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An Indian sadhu (Hindu holy man) looks on as Indian paramilitary troops stands alert outside of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya on October 2, 2010. Schools, shops and businesses reopened in Ayodhya, Varanasi, Lucknow and other places with a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims while an Indian court ruled September 30 that a disputed holy site in Ayodhya with a history of triggering Hindu-Muslim clashes should be divided. (DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indian sadhu (Hindu holy man) looks on as Indian paramilitary troops stands alert outside of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya on October 2, 2010. Schools, shops and businesses reopened in Ayodhya, Varanasi, Lucknow and other places with a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims while an Indian court ruled September 30 that a disputed holy site in Ayodhya with a history of triggering Hindu-Muslim clashes should be divided. (DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)

Globe Editorial

Unreasonable accommodation for a religious mob Add to ...

An Indian court's ⅔-⅓ division between Hindus and Muslims of a disputed religious site is unbalanced, and effectively rewards the mob that largely destroyed a mosque at Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, in 1992.

The Hindu god Ram, himself an avatar of the major god Vishnu and the hero of the epic called The Ramayana, is said to have been born at Ayodhya in the second millennium BC. Much later, in or around 1527, a mosque called the Babri Masjid, named in honour of the first Mughal emperor of India, Babur, was built on the outskirts of the town, at what - according to Hindu tradition - is the very place of the birth of Ram. However that may be, there is some evidence that a Hindu temple was there before the mosque.

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In 1886, a judge held that the location of the mosque was "most unfortunate," but that it was too late to remedy a 358-year-old grievance. There it should have rested.

After the partition of India and Pakistan, the controversy revived and got worse in the 1980s, culminating in a demonstration in 1992, during which hooligans partly demolished the mosque. Ostensibly respectable politicians were in the vicinity, including L.K. Advani, later a deputy prime minister of India and leader of the opposition, who had previously organized a large march on Ayodhya.

Litigation followed. The Allahabad High Court called upon the parties to settle their various lawsuits, to no avail. Unwisely, the court then substituted its own compromise, granting the greater part of the site to the Hindus - the majority religion in India, though there are almost as many Muslims in India as there are in all of Pakistan.

That amounts to an unjust reward for the rioting vandals of 1992, for those who incited them and indeed for their sympathizers.

There would have been a case for what some Canadians call reasonable accommodation: room for a modest shrine to the god Ram. Otherwise, what was true in 1886 is true in 2010. The Hindu grievance going back to 1527 is too old, while the Muslim grievance of 1992 is still fresh, waiting to be remedied. The Ayodhya mosque should be rebuilt.

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