– Nirendra Dev
“Kaun hamari Sunega (Who will listen to me)? (Smiles). I have said this before, Agar masjid chhor dene se aman hoti hae …. Toh chhor do, humey nahi chahihye. (If my leaving it all, we have peace. Let’s give it up).
Born before 1947 – and surviving to live through tumultuous 16 years in the new century – Mohammad Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant to Ayodhya dispute, was witness to both the glory and the decline of India’s emergence. His memoir – chit chat and anecdotes would certainly evoke nostalgia. But someone who stayed away secular brigade and even country’s polity – he remained at the margins of publicity world. But with a strong commitment to Indian nationhood and welfare of Muslims – Ansari – who died at the age of 96 now only, is rather a curious residue of the past.
(I interviewed him in October 2010 and met him several times during that year at his residence at Ayodhya)
Excerpts of the interview published in The Statesman and also used in my book “Ayodhya-Battle for Peace” published in 2010)
“Congress is responsible for Ayodhya trouble, partition…..”
— Old warhorse Mohammad Hashim Ansari had told me in 2010 — after the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya dispute!
(He was simple and a nationalist to the core who cautioned Muslims not to fight Hindus…) more of it in my book “Ayodhya-Battle for Peace”.
–A plaintiff on behalf of the Sunni Central Waqf Board to the title dispute, 90-year-old Ansari (in 2010) was a die-hard anti-Congressman. He died in 2016(July 20).
– Arrested under the infamous MISA during the emergency, in interview with me – he blamed Congress for precipitating the Mandir-Masjid dispute even as he slams secular brigade leaders like Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav for instigating Muslims to fight a ‘losing’ battle against the Hindus.
There was mini Diwali at Ayodhya: Sept 30, 2010
In the wake of the September 30 – 2010- verdict, he as a chief votary of negotiated settlement and met Akhara Parishad chief Mahant Gyan Das.# How do you react to the verdict? After 60 years of litigation starting from 1949 in Faizabad court, the Allahabad High Court ruling has left Muslims aggrieved?
Ansari: Throughout my life I have maintained that Muslims should not adopt confrontation approach towards Hindus. Most of the time, people did not listen to my voice. I have gone through all that. Even before partition, Muslims would say, I am coward. But look at the reality today, Muslims are no where. Any further confrontation against the High Court order legal and political will be suicidal. That’s why I am meeting the Hindu leaders; many Hindus agree with me. We should use the opportunity.
# So are you suggesting it is erroneous to believe that Muslims are left aggrieved with the verdict?
Ansari: Even Hindus have some complaint against the verdict. But everyone is speaking about only Muslims’ anguish. You in media also take that stand. Verdict on such emotive case cannot satisfy all. But we should make use of the opportunity. Even before the verdict, I have told you people, ‘Khushi ho ya gam, Band kamre mein raho. Musalman sarko pe ani nahi chahihiye, (Whether it is victory or loss in the case, Muslims should not take to the streets either to protest or rejoice). But many Muslims will not agree to my idea. The false champions of secularism like the Congress party or Mulayam Singh will only instigate them.
# What about the delay in the verdict? When you as a Muslim leader favoured early verdict, everyone thought you hoped the best deal but the rest is known to you also?
Ansari: On September 23, when the Supreme Court ordered postponement of the judgement, I said categorically it cannot be postponed very long. I strongly disapproved of the delay, because delaying the verdict would serve no purpose. For 60 years the dispute has been on and no side was willing to accept a reconciliatory approach. Yeh dalalo ko mauka dena hae (The delay would have only given opportunities to middlemen to exploit the situation).
# But today you are voicing for a negotiation?
Ansari: The court verdict right or wrong gives us a basis for talks. Earlier, where was the meeting point? Both sides would have said, we are right. Look, the plea for deferring the verdict was made on the ground that the court verdict will aggravate the situation. So that means without the verdict, there was peace all along.
Muslim teacher before a temple at Ayodhya
Why then Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992? So many thousands of Hindus and Muslims have died. What for? Why was the Shilanyas by Rajiv government? The petitioner in the Supreme Court Ramesh Chandra Tripathi was no party to the dispute. Actually, he was tutored. But all his sponsors and direct and indirect sympathizers were not concerned about the issue. Ultimately, I am happy Supreme Court rejected the plea.
# Why you are so vocal against Mulayam Singh and the Congress?
Ansari: First of all, after 1989-90, Mulayam Singh only led Muslims to fight Hindus. It was a losing battle, Muslims suffered in image and life and property. Mulayam Singh became a big leader. For Congress, it’s a party which has always failed Muslims and harmed Muslims. Congress is equally responsible for country’s partition and Muslims have paid the biggest price. Lekin kaun sunega hamey (But who will listen to me)? What is worse is who is rekindling the trouble from time to time?
Congress started it all. What was the need for Shilayanyas in the eighties. It all began with that. I have been telling right from the time of first UP chief minister Gobind Ballab Pant that please settle the Ayodhya problem quickly, otherwise history will not forgive you.
# What’s your views on BJP? They have exploited Hindu sentiment?
Ansari: Where’s the dispute on that? Actually, the country’s tragedy is the political
# What’s your appeal to the Muslims at this juncture?
Ansari: Kaun hamari Sunega (Who will listen to me)? (Smiles). I have said this before, Agar masjid chhor dene se aman hoti hae …. Toh chhor do, humey nahi chahihye. (If my leaving it all, we have peace. Let’s give it up). Whether it is victory or loss, Muslims should not take to the streets. But many Muslims will not agree to my idea.
Deserted street of Ayodhya: Sept 30, 2010
# What about Mayawati government? People in Ayodhya-Faizabad generally appreciate her handling of the situation before and after the verdict?
Ansari: I agree with you that it was difficult times. But Mayawati did well. Was she the chief minister in 1989-90 instead of Mulayam Singh things would have been different. Importantly, she sent officials in every Muslim colony. We all were apprehensive but the state government seems to have done well.
# Reportedly, there is a threat to your life after you are trying for a negotiated settlement?
Ansari: This is not the first time. Those who want confrontation would never like me. In 1992 also I got such threats. We followed Gandhiji’s principles even during partition. Today’s politicians would not like it. During partition, many said this is Ayodhya, Hindus worship Ram, you must go to Pakistan. I did not.