Lucknow: Iqbal Ansari, 53, is the household name and one of the most sought-after persons by media, although he loses India's longest and most controversial litigation last week.
He became the main litigant in the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute after his father Hashmi Ansari died in 2016 having fought the case since 1949.
Ansari, who moves under security provided the government, is a humble man who runs a small vehicle workshop for living. “I have studied till class eighth that too in Hindi medium.
Those days English medium education was not available here. A small garage is the only source of income for my family of seven.” Ansari, who has four adult sons and a daughter, said, “All my sons are graduate.
One of them handles the garage now.” Ask him about expenses on case, he tells humbly, “All expenses were borne by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Sunni Waqf Board and Babri Masjid Action Committee.”
Ansari accepted the Supreme Court verdict with grace and has intended not to file a review petition. “The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) will hold a meeting on Sunday to take a decision on seeking a review of the SC judgement. However, I do not wish to be any party to that. I feel the judgement has settled a protracted dispute.”
Ask about the relationship of Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya, Ansari with pride said, “Ayodhya has always had a secular fabric since beginning. Even now (when the Muslim side has lost the case) there is no animosity between the communities.
We share a very good relationship, like you see anywhere else across the country. The culture of Ayodhya is an example for the rest of the world.”
For instance, late Mahant Ramchandra Das and Ansari's father, the two original litigants in the case, would even go to court in the same rickshaw or Tonga and return together in the same case.
Ansari too shares the cordial relationship with Hindu saints. His pictures embracing Seers including the chief priest of makeshift Temple Acharya Satyendra Das often does round in media and social media inspiring scores of Indians.
He said, “The case was a simple land dispute between the two parties of Ayodhya. It was filed in 1949. Still both the communities were living together peacefully.
The people who come from outside of Ayodhya frighten us. It is outsiders who incited hate and played politics over the case. Thankfully, they couldn't disturb the communal harmony of this town.”
When asked about the controversy over five-acres of land and his insistence that it should be given within 67 acres of parcel acquired by the Centre in 1993 for the temple, Ansari dodges the question. He merely says,
“It is the up to the government to make a move and allot the land. There are bunch of suggestions about the utilisation of land. The decision in this regard will be taken once the land is allocated.”