Dr Ved Pratap Vaidik — who had started dialogue with all stakeholders for resolving Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute at the initiative of the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao — has posed some vital questions on the formation of the three-member committee comprising Sriram Panchu, Justice FMI Kalifulla and Ravi Shankar appointed by the Supreme Court for mediation for resolving the row.
Dr Vaidik told Tehelka that although he had been already advocating that the dispute should be settled via mediation instead of the Court and the Supreme Court’s decision in appointing the Committee for mediation is a welcome step. “In 1990-92 the dispute was almost at the end of settlement via mediation,” he added.
The eminent journalist and scholar was little worried to know that three mediators have been appointed by the Supreme Court itself and had given them two months time for resolving the dispute. “Now the credibility of the mediators is at stake. Moreover a big question has arisen that whether their mediation efforts will be successful or not?” he said.
Raising questions about the decision, Dr Vaidik said that first question which country needs an answer is whether these mediators have been appointed by the Supreme Court by taking the consent of the petitioners in the dispute. “If not, then why they will give importance to these mediators appointed by the Supreme Court. Second question is that even if their consent has been taken then, is the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute is limited only to the ownership of 2.75 acre land?” he asked.
Dr Vaidik has also asked that even if the three members agree on some points what is the guarantee that Hindu and Muslim leaders as well as organisations representing the both will accept their suggestions. The real questions is whether the three mediators represent any big organisations of Hindu and Muslims.
Dr Vaidik said that people of the country have heard the names of two out of three mediators — Sriram Panchu and Justice Kalifulla — for the first time. It is widely believed that these mediators are representing the Supreme Court. “If it is so, then the Supreme Court should at least apprise them of the options for resolving the dispute,” he added.
Dr Vaidik, while discussing the political implications of the constitution of the committee, said that the panel will come out with its suggestions at a time when election fever will be at peak. “At that time, the Court will not deliver its judgement and this issue will again
recede into the background,” he said.
“What is most strange is that the stand of Modi government on this sensitive issue. If governments led by Chandra Shekhar and PV Narasimha Rao took major initiatives in solving the dispute via mediation then why Modi, who is leader of the party which supports the construction of Ram Temple, is snoring on the issue? Why Modi has handed over the commands in hands of the court? It’s a win-win situation for him. Monitoring the situation from background, he can ensure goodwill prevailing for him by a unanimous pro-temple decision by third party i.e. courts or mediation committee will not only give thumping impetus to Modi-led NDA government, he can also ensure swift implementation of decision with least resistance as decision of court will have to be honoured by everyone.
“However, if the camel sits on the other side of the fence, Modi still will have a face saver as he will try to convince voters that although NDA did everything possible to construct Ram Temple, but it has to respect and support the courts decision.”
When asked that whether considering his wide experience in solving the issue, Supreme Court should not have made him a member of the mediation committee, Dr Vaidik refused to comment. However, he said if asked he will definitely come forward to help in the larger interest of the country for solving the longstanding dispute.
Dr Vaidik said that some controversial facts to be decided to resolve the issue are so complicated that it cannot be solved by courts as it is the issue of people’s belief and not merely a legal issue. Efforts to resolve it via mediation were almost at the point of success during the tenure of former Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar and PV Narasimha Rao.
On Dr Vaidik’s suggestion, Ashok Singhal, the then VHP Chief had agreed to postpone temple construction movement for three months — from October to December 1992. Efforts of amicable solution were going on. In the meantime, the mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992.
At that time both the Govt. and other parties wanted to settle the dispute but talks failed due to demolition of the mosque, he said.
“In 1993, Narasimha Rao government had brought an ordinance acquiring 2.75 acre of Ram Janambhoomi land and the surrounding 67 acres of land. The ordinance had mentioned that this land has been acquired so that besides Ram Temple, a mosque and a big library could also be built on the land. Other facilities were also planned.”
“Our Parliament had also approved it. At that time, we believed in forgetting past and thinking of present. Ayodhya dispute should be handled in such a way that it satisfies every stakeholders,” said Dr.Vaidik, who was the first batch Ph.D in international affairs from Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Dr Vaidik is of the view that a resplendent Ram Temple should be constructed on Ram Janambhoomi land and in the remaining 50 or 60 acres land a Mosque, a Gurudwara, a Church, a Bodh and a Jain temple as well as worship places for Jews and Parsis should be constructed so that Ayodhya becomes a world pilgrimage centre.
“The place should become world’s biggest tourist centre. Beside religious places, a biggest spiritual and philosophical university should be set up in the area. This will be a great monument of New India,” he said.