The Congress made it clear on Friday that the crime of demolition of the Babri Masjid was not diluted by Thursday's Allahabad High Court verdict, and all the guilty should be punished.

“Absolutely not,” general secretary Digvijay Singh retorted when asked whether the judgment in the Ayodhya title suits case had condoned the demolition.

A day after Congress media chairperson Janardan Dwivedi said the judgment should be “respected and welcomed,” Mr. Singh said he favoured a negotiated settlement, adding all right-thinking people should work for a compromise within the next three months.

The High Court has said status quo should be maintained for three months, during which the land at Ayodhya is to be divided.

“Not only the government, but all right-thinking people should work for a negotiated settlement,” Mr. Singh said. “From our side, we will try for a settlement… If this is not possible, then the court verdict should be honoured.”

Asked whether the judgment would have a political fallout, Mr. Singh said the “Congress has been saying that the issue should not be linked to politics.”

Statement offensive

Criticising the BJP for trying to politicise the issue, he termed Ravi Shankar Prasad's statement “offensive.” Taking a swipe at senior leader L.K. Advani, he said even RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's statement on the verdict was better than that of Mr. Advani.

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