A meeting between the Hindu and Muslim leaders met in Ayodhya for a negotiated settlement of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute was an uplifting piece of news, amidst the despair and simmering dispute that embroils the issue till today.
During the meeting, both sides said a peaceful way to resolve the issue must be found. Reports state that Mahant Narendra Giri, president, All India Akhara Parishad, met Hashim Ansari, oldest surviving litigant in the Babri Masjid case. Giri, along with other mahants and sadhus, had a half-hour meeting with Ansari.
It was heartening to read statements like both sides wanting to reach a negotiated settlement in the dispute. Moreover, these leaders claimed the settlement should be peaceful and acceptable to both communities. However, they claim that while talks are on, the Supreme Court should conduct a daily hearing in this case. Ansari has also stated that they were always ready for talks and there has to be a peaceful solution.
It is the Babri issue that really cleaved India and singed Mumbai in an unbelievable way. People will remember the character of Mumbai changing in its immediate aftermath and Mumbai was not the same in the violence that followed.
It is good to push for a negotiated settlement in a way because it is only talk that will break down the huge trust deficit between the two sides. Even if nothing concrete comes of these talks, it is important that they continue, once the initiative has been taken. Like all disputes — though Babri of course, is mammoth in scale and ramification — talks are the only way forward, when it comes to any deadlock.
We should not let talks be derailed by bombastic statements from politicians who are seeking to rabble rouse and keep the communal cauldron simmering. As the case goes the legal way, talks are a curtain to how the ordinary man or woman thinks outside the legal arena. If peace is what both sides want, then, it is talks that should get our vote.