Hashim Ansari (95) the oldest litigant in the Babri Masjid case, died early on Wednesday morning due to heart-related complications.
He was suffering from heart ailment from a long time and was living with a pacemaker. According to his son, Iqbal, Ansari passed away in the wee hours — at around 5 a.m. — at his house in the temple city of Ayodhya, not too far away from the disputed site. “I will carry on the fight on my father,” he told.
In signs of his failing health, in February, he had been admitted to the ICU of the King George Medical University in Lucknow after complaining chest pain and congestion. He had also suffered a fracture recently but he could not be operated upon as he had a pacemaker, said Gujran Siddiqui, a Faizabad-based activist close to the family. “He was unable to walk in the last few days,” Mr. Siddiqui said.
Born in Ayodhya, Ansari’s father was a tailor who owned a shop in the Shringar Haat area. Ansari followed his father’s traditional business till the Emergency — during which he spent months in Bareilly jail — after which he shifted to repairing cycles for a few years.
Ansari has been associated with the Babri Masjid case since 1949, being among the persons arrested for breaching public peace after the episode in which idols of Lord Ram were planted in the mosque.
In 1952, he was sentenced to two years in jail by a Faizabad court for giving the azaam (call fornamaz) in the disputed mosque.
In 1961, he along with six others, became the main plaintiff in the ‘Ayodhya title suit’ filed by the Sunni Central Waqf Board in the court of Faizabad civil judge. He was the lone surviving litigant and considered the main voice from the Muslim-end.
Zafaryab Jilani, the convenor of the Babri Action Committee, said Ansari’s passing would not impact the case.
“All his statements had been recorded in the High Court and his documents filed. His death will not impact the case. But his passing will have an impact on public life. He was one of the last persons to have personal knowledge of the Babri issue. He was well-versed in the issue,” Mr. Jilani said.