New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has asked Muslim Ulema (scholars) to ensure they send out a message of harmony through mosques in the run-up to the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute.
Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi delivered this message to prominent Muslim leaders at a meeting at his residence Tuesday, in what is being seen as the Modi government’s first outreach to Muslims on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue.
Naqvi urged the Muslim leaders to assuage the sentiments of their followers and make appeals to maintain peace after the verdict, which is expected next week.
The meeting was attended by senior RSS leaders Krishna Gopal and Ramlal, as well as Mehmood Madani of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Kamal Farooqui of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), prominent Shia cleric Kalbe Jawad, former MP Shahid Siddiqui and noted writer-filmmaker Muzaffar Ali.
“The idea is that all of us go back and use our positions in our mosques and dargahs to appeal to everyone to maintain peace — if the verdict is in favour of Muslims, or even if it isn’t,” Kalbe Jawad told ThePrint.
It was also decided that another meeting before the verdict will be held, which will include Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Muslim leaders, as well as 15-20 leaders from organisations that are close to the BJP and RSS.
This would send out a really strong message, said Furqan Madani, an imam with the Delhi Waqf Board.
Leaders who attended the meeting said the agenda of the discussion was to chart a roadmap to ensure peace after the verdict, and it was agreed upon to send out this message through mosques.
“We came to an agreement that no leader present here will say anything inflammatory after the verdict, which could potentially create chaos. The RSS leaders present there agreed to the same,” Jawad said.
The most important point, however, was that all the Ulema or scholars would need to ensure that they send out the same message through their respective mosques.
Akhtarul Wasey, president of Maulana Azad University, Jodhpur, said Muslims have always maintained they will accept whatever verdict the Supreme Court delivers, but he isn’t sure if the ‘other camps’ will also stay true to their word.
“The Muslim leaders present here reiterated that they will peacefully accept whatever the verdict is. But if some people close to the government don’t adhere to the same promise, then that is a different issue,” Wassey said.
Sources told ThePrint that the RSS leaders present at the meeting said to the Muslim leaders that the verdict shouldn’t act as a provocation of any sort.
“Our shared journey should not be affected by disgruntled elements. Ram Temple is an issue of faith for Hindus. Hindus waited long for the court judgement, and if the court decides in favour of the Hindus, no one should get provoked,” a source quoted one of the RSS leaders as saying at the meeting.
The other important point raised at the meeting was to curb the spread of fake news on social media, as well as inflammatory messages.
Nahid Fatima, editor of Siyasat, a Meerut-based newspaper, said the leaders were asked to ensure that posts on social media regarding the verdict don’t lead to any sort of violence or stoking of emotions.
“The basic agenda was to find ways to not let social media become a battleground on the day of the verdict. And also to ensure there is no fake news doing the rounds. The youth especially need to stay away from fake news on social media,” Fatima said.
Soon after the meeting, the AIMPLB released a press statement, appealing to the media to be careful in its reportage of the dispute.
“A large section of the press, mainly electronic media, is involved in rabble rousing and propaganda. Such coverage may help in spreading hatred and animosity among the citizens of the country,” the statement read.
(With inputs from Shanker Arnimesh)