Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW — The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board’s meeting on November 26 will be stormy. For, other than chairman Zufar Farooqui, all the eight members of the Waqf Board are in favour of filing a review petition in the Supreme Court against the recent verdict in the Babri Masjid- Ram Janmabhoomi- title case. The chairman is adamant that the board won’t file the petition, and denied there was any pressure on him for taking such a stand.
The Sunni Central Waqf Board was the main plaintiff in the Babri Masjid case since 1961. But, the Board’s present chairman seems to be under pressure from the BJP-led UP government, who played a negative role, causing immense damage to the solid Babri Masjid case. Now, he does not want to go in appeal.
Speaking to Caravan Daily on phone from Lucknow, Farooqui said he did not favour review petition as it won’t “serve any purpose.” When his attention was drawn to the fact that all the members of board want to file the petition, he said no member told him so. However, he said the board’s meeting scheduled on November 26 will take a final call on the issue, and finalise the board’s strategy after the apex court verdict. He has been consistently saying since the day of the verdict that a review petition is not the right option.
However, the board’s members are questioning Farooqui’s decision of not going in for a review of the Supreme Court constitution bench order.
Imran Mabood Khan, a vocal member of the Board, said all the eight members of board were on the same page as far as filing of a review petition was concerned. Khan, an advocate, told Caravan Daily that the chairman has no right to take a decision by his own and board must respect the sentiments of the community.
“If the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is going for a review in the court, the Sunni Waqf Board should too take into account the sentiments of the Muslim community even if there may not be much hope vis-a-vis a review,” Khan said.
When he was told that the chairman is maintaining that no member had approached him on the issue, he said, “Please tell him (chairman) that Imran Mabood and other members do not support his stand.” Concurring with his views, another prominent board member Abdul Razzaq Khan said the chairman “cannot take any decision without consulting the board.”
Mabood Khan argued that the Supreme Court has accepted that the mosque was built in 1528 and its existence has been proven. It also accepted that it was desecrated in 1949. So was its demolition in 1992. Therefore, we must go into appeal,” he said.
However, chairman Farooqui categorically told Caravan Daily that he was not in favour of filing the petition, also as he did not want to vitiate the communal atmosphere in the country further. He alleged that some lawyers attached to the case wanted to go in appeal while many leaders in the Muslim Personal Law Board did not support the move. He even took the name of Jamiat Ulama-i- Hind president Maulana Arshad Madani.
Farooqui denied that he was under any pressure from any quarters, stating that if it was so, then he has had withdrawn the case way back in the 2017 when the Shia Wakf Board chairman Waseem Rizvi withdrew the case. “I also did not dismiss the services of Rajeev Dhavan, Zafaryab Jilani and others in the middle of the hearing and continued the support till the end.”
When asked why he was betraying his faith by converting a mosque into a place of idol worship, he said, “You don’t know the countryside, where Muslims are in lesser numbers and have been living in a constant state of fear.”
It was pointed out that it was the duty of Wakf Board to protect the Wakf properties whose owner is the Almighty Allah. Had the mediation panel’s settlement been accepted, it would have brought many benefits to the community, as many points of the compromise formula were under wraps because of the confidentiality clause. Farooqui asked, “Who went into a compromise with pro-RSS leader Ravi Shankar without taking the Board or the community into the confidence?”
Jeelani Khan, privy to the developments in the UP Wakf Board, said that the board was a divided house as there was strong resentment against the board chairman. Jeelani Khan, resident editor of Inquilab, Lucknow edition, told Caravan Daily that the meeting of the board will be stormy. “If somebody is under pressure from any quarter, he will never admit it openly, Khan said in an oblique reference towards the chairman of Wakf Board.”
Undoubtedly, because of his “betrayal” in the Babri case, chairman Farooqui has become a persona non-grata in the community. Even the Jamiat Ulama-i- Hind (M) passed a resolution equating him with Mir Jaafar, who had betrayed the Bengal Nawab at the Battle of Palasi. “In the Babri Mosque case, the chairman of the UP Sunni Wakf Board has played the role of Mir Jaafar, hurting the interests of the Muslim of India.”