India: Court rules over Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute

The Supreme Court has cleared the way for a temple to be built at the site hotly disputed by Hindus and Muslims for centuries. A mosque at the site was razed by Hindu mobs in 1992; deadly riots killed 2,000 people.
India’s top court on Saturday ruled in favor of Hindus in the decades long 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.

Hindus claim their god Ram was born in Ayodhya and a temple in his name predated the mosque. They want to build a new one at the site, while Muslims want a new mosque.

The issue has continued 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 several states.

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