Skip to main content

India’s top court pronounces its verdict in the decades-old land title dispute between Muslims and Hindus over plans to build a Hindu temple on a site in northern India. In 1992, Hindu hard-liners demolished a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya, sparking deadly religious riots in which about 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed across India.

Barbara Walton/The Associated Press

India’s Supreme Court ruled on Saturday 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 Narenrda Modi’s ruling Hindu-nationalist party.

The five-judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, delivered a unanimous judgement, opting to hand over the plot of just 1.1 hectaresof land — about the size of a football field — to one of the Hindu groups that had staked claim to it.

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Story continues below advertisement

The site has been heavily protected since the 1992 religious clashes.

Ahead of the ruling, security was tightened in Ayodhya and across India, especially in cities that have suffered communal violence in the past.

In some regions, restrictions were placed on gatherings and police were monitoring social media to curb rumours that could fan tension between the communities.

In some towns, internet services were also suspended to stop the spread of rumours.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — parent organisation of Modi’s party — has decided against celebratory processions if the verdict goes in favour of the Hindus, to avoid provoking sectarian violence.

Muslim organisations have appealed for calm to prevent communal flare-ups.

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter