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India bans bulk text messages before Ayodhya mosque verdict

By Reuters Staff
September 23, 2010

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(Photo: Indian policemen patrol in Ayodhya, September 23, 2010/Adnan Abidi)

India has banned bulk mobile text messaging for three days to prevent the spreading of rumours and religious extremism as authorities prepare for a potentially explosive court verdict between Muslims and Hindus.

A high court will rule on Friday whether Hindus or Muslims own land around a demolished mosque in northern India, a judgment haunted by memories of 1992 riots, when some 2000 were killed. It was one of the worst outbreaks communal violence since the partition in 1947.

The government statement gave no reasons for the order, but a senior security official with knowledge of the order cited security reasons before the court verdict.

The case over the 16th century Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh state is one of the biggest security challenges in India this year, along with a Maoist insurgency and a Kashmiri separatist rebellion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said.

Hindu mobs demolished the mosque in the town of Ayodhya in 1992, claiming it was built on the birthplace of their god-king Rama. The demolition triggered religious riots.

The Editors’ Guild of India has urged the media to avoid sensational reporting about the verdict. In a statement, it said all Indian and overseas media should “exercise all possible restraint in the publication and broadcast of this verdict in conformity with the highest traditions of journalism and the public duty undertaken by us.”

For more background on the Ayodhya issue, click here.

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