India top court rules in favour of Hindus in religious site dispute

India top court rules in favour of Hindus in religious site dispute

India top court rules in favour of Hindus in religious site dispute

Written by Reuters

09 Nov, 2019 | 4:23 pm

REUTERS: India’s Supreme Court ruled today (November 9) in favour of a Hindu group in a long-running battle over a centuries-old religious site also claimed by Muslims, in a verdict that could raise tension between the two communities. The ruling paves the way for the construction of a Hindu temple on the site in the northern town of Ayodhya, a proposal long supported by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu-nationalist party.

The five-judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, delivered a unanimous judgment, opting to hand over the plot of just 2.77 acres (1.1 hectares) of land – about the size of a football field – to one of the Hindu groups that had staked claim to it. The judge said a temple should be built on the disputed by forming a trust under the control of the central government. The verdict will be seen as a political victory for Modi, who won a second term in a landslide general election win this year.

For more than seven decades, right-wing Hindu campaigners have been pushing to build a temple on the site, which they believe was the birthplace of Lord Ram, a physical incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. They say the site was holy for Hindus long before the Muslim Mughals, India’s most prominent Islamic rulers, built what was known as the Babri mosque there in 1528. The mosque was razed by a Hindu mob in 1992.

The destruction of the mosque triggered religious riots in which about 2,000 people, most of them Muslim, were killed across the country and led to a series of court battles with various groups staking claim to the site. The Supreme Court directed that an alternate land parcel be provided to a Muslim group that had staked claim to the disputed site. A lawyer for the Muslim group said they are not “satisfied” with the ruling, and will examine it and decide what future course of action to take while urging the nation to observe restraint and peace.

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