Ayodhya: He heads no religious group or political party but his is the voice for peace struggling to be heard. Sadiq Ali, who has been stitching clothes for the Ram Lalla deity in Ayodhya for over a decade, says he is living proof that the entire dispute has nothing to do with religion.
"I am a living example to prove that the Ayodhya issue has nothing to do with religion... It`s not a Hindu-Muslim issue. Had it been a Hindu-Muslim problem, I would have certainly not been stitching the clothes for Ram Lalla," Ali said in this town, about 130 km from the Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow.
Ali, 45, was talking to reporters six days after the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court divided the disputed land between two Hindu groups and a Muslim party and ruled that the Babri Masjid was built on the birthplace of Lord Ram.
The 16th century Babri Mosque was demolished by Hindu radicals Dec 6, 1992, triggering nationwide riots that led to at least 2,000 people being killed.
"Not only the clothes of Ram Lalla, I have been stitching the robes of sadhus for over last one decade. It`s enough to establish that the Ayodhya issue is no longer a Hindu-Muslim problem, instead it has transformed into a fight against communal forces," added Ali, who runs a tailoring unit in Ayodhya`s Dohari Kuan area.
In his view, communal forces backed by some politicians want to keep the Ayodhya issue alive for vested interests.
"We all know that the issue has been exploited by several politicians. Even today when voices for amicable settlement of the issue are being raised, there are some who don`t wish to end the issue for their political interest," Ali said without naming any person or outfit.
"I just know that Muslims and Hindus of Ayodhya want an amicable settlement... And they should certainly not be ignored while working out a formula for an amicable settlement."
As he sees it, uncertainty would continue if the matter was taken to the Supreme Court.
"A judgement in the Ayodhya issue was delivered nearly after 60 years. Now, people in Ayodhya want to resolve the issue one and for all. They don`t want to witness another round of legal battles," said Ali, who has been stitching religious robes since 1998.