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POSTED BY Prarthna Gahilote ON Sep 22, 2010 AT 20:33 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 22, 2010 20:33 IST

At 90, Hashim Ansari seems to be the voice of wisdom. "Masjid se pehley hummey Mulk dekhna hai (we have to look at the nation before the Mosque), he says. Many would call it ironic. Others may even term it pretence. Considering Mohammad Hashim Ansari is the lone surviving petitioner in the Ayodhya title suit case -- filing a case in the court in 1961 for the restoration of the Babri Mosque. But for Ansari, it is neither. Ansari is unfazed. Even irritated, with the constant probing from the stream of journalists, visiting him the past few weeks.

"Phir aa gaye, (they have come again), is how Ansari greets us. He’s seen the entire media circus in Ayodhya in the last one decade, often even finding himself in the centre of it all. But says he dreads that it is starting all over again.

Just up from his afternoon siesta in his mostly bare house in Punji Tola, Ansari wants to talk about everything else except the Friday verdict. "Jo hoga, dekha jayega. Court taiy karega. Hum maneingey (we will see what happens. The Court will decide and we will abide by it). Ask him what he expects and he just smiles. No answers for now. Instead, he wants to talk about old friends and camaraderie from the past. "Parso main Gyan Das se milney gaya tha. Bahut der baithey. Baat ki  (I went to meet Gyan Das the day before. We sat together for a long time. Chatted).

The mention of a meeting with Gyan Das may surprise one. At least now, with the judgement, just days away. Gyan Das after all is the president of the Akhara Parishad and also the mahant of the famous Hanumangarhi temple in Ayodhya. Many may even think, perhaps the meeting between Ansari and Gyan Das was a last ditch attempt to find a solution. A formula, to settle the dispute and the ongoing battle between the two communities. Not for Ansari. He is far removed from these conspiracy theories. Gyan Das is still a friend, he says. "The court case is a separate issue all together. We don’t let it come between us."

There is a certain amount of passion in Ansari’s voice when he says that. You wouldn’t doubt it for a minute. It’s also something that makes Ansari visibly happy and open up. Almost as if shoving the court case aside, Ansari is eager to recount old days. "There was never any bitterness. We were all friends when the case began and we have remained friends through it," is how Ansari describes his relationship with the other petitioners. Local residents who knew Ansari back then are full of stories. The most popular being, how Ansari and Ramchandra Paramahans Das, keeper of the Digambar Akhara and also a petitioner in another suit filed in 1961 were regular card players. Every evening Ansari would cycle to Paramhans’s place and then would begin endless rounds of card playing.

Ansari himself recalls, "Paramhans and I used to go the court together. I would cycle to court and Paramhans would ride pillion. I remember there was once when he didn’t have documents to present in the court. I gave him my copy. On another occasion, he stood witness for me in one of the hearings. We were also together in jail once." He adds, "Koi maahol nahi bigda tab (the atmosphere didn’t get ruined then) But that was then.

Today, four layers of barricading separates Ansari’s house from the disputed site, just across the road, making it absolutely inaccessible for the likes of him. Looking at the barricades from his door, Ansari recalls the last time he went to the Babri mosque to do namaz. "Isha ki namaz thi. Masjid gaye the namaz adaa karney. Sab kuch shaaant tha. Shehar mein koi gadbad nahi thi ( we had gone to the mosque to do the namaz. The town was quiet. There was no sense of danger)." This was December, 1949. Ansari along with other Muslims came back from the Mosque as usual. Late in the night, he recalls, "Ram Dev Dubey who was the kotwal went to his neighbour Zahir Abbas’s house. Dubey told Abbas that he sensed trouble. Together the two locked the gates of the mosque for safety sake. Lot later Abhay Ram Das, a local sadhu jumped the walls of the mosque and kept an idol of Ram lalaa there."

Ansari adds, "I filed a case in the court 12 years after all this happened. It was a local issue. The politicians jumped in much later. They changed the face of the dispute. If we knew that politicians would milk our mosque for their own gains, we would have done things differently." The politicians keep coming back to Ayodhya. Ansari calls them fish and describes Ayodhya as their favourite pond. "How will the fish stay out of the pond?" he laughs.

Outside Ansari’s house the town is quietly going about its business. PAC jawans dot the bylanes. Many of them posted in Ayodhya, for over a month now, to maintain law and order. Ansari seems to be untouched by the tension building in Ayodhya. He cares little about the security forces pouring into the town, taking positions behind the many pickets that have now been put up. Even less, about the rumours regarding the judgement. The September 17 surprise attempt of an `out-of-court-settlement’ did little for Ansari. "If it had to be decided out of court through mutual consent and discussion, we would have done it long back," he says, dismissing the attempt as a gimmick.

As the PAC keeps vigil from their pickets, Kuldip Singh, a jawan says, "it’s as quiet here as it has been for the last one month since we arrived. But things can be very different after the verdict. Our job is to keep a watch. We are doing that."  

Keeping a watch, is also what Ansari is doing. "I am waiting for the 24th and I want this to finish. This has been dragging on for too long. Before 1947, Hindus and Muslims were called brothers. I want Hindus and Muslims to be called brothers again. The 24th verdict should be the final word on the dispute," he says.

I ask Ansari if he will go to the Supreme Court in case the verdict is against the Muslims and he shoots, "I will not. Let the politicians play more politics over it and go to the Supreme Court. I have lived with this for 49 years. I want it to be over." Ansari’s fatigue is perhaps best reflected in the board outside his house. A faded shade of green with the writing almost illegible, it says, `Mohmmad Hashim Ansari, Petitioner suit number 4/89’ The sides of the metal board are visibly rusted and the frame it was mounted on, long gone.

