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Why former AMU vice-chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah wants Muslims to give up Ayodhya claim

Retired Lt Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah has drawn criticism for suggesting that Muslims should give up claim to Ayodhya site even if they win SC case. 

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New Delhi: Former Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) vice-chancellor Lt General Zameer Uddin Shah (Retd) has defended his stance that Muslims should give up the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya for “lasting peace” in India.

Shah is part of a group called ‘Indian Muslims for Peace’, which released a statement Thursday supporting an out-of-court settlement for the decades-old dispute. 

His remarks came as he participated in an interactive session organised by the group, and drew much censure on social media.

Speaking to ThePrint, Shah said he had seen the criticism coming. “I know I will receive flak from my community, but this was something that needed to be said,” Shah added.

According to the decorated general, the Muslim community would be the “loser whether they win the Supreme Court case or not”. 

“If the Muslim side loses, there will be unnecessary bitter feelings. If we win, do you think we will be able to build a functional mosque there?” Shah said. “It could lead to riots.”

Shah added that he had always held the same position about the disputed land, which has been a communal flashpoint since 1992, when the demolition of the Babri Masjid, built by the Mughal emperor Babur at a site believed to be the birthplace of Hindu deity Ram, triggered riots across different parts of India.

Shah, who has been a vocal critic of some of the Modi government’s policies, including the way Article 370 was scrapped, said handing over the disputed land in Ayodhya to Hindus will only benefit Muslims. Currently, he added, “the people who created this problem are benefitting and Muslims are losing”.

Shah said his position was backed by religious authority too.

“Imam Mohammed, follower of Imam Abu Huraira (a companion of Prophet Muhammad who is considered to be one of the most reliable and prolific narrators of Hadith — a compilation of sayings, actions and anecdotes from the Prophet’s life), had said that ‘if no namaz is read in a place, the place can be reverted to the owner’ — there has been no namaz in that location for nearly 30 years now,” Shah added.

Also Read: ‘Indian Army does not like being committed to civilian operations, they’re our own people’

‘Two conditions’

Shah, the author of a book called The Sarkari Mussalman: Life and Travails of a Soldier Educationist, has often fielded allegations from some sections of the Muslim community that he is a stooge of the administration on account of his service with the Army. 

In the 2002 Gujarat riots, he led the Army contingent deployed to quell the violence, and recently criticised the then Narendra Mod-led state administration for their handling of the violence.

Speaking about giving up the Ayodhya site, Shah said the group was only willing to do so on two conditions, that anything like the Babri Masjid demolition isn’t repeated, and that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 is strengthened.

The Act seeks to prevent the “conversion” of any place of worship and maintain the religious character it held at the time of Independence.

“What happened on 6th of December (Babri demolition) was completely illegal and shouldn’t be repeated,” Shah said.

Asked if the alleged perpetrators of the demolition should be punished, he said, “I wouldn’t like to comment on that. It’s up to the courts.”

Some senior leaders of the BJP, including L.K. Advani and Uma Bharati, are among the accused in the demolition and riots case, which is currently being heard daily by a local Uttar Pradesh court.  

The title suit at the heart of the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, which pertains to the ownership of the 2.77-acre plot in Ayodhya, is in the Supreme Court, with the next hearing scheduled for Monday. A mediation process is underway alongside, after failing to reach an outcome earlier this year.

The court is expected to finish the proceedings in the matter by 18 October.

“I am aware that our statement might not make a difference,” Shah said, “But perhaps someone will pay heed.”

Also Read: PM Modi’s Muslim friend questions Lt Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah’s 16-year silence on 2002 


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  1. Let me share an incident happen at Hubli Karnataka, There was a controversy over the flag hoisting at Idgah Maidan, the land was claimed by Anjuman-e-Islam, and BJP wanted to hoist National Flag on 15th Aug. This conflict was gaining on for more than decade

    It was non Issue, BJP tried to make electoral gain. Present Minister of the Parliamentary Affairs Mr Pralhad Joshi, Ms Uma Bharati all descended on Hubli in 1994, their were riots, many people died except the leaders.

    Mr H. D. Deve Gowda, then Chief Minister, solved it intelligently convinced Anjuman-e-Islam to hoist flag in 1995
    Alas, post that all our patriotic leaders lost interest in national flag hoisting at Idga Maidan. They just vanished from that year onwards. In last two decade none of BJP leader were present for national flag hoisting at Idgah Maidan
    Let All India Babri Masjid Action Committee (AIBMAC) build temple, I am sure all So called Ram Bhakt will lose interest in Ram & his janmabhoomi

  2. When transfer of Power from British to congress happened in 47 the Divide and rule policy was also one instrument congress received. Illiterate Muslim was one vote bank which was readily available as educated class went to Pak. To make them afraid was a guarantee that they vote in mass to congress hence issues like Ayodhya was and is deliberately left unresolved so that Muslim keep voting without asking anything back to Congress. Another piece missing in this plan was a voilent Hindu who could create fear among Muslims. So extreme elements among Hindu were Patronized and terms like Hindu terror invented. Patel resolved Somnath issue but Nehru wanted Ayodhya to linger on as a gurantee to power for his coming generations.
    The proof of this is available around you as Sibbal, Arif Mhd Khan remarks

  3. An argumentative Muslim should ask him, Sir, what should we do when the NRC Inspectors drop by and ask us for our identity papers, going back three generations.

  4. What does the good general feel about how the site was cleared, for future use. What assurances can he give his community that this was a one – off and that relations between the two communities are now immeasurably better.

  5. No one individual can speak on so significant an issue and expect his entire community to heed his advice. Let the courts decide.

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