What should I know about Ayodhya

Entire disputed land in Ayodhya goes to Hindu deity Rama

In this gallery: 3 pictures

Ayodhya is "one of the most important cases in the world," announced one of the five judges in charge, Sharand Arvind Bobde, the day before. And although the verdict is so important, the exact date of the verdict was not announced until the previous evening, on Friday. The affair in India is too sensitive, too explosive. Massive security measures across the subcontinent are intended to prevent riots this weekend.

Because on Saturday morning (local time) the Supreme Court passed the verdict in the "Ayodhya" case: The case has heated Indian hearts for decades. It is about a piece of land in the north Indian city of Ayodhya that is revered by both Hindus and Muslims. A mosque was built there hundreds of years ago - right on the spot where Hindus see the birthplace of the deity Rama. When anonymous activists erected a Rama statue in the mosque in 1949, it sparked a decade-long legal battle - over who the area now belongs to. In 1992 a mob of angry Hindus destroyed the mosque and 2000 people died in the excesses of violence that followed. Since then, Ayodhya has repeatedly been the reason for "communal violence", as the Hindu-Muslim tensions in India are called - often fueled by politicians who want to collect political change.

In 2010, a court in the responsible state of Uttar Pradesh ruled that the country would be divided into thirds: two thirds for Hindus, one third for Muslims. One of the two parties on the Hindu side was none other than Rama himself, in the form of "Ram Lalla", the baby Ram. This in turn was represented by a Hindu activist because Baby Ram is a minor.

God Rama a "legal person"

This decision has now been overturned by the Supreme Court. "It was a mistake to divide the country," said presiding judge Ranjan Gogoi. Instead, the whole country would go to the deity Rama - who is considered a "legal person", he clarified.

The Muslims would get alternative land, "in a prominent place in Ayodhya". A special board is to draw up a plan within three months of where the land will be for the Muslims and how the new Hindu temple will be built.

Reason: "Mosque not built on undeveloped land"

While Gogoi emphasized in the grounds of the judgment that the destruction of the mosque in 1992 and the placement of the Ram statue in 1949 were illegal, he also explained that the Muslim side could not prove that the mosque was on "undeveloped" land back then was erected. Archaeological reports would show that non-Muslim temple structures have existed there before. Whether they were Hindu cannot be sufficiently proven. But that doesn't matter: even if it was a Hindu temple, that wouldn't justify today's claim to the land, the judge says. But it is obvious and proven that Hindus have seen the birthplace of Rama there for centuries and worshiped it as such. And: "Whether belief is justified is beyond the knowledge of legal examination." The verdict was passed unanimously by the five judges.

Precautions were taken across the country on Saturday to prevent rioting. 40,000 security forces patrolled the metropolis of Mumbai alone. Thousands of security forces are also deployed in Ayodhya itself; all roads that lead to the disputed area are closed. In some parts of the country, internet connections have been temporarily blocked, and schools in many parts are closed until Monday. Hundreds of people were arrested beforehand.

Muslim representative "not satisfied"

Representatives of the Indian government praised the verdict and encouraged the country to respect the verdict and "maintain social harmony". The current government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is criticized for promoting a Hindu nationalist policy and systematically discriminating against minorities in the predominantly Hindu India.

Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer for the Sunni Waqf Board, which has represented the Muslim side in the case, said he was "not satisfied" after the announcement. A request for review may be made. The Indian opposition party Congress welcomed the verdict again - but with its own justification: "The verdict has finally opened the doors to building the temple and closed the doors that the BJP or others can politicize the issue further," said a representative. (saw, November 9, 2019)