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16 October 2012

Babri committee co-founder passes away

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New Delhi: Jawed Habeeb, founder-member of the Babri Masjid Action Committee, died on Thursday afternoon in Delhi at his residence in Zakir Nagar.

A firebrand leader in his heydays, Habeeb, born in 1948 in Tonk, Rajasthan, was the president of the Aligarh Muslim University’s Students’ Union in 1977-78, when it was seen as a significant launch pad into politics. He was never in electoral politics directly, but played a role in a key pressure group, influencing it in different ways, especially since his involvement in the campaign to save the Babri Masjid when it became the centre of the Ayodhya movement led by the VHP and BJP. Habeeb was also central to several dialogues with VHP representatives on the Ayodhya issue in the late 1980s, and said to have worked closely with at least three prime ministers — V P Singh, Chandrashekhar and P V Narasimha Rao — trying to resolve the issue. Habeeb was deeply influenced by politicians Piloo Mody and Dr A J Faridi.

A good orator, Habeeb went off the main political grid after the demolition of the Babri Masjid — his supporters say that he was disillusioned with Rao’s politics — until he founded the Bharti Majlis party in the late 1990s. He also edited an Urdu weekly, Hujoom, which was a well-circulated paper till it was discontinued due to financial difficulties. Despite being best known for contentious issues he was deeply embroiled in, Habeeb was also known for being clued into and involved in local community affairs as well as intervening in national affairs involving minority security.

Habib spoke to The Indian Express just before the Ayodhya verdict by the Allahabad High Court in 2010. He said: “We want the Ram temple to be built there, but not the office of the VHP.”

(Courtesy: The Indian Express)

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