The disputed land in Ayodhya will be given to a government-run trust for the building a temple and Muslims will be given a five-acre “suitable” plot in the town, the Supreme Court announced today in a landmark verdict in a religious and political flashpoint that has cast a shadow on the country for decades.
A five-judge constitution bench delivered a unanimous verdict. There have been appeals for peace and heightened security across the country. The verdict comes after a century-old legal wrangle over a piece of land in Ayodhya where the 16th-century Babri mosque stood before it was razed by Hindu activists who believe it is the birthplace of Lord Ram.
- The landmark verdict was read out by a five-judge constitution bench. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who retires on November 17, decided the date of the verdict in consultation with four other judges.
- The five-judge constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice heard the case for 40 days. The other members of the bench are Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.
- Chief Justice Gogoi had met top Uttar Pradesh officials to discuss law-and-order arrangements on Friday. At least 12,000 security personnel have been posted in Uttar Pradesh, where Ayodhya is situated.
- Schools and colleges are closed in several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan.
- In a series of tweets on Friday, the Prime Minister said the “Ayodhya verdict will not be anybody’s victory or loss”, adding that it was the priority of the country’s citizens to maintain harmony. “I appeal to countrymen that it should be our priority to strengthen our tradition of maintaining peace and harmony after the Ayodhya verdict. In the run-up to Ayodhya verdict, efforts have been made by various people and organizations to maintain harmonious atmosphere. We have to maintain amity even after Ayodhya verdict,” PM Modi said in another tweet.
- The government has increased the security provided to the five judges ahead of the Ayodhya verdict. Two helicopters have been kept on standby in Lucknow and Ayodhya to tackle any possible emergency. Security arrangements in Delhi have also been tightened.
- The dispute over 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya, claimed by both Hindus and Muslims, has dominated political discourse since the 1980s. While Hindu activists want to build a temple on the site, Muslim groups claim there is no proof that a temple existed there.
- In 1992, rightwing activists tore down the Babri mosque which they believed was built on the ruins of an ancient temple that marked the birthplace of Lord Ram. In the riots that followed, more than 2,000 people were killed.
- An Allahabad High Court verdict prescribing a three-way division of the disputed land in September 2010 failed to satisfy the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla, the parties involved in the dispute. All three moved the Supreme Court.
- In an effort to ensure peace after the verdict, several Hindu and Muslim organizations have put out appeals and said nobody should indulge in hysterics irrespective of which way the judgment goes.