A court will rule on Friday whether Hindus or Muslims own land around the demolished Babri mosque in Ayodhya, a judgement haunted by memories of a 1992 riot, some of the country’s worst violence since the partition.
The case over the 16th century Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh 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. (Photo: Hindu militants demolish the disputed mosque in Ayodhya, December 6, 1992/Sunil Malhotra)
The verdict could prove a major political quandary for the government led by the Congress Party, a left-of-centre party with secular roots. A verdict in favour of the Hindus would force the government to uphold the verdict, making it unpopular with Muslims, a key vote bloc. A ruling for the Muslims would mean the government would have to push Hindu groups out of the site, a political minefield.
About 80 percent of India’s 1.1 billion plus population are Hindus, but Muslims represent 13 percent — some 140 million that put it behind Indonesia and Pakistan in the ranks of Muslim populations.
Hindu mobs demolished the mosque in the town of Ayodhya, claiming it was built on the birthplace of their god-king Rama. The demolition triggered religious riots that killed some 2,000.