New Delhi: Two of the three Muslim leaders whose names are on the invitees’ list for the Ram Mandir bhoomi poojan (land worship) ceremony — Ayodhya land dispute litigant Iqbal Ansari and UP Shia Waqf Board chairman Waseem Rizvi — have said they will accept the invitation and attend the grand ceremony on 5 August.
However, the third Muslim name on the list, Zufar Faruqui, chairman of the UP Sunni Waqf Board, has said he will take a call on whether or not to attend only once he receives the invitation.
As reported by ThePrint, Ansari, Rizvi and Faruqui are the three Muslim invitees in the list drawn up by the Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust for the ceremony. Other big names expected to be part of the event include PM Narendra Modi, and BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, who were key figures in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in the 1980s and 1990s.
‘No point protesting’
Ansari is the son of Mohammad Hashim Ansari, one of the original litigants in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, who died in 2016. Iqbal Ansari took up the mantle after his father’s death, but in November last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Ram Mandir to be built on the disputed site.
“Once I receive the invite, I will accept it,” Ansari told ThePrint. “It would be a dharmic Hindu ceremony, and I wouldn’t have any role to play in it, so I will not go and seek an invitation. But if I get one, I will oblige.”
Ansari, an Ayodhya resident, said he finds “no point” in protesting against the construction of the Ram Mandir.
“We fought for over 70 years, but once the Supreme Court decided that a temple should be built, there is nothing else we can do. I live in Ayodhya, so I would want to continue a peaceful existence here,” he added.
‘Dream come true’
Shia Waqf Board chairman Rizvi, meanwhile, has been a supporter of the movement for the Ram Mandir, and said he would be “honoured” to be part of the temple’s bhoomi poojan ceremony.
“It will be a dream come true for me to be there. I want to stand there with the devotees of Lord Ram, and be a part of the historic occasion,” Rizvi told ThePrint.
Rizvi had hailed the Supreme Court judgment last November, calling it the “best verdict” possible. He had also said he would donate Rs 51,000 for the construction of the Ram Mandir.
“I have been an outspoken supporter of the Ram Mandir movement. So this will be a big day for me,” Rizvi added.
‘Yet to make up mind’
However, Zufar Faruqui, the UP Sunni Waqf Board chairman, has said he is yet to make up his mind.
“I am not keeping very well so I have been advised by doctors to not step outside. That said, I am yet to receive an invitation. So I will only be able to take a final call then,” Faruqui said.
The UP Sunni Waqf Board was one of the key Muslim parties in the Ayodhya title dispute case, and had refused to file a review petition against the SC verdict.
‘Unjust, unfair, but nothing we can do’
Zafaryab Jilani, secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), said “individuals are free to participate in the ceremony”.
The AIMPLB had filed a review petition against the verdict, which was subsequently dismissed by the Supreme Court.
Jilani said: “Anyone can participate if they wish to. We have always maintained that we were unhappy with the verdict, but accepted it as it was the court’s word.”
However, Jilani said if he receives an invite, he will not accept it. “I will not participate in such a ceremony as I believe this entire thing is unjust, unfair and against the secularism of the country. But since the SC has granted permission for it, there is nothing we can do about it,” he said.
The senior advocate added that while there will be no protest by the AIMPLB on 5 August, it is yet to be decided if the body will put out a statement expressing sorrow and grief, remembering the demolition of the Babri Masjid that stood at the site.