The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is getting ready to once again raise the Ram temple issue to fever pitch against the backdrop of an expected verdict by year-end from the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court in the main title deed case related to the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex.

Champak Rai, RSS point man for overseeing the legal battle, confirmed that at a scheduled meeting in Haridwar in July a decision could be taken to revive the temple issue.

Muslim parties to the dispute have already completed their arguments before a three-judge Bench. The other parties are expected to conclude their arguments by July. And a judge has already announced that the ruling could come within three-four months of the conclusion of arguments.

Zafaryab Jilani, one of the prominent lawyers fighting the case on behalf of Muslims, told The Hindu: “We expect a verdict by year-end. We expect and hope it would be unbiased, based on evidence and according to law.” As for the VHP trying to whip up religious sentiments all over again, he said that since 2002 the BJP and the rest of the sangh parivar have not been able to get any response from Hindus. “The response they expect will come only if we [the Muslims] react. And we are determined not to react.”

The case before the Lucknow Bench is moving apace even as witnesses are being examined in the related case of Babri Masjid demolition, which is also showing signs of movement after stagnating over technical wrangles for more than 15 years.

The parties to the main Ayodhya dispute know and acknowledge that as and when the verdict comes, whatever it is, the aggrieved party will approach the Supreme Court. That process could take several years more. While Muslims have already announced that they would abide by the court verdict, which would be binding on all concerned, Mr. Champak Rai said it was not a simple matter of title deed. “A plot of land can be bought or sold, but Ram Janmabhoomi is sacred and nothing can change its status as Lord Ram's birthplace.”

BJP's stand

Over the years, the Bharatiya Janata Party has changed its stance from “the Ram temple issue is a matter of faith and therefore above law.” It prefers a consensual agreement between the two main parties or legislation for resolving the dispute, to getting it sorted through a court verdict. It has argued that no government would be able to implement a court verdict because religious sentiments and emotions of crores of people are involved. But some of its prominent political allies in the National Democratic Alliance are committed to go with the court verdict.

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