Ayodhya: Even as the entire country debates on the Ram temple and the case in Supreme Court, Ayodhya, on the 25th anniversary of the Babri demolition, remembers the two who were ‘enemies’ in court and friends outside it.
The two key litigants in the Babri case — Hashim Ansari and Mahant Ramchandra Paramhans — bitterly fought the case in court but the moment they stepped out, they became thick friends.
Paramhans, the chief trustee of the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas, died in 2003 while Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant in the case, died in 2016.
"They would travel together in a rickshaw to the court. Their counsels would bitterly contest the case and after the hearing, they would both return together in one rickshaw. Everyone used to be astounded by this unique relationship. They lived as friends and Hashim Ansari wept bitterly when Mahant Paramhans died in 2003," says Mahant Dharam Das who has succeeded him in the Nyas.
Today, things have changed and the litigants arrive in a ring of security and the bonhomie is missing.
Vivek Kumar Srivastava, a senior lawyer in Faizabad court, recalls, "My father, also a lawyer, used to cite the example of these two when it came to friendship. He used to tell us that Hashim Ansari and Mahant Paramhans would even share a cup of tea in the court premises if the hearing was delayed. Other people in the court premises used to be shocked to see their camaraderie — more so, because of the case they were contesting".
Senior citizens in Ayodhya say that their friendship lasted over six decades. "There was never any bitterness between the two even when there were riots on communal lines in the country on the Ayodhya issue," said a source.