Disputed India Holy Site to Be Divided, Court Rules

With the nation on high alert, an Indian court handed down a long-awaited decision on Thursday over control of the country’s most disputed religious site by splitting the land into three portions to be divided among Hindus and Muslims, according to lawyers in the case.

Much of the detail and rationale behind the decision issued late Thursday by a three-judge panel in the state of Uttar Pradesh remained unclear. The court was expected to release the complete ruling only later in the evening. But lawyers in the case, interviewed on Indian news channels, said the panel had unexpectedly ruled by dividing the land in a way that gave something to both Hindus and Muslims after a legal battle that originated six decades ago.

The case focused on a site in the city of Ayodhya, which many Hindus have long claimed as the birthplace of the Hindu deity Ram, but which also was the site of a mosque, known as the Babri Masjid, built in the 16th century by India’s first Mughal ruler. In 1992, Hindu extremists destroyed the Babri Masjid, sparking riots that would claim the lives of about 2,000 people, mostly Muslims.

One of the central questions in the case had been whether a Hindu temple had existed on the site before the construction of the Babri Masjid. Lawyers in the case said the court’s ruling would reserve one-third of the land for construction of a temple to Ram, another third for another Hindu party to the case, while designating the final third for Muslims to build a mosque.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

3 comments on “Disputed India Holy Site to Be Divided, Court Rules

  1. A Senior Priest says:

    A solomonic decision which will please no one.

  2. Ralph says:

    Since sharing space has worked so well at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity and Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre for so many centuries, I’ve long thought that moving the Dome of the Rock off to the side of the Temple Mount, rebuilding the Jewish Temple, and adding an Episcopal church (representing all of Christianity, as TEC does so well) on the other side would make a great deal of sense.

    This plan for the Ayodhya site has an equally good chance of working out.

  3. Dale Rye says:

    Interestingly enough, the history of the Ayodhya site includes a period of well over a century (from at least the 1850s to 1992) in which Hindus were permitted to worship the idols of Ram in de-facto temples within the courtyard of the mosque built by Babar in the 1500s on the site of an older Hindu temple (arguably torn down by Babar; also arguably already in ruins). By all accounts, the local adherents of the two faiths got along rather well on that basis.

    A legend without a lot of history behind it developed that the actual site of Ram’s birth was directly under the mosque dome, which is what led Hindu nationalists (with the implicit backing of the Uttar Pradesh state government) to demolish it in 1992 and move the idols to a tent pitched on that site.

    The judgment of the court is that mainline Hindus will be allowed to build a permanent temple where they are already in possession, a Hindu sect will be allowed control over the pre-1992 Hindu site, and the Muslims will be allowed to rebuild their mosque elsewhere in the former courtyard.

    It is the hope of the court that the three communities will be able to get along as well as they did before the Hindu nationalist agitation. I’m sure they would love to, but Hindu nationalism has not gone away.