The stand adopted by both the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Bhartiya Janata Party vice president Vinay Katiyar has clearly frustrated the peace initiatives taken by the two sides to bring an end to the vexed Ram Janmbhoomi- Babri Masjid issue without seeking further adjudication by the Supreme Court.
Katiyar's statement in Ayodhya on Thursday, ruling out any possibility of a peaceful settlement without abdication of claim by Muslims was bound to provoke the AIMPLB, which was scheduled to hold a meeting of its national working committee two days later in Lucknow.
It was no surprise when the Muslim law board on Saturday resolved to take the Ayodhya battle to the country's apex court, close on the heels came the announcement by one of the key Hindu parties, Nirmohi Akhara, to also follow suit, thereby almost puncturing the initiatives for an out-of-court settlement.
"We have no choice but to move the Supreme Court now, since the Sunni Waqf Board's resolve to file an appeal agaist the high court verdict has been formally endorsed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board", Nirmohi Akhara spokesman Mahant Ram Das told this scribe over the telephone from Ayodhya.
Speaking on behalf of 89year-old Akhara head Mahant Bhaskar Das, who avoids talking over the phone on account of his hearing impairment, Ram Das said, "We were apprehensive that a particular lobby among Muslims was not interested in closing the Ayodhya chapter and that is exactly what has happened, under the circumstances we are compelled to take the same course and file an appeal before the Supreme Court."
Asked what would happen to the initiatives taken by 90-year-old Hashim Ansari the first Muslim plaintiff in the case, to put an end to the court battle and settle the dispute through an out-of-court dialogue, Ram Das remarked, "well, we all appreciate Ansari's efforts to which the Nirmohi Akhara chief Mahant Bhaskar Das had also responded very positively, but what are we to do now." He emphasised, "We have reason to believe that we must not only have full right over the entire disputed land, but also be given the complete right to perform 'puja' and have full control over the proposed temple."
Asked to comment on the change in Nirmohi Akhara's stand, All India Akhara Parishad chief Mahant Gyan Das pointedly blamed it all on BJP vice president Vinay Katiyar . "It is all because of Vinay Katiyar that the Nirmohi Akhara has altered its stand" Gyan Das insisted , while adding, it appears that Katiyar has caused the change in Mahant Bhaskar Das' stand."
Gyan Das, who was a strong proponent of keeping politicians out of the settlement process, felt, "people like Katiyar have their own axe to grind. Having been a MP from Ayodhya in the past, Katiyar knows that he could continue to get political mileage out of the issue only as long as it was allowed to simmer."
Earlier this week, Katiyar had told media-persons in Ayodhya, "No out of court settlement on the issue was possible until the Muslims abdicated their claim to even the one-third portion of the disputed site given to them by the high court."