 21st century is one of optimism and hope. There is now an overwhelming yearning among both Hindus and Muslims for a peaceful resolution of the dispute and for putting the bitterness of the past behind them. The dynamics of the New Age calls for a fresh approach to heal the wounds of history and find an out-of-the-box solution. The Mandir-Masjid imbroglio is not just a dispute over title of the land but extends to a wider arc involving matters of faith. Such a complex case cannot be resolved without displaying a spirit of magnanimity and give-and-take approach from both sides.