Through meetings, retired judge leads search for Babri ‘solution’
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Almost twenty years after the Babri Masjid was demolished, people in Ayodhya are discussing a consensus solution to the mandir-masjid problem.
Meetings — monthly, sometimes fortnightly — are held at Tulsi Smarak Bhawan, a stone's throw from the disputed spot. A local advocate, Gyan Prakash Srivastava, maintains a diary and minutes of the meetings — between local Hindu and Muslim notables and a frequent visitor from Allahabad, who has been gently coaxing both sides to think outside the box.
The visitor is a 75-year-old retired judge of Allahabad High Court, Justice Palok Basu. Since March 2010, he has been visiting Ayodhya almost every fortnight, interacting with a range of Hindu and Muslim activists and residents, urging them to find, irrespective of court proceedings, a "mutually acceptable solution".
The Allahabad High Court order of September 30, 2010 has been appealed in the Supreme Court.
Justice Basu says his batchmate, a lawyer for the Nirmohi Akhara, facilitated the early meetings. He has since been inspired by his "Thakur", Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, to continue to make a bid for lasting peace in the area.
Speculation in local Hindi and Urdu dailies notwithstanding, Justice Basu is tightlipped on what the 'formula' might be. "The solution can only come from the people of Ayodhya. Four or five formulations have come in so far," he says.
Parties to the suits are sceptical. The VHP's Ashok Singhal has said the attempts to find a solution locally are "an SP-Congress initiative to build a mosque". Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer for the Sunni Waqf Board, says "there is no way that talking can lead to an out-of-court settlement".
Justice Basu says he is not discouraged. The administration has neither helped nor hindered him, and he pays the Rs 300 rent for the space to enable the dialogues. "It is important that those who live there are able to continue talking about how this can be resolved. All parties had said they would accept what the court says, but now all have gone in appeal. Looking for a solution out of court is what needs to be explored seriously."
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