Even as the nation awaits -- with bated breath -- September 24, when the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid verdict is to be delivered by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court, a section of people who have been diligently following the issue are apprehensive about a further delay.
A senior All India Muslim Personal Law Board member told rediff.com that he has been given to understand that the Union government is trying to get the matter referred to a special bench of the Supreme Court, which could cause another delay in the verdict.
Regardless, there is hectic activity in both quarters. The Ram Janmabhoomi Hanumanth Committee, which falls under the purview of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has embarked upon an SMS and village-to-village campaign urging people to come forward and start building the temple after September 24.
Dore Raju, working president of RJNC, said it was necessary to mobilise people.
"I hope there is no further delay, since this is a long pending case and there are crores of people waiting for the judgment," he told rediff.com. "The Union government should not seek to delay the case further. It is a political issue and should have been decided by the government and the courts ought not to have interfered in this in the first place. I understand that this is a controversial issue; I think whatever the consequence, let us get it over with. There is no point in delaying it further."
A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, said further delays will not help. "The Congress has never taken a proper stand and by attempting to influence the judiciary, it may only end up hurting the sentiments of millions of people," he added.
Professor Muhammad Sulaiman, senior member, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, is also against any delay in the judgment. "Our argument is that under the Criminal Procedure Code such a thing is not permitted. When the Supreme Court has set up a bench, then how can it go back to them for review with the judgment being pronounced in the first place?" he asked.
"I don't know why the government is trying to delay the verdict. It is not in their hands, since the matter was seized by the court. By even attempting something of this sort, the Congress is only proving the allegations that it was never able to take a stand on this issue. All we want is harmony, and I hope there is a peaceful settlement. I do not subscribe to what the VHP is doing by sending out SMSes and going from village to village."
P Yugal Kishore of the Ayodhya Awaz too hoped there won't be another delay. "What is important is that religious sentiments should be kept aside and a judgment that sets a precedent should be delivered," he says.
Dr S R R Ilyas, convener, Babri Masjid Action Committee, which was set up by the Muslim Personal Law Board, says it is very important that the verdict be delivered on September 24. "If it is not done on that date, the matter will have to be re-heard, since one of the judges on the bench will retire on September 30," he explained. "The entire issue has taken 60 years, and any further delay will only rake up communal tensions. Enough of this uncertainty. Let us get it over with."