India’s top court on Saturday ruled in favor of Hindus in the decadeslong land title dispute between Hindus and Muslims in the far-north town of Ayodhya.
In a historic judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that the site where Hindu mobs destroyed a 460-year-old mosque in 1992 must be handed over to a trust to oversee the construction of a Hindu temple, subject to conditions.
A separate piece of land in Ayodhya would be given over to Muslim groups to build a new mosque, the court said.
The disputed land was the site of the 6th-century Babri Masjid mosque. Its razing led to riots in which more than 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed.
The court observed that the destruction of the mosque was a violation of law.
Hindus claim their god Ram was born in Ayodhya and a temple in his name predated the mosque.
They say that in the 16th century, Babur, the first emperor of the Mughal Islamic dynasty, built a mosque on top of the structure.
Hindus have campained for years to build a new temple at the site, while Muslims want a new mosque.
“We respect the verdict, but we are not satisfied … we will go through the judgment carefully,” Zafaryab Jilani, a lawyer for the Sunni Waqf Board, one of the petitioners said in an initial reaction to the ruling.
The issue continues to provoke tensions between majority Hindus and Muslims, who account for about 14% of India’s 1.3 billion population.
Ahead of the verdict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged calm and security was tightened around the Supreme Court building in New Delhi and in several states.
mm/aw (AFP, AP, dpa)
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