Ayodhya/Faizabad: Haji Mehboob, one of the petitioners in the title suit representing the Muslim community, takes a hard line over the question of ceding land for the Ram temple.
Mehboob, who says his house was burnt along with that of many others in the violence that followed the mosque’s demolition, claims he attended every hearing of the case by the Allahabad high court’s Lucknow bench, which gave a split verdict in October 2010. Edited excerpts:
What’s the key difference between 20 years ago and now?
Then the atmosphere was very bad. Now it’s calm. Earlier, people did not even recognize each other. There was a lot of hatred between Hindus and Muslims. Now it’s not that bad. People want to live in peace and quiet, but the leaders here don’t want that.
What is your objection to the Ram temple?
I have said that we don’t have problems with the temple. Being Ram’s city, the temple can be built, but to break a mosque and to say that a temple used to exist there—that is wrong. I want to say that the land of the mosque should be vacated. All the land there belongs to the Muslims.
For the sake of peace and brotherhood, we are amenable to the construction of a temple. But to make it exactly where the mosque used to be is not acceptable.
What about the recent Allahabad high court judgement that divided the land between Hindus and Muslims?
Everyone says that it is wrong. If a decision had to be given, it should have been given in favour of one party and the matter would have rested for forever. Now the matter is before the Supreme Court.
If the Supreme Court decides against you, will you abide by the ruling?
We hope it will not do so, but if it does, then we’ll agree to it. We know that if the decision is taken in an honest manner, it will be in favour of the Muslims.
What if it asks you to vacate the land?
That I shall not do. I cannot leave my land. A temple cannot be built on the land of the mosque.
How do the youth regard the issue?
Those who follow the religion and are children of the Shariat will never go far from it. The same goes for Hindus.