Gilani was also instrumental in forming Babri Masjid Action Committee and is its convenor. A lawyer by profession, Gilani appeared for the Central Sunni Waqf Board as its counsel in the title suits in which the Allahabad high court recently pronounced its verdict.
Currently he is busy with preparing an appeal to be filed in the supreme court against the high court order. Gilani spoke to Sanjay Pandey of Deccan Herald not only on the legal aspects of the suits but also whether he was hopeful of an amicable settlement of the vexed issue. Excerpts:
Your claim to the disputed land was rejected by the court. Are you disappointed?
I am partly disappointed by the verdict. I say partly because the court has upheld our contention that a mosque did exist at the disputed site. Secondly the court has also accepted our contention that the idols had been placed at the disputed site in the intervening night of Dec 23/24, 1949. But the court’s ruling that the site was the birth place of Lord Rama is certainly disappointing as we feel that it is not based on reliable evidence.
Some people, including eminent jurists, have criticised the verdict saying that it was based on faith and belief and not hard evidence...
The court has not relied on facts and evidence and instead based its decision on faith and belief. Such things could not be a basis of a verdict. Also such a verdict will open a floodgate for numerous petitions by people, who will claim ownership of the premises simply because they had been worshipping there for many years and it was a matter of faith and belief for them.
How do you rate you chances of success in the supreme court?
Although it is impossible to predict the outcome of a case, we feel that we have a strong case. There is an impression that the Sunni Board, especially you, is opposed to an amicable settlement of the matter...
No one is against an amicable solution but we know that it is not possible and we cannot wait for it. Is there any proposal? Let those advocating for an amicable settlement come with a concrete proposal and then we shall see. Nothing of the sort has happened so far.
We have no proposal nor are we going to give one. The deadline for moving the supreme court is approaching and we cannot waste any time.
Why do you think there can’t be an amicable settlement?
It is because the Hindu contestants want us to give up our claim on the land, which we cannot do. The Muslims would not have fought the legal battle if they had to surrender the land. The basic question is can a Muslim leave the mosque land and the answer is a categorical no. There is no such provision in the shariat (islamic law). The Hindu plaintiffs want us to construct the mosque elsewhere. It is out of question. We shall outrightly reject such a proposal.
Justice Sigbat Ullah Khan, in his judgement, asked the Muslims of India to ponder over their role in the society and also referred to the sacrifice of Lord Rama. Was he asking the Muslims to make a sacrifice?
I will not comment upon the observations of any of the judges. But the judges are supposed to give their ruling after assessing the evidence. They are not supposed to sermonise and we are not bound to follow them.
Some Muslim scholars have also called upon the community to make a sacrifice to maintain the secular character of the country...
These people forget that the country is secular only because of the presence of the Muslims. It would not have been so had the Muslims left during the partition. Where is the question of making a sacrifice? Our fight is on equal terms. A majority of today’s Muslims were born after the partition. They have no guilty conscience. If the country has to progress, it can do so only by satisfying the 20 crore Muslims.
Did you study books on Hindu mythology and religion while representing the case?
I studied Skanda Purana, Kavitavali and Geetavali (both authored by famous Hindu poet Tulsi Das, who also wrote Ram Charit Manas), Valmiki Ramayana and other books containing information on the Vedas and Hindu religion.
Do you think that a supreme court ruling will pave the way for the construction of a mosque or a temple at the disputed site?
Whatever the result, the highest court of the country should decide the issue once and for all. The question is whether faith and belief could also be the basis for deciding a case. We believe in the rule of law and the Muslims also believe in the rule of law.
Congress and BJP have also called for resolving the issue through negotiations...
Both the Congress and BJP consider Muslims as second grade citizens. While the BJP has the courage to say so, the Congress has not. They think we are beggars and will accept whatever is given to us in alms. It is not possible.