Politics over the Babri dispute, including the hate campaign by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), has only complicated a possible amicable solution, contends Mahant Satyendra Das of the makeshift Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Ayodhya, saying there was no enmity here between the two communities over the issue.
He said the apex court's verdict was likely to be in favour of constructing the Ram Mandir at the disputed site -- where once stood the 16th century Babri Masjid that was demolished by Hindu fundamentalists in 1992 -- as evidence "clearly showed" the existence of a temple at the spot in the past.
Satyendra Das said the court's decision was expected soon, thus facilitating the construction of the "long-cherished" grand mandir at the birthplace of Lord Ram in a year's time.
"The court's decision is expected soon. All things are in place and all evidence has been presented by the Hindu side to prove that the Ram Mandir existed before it was demolished to build the Babri Masjid," Das told IANS in an interview.
"On other hand, Muslims could not produce any evidence. They have sought time from the court till December for translation of some documents into English. So, the decision is expected early next year," he said.
Citing good relations among people from both communities, he said they would sit together and try to find a solution in case the court's decision was not acceptable to both sides. "We will find a solution through mutual understanding and talks, but no political party will be allowed to interfere as they have their political motives," he said.
Satyendra Das slammed the VHP for spreading hatred by using foul language against Muslims when it started its agitation for the temple.
"The VHP used the language that made Muslims sad, angry and distressed. Slogans were like 'Hindi Hindu Hindustan, Mullah Bhago Pakistan (Hindi Hindu India, Muslims go to Pakistan) or 'Jo kahega Babri, usko samjho akhri (Whoever says Babri will meet his end). It only worsened the matter," he said.
At the same time, he said such campaigns did not have any adverse impact on the communal harmony in the city.
"There was not such feeling of hatred towards Muslims among local Hindus. Politicians from both sides abused each other. However, common people did not harbour any such hatred.
"I have been the priest of the temple for 26 years, even during the period of demolition. Despite the pressure from the government, I declined any kind of personal security. I never felt scared of Muslims. There is no feeling of enmity between the people over Mandir-Masjid issues," he said.
Also, if they fight, it will have negative repercussions on tourism and business here, he added.
Holding that the Allahabad High Court had erred in its order to divide the disputed land into three parts when no one had asked for this, he said: "It is clear that there will not be any division of land (by the Supreme Court)."
The priest said many Muslims had understood that the Ram Mandir once existed at the disputed site and they now had no problem with the construction of the temple, provided land was given for the masjid.
"Many Muslims understand that the masjid was built by demolishing the Ram Mandir in the past. It is proven now. Muslims have started thinking that it (the dispute) should be left in such circumstances. We have asked them to get land for a masjid anywhere they want. The size of the land is a point of contention," he said.
Satyendra Das said the opponents of Ram Mandir have become less aggressive after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh.
However, the saffron party would not play a proactive role in the matter such as bringing legislation for the temple to avoid any blot on its image and damage to its electoral calculations, he asserted.
"If the BJP takes up the issue, it will meet with opposition from other parties. They will be called being against Muslims. So the BJP government will never attempt to bring legislation under any circumstances," he said.
"So the best way to solve the issue is through the court. It would be more suitable," Satyendra Das concluded.
(Saurabh Katkurwar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)