India’s top court has ruled in favor of the construction of a Hindu temple at the site of a mosque that had been demolished by Hindu mobs three decades ago.
In a unanimous judgment on Saturday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hindus regarding a plot of land in Ayodhya in northern India, where a 16th Century Babri mosque stood before it was demolished in 1992 by Hindu extremists.
The five Supreme Court judges said that the mosque was “not built on vacant land” and had displaced a previous temple.
They allocated a separate “prominent” five-acre piece of land, not far from the contested site, to the Muslim community to construct a mosque.
The court also ruled that the demolition of the mosque was against the rule of law. The destruction of the mosque triggered religious riots in which about 2,000 people, most of them Muslims.
A representative for the Muslim litigants said that they were not satisfied and would decide whether to ask for a review after they had read the whole judgment.
Authorities deployed thousands of police patrols in the city ahead of the verdict. They also arrested hundreds of people in the city.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some other officials have appealed for calm. The premier hailed the verdict, saying it had “amicably” ended a decades-old dispute.
“The halls of justice have amicably concluded a matter going on for decades. Every side, every point of view was given adequate time and opportunity to express differing points of view. This verdict will further increase people’s faith in judicial processes,” Modi tweeted.
Hindus and Muslims have been locked in a conflict over the site for 150 years. On the site of the demolished mosque, Hindus constructed a tent that resembles a temple.
The ruling party of Prime Minister Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rose to power on a wave of Hindu nationalism.
In a recent move, his government revoked the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir. The decision sparked a wave of tensions throughout the region, which is divided between India and Pakistan.
New Delhi also imposed restrictions on people’s movements and communications in Kashmir to curb unrest there, calling it an internal matter and criticizing countries that have spoken out against the move.
The Muslim majority region has been split between India and Pakistan since their partition in 1947.