POSTED BY Prarthna Gahilote ON Sep 22, 2010 AT 20:33 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 22, 2010 20:33 IST
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Digression
16/D-127
Sep 28, 2010
09:29 PM
"Aurangzeb has more hindu generals than any muslim ruler ever had".

RAM MURTHI

The HINDU GENERALS had their compulsions- to hold on to their fiefdoms. In Mahabharat, Bhishm and Drona fought with the Kauravas, although they were fully aware of the legitimacy of the Pandava claim.

Even GURU GOBIND SINGH, the 10th SIKH GURU fought alongside Aurangi's son even after AURANGI executed his father GURU TEG BEHADUR. (Guru Gobind Singh was killed at Nanded while fighting for Aurangi's Son).

Ever wondered how GURUDWARA SHIHGANJ came up at the site were GURU TEG BAHADUR was beheaded by AURANGI in Chandini Chowk, just 800 meters from Lahore Gate of RED FORT. Need to read the history of India from 1720- 1845, a 125 year period which is dismissed with a cursory mention of Nadir Shah's raid, Third Battle of Panipant and spread of English influence.
Akil
Bangalore, India
15/D-9
Sep 28, 2010
01:15 AM
Ganapathy,

>> the destruction caused by pulikesi over the pallava architecture/temples and the destruction of kaveripoom pattinam/poompuhar etc are not seen/heard/spoken by the sangh supporters.

They will go to any length to cover-up such information!

>> if we trace the roots of singhals/togadias/ad...ias/advanis/jaitleys etc they may be having babur genes and the all india babri action committee members may be direct descendants of ram dynasty of chandra vams.

LOL! But may be true.
Anwaar
Dallas, United States
14/D-63
Sep 27, 2010
09:21 PM
, I came to the conclusion that Muslims have hurt other Muslims than anybody else. Hindus have damaged more Hindus than anybody else. Jewish people think unreasonably that the whole world is after them. Christian leaders like Hitler, Stalin, Churchill have killed more Christians than anybody else. The time has come for all of us to have introspection, nothing else. Please stop this insanity. India has a bright future. Sare Jehan is Acha Hindustran Humara......
Ram Murti
the destruction caused by pulikesi over the pallava architecture/temples and the destruction of kaveripoom pattinam/poompuhar etc are not seen/heard/spoken by the sangh supporters.
i kindly request the hindutva lovers to just read the news papers and magazines from 1915 to 35 to know what the great hindu sanatana dharmis felt about the demands of dalits and how they cried and pour venom on their demand of temple entry.the enlightened congress leaders were giving solutions ranging from separate temples/promising upper caste birth in next year and all funny things.the terrific prospect of dalits getting converted enmasse got sunk in and the drama of temple entry started in late 30s but the entry into clergy is still resisted.
hitler has recently been traced as having jewish origin.poor man if science was advanced during his period we would have been saved from world war 2 and holocaust.we can use this to prevent the current ayodhya imbroglio.if we trace the roots of singhals/togadias/ad...ias/advanis/jaitleys etc they may be having babur genes and the all india babri action committee members may be direct descendants of ram dynasty of chandra vams.i cannot trace my family before 150 years and in the history of our nation evryone would have been shuttling from buddhism/tribalism/s...ristianity/brahmanic hinduism.
its also essential to go into the history of proram jhanam bhoomi/anti ram temple fanatics along with the archaelogical details of babri area to know whether they are on strong wicket/correct team or playing for the opposite teams.
munusamy ganapathy
chennai, India
13/D-53
Sep 27, 2010
07:50 PM
"More temples are demolished by Hindu Kings than anybody else"

Lol!! Are you in some fantasy world Mr. Ram Murti ? Wake up..
Rajesh
Bangalore, India
12/D-47
Sep 27, 2010
06:34 PM
The issue of Ram Mandir or Mosque is just political. It has no historical sequences. Ayodhya is holy to all of us, but the Ram Janam Bhoomi could have been in Afghanistan too. Hindu archeologists from Lucknow has proven time and again that there is evidence of historical sequences at the site. Ram is a virtual figure for us. Ram does not have historical background. When Surya Murty ji gave me the name "Ram", he knew that he wants me to be good man. When I ask him what do you think of Ramji? His answer was simple - to us, the figure Ram is a symbol of goodness, but historically Ram's existence was not proven. It is Valmiky's writings. My friend, the root of the problem is our history. More temples are demolished by Hindu Kings than anybody else. India was divided into 200 kingdoms before Muslims arrived. In order to humiliate the other king, the raja would attack his temple first and degrade his Bhagwan or diety on regular basis. This was very common. Many a times, Muslim army was consisting of more Hindus than Hindu army and vice versa. There was no such thing as Hindu Muslim division until British arrived. Aurangzeb has more hindu generals than any muslim ruler ever had. Shamefully, both Hindu and Muslim politicians played the card of Ayodhya to their advantage. Unfortunately, thousands of lives lost. In my whole international exposure of over two decades, I came to the conclusion that Muslims have hurt other Muslims than anybody else. Hindus have damaged more Hindus than anybody else. Jewish people think unreasonably that the whole world is after them. Christian leaders like Hitler, Stalin, Churchill have killed more Christians than anybody else. The time has come for all of us to have introspection, nothing else. Please stop this insanity. India has a bright future. Sare Jehan is Acha Hindustran Humara......
Ram Murti
Toronto, Canada
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