New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday referred the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case for mediation by a three-member board panel headed by retired apex court judge FMI Kalifulla. The other members of the panel are spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. The panel will meet all the petitioners in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh to explore the possibility of an amicable settlement between the two sides.
The Ayodhya dispute is a political and religious debate in the country, centred around a plot of land in the city of Ayodhya. The issue has been at the centre of communal and polarisation politics since several decades. Since the dispute first surfaced in 1855, several attempts have so far been made to mediate a compromise between the two sides, all of which failed to come to any conclusion. Take a look:
1990: Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar made the first established attempt to resolve the matter between the two parties. His attempt came after Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) volunteers allegedly damaged the 16th-century mosque partially. However, after a year, the negotiation talks died.
1992: Prime Minister Narasimha Rao set up an inquiry commission, headed by retired judge MS Liberhan, to look into the issue. He also initiated talks between the two sides, which failed to meet any logical end.
2001: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee set up an Ayodhya Cell in his office, headed by a senior official. The Ayodhya Cell was set up to monitor negotiation talks that were taking place at the time. However, this attempt also failed.
2002: Kanchi pontiff Sri Jayendra Saraswathi succeeded in brokering peace in March 2002, when he managed to get written undertakings from the VHP and Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas that they would abide by the court's decision on the matter. However, later, the VHP retracted from its words in light of the court's ruling that prohibited the puja inside the mosque and directed a status quo on the disputed land.
2003: The Shankaracharya tried once more a year later. This time, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), also one of the contesting parties, shot down the seer's proposal saying it was unacceptable to them. After this, the seer withdrew himself from the mediation process.
2004: Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel laureate Dalai Lama also tried to resolve the issue, but he too failed.
2015: The oldest litigant in the case, Mohammed Hashim Ansari made a attempt in the case. Ansari was involved in the case, since his arrest in 1949 for protesting against the installation of Lord Ram idols inside the mosque. Ansari made at least two attempts to negotiate with the Hindus. However, his demise at age of 96 in 2016, halted the negitiation process.
2017: Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar suggested a 3-point mediation formula; however, his initiative for the peace process hit a roadblock after his 'settlement formulas were rejected by the parties.
2018: Maulana Salman, an AIMPLB executive, suggested an out-of-court settlement. He even met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to form a proposal, but his suggestion was instantly shot down.