A Muslim group said that the Ayodhya land dispute case should be resolved through an out-of-court settlement and suggested that the community should hand over the plot to the Centre as a “goodwill gesture”, PTI reported. The group, called Indian Muslims for peace, issued the statement after a meeting on Thursday in which they decided to favour a settlement.

“Keeping in view of our secular, democratic fabric and centuries old relations with our Hindu brothers, the disputed land owned by Muslims of India may be handed over by Honourable Supreme Court of India to Government of India as a goodwill gesture for attaining communal harmony and lasting peace in the Country,” the group’s convenor, Kalam Khan, said.

Members of the group include former Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Lieutenant General (retired) Zameer Uddin Shah, former Indian Police Service officer Nisar Khan, and former Indian Administrative Services officer Anis Ansari. “The intention of our meeting is that in case of a court settlement, nobody will be a winner,” Shah said, according to The Indian Express. “In case of a negotiated settlement, there will be winners on both sides. Our attempt is to give impetus to an out-of-court settlement.”

Shah added that even if the Supreme Court was in favour of the Muslim parties, it would be impossible to rebuild the mosque. “I also want the Supreme Court to give a verdict in favour of the majority community to end the dispute,” he said, according to Hindustan Times. “Hindus have been worshipping there (Ram Janmabhoomi) for a long time. The court verdict will be in favour of either party (Hindus or Muslims). This will lead to acrimonious relationship between the two communities.”

The former Army general said that the Sunni Central Wakf Board also supported the group’s opinion on the case. Shah said the decision of the Indian Muslims for Peace would be forwarded to the Wakf Board and then sent to the Supreme Court.

Shah said the group had been pushing for an out-of-court settlement on the matter for a year-and-a-half and that this was their last effort to do so. He said if the case was resolved amicably, it would be good for the country.

The Ayodhya dispute has been going on for several decades, with both Hindu and Muslim groups claiming their right to the land. The Babri Masjid stood there before it was demolished in 1992 by Hindutva activists. A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan, has been daily hearing cases since August. Last week, the top court said it would complete arguments by October 17.

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