End it all, please, says veteran Muslim litigant

At age 90, Mohammed Hashim Ansari says it is no point taking the matter to the Supreme Court now that the Allahabad High Court has decided that a Ram temple can come up where the 16th century mosque was razed.

"We always said that we will respect the judicial verdict, and we respect it," Ansari has been saying parrot like ever since the high court's Lucknow bench came out with the epoch making judgement Thursday.

It was almost half a century ago when Ansari filed his title suit in the Faizabad court claiming ownership of the mosque land after it was also claimed by Hindus calling it the birthplace of Lord Ram. For years, the man -- now frail and hard of hearing -- doggedly fought on, first away from media glare and then amid blazing publicity.
But he always remained a simple person at heart, living in a cramped house only a kilometre from the mosque, never wanting to make political capital out of his status as one of the key litigants in Ayodhya.

"This is now a closed chapter for me," he said in a matter of fact tone. "Hindus should be allowed to build their temple (in Ayodhya)." Personally, he does not want other Muslims to approach the Supreme Court challenging the Thursday verdict that split up the disputed land into three -- two-thirds going to Hindus and a third to the Sunni Waqf Board.

If the matter again goes to court, he is convinced it will take decades for it to be settled. Age, he points out, is against him.

"I am already 90 years old. How many more years will I live? Will I be alive when the final verdict comes? What is the point?" Ansari also feels that Muslims should not despair over the judicial ruling -- since a third of the disputed land has been legally accorded to them.

In fact, he did not want the Allahabad High Court ruling to be postponed -- as sought by those who feared it could ignite violence at a time when India is hosting the Commonwealth Games.

Naturally, Ansari is pleased that none of the anticipated trouble took place. He feels credit for this should go to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati. Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed all across the sprawling state -- indeed all over India -- fearing possible violence in the wake of the judicial ruling.

Ayodhya, a riverside town dotted with Hindu temples, is located about 700 km east of New Delhi. Hindus consider Ayodhya to be the birthplace of their god Ram. In December 1992, Hindu mobs tore down the Babri mosque and quickly built a makeshift Ram temple on its ruins. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and allied groups have said they plan to construct a grand Ram temple at the site.

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