Published On: Wed, Feb 5th, 2020

India kickstarts Lord Rama shrine construction instead of mosque on disputed land, after landmark court ruling

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has set up a trust tasked with building a Hindu temple in Ayodhya, after the Supreme Court sided with Hindus against Muslims who wanted to erect a mosque on the same land.

The 15-member body “will take decisions independently on the construction of a Rama temple and related issues,” Modi said in a speech in parliament on Wednesday. He hailed the move as “a historic step,” paving the way for building the shrine in the ancient holy city of Ayodhya in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state, where, according to the Hindu tradition, the deity Lord Rama was born.

Citing sources, NDTV reported that no political party will be part of the new trust. Interior Minister Amit Shah said that additional 67 acres of land will be transferred to the trust on top of the 0.3 acres designated for the Hindu temple by the Supreme Court.

For decades, the area in question was the epicenter of a bitter dispute between Hindu and Muslim communities who argued about whose religious shrine should be built there. Muslims wanted to erect a mosque at the site where their previous shrine, the 16th-century Babri Masjid, stood before being seized and razed by Hindu activists in 1992. The Hindus insisted that their temple should be built there instead.   

In 2010, a regional court ruled the disputed land should be partitioned between Muslims and two Hindu groups. Last November, the Supreme Court overruled this decision and handed over the entire area for the construction of a Hindu shrine.

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The judges said that Muslims had failed to produce evidence proving their exclusive rights to the site. Meanwhile, the court studied historic records and found evidence that the Hindus were making pilgrimages and worshipping at the area before the Babri Masjid was built. So, according to the ruling, Muslims were given a portion of land at a different location to build a mosque there.

Before the decision was announced, Modi said that the verdict “will not be a matter of victory or loss,” adding that it “should be our priority that the verdict should strengthen India’s great tradition of peace, unity and amity.”

Shortly after Modi’s Wednesday speech, the Uttar Pradesh government approved the allocation of a 5-acre piece of land to the local Muslim community for building a mosque, as per the court’s ruling.

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