NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court of India on Saturday, while announcing its verdict on a disputed land where Hindu hard-liners demolished a 16th century mosque in 1992, ruled in favour of the Hindus and said that a temple will be constructed on the Ayodhya land.
The court noted that the demolition of 460-year-old Babri Mosque in 1992 was a violation of law and ordered that five-acre alternative land in a suitable, prominent place be provided to Muslims for a mosque. The land for the mosque will be acquired by the government, the court ruled, according to Scroll.in.
The Sunni Muslim group involved in the case said it would likely file a review petition, which could trigger another protracted legal battle. “This is not justice,” the group’s lawyer, Zafaryab Jilani, was quoted as saying.
The top court ordered the government to formulate a scheme within three months under the Ayodhya Act, 1993, and set up a trust. Till the trust is formed, the ownership of the site will rest with the Centre. The Shia petition was dismissed.
“There is adequate material in ASI report to conclude the following: Babri Masjid not constructed on vacant land. There was a structure underlying the disputed structure. The underlying structure was not an Islamic structure,” said the Supreme Court. “But the ASI report does not say if the structure was demolished for the mosque. It has left unanswered this critical point: whether temple was demolished for mosque,” it said. “This court must accept faith and accept belief of worshippers,” India’s Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi’s was quoted as saying. “Court should preserve balance.”
The verdict is a victory for Hindu nationalists under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had promised to build the temple in 2014 elections that brought him to power. “The halls of justice have amicably concluded a matter going on for decades. Every side, every point of view was given adequate time and opportunity to express differing points of view,” said Modi following the ruling. “This verdict will further increase people’s faith in judicial processes.”
In the 1980s, as Hindu nationalism and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) began to strengthen, pressure grew for the mosque to be knocked down and replaced by a glorious Hindu temple. In 1992, a Hindu mob estimated to number 200,000 did just that, reducing the mosque to rubble. This unleashed some of the worst religious riots since India’s bloody partition at the end of British colonial rule in 1947, leaving around 2,000 people dead, mainly Muslims.
After the demolition of the mosque, Hindus and Muslims took the issue to a lower court, which in 2010 ruled that the disputed land should be divided into three parts – two for Hindus and one for Muslims. That was challenged in the Supreme Court by the two communities represented by Hindu Maha Sabha, the Sunni Waqf Board, and the Nirmohi Akhara. The five judges started daily proceedings in August after mediation failed to find a compromise.
Modi in a series of tweets appealed for peace ahead of the verdict. He had earlier cautioned his council of ministers from making unnecessary statements on the issue that could stoke public sentiments.
Appeals for peace also came from Hindu and Muslim organisations and various political leaders. India’s Home Ministry has asked all states to be on alert.
The security outside the residences of the five judges on the constitution bench was beefed up in Delhi, reported India Today. Chief Justice Gogoi’s security was upgraded to Z-plus.