23:19 GMT24 September 2020
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    The Ayodhya land dispute, a decades-old religious conflict between the Hindu and Muslim communities in India, flared up following the 1992 demolition of a Muslim mosque, Babri Masjid, by Hindus claiming the Mughal emperor Babar had demolished a Hindu temple in Ayodhya, a city in the eastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

    India’s Supreme Court has ruled that a disputed religious site in the northern holy city of Ayodhya should be run by Hindus and that an alternative parcel of land be give to Muslims.

    Under the ruling, the Ayodhya site should be handed over to a trust to oversee the construction of a Hindu temple, while a separate piece of land in the area would be given over to Muslim groups to build a new mosque.

    The decision came after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party led a campaign promising to build the temple after demolishing the 16th century mosque, appealed to masses to maintain peace and calm, saying that the verdict is not anyone’s victory or loss.

    “I appeal to the people of the nation to maintain calm and unity. There have been continuous hearings in the case since the past few months which the whole nation watched with curiosity. Showing highest respect to the Judiciary, all sections of the society, cultural organisations have made efforts to maintain peace, amity and positive atmosphere. We have to maintain the same even after the delivery of the verdict”, Modi tweeted on Friday.

    More than 5,000 Indian troops and police have been deployed in Ayodhya in the run-up to the Supreme Court ruling, with hundreds of people reportedly detained on Friday amid fears of violence.

    The court case is related to the ownership of the land, with Hindus believing that the site of the mosque is the birthplace of one of their most revered deities, Lord Ram. Muslims, for their part, insist that they have worshipped at the Babri mosque for centuries until the idol of Ram deity was covertly placed inside the mosque in 1949.

    After Hindus demolished the Babri mosque in 1992, they constructed there a makeshift temple of Lord Ram, a physical incarnation of the god Vishnu, who is believed to have been born at the site.

    The destruction of the 16th-century mosque was followed by Hindu-Muslim violence that left at least 2,000 people dead, most of them Muslims.

    Subsequent years have seen religious groups bickering in the courts over who should take control of the historic site.


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