As the Supreme Court order in the Ram Janmabhoomi title suit, giving the disputed land to Hindus, started flashing on television sets on Saturday, the mood in predominantly Muslim areas of Uttar Pradesh remained more or less unstirred with many hoping that the order will put an end to the decades-old dispute.
A five-judge bench of the top court in a unanimous decision, while giving the disputed 2.77 acres to Hindus, ordered the government to give 5-acre suitable land to Muslims for mosque because they had been ‘wronged twice, once in 1949 and then in 1992.’
The verdict was preceded by appeals for calm by top religious and political leaders and a nationwide security alert to prevent any attempt by miscreants to inflame tempers in a case that has been hanging fire for decades.
Many Muslims welcomed the Supreme Court verdict, saying it will re-affirm the tradition of mutual respect and unity among the people of both communities. “The judgment was just perfect. As a citizen of India, we accept the court’s verdict as now there will be no more fights in the name of religion. We want peace,” said Mohammed Bilal, a young entrepreneur in Lucknow.
Bilal said there were many other grave issues to tackle.
“I think now we will move on to other issues, further adding to the growth of the state and nation,” he said.
Mohammed Moazzam, former general secretary of the students’ union at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, one of the oldest Islamic institutions in the state, said, “We accept the verdict wholeheartedly as it has brought the long-standing dispute to an end, hope communal harmony prevails”.
Similar reactions were seen in other parts of the state too. In Gorakhpur, the verdict evoked a mixed reaction in predominantly Muslim localities around Gorakhnath temple, the areas mainly inhibited by weavers.
While some expressed dissatisfaction, others welcomed it. Gafoor Ansari, a weaver, said, “This was not expected. However, we respect the court verdict and expect our Muslim appellants to file a review petition in court.”
Zafaryab Jilani, the lawyer of one of the litigants, Sunni Wakf Board, said that they would examine the order and see if a review petition should be filed.
Maulan Nuruzzama Misbahi, principal of the madarsa Zia-ul-Uloom, Gorakhnath, said, “The court’s decision is welcome and should be implemented. Whatever happened is good and in the interest of society. A long-pending dispute between the two communities has finally been resolved.”
Maulana Shaukat Ali Noori, principal, madarsa Meraj-ul-Uloom, said, “Though we honour the court judgment, we are totally dissatisfied with the verdict.”
In Prayagraj, Syed Hassan Raza Zaidi, Imam-e-Juma, Shia Jama Masjid, said, “I appeal to all to accept the decision of the country’s top most court, and maintain peace and harmony in the city and the country.”
Prof AR Siddiqui of the geography department, Allahabad University, said: “The court verdict is in the interest of the nation’s harmony, peace and brotherhood.”
In Varanasi, Maulana Haseen Ahmad Habibi, Imam of Shahi Jama Masjid at Badshah Bagh, said, “If there are any ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ in the verdict, I urge the people, who feel so, to take legal steps.”
Master Nabi Jaan, a teacher at a madarasa here, said, “We already announced we would respect the verdict whatever it is. Now the verdict is out and we respect it.”
In Kanpur, Muslims welcomed the verdict, saying it was time for closure. Mohammad Salees, convenor of the All India Sunni Ulema Council, said, “The fire that the British ignited to divide Hindus and Muslims has finally been put out.”
Maulana Hamid Hussain, Shahr Qazi of the Shia sect, said people should maintain peace and harmony.
In Agra, Dr Shiraj Qureshi, president of ‘Hindustan Biradari’, said, “We welcome the judgment because it comes from the Supreme Court. However, the administration should continue its vigil so that nothing is done to provoke any community.”
Faiz-ul-Hasan, former president of the Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union (AMUSU), said, “The Supreme Court is the highest court of the nation and every citizen is bound to abide by rule of law. The AMU campus has been peaceful and we hope no provocative statement would be made.”
In Meerut, clerics said they accepted the Supreme Court verdict, but were disappointed at not being given land on the disputed premises for a mosque. A review petition should be filed in the court against the decision, they said. Shahar Qazi Zainus Sajeedin said Muslims were not demanding an alternative piece of land to build their mosque.
Zainur Rasheedin, city president of Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, said, “The decision that the Allahabad high court gave in 2010 was much better in which the court divided the disputed land among three stakeholders.” Nevertheless, he said he accepted the Supreme Court verdict to maintain peace and harmony.
Congress leader Imran Masood said, “I don’t want to comment on how the BJP will present it but for us it’s a verdict of the Supreme Court which we accept.”
In many Muslim areas, including Hapur Stand and Shahghasa Market, shopkeepers kept their shutters down as a precaution. A fruit vendor in Gudri Bazaar area, Safeel Ahmed, said, “I am dissatisfied with the verdict.” However, another shopkeeper Aas Mohammad in Shahghasa Bazaar said, “We accept the verdict as the ‘Wish of Allah’.
(With inputs from Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Agra and Meerut)