The Supreme Court-appointed mediation committee on the Ayodhya dispute is set to meet litigants for an interaction on Wednesday to kick off the mediation process even as Hindu saints continue to oppose the presence of Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the panel.
A Muslim litigant, too, has asked the spiritual leader to quit the panel if he fails to clear his stand on a letter in which he had purportedly suggested that Muslims should give up their claim on the disputed land.
“Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is not an independent mediator as he had written a letter to us in the past asking us to give up our claim on the disputed land. Hence, I have asked him to either clear his stand or recuse himself from the panel,” said Iqbal Ansari, son of Hashim Ansari, one of the main litigants in the Ayodhya title suit.
Apart from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the mediation panel comprises Justice (retired) FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and senior advocate Sriram Panchu.
The saints of Ayodhya are opposing any kind of mediation in the case and they consider Sri Sri Ravi Shankar “a rank outsider” on the Ram Mandir issue.
“Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has never been associated with the movement,” said Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, head of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, which spearheaded the Ram temple movement in the late 1980s and the early 1990s.
Earlier this month, a Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi referred the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute to the panel, setting aside absence of consensus between rival claimants